PhD Program in Communication

Our faculty consider communication to be a contested concept that is shaped by different intellectual traditions, societal contexts, and historical developments. We encourage our students to embrace interdisciplinarity and expand the existing horizons of the field in their research. Our faculty and graduate students strive to produce imaginative, reflexive, and critical studies of communication that deepen knowledge, expand horizons, and respond to significant societal concerns. This requires a collegial and supportive environment, which we work to achieve with every new cohort of PhD students. Providing effective mentorship and professional development opportunities are crucial to our success as a program.

Our PhD Program in Communication begins with two semesters of coursework followed by the first comprehensive exam based on the year-long Doctoral Seminar course. The Doctoral Seminar is co-taught by two faculty members and provides a deep theoretical foundation in the field. The next step is the second comprehensive exam which involves preparing and defending a literature review related to the field in which the student plans to write their thesis. By this time students have formalized their relationship with a supervisor and they work together with two other committee members to complete and defend this work. During the third year of study, the committee oversees the student’s preparation and defence of their dissertation proposal. At this point the student is well prepared to conduct their research and can begin to write their dissertation. The program is designed to be completed within a five year period.

For more information, we encourage you to explore our PhD Communication Program Information (click on a course code to see descriptions) and our Graduate Handbook. Once enrolled, students can also consider joining the Specialization in Political Economy if that corresponds to their research interests.

Of the students who have completed their PhD in our program to date, over three-quarters are currently teaching in Canadian universities with others employed in the cultural policy sector and related areas. Find out more about our graduate’s career pathways, our faculty’s areas of expertise, our campus and student life or go on a virtual tour of Carleton.

What Can I Do With a Graduate Degree in Communication?


Funding and Scholarships

Top-ranked candidates are offered generous financial support from Carleton University. Our PhD students have access to teaching assistantships (TA), research assistantships (RA), and have been very successful at obtaining funding through the Vanier Scholarship, Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) fellowships. Students also have access to various internal awards, including Donor-Funded Awards and Graduate Student Travel / Research Bursaries.

Our department also awards the following endowments:

  • Sons of Maxwell: Awarded annually to one undergraduate and one graduate student in financial need who demonstrates strong academic achievement and community service. Endowed in 2017 by Dave Carroll.
  • McKeown: Awarded annually to a doctoral student in memory of Robert McKeown’s career as a journalist of national stature. Eligible students must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have a background as a working journalist or whose research focuses on the news media or journalism practice.


Our program normally admits 5-7 new students each year. The deadline for admission is February 1.

Admission is on a competitive basis and applicants should, by the time they enter the program, have completed an MA degree in Communication or a related area of study with a GPA of at least 10.0 or A- as calculated at Carleton. Our application requires you to provide contact details for two academic referees who can comment on your academic background. You will also prepare a 2-5 page, double-spaced statement of intent telling us why you would like to join our PhD program, your research interests and their relevance to communication studies, and any other information that will help us understand your goals and motivations. Finally, your curriculum vitae (CV/Resumé), a sample of written work (usually a graduate essay), and your academic transcripts. Click here for more information about how to apply.

Are you an international student?

We are excited to welcome international students to our program! Alongside faculty and students with international backgrounds who already contribute to our program, many of us also collaborate with scholars from across the world. Cross-cultural perspectives enrich our conversations about communication and media studies and influence how we conduct our research.

Despite our enthusiasm, we must also face the reality that funding for international students is inadequate. While we continue to advocate for change, it is critical that all prospective international applicants are well informed of the financial obstacles they may face. It is for these reasons that we provide the following information.

  • The process for PhD applicants is highly competitive and we typically only accept 1 student per year. We usually have one funding package available, but it is limited in scope and the university does not waive tuition fees.

If you are looking for more information about tuition fees and expenses, please use these websites and select ‘All other PhD programs.’ Note that rent is only listed here for a period of 8 months and many leases are for 12 months and application fees are not refundable. Find out more about admission requirements, including English proficiency test scores.

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PhD Graduates

The PhD Program in Communication began in September 1997 with five students, four full-time and one part-time. Since then, between five and eight new students have joined the program each year from across Canada and around the world.

Since 2003, when the program had its first graduates, the following students have received their doctorates in Communication.


Brandon Rigato

Thesis: Malicious Enclaves: Racism, Hate, and Violence in Social Media Use of Right Wing Extremists in Canada

Siyu (Rainie) Wang

Thesis: “Loitering” with Unconcerned Clicks: Class Nature and Social Exclusion of Sina Weibo Users in Representing Chinese Migrant Workers


Nasreen Rajani

Thesis:  “Our Experiences are Different…Our Risks are Different”: Racialized Women’s Online Activism to End Violence Against Women in Canada

Kathy Dobson

Thesis:  Living in Algorithmic Governance : A Study in the Digital Governance of Social Assistance in Ontario

Nadia Hai

Thesis:  Framing the Western Jihad : A Grounded Theory Analysis of Inspire, Dabiq, and Rumiyah Magazines

Melodie Cardin

Thesis:  “As Long as It’s Healthy…” : Prenatal Health, Disability and Biopower


Jess Ring

Thesis:  Re-Tooling the Sisterhood: Conceptualizing ‘Meaningful Making’ through Maker Culture, Makerspace Politics, and Feminist ‘little m’ making-as-activism

Lowell Gasoi

Thesis:  Singing for Our Supper : Performative Advocacy in Canadian Art Worlds


Derek Antoine

Thesis:  Spinning Violence: Examining Competing Discourses of State Force and Indigenous Identity in Mi’kma’ki, 2013

Gabriela Capurro

Thesis:  ‘Superbugs’ and the ‘Dirty Hospital’: The Social Co-Production of Public Health Risks

Simon Vodrey

Thesis:  Revisiting the Contemporary Flow of Influence in Political Marketing


Stanislav Budnitskiy

Thesis:  Digital Nationalism: Identity, Strategic Communication, and Global Internet Governance

Emily Hiltz

Thesis:  The Notorious Woman: Tracing the Production of Alleged Female Killers through Discourse, Image, and Speculation


Ebere Ahanihu

Thesis:  Digitizing Failure: Development and Power in Nigerian e-Schools

Ghadah Alrasheed

Thesis:  Tweeting Towards Utopia: Technological Utopianism and Academic Discourse on Political movements in the Middle East and North Africa

Suzanne Waldman

Thesis:  Taking Risk Seriously: Discourses and Worldviews in a Nuclear Waste Controversy

Sherry Wasilow

Thesis:  Contemporary Canadian Military/Media Relations: Embedded reporting during the Afghanistan War


Christy Mady

Thesis: The Status of Women News Journalists in Lebanese Television: A Field-Gender Approach

Derek Noon

Thesis: Negotiating a Quantum Computation Network: Mechanics, Machines, Mindsets


Reisa Klein

Thesis: Beauty Marks: Counter-hegemonic Power of the Body?


Emily Truman

Thesis: Back to the political future: coping with crisis through radical nostalgia for revolutionary icons


Ezra Winton

Thesis: Good for the Heart and Soul, Good for Business: The Cultural Politics of Documentary at the Hot Docs Film Festival

Vincent Raynauld

Thesis: The perfect political storm? The Tea Party movement, the redefinition of the digital political mediascape, and the birth of online politicking 3.0

William Fox

Thesis: Lazarsfeld, Merton and Markets: Case Studies of Media Effects Theories As Applied to Financial Reporting and Financial Markets

Bernard Gauthier

Thesis: Drawing Professional Boundaries: Professional organizations, Communication and interprofessional collaboration in health care


Michael Lithgow

Thesis: Beautiful & Ambiguous News: An Aesthetic Approach to the Limits of Discursive “Truth”

