The PhD in Media Research and Practice (MDRP) is an umbrella that includes three distinct doctoral tracks in three separate departments in the College of Media, Communication and Information: 1) the PhD track in Journalism Studies offered by the Department of Journalism; 2) the PhD track in Strategic Communication offered by the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design; and 3) the PhD track in Media Studies offered by the Department of Media Studies.
The PhD in Journalism Studies is a distinct track that focuses on exploring the intersection of journalism and society. Students gain a solid foundation through coursework that explores the theories and methods that shape mass communication research. The multidisciplinary program examines not only traditional journalism, but also the ever-increasing boundaries of the industry, including user-generated content, citizen journalism, the audience’s impact on news production, social media’s role in news, new quasi-journalistic outlets, etc. Students research institutions, content, audiences and publics – and they can approach these subjects through many lenses: sociological, psychological, historical, cultural, political, economic, legal and more.
Students graduate from the program with a broad knowledge of the history of journalism and mass communication; its theories and methods; its current issues; and how numerous other disciplines study journalism and the news. The program graduates students who can design and execute research about mass communication, and specifically journalism studies. An important part of doctoral students’ education is their participation in the department’s – and the college’s – research and teaching missions through their assignments as teaching assistants or instructors, and as research assistants.
It is expected that a student will devote her or his full time to the doctoral program and assistantship duties during the fall and spring semesters while in the program, unless other arrangements have been made with the department.
The following is a summary of minimum requirements to earn a Ph.D. in Strategic Communication or in Journalism Studies. Students will take two semesters of Proseminar, two semesters of methods, four semesters of Doctoral Professionalization Seminar and 30 credits of electives, which must include 9 credits of advanced methods electives. Students are expected to take courses numbered at the 6000 or above levels. There are some exceptions to this in which doctoral students can receive permission to take 5000-level courses.
1. Proseminar in Mass Communication (6 Credits): All doctoral students are required to enroll in JRNL/APRD 7001 in their first semester of study, and in JRNL/APRD 7003 in their second semester. These courses are designed to introduce students to the major paradigms within the field of mass communication.
2. Doctoral Professionalization Seminar (4 Credits): All first- and second-year doctoral students will be required to enroll in JRNL/APRD 7004. The course, which is 1 credit each semester, prepares students for life in a doctoral program and for life after one, all while providing a sense of community amongst multiple doctoral cohorts and both departments’ faculty.
3. Methods (15 Credits): All first-year doctoral students enroll in Quantitative Research Methods in the fall, and in Qualitative Research Methods in the spring. These general courses deal with a variety of research methods used within the field. PhD students are also required to take three additional graduate level courses in the areas of research methods (9 hours). These may be taken inside or outside the departments.
4. Research Design (3 hours): Doctoral students are required to take JRNL/APRD 7002 in the first semester of their second year. This class is designed to bridge the gap between theory and method. Students will design multiple studies of interest during the course.
5. Area of Concentration (18 hours): Doctoral students are required to take a minimum of 18 hours of course work selected on the basis of the student’s area(s) of research interest. These courses should come from a combination of both inside and outside electives. For example, for a student interested in media effects, a combination of classes from both APRD/JRNL and psychology would make sense.
6. Independent study: Ph.D. students may take a maximum of two independent study courses in their course of study, either inside APRD and JRNL or outside of those home departments. Generally, these will be taken no earlier than the third semester of the program.
7. Comprehensive examinations: Each doctoral student will be required to pass comprehensive examinations, consisting of four questions, which are generally administered after the last semester in which the student takes course work. The examinations are individually tailored for each student and comprise both written and oral examinations.
8. Dissertation: A minimum of thirty hours of dissertation credit, MDRP 8991, must be taken. Various restrictions apply to these hours.
- No more than 10 dissertation credit hours may be taken in any one semester
- No more than 10 dissertation credit hours may be taken prior to the semester in which comprehensive examinations are taken.
- No more than 10 dissertation credit hours may be taken in the semester in which comprehensive examinations are taken.
- After passing comprehensive examinations, student must enroll for at least 5 dissertation credit hours (full time) or 3 dissertation credit hours (part time) each semester until graduation.
Typically students enroll for 10 dissertation hours in the semester they are taking comprehensive examinations and 10 dissertation hours each in the following fall and spring terms. Students must be aware of Graduate School rules regarding registration for dissertation hours, see:
Applicants to the Journalism track of the PhD program in Media Research and Practice are expected to hold the master’s degree or equivalent graduate work. In exceptional cases, applicants without a master’s degree may be considered for admission.
Completed domestic applications must be received by the program no later than Jan. 10 prior to the fall semester for which entrance is sought. International applications should be submitted by Dec. 1. Late applications may be considered under special circumstances.
Successful applications typically meet or exceed the following criteria:
Have a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 301 (1100 pre 2011) on verbal and quantitative combined. The GRE requirement may be waived under special circumstances. International applicants must also have a TOEFL score of 625 (IBT 106).
Have an undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.2 and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 in previous graduate work.
Provide three letters of recommendation.
Provide a 700-word Statement of Purpose.
Provide a resume or CV that includes academic and employment experience.
Provide a writing sample that exhibits the ability to undertake the conceptual and empirical studies required of doctoral students (e.g., a chapter from a master’s thesis or graduate-level term paper).
Meeting these criteria does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Because we accept relatively few new doctoral students each fall, we may have more qualified applicants than available openings.
For review and decision purposes you are required to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) in the online application. We require one copy of the scanned transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution that you attended. This includes community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, unofficial transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed. Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the university.
ONLY after you are recommended for admission will you need to provide official transcripts.
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