Institute of Communications Research
Doctor of Philosophy in Communications and Media
Program & Curriculum
At the core of the Ph.D. program are those traditions of research that have taken hold at Illinois over the years: inquiry into social and cultural aspects of communication with emphasis on critical/historical analysis; studies of economic and political aspects of communication institutions; studies in language, meaning and psycholinguistics; and studies in the processes and effects of communication, including public opinion and attitude change.
With the assistance of cooperating departments, significant studies also have been developed in advertising, agricultural communications, journalism, film and interpersonal and organizational communication. The doctoral program is deliberately designed to be broad and flexible, and students are encouraged to draw upon the full range and interests of the College of Media faculty. Although students normally develop an area of specialization within communications, the program emphasizes a breadth of perspectives on human and mass communications as befits its interdisciplinary nature. Each student's program is individually designed (with the aid of an adviser) to reflect a particular interest in communications; some of the most successful graduate work has resulted from breaking traditional definitions of specialization and creating original programs reflecting novel perspectives.
A graduate minor in Gender and Women's Studies is available in cooperation with the UI Gender and Women's Studies Program, and certification in criticism and interpretive theory is available through the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, an interdisciplinary clearinghouse for faculty and graduate students interested in cultural criticism and critical theory.
The Institute cooperates with the University of Illinois College of Medicine in offering the combined M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. The Medical Scholars Program is the largest and broadest program of its kind in the world, with more than 150 students enrolled in fifty graduate programs. Equipped with an excellent medical education and Ph.D. training, graduates of the Medical Scholars Program have the credentials to assume leadership roles in academic medicine, medical research and health policy.
Within the 64 hours of course work, students must complete at least eight hours in research methods. To provide a competent background for constructively understanding the field's wide-ranging literature, students are required to take one quantitative and one qualitative course.
In addition to methodology courses taught by the College of Media faculty, students are encouraged to consider relevant courses in quantitative or non-quantitative methods elsewhere on campus.
Students are expected to organize programs that are consistent with their designated interests. The program is designed in consultation with a faculty adviser and uses courses from both inside and outside the Institute. Students must identify both a major and a minor area of study.
A major consists of a minimum of 48 hours of course work plus a minimum of 32 thesis research hours. In the past, students have had majors such as these approved: Advertising; Advertising and Marketing; Advertising Research; Broadcasting and Mass Media Images; Communication and Social Change; Communication History Communication Ethics; Communication Systems; Communications and Interpretive Sociology; Communications Technology; Communications Technology and Culture; Cultural Studies; Feminist Theory and Women's Studies; Film and Radio-Television; Gay, Lesbian and Queer Studies; Gender and Race; Global Communication and Economies; History and Social Theory; Information Science; Institutional Approaches to the Mass Media; Intercultural Communications; International Communication; Sociology of News; Latin American Studies; Legal/Ethical Issues in Advertising; Mass Communication Effects; Mass Media and Politics; Media-Audience Relationship; Multiculturalis;, Philosophy of Communications; Psycholinguistics; Public Opinion; Technology in Developing Countries; Sociology of Broadcasting; Popular Culture; Philosophy of Technology; Research Methods in Communications; Social-Economic-Legal Factors in Telecommunications Industries; and Theories of Popular Literature and Culture.
Advancement to candidacy
By the end of the second year (but accepted earlier), students submit to the Student Evaluation Committee a preliminary Petition for Advancement to Candidacy that outlines the students' tentative program leading to the dissertation. The committee reviews the program and may make recommendations about the selection of proposed courses. Normally during the last year of course work a second petition is submitted that must be approved before a student can take the preliminary examination.
Because the Doctor of Philosophy degree is primarily a research degree, candidates are required to demonstrate a capacity for independent research by producing an original dissertation on a topic connected with the special area of study.
After students distribute polished drafts of their dissertations, they take final oral examinations administered by the appointed committees. The student is required to support and interpret the dissertation to the committee's satisfaction, as well as to show an adequate grasp of the selected area of concentration that it represents.
Program policies, practices and expectations
Until students have had their petitions for admission to candidacy approved and have formally chosen an adviser, they are expected to consult with the Director of the ICR and/or the ICR Director of Graduate Studies about course and program questions and requirements.
Graduate teaching experience
The ICR feels strongly about the teaching component and attempts to find students the opportunities to teach courses relevant to communications studies.