The Institute of Communications Research is an internationally recognized center for interdisciplinary education, scholarship and public engagement in communications and culture in a global economy. Drawing broadly on the social sciences and humanities, the Institute develops new directions in research and has been home to some of the most famous scholars in media and communications. 


Core traditions: Critically interpretive knowledge in an increasingly global world
Since founder Wilbur Schramm envisioned "something very unlike a traditional academic department," the Institute has been at the forefront of communications research. Its faculty and graduate students continue to have a major impact. 

The Institute today is a national leader in interdisciplinary research and instruction. It is unique in that it not only brings together three departments across the College of Media, but it also encourages students to reach outside the college for additional coursework to broaden their knowledge base. The program is highly selective. ICR doctoral students are graduates of universities from around the world. Graduate students from other departments on the Illinois campus have found the Institute to be a productive environment for their interdisciplinary research. 

From the East Coast (e.g., the University of Pennsylvania) to the West Coast (e.g., the University of California) in the U.S., and at institutions in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, upper North America, South America and elsewhere, one will find ICR graduates serving in teaching, research and administrative positions.  In addition, Institute graduates make a difference as leaders and researchers in industry, government, not-for-profit agencies and NGOs.  Graduates from the ICR have produced scholarship that has influenced and shaped communications and media theory and practice.

Visiting international faculty and scholars also participate in the Institute, often remaining in residence for a year or more. Our recent faculty hires include internationally acclaimed senior faculty in media and communications policy, telecommunications history, gender and ethnic studies of media and communication, media globalization, and the political economy of communication.


Among the topics students may pursue:

  • Advertising and consumer research
  • Cinema
  • Cultural studies
  • Democracy, social justice and the media
  • Global/international communications
  • Journalism studies
  • Media and communications history
  • Media economics, organization and structure
  • Media ethics
  • Media policy
  • Media spaces and mobile technologies
  • New technologies and emerging media
  • Political economy of the media
  • Popular culture
  • Race, ethnicity and gender
  • Social and cultural studies of science and medicine 
  • Television and telecommunications