Department of Communication
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Requirements for PhD Program Links

Please note that the information presented here is intended to help you answer any questions you might have about our program requirements. However, requirements of the University’s Graduate School, the College of Communication and Fine Arts, and the Communication Department are subject to change. In planning any course of study or degree program, you should consult your advisor and the Graduate School Catalog.

In addition to the requirements listed here, you should read the University of Memphis the information on Graduate School requirements and regulations, the information in each semester’s schedule of classes, announcements posted on the Department’s Home Page and notices posted on the board outside the Main Office, Room 212, Art and Communication Building. Remember: requirements of the University’s Graduate School, the College of Communication and Fine Arts, and the Communication Department are subject to change. In planning any course of study or degree program, you should consult your advisor and the Graduate Catalog.

  1. You must earn at least 60 semester hours beyond the master’s degree as approved by your PhD committee, including a minimum of 15 hours for combined pro-seminar and dissertation credits and a minimum of 6 hours taken from outside of the Department of Communication. A maximum of 15 hours at the 6000 level is currently allowed for doctoral students; however, this stipulation is under review and will likely be changed. Be sure to ask your advisor about registering for 6000 level courses.
  2. Research Tool or Analytic Specialty. You must demonstrate competence in the research tool or analytic specialty required for completion of your dissertation. Competence can be demonstrated in a variety of ways to be determined by your advisory committee.
  3. Core Competencies. You must demonstrate competency in three areas:
    • Communication Theory
    • Media Theory
    • Rhetorical Theory

    These competencies can be satisfied academically in a variety of ways in consultation with the your advisory committee.

  4. Residency Requirements. University policy requires that a minimum of 2 consecutive semesters (Fall/Spring or Spring/Fall) in residence (with a course load of 9 hours per semester) beyond the master’s degree be completed prior to registering for dissertation credit. The summer session will not count as one of the required semesters. However, alternative options exist for fulfilling residency requirements. See the graduate coordinator for more information.
  5. Prior to taking comprehensive examinations, you must enroll in COMM 8992 Pro-Seminar. The topic will be approved by your advisory committee. Specific course requirements will vary depending on the nature of the topic, research methodology, and progress toward completion. You can take up to 6 credit hours of this course but must complete at least 3 to be eligible to take comprehensive examinations. These hours do not count toward your 45 credit hours of course work. They do count in the required 15 hours of combine Pro-Seminar and Dissertation credit hours.
  6. Comprehensive Examination. The examination will consist of a written and an oral portion. At the completion of the your course work (at least 45 hours, excluding the Pro Seminar), you will take a comprehensive exam over the areas covered in the your program. The content of the examination will depend on the nature of your program and the areas of concentration. The precise distribution of the 10 hours of the written exam and the areas that it will cover will be determined by your PhD committee. When appropriate, questions can be solicited from other faculty members to supplement those provided by the PhD committee members. The comprehensive examination, which is both written and oral, is the primary basis on which the faculty of the department determine whether you are ready to embark upon the program of research and writing culminating in the dissertation. The PhD committee administers the comprehensive examination. At the close of the oral portion, the PhD committee, after considering the quality of both oral and written responses, will determine the outcome.

    You will not be allowed to take the comprehensive examination or submit a dissertation prospectus if you have any Incompletes outstanding in the approved program of study.

  7. Dissertation Requirements
    1. On successful completion of the comprehensive examination, you will select a dissertation director and, in consultation with the director, invite three additional faculty members to serve as your dissertation committee. It is recommended that one member of the committee be from outside the discipline. The dissertation director serves as the chair of the dissertation committee. NOTE: You should familiarize yourself with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before starting to write.
    2. Dissertation Proposal Defense. You will submit a proposal for the dissertation to the dissertation committee and defend the proposal before the committee. To be considered as "making satisfactory progress," you must have your prospectus approved within two semesters of completion of the comprehensive examination.
    3. Dissertation Defense. The dissertation director will circulate a complete draft of the dissertation to all committee members, who will be given the opportunity to provide feedback. If need be, you will then write a revised dissertation, approved by the dissertation director, and circulated to all committee members. This process will continue until a majority of the dissertation committee formally agrees that the dissertation is ready to be defended. At that time, the dissertation director will schedule an oral defense of the dissertation. On approval of all of the members of the dissertation committee, the dissertation will be submitted to the Graduate School for final approval and the degree awarded.

For additional information, see Steps to Move Forward in the PhD Program.

Remember: You must be aware of and meet all requirements of the Graduate School.

Requirements for the PhD Program

Steps to Move Forward in the PhD Program 

Maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress 

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Last Updated: 5/12/14