Rhonda Walker-Sisttie

Thesis: The 2005 Canadian Same-Sex Marriage Debate: A Case Study Examining How the Press Presented the Parliamentary Debate on Bill C-38

Brian Gorman

Thesis: Dialectic of Gloom: How the press survived the great Recession of 2008, after slashing its wrists and writings its own obituary


Wendy Quinlan-Gagnon

Thesis: Communication and the Changing Roles of Public Art Museums: Lessons for Museum Professionals

Irina Mihalache

Thesis: Communicating History: Forgetting Colonialism at the Institut du Monde Arabe

Howard Fremeth

Thesis: Memory, Militarism and Citizenship: Tracking the Dominion Institute in Canada’s Military-Cultural Memory Network


Ning Du

Thesis: Shadows of Traditions: Discourse Shifts on the Rule of Law and China’s Modernity

Georgina Grosenick

Thesis: Strategic Outcomes and Public Understanding: the Goals, Contexts, and Strategies of Non-Profit Advocacy Surrounding Issues of Homelessness in Four Canadian Cities


Claire Harrison

Thesis: Dipping into the Social Imaginary:The Role of Narrative Reference in Public Debate

Sara Bannerman

Thesis: Canada and the Berne Convention 1886-1971

John Shiga

Thesis: Reproductive Anxiety: Reconfiguring the Human in Virtual Culture

Jason Hannan

Thesis: Moral Discourse in a World After Virtue Communication and Dialogue in the Thought of Alasdair MacIntyre


Carrie Buchanan

Thesis: A Changing Sense of Place in Canadian Daily Newspapers: 1894-2005

Marc-André Piegon

Thesis: The Depoliticization of Canada’s Economic Discourse

Joseph K. Ngare

Thesis: Neoliberal Global Governance: How International Development Organizations Transform East African Mediascapes

Aliaa Ibrahim Dakroury

Thesis: PRESENT AT THE CREATION: The Telecommission Studies and the Intellectual Origins of the Right to Communicate in Canada (1969-71)

Christopher Bodnar

Thesis: Taking It To The Streets: Space, Labour and Resistance in the Vancouver and Paris Film Industries from 1970 to 2005

Jaffer Sheyholislami

Thesis: Identity, Discourse, and the Media: the Case of the Kurds


Faiza Hirji Kassam

Thesis: Resistance is Futile: Indian Cinema and Identity Construction Among Young South Asian Canadians of Muslim and Other Backgrounds

Paula Romanow

Thesis: The Costal Communities Network: Community Development, the Internet, and Cultural Change in Rural Nova Scotia


Ian Nagy

Thesis: Conspiracy and the Logic of Capital


Valerie Steeves

Thesis: Beyond Data Protection: Applying Mead’s Symbolic Interactionalism and Habermas’s Communicative Action to Westin’s Theory of Privacy

Anne-Marie Kinahan

Thesis: “A Splendid Army of Organized Womanhood” Gender, Communication and the National Council of Women of Canada, 1893-1918


Jason Bristow

Thesis: Canada and the Cultural Trade Quandary: Rethinking National Identity, Economic Liberalization, and Policy Capacity

Sandra Smeltzer

Thesis: Myths of ITCs and Progress in Malaysia

Derek Foster

Thesis: Squeegee kids: A study of successful scapegoating, 1995-2001

Mahmoud Eid

Thesis: Interweavement — Building a Crisis Decision-Making Model for Rational Responsibility in the Media: International Communication, Political Crisis Management, and the Use of Mathematics


Peter Hodgins

Thesis: The Canadian Dream-Work: History, Myth and Nostalgia in the Heritage Minutes

Kirsten Kozolanka

Thesis: Political Communication and Construction of the Neo-Liberal Hegemonic Project: Ontario in Transition, 1995-1997

Pat Mazepa

Thesis: Battles on the Cultural Front: The (De)Labouring of Culture in Canada, 1914-1944

Charlene Elliott

Thesis: Colour Codification: Law, Culture and the Hue of Communication