Exams and Dissertations

You will complete your degree with a series of exams and then successfully propose, create and defend a dissertation.

Preliminary Examinations

Under the direction of an approved faculty committee, you must satisfactorily complete examinations tailored to your individual course of study before achieving formal PhD candidacy. You’ll determine the subject areas in advance by consulting with your Doctoral Advisory Committee. Created by the committee members and consisting of essay questions in three areas, the exams are designed to demonstrate your critical and interpretive knowledge of specialized areas of media and communication and evaluate your ability to apply specific research concepts and tools to related issues in the discipline.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee evaluates your examinations, and a majority of the committee members must agree that they have been completed satisfactorily in order for you to pass.

You’ll take the exams no more than one term after you complete your course work. Note: All these tasks must be complete before you defend your dissertation proposal.

Dissertation Proposal

With the guidance of your academic advisor and at least two other committee members, you’ll propose an original, theoretically motivated research project.

The proposal should consist of

  • the background and context of a particular research problem,
  • a detailed methodological plan for investigating the problem,
  • an exhaustive survey and review of literature related to the problem, and
  • an identification of the theoretical and practical importance of the problem.

It should be completed and approved no more than one term after you complete course work. Upon approval, a timeline for completing the investigation and the writing process will be established.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

With the guidance of the Doctoral Advisory Committee, you’ll create and orally defend a doctoral dissertation consisting of an original empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field of media and communication. It should both expand the existing knowledge and demonstrate your knowledge of research methods and your primary area of interest.

Dissertations should

  • demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the primary area of interest and the broader field of media and communication, and
  • uphold the ethics and standards of the communication field.

The Dissertation Examining Committee comprises the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional graduate faculty member outside the Media and Communication program, will evaluate your dissertation and oral defense. They’ll evaluate your ability to verbally express your research question, implications, methodological approach and primary findings. Committee members vote to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the presentation.

Alumni dissertation titles and committee chairs