The program encompasses three areas of concentration: the history of communication, the political economy of communication, and the socio-cultural analysis of communication.
Students may write their thesis in any of these fields or a closely related area. The thesis is expected to be an important and original contribution to communications scholarship and is examined by two outside examiners (one outside the department, the other outside the university) along with the student’s committee.
During their first year in the program, students take a required full course covering the above fields along with four other graduate level seminars (one term each). They then write their first or “breadth” comprehensive examination on the three fields in question. During their second year, students complete their second comprehensive examination by preparing and defending a project related to the field in which they plan to write their thesis. Before beginning their thesis, they also prepare and defend a thesis proposal.
Students prepare both the second comprehensive and thesis proposal with the assistance of a supervisor – any regular member of faculty with whom they would like to work. They also select two other faculty members to serve as members of their thesis committee (one of whom may be outside the department). Completion of the thesis usually takes 2-3 years. The program is thus designed so that full-time students can complete all of the requirements within a 4-5 year period. The PhD in Communication may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis.