Because students are admitted from diverse backgrounds, the Proseminar courses introduce them to the history of communication research. The second semester revolves around the current debates, typically divided into the four major lines of inquiry that characterize the Institute's research tradition. While gaining an overview of the central issues and learning a common language, students in the Proseminar courses are also able to locate their own interests more precisely within the field of communications in its historical and contemporary forms.
Students are expected to take 12 hours of credit each semester. The credit hour requirement modulates when students begin to register for thesis units. While flexibility is the hallmark of the ICR's program, students are strongly urged to take two or more overview courses that augment their area of specialization. Such courses — systematically extending proseminar material —, give a broad overview of a significant body of scholarship in established areas of communication study, enable students to locate their own interests within the field as a whole, and provide solid preparation for courses that many students are likely to teach. Overview courses ensure breadth of knowledge within an interdisciplinary program such as the Institute's, where students have great latitude in designing their programs and are encouraged to take courses outside the field of communications.
A number of currently available 500-level courses accomplish these goals. Specific examples are listed below, and the list is periodically updated to reflect developments in the field and available faculty resources. Though these courses are not formal requirements for obtaining the Ph.D., students are expected to include at least two of them in their proposed program of study for the Program Evaluation Committee. Under exceptional circumstances, substitute courses that are equally broad might be proposed, or a proposal justified that forgoes these designated courses. In preparing proposals, students should consult with their faculty advisors; they are welcome to seek additional help from other experienced faculty, including members of the Program Evaluation Committee.
- Feminist Media Studies
- Political Economy of Communications
- Popular Culture
- History and Theory of Freedom of the Press
- Cultural Studies and Critical Interpretation
- Media and Politics
- Philosophy of Technology
- Communication Ethics
- Race and the U.S. Empire
Also see the complete course listing for (400- and 500-level) courses under the COMM rubric: