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Doctoral Degree Program

SIU Communication Studies graduate students walking outside during autumn on campus.

The Communication Studies program offers a doctoral degree in Communication Studies.

Doctoral graduate students elect to focus on one or more of the following areas of emphasis: Gender, Sexuality, and Relational Communication; Intercultural Communication and Pedagogy; Performance Studies; and Rhetoric and Society.

Courses also are available in critical/cultural studies, organizational communication, public address, and public relations.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. degree requires 51 semester credit hours of coursework beyond the master's degree, 9 of which are methodology (tool) courses. You must complete a minimum of 36 of those 51 hours within the school. Also, you must complete 24 semester credit hours of dissertation work. Course work outside the school must be germane to one of the school curriculum areas for purposes of examination and dissertation research.

Compass IconCheck out the program courses and download the graduate handbook to learn more.

Throughout the program of study, you must maintain a 3.00-grade point average in all work taken. If your grade point average drops below the minimum, you will be placed on academic warning for the following two semesters.

During the last half of the second semester of coursework, your progress will be reviewed by the advisory committee to determine continuation, change, or termination of the program. Your advisory committee will be responsible for assembling the necessary information (grades, recommendations, progress in curriculum areas, etc.) for consideration in reaching the decision.

Areas of Emphasis

We encourage students to focus on an area of emphasis and also work across areas to form communities of learning at their intersections.

Advisory Committee 

A 3 person advisory committee shall be established no later than the beginning of the second semester of graduate study to plan the program of study with you. The chair of the committee shall act as the primary adviser and sign the graduate course request form. This advisory committee is responsible for certifying to the graduate director that you have met all school requirements for admission to candidacy and have passed the Ph.D. preliminary examination. 

You and the advisory committee will plan the program of study. All students are required to take CMST 501, Introduction to Communication Studies Research and CMST 510, Rhetorical Theory. Students selecting theater as a curriculum area must take 18 hours of communication studies courses, including CMST 501 and 510. 

Attendance is required at proseminars as part of your professional development. Graduate students are encouraged to present their scholarly work. 



You must register for at least 24 semester hours of dissertation credit in CMST 600 or THEA 600. In addition, you must register for at least one semester hour of credit in CMST 600 or THEA 600 during any academic term in which the services of any faculty member are utilized in the supervision of or consultation concerning the dissertation. If your reliance upon faculty assistance justifies, the dissertation adviser may require you to register for an appropriately greater number of semester hours. 

The dissertation director shall, upon consultation with you, be responsible for setting up a dissertation committee, supervising the dissertation, and administering the final oral examination. The dissertation committee shall approve the dissertation prospectus and pass upon the completed dissertation and oral examination. You are required to submit an electronic copy of the dissertation to the Graduate School, one bound paper copy to the School of Communication Studies, and one bound paper copy to the dissertation director. 

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Preliminary Examination 

You must pass a preliminary examination on your program of study. In consultation with you, the advisory committee determines the preparation and administration of the examination. You take the examination at the end of coursework.


Students can work creatively in the Marion Kleinau Theatre, which is housed in the Communications building, and is a 110-seat theatre with state-of-the-art light and sound systems.

Each year the theatre hosts an active performance season which includes both solo and group performances in the areas of creative adaptations of literature, original scripts, performance art, and ethnographic studies, among others.

Financial Assistance

There are several forms of financial assistance available to graduate students enrolled in the Communication Studies program. