Ph.D. Courses

Overview | Ph.D. Courses | Student Research


Completion of the Ph.D. program in communication at The Florida State University requires 72-78 graduate credit hours. This includes at least 48 coursework hours beyond the completion of the Master’s degree, plus 24 hours for the dissertation. Depending on the student’s background and nature of the dissertation, the doctoral program typically requires two to three years to complete the coursework and preliminary examinations, and one year of dissertation work.

With the advice and approval of the doctoral supervisory committee, each student will develop a program of studies.  Specific doctoral program course requirements are minimized to provide the student maximum flexibility in designing a program of study to meet individual interests and goals.  The doctoral coursework will consist of a minimum of 48 course credit hours beyond the completion of the Master’s degree, plus 24 hours of dissertation credits. The program is made up of the following components:

 Component Credit Hours
 Foundation Courses 9
 Primary Area of Study 12-15
 Secondary Area of Study 6
 Research Methods and Design 9-12
 Cognate 12
 Preliminary Examination 0
 Dissertation 24
 Total 72-78

Foundation Courses

To be introduced to a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches to communication research, all students take the following 9 credits hours of course work (typically) during the first year of doctoral studies.

COM5401 Analysis of Communication Theory, 3 hours, Required
COM5312 Research Methods in Communication, 3 hours, Required
COM5348 Qualitative Methods in Communication Research, 3 hours, Required
COM5920 Colloquium in Communication, 0 hours, Required each semester prior to candidacy

Primary and Secondary Areas of Study

The School of Communication offers a variety of graduate courses in the areas of media studies, cultural and rhetorical studies, and marketing communication.  Doctoral students will designate one of these as a primary area of study, completing 12-15 hours of coursework from an approved list.  Students will also designate one of the remaining two areas as a secondary area of study, completing 6 hours of coursework from an approved list.  All approved courses will include a “significant writing or creative assignment.” Also, to gain a deeper understanding of a topic, doctoral students are required to study beyond an introductory graduate level. To accomplish this task, the typical doctoral student will enroll in a minimum of 6 hours of individualized study as a part of the primary area of study.

Please see Graduate Bulletin for specific course descriptions.

Research Methods and Design

One of the goals of our program is to develop not only consumers of communication scholarship, but also creators. To that end, students will become proficient in the communication research methods most appropriate to their intellectual interests. In general, students select from a list of courses, in addition to special topics courses that may focus on research methods. The student’s supervisory committee will help guide the selection of appropriate courses. The Department of Communication has recently offered methods-related classes dealing with the assessment of organizational communication, survey research, media content analyses, and criticism of contemporary public address, to name a few.

Please see Graduate Bulletin for specific course descriptions.


Students are required to pursue a cognate or minor area that relates to or enhances the overall program of studies. This requirement is fulfilled with courses offered outside the School of Communication. Additionally, although it is not required that all twelve credit hours be taken in the same outside department, it is generally understood that all twelve hours of coursework should be conceptually related to one another. The supervisory committee will be the student’s guide for selecting the most appropriate cognate courses.

Preliminary Examination

At the end of a student’s coursework and upon the approval of the doctoral supervisory committee, students will complete the Doctoral Preliminary Examination. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to determine if the student is sufficiently prepared to continue with the original, independent scholarly work required to complete a doctoral dissertation. Upon successful completion of the preliminary examination, the student officially becomes a doctoral candidate.


Upon admission to candidacy, the student is ready to begin the dissertation process. Students should note that dissertations should represent original, independent scholarship that is of significance to the discipline. Work will be held to the highest standards. The minimum number of dissertation credits for completion of a doctoral degree is twenty-four.

With the major professor’s approval, the student must enroll in Dissertation Defense for the semester in which the dissertation project will be completed. With successful defense of the dissertation, the student has fulfilled the departmental requirements for the degree.

Transfer Credit/Course Equivalencies

Technically speaking, the School of Communication does not accept “transfer credit.” That is, because students are required to take at least 48 hours of course credit after the Master’s degree, “transferring” credit is simply not necessary. However, this does not mean that students are denied all credit for previous graduate courses taken. Previous graduate coursework is routinely approved as course equivalencies for one or more of the three required Foundation courses. The director of doctoral studies and the school director can give students advice on what previous courses might serve as Foundation course equivalencies. However, the decision to actually apply to the program of studies certain courses ultimately rests with the doctoral supervisory committee. For courses to be considered as possible equivalents, students must supply a copy of the course syllabi for evaluation. Discussions about possible course equivalencies should take place early in a student’s program.