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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Doctor of Philosophy in Communication

University requirements for the Ph.D. are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin. The minimum number of academic units required for the Ph.D. at Stanford is 135, up to 45 of which can be transferred either from a master's degree at the University or from another accredited institution.

The department offers a Ph.D. in Communication Theory and Research. First-year students are required to complete introductory courses in communication theory and research, research methods, and statistics. These core courses, grounded in the social science literature, emphasize how people respond to media and how media institutions function. In addition, Ph.D. students must complete a minimum of three literature survey courses and related advanced seminars in Communication. Students also take significant course work outside the department in their area of interest. Each student builds a research specialty relating communication to current faculty interests in such areas as ethics, human-computer interactions, information processing, information technology, law, online communities, politics and voting, and virtual reality. Regardless of the area of specialization, the Ph.D. program is designed primarily for students interested in university research and teaching or other research or analyst positions.

The Ph.D. program encompasses four years of graduate study (subsequent to completion of the B.A. degree) during which, in addition to fulfilling University residency requirements, Ph.D. candidates are required to:

  1. Complete all departmental course requirements with grades of 'B+'' or above. Currently these courses include COMM 206, 208, 301, 311, 314, 317, and 318. Students are also required to take STATS 160 and two advanced methods courses.
  2. Pass the general qualifying examinations by the end of the second academic year of study and pass a specialized area examination by the end of the third academic year of study.
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in tools required in the area of research specialization. Identified with the advice of the faculty, such tools may include detailed theoretical knowledge, advanced statistical methods, a foreign language, computer programming, or other technical skills.
  4. Complete at least two pre-dissertation research projects (the Major Project and the Complementary Project).
  5. Teach or assist in teaching at least two courses, preferably two different courses, at least one of which is ideally a core undergraduate course (COMM 1A, 1B, 106, and 108).
  6. Complete a dissertation proposal and proposal meeting approved by the dissertation committee.
  7. Apply for candidacy by the end of the second year of graduate study.
  8. Complete a dissertation satisfactory to a reading committee of three or more faculty members in the Department of Communication and one faculty member outside of the Department of Communication.
  9. Pass the University oral examination, which is a defense of the dissertation.

Because the multifaceted nature of the department makes it possible for the Ph.D. student to specialize in areas that draw on different related disciplines, the plan of study is individualized and developed between the faculty adviser and the student.

Ph.D. candidacy is valid for five years.

Other requirements and details of the requirements can be found in the document, Official Rules and Procedures for the Ph.D. in the Department of Communication, available from the student services administrator of the department.

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