May 22, 2024  
Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2023-24 
Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2023-24

Communication Studies - PHD

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Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Studies

Communication Studies - PH5361, PH5387, PH5388
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Terms of Entry: Fall only

Terms of Entry Requiring Program Permission: None

Program Overview

The doctoral program in Communication Studies (COMS) is designed for students who want to become excellent teachers, researchers, and/or practitioners in the Communication discipline. Across an array of contexts, faculty and students in COMS strive to understand messages, communication processes, and implications and/or outcomes of communicative events. We actively strive to inspire our doctoral students to become effective and ethical teacher-scholars. The School of Communication Studies expects its graduates to develop a specialist’s depth in the study of human communication as well as a generalist’s perspective. All doctoral students complete a common set of core courses and then proceed to take specialized courses relevant to their professional objectives. 

The School offers the Ph.D. degree with primary areas of study in Health Communication (PH5361), Rhetoric and Culture (PH5387), and Interpersonal and Organizational Communication (PH5388). These areas combine existing research areas while adjusting to the contemporary trends in the communication discipline. Doctoral students select their primary area, research courses, and electives in consultation with their program of study committee.

The COMS doctoral program is designed to take approximately four years for full-time students.


  • Health Communication (PH5361): Students in the Health Communication concentration address topics ranging from narrative approaches to understanding health to health message effects. Faculty scholars in this area have developed meaningful connections with the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of Health Sciences and Professions, as well as several health related community advocacy organizations.
  • Rhetoric and Culture (PH5387): Students in the Rhetoric and Culture concentration tend to specialize in the study of contemporary discourses on issues ranging from politics to sports. Students are exposed to a wide range of rhetorical theorists, as well as many interdisciplinary theorists. Courses and research projects in this area seek to help us understand how we participate as advocates in society and enable us to become better advocates.
  • Interpersonal and Organizational Communication (PH5388): Students in the Interpersonal and Organizational Communication concentration blend theory from both organizational communication and interpersonal communication to ask provocative questions about communication contexts ranging from traditional organizational settings to the classroom and more traditional interpersonal relationships.

Graduate Assistantships

Students with a strong background in Communication Studies or related disciplines are eligible to be selected as graduate assistants. Graduate assistants serve as instructors and/or teaching assistants in a variety of undergraduate courses, coach in our nationally recognized forensics program, and/or assist faculty with various administrative and scholarly projects.

Further Information

Link to Program:

Link to Program Handbook:

Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate study is granted on the basis of a match between the student’s academic goals and the School’s primary areas of study, recommendations of those familiar with the student’s academic and other work, undergraduate and graduate grade-point average and class standing, scores on the Graduate Record Examination, submitted writing sample, and experiential and other informal learning experiences. International students from non-English speaking countries are required to submit a TOEFL score.

To be admitted unconditionally, a prospective student must have earned a bachelor’s degree or completed equivalent work (as approved by the University) at an accredited institution for direct admission into the COMS doctoral program.

International Students

This program permits full-time enrollment in residence at Ohio University, and an I-20 may be issued based on admission to this program.

Graduation Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 61 credit hours, excluding dissertation hours. These hours must be in accordance with an approved Plan of Study (POS) which meets the following minimum requirements:

Primary Areas

All students are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours in one of the following primary areas:

Research Competency

All students must complete a minimum of 15 hours of methods courses as approved by their POS Committee.

Additional Requirements

All students must successfully complete the following:

  • A minimum of 6 hours of elective coursework as approved by their POS Committee
  • A comprehensive examination
  • A scholarly portfolio

Culminating Experience

Students must complete and successfully defend a dissertation. Students may complete minimum of 12 dissertation hours, though most complete substantially more.

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