The PhD in communication explores key issues in the discipline such as communicating complex information, influencing health behaviors, he digital divide, public advocacy, intercultural sensitivity, media literacy, and  national security. The PhD program offers two major areas of emphasis: health and strategic communication. Students may also emphasize science communication in conjunction with either of these. Faculty and students conduct research concerning consumer-provider relationships, risk communication, crisis management, organizational communication, media systems, health campaigns, new information technologies, communication policy, media advocacy, and health communication interventions. 
 

Admissions

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. Applicants must already have earned a master's degree in a relevant field. For information specific to the PhD in communication, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Policies

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see Graduate Policies.

Reduction of Credit

Students must have a master's degree before being admitted to the PhD in communication. Most students receive a reduction of study of 30 credits based on their previous master's degree.

Program Requirements

To receive the PhD in communication, students must complete a minimum of 90 credits, 60 beyond the master’s degree, including core courses in theory and research methods, coursework in substantive fields of study, and a research practicum. Following completion of all required coursework, students must pass a written qualifying examination and an oral defense of it, after which they are advanced to candidacy by the dean and complete a dissertation, an original and independent research project.

If specific requirements are waived, students must complete substitutions, which are recorded on their Program of Study. All substitutions to degree requirements must be approved by the graduate committee.

Banner Code: LA-PHD-COM

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 90

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Core Courses

Four Theory Courses

COMM 700Building Social Science Theory3
Select one additional theory course from the following:3
Theories and Research of Mass Communication
Intercultural Communication
Persuasion Theory
Theories of Interpersonal Communication
Organizational Communication
Select two additional theory courses from the following:6
Theories and Research of Mass Communication
Intercultural Communication
Health Communication
Theories of Public Relations
Persuasion Theory
Theories of Interpersonal Communication
Organizational Communication
Science Communication
Science and the Public
Strategic Communication
Total Credits12

Three Research Methods Courses

Methods Course
COMM 650Research Methodologies in Communication3
Qualitative methods course
COMM 725Qualitative Methods 13
Additional Research Course
Select one course at the 700-level or above. 23
Total Credits9
1

Or another course at 700-level or above as approved by the graduate committee.

2

This course should be chosen to help prepare for the dissertation and must be approved by the graduate committee.

Substantive Field of Study

Students choose one of the following substantive fields of study. 

Health Communication
Select three courses from the following:9
Health Communication
Intercultural Health and Risk Communication
Consumer-Provider Health Communication
Health Communication Campaigns
Select three elective courses chosen with approval of the advisor and director9
Total Credits18
Strategic Communication
Select three courses from the following:9
Theories of Public Relations
Intercultural Health and Risk Communication
Strategic Communication
Crisis Communication
Select three elective courses chosen with approval of the advisor and director9
Total Credits18

One Research Practicum

Select 3 credits from the following:3
Communication Research Practicum
Special Topics in Communication
Independent Study
Total Credits3

Elective Courses

Students complete the remaining credits through additional elective courses chosen in consultation with an advisor0-30
Total Credits0-30

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all coursework required on their approved program of study. Students must also successfully pass a written qualifying exam and an oral qualifying exam. In addition, students must have a dissertation committee appointed by the Dean’s Office as well as an approved proposal. Evidence of the approved proposal must be on file in the Dean’s Office before a student can advance to candidacy.

Dissertation

Once enrolled in COMM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students in this degree program must maintain continuous registration for at least 1 credit. Once enrolled in COMM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research, student must maintain continuous registration each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in COMM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research, students must follow the university's continuous registration policy as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Research. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of COMM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.

Students complete a minimum of 3 credits of COMM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and 3 credits of COMM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research. They must apply a minimum of 18 dissertation credits (COMM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and COMM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research combined) to the degree. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional credits of these courses.

At least eighteen credits of the following:18
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal
Doctoral Dissertation Research
Total Credits18