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PhD in Communication

SOC PhD students at desks

Program and Admission Requirements

Priority deadline Feb 1

Program Requirements

In contrast to the traditional 9-month schedule, the yearly course of study for the program will take place over an 11-month period, which includes faculty supervision and mentoring via formal course work, organized research group meetings, and online collaboration.

Students in the Ph.D. program will be required to complete four semesters of approved full-time course work and one summer session in residence at American University before advancing to candidacy. These will include: seven core courses (Comm 704 Media, Technology and Democracy, Comm 750 Advanced Media Theory, Comm 751 Advanced Media Research Methods, Comm 754 Media Law and Policy, Comm 711 Teaching Seminar in Communication, Comm 861 Advanced Research and Project Development, Comm 860 Seminar in Doctoral Research, and Comm 899 Dissertation Research); an approved graduate course in statistics, as well as an additional approved elective in research methods; and at least three approved electives at the 600 level or above that focus on a student's concentration area (see concentration descriptions). All students must pass a qualifying exam and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation.

Read the program curriculum.

Admissions Requirements

Priority application deadline for fall 2015 admission is December 15, 2014

In addition to the admissions requirements list on this page, doctoral program applicants must:

  • Hold a researched–focused masters degree in Communication or a related field from an accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher
  • Obtain a combined score of at least 316 on the GRE General Aptitude test (or a score of at least 1200 if the test was taken prior to November, 2011)
  • Include in the statement of purpose a section outlining the applicants' intended research area
  • Submit a copy of the master's thesis or other sample of academic work

The admissions committee may ask applicants to interview with the program director and affiliated faculty. Interviews are conducted either on campus or via Skype or similar tool.

Each year SOC will welcome several doctoral students with full tuition remission as well as a graduate assistant position. SOC may also offer admission to top candidates without merit funding. If funding comes available, students admitted without funding may be eligible to receive a merit package from the department.

Apply now.