Ph.D. in Communication

Overview | Ph.D. Courses | Faculty Research Areas | Student Research

Pursue a Ph.D. in Communication at Florida State

The award-winning faculty members in the School of Communication are ready to help you build a career in communication research, teaching, and related fields. At Florida State, you can work with a dynamic and diverse faculty and peer group. Our faculty and students specialize in areas such as emerging communication technologies, health and environmental communication, social media, social movements, political communication, media psychology, and marketing communication. Our program offers you extensive training in instruction and research, as well as access to an impressive array of resources, tools, and facilities that can help you achieve your educational and professional goals.

Program Emphasis: Communication Theory and Research

Beginning with a common core of courses, students will encounter various philosophical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to communication scholarship, from interpretive analyses to empirical studies. A major goal of the program is for students to gain knowledge of and an appreciation for the complexities and interdependencies within the range of communication inquiry. To that end, students will gain a critical, historical, and theoretical grounding in the communication discipline that will prepare them to pursue more in-depth coursework in media studies, cultural and rhetorical studies, or marketing communication. Students will be actively mentored so that they can present the results of their coursework and scholarship at national and international conferences, culminating in publication in refereed scholarly outlets.
See examples of current student research here.

Funded Research and Teaching Experiences + Tools

Students who are admitted to the program with funding (the overwhelming majority of students) are immediately provided funded assistantships in both teaching and research so that they can more easily build a record of scholarship and independent instruction that will prepare them for post-graduate careers.
Students also have access to a variety of research facilities and tools, including:

  • The Social Media Lab, with tools for social media content production as well as for data collection, visualization, and analysis
  • Two experimental Media Psychology Labs, including MediaLab and Direct RT software
  • Cognition and Emotion Lab, including psychophysiological measures as indices of cognition, emotion, and motivation (
  • Stereoscopic 3D Video and Virtual Reality production and editing facilities
  • Focus Group and Presentation Center
  • Free and remote access to Qualtrics survey software and SPSS

Funding for travel to present scholarly work at conferences and media festivals is also available to all students.

Extensive training in instruction and classroom management is provided both through the School and through the Florida State University Program for Excellence in Teaching. Regular workshops on innovations in online courses/distance learning are also available to students.

Career Opportunities

As a research-oriented institution, Florida State University is committed to preparing the next generation of communication scholars. Therefore, we place an emphasis on preparing doctoral students to conduct significant, original research in their areas of expertise and to teach communication in a university or college setting. Depending on individual career goals, however, graduates of our doctoral program should also be qualified to hold management positions in a communication or research organization, as well as to consult in media, research, or marketing. Regardless of the student’s chosen career path, the primary objective for all is to become an independent and competent scholar.

Flexible Program Structure

Students in our Ph.D. program in communication theory and research complete or participate in a highly flexible program tailored to meet students’ needs and interests, including:

  • 48 credit hours of graduate coursework after the Master’s degree, including a minimum of 12 hours in an outside cognate area;
  • supervised teaching experiences, usually including an opportunity to teach undergraduate communication courses;
  • supervised research experiences, with individual professors or as a part of one of our many research teams;
  • an ongoing graduate research colloquium and professional development series;
  • preliminary examinations after coursework; and
  • an original, independent, and significant dissertation project, requiring a minimum of 24 credit hours.

Please see the Ph.D. Courses page for more information.

Lifestyle Considerations

Tallahassee is the vibrant, yet affordable capitol of Florida. A wide variety of parks, recreation facilities, fine and performing arts venues, restaurants, and nightlife options are available. Our nearby Gulf Coast beaches are regularly named among the best in the United States, and the Florida State University campus was recently named one of the top 10 most beautiful in the U.S. by College Magazine.

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Application Deadlines

Fall Admission: The review of fall applications begins December 15th. Complete your application by December 15th for early acceptance and consideration for School assistantship funding.

Contact Information

To learn more, please contact Dr. Laura Arpan, Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies via email at:
Ph.D. Program in Communication
Suite 3100
University Center Building C
School of Communication, FSU
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2664
850-644-5034 (phone)
850-644-8642 (fax)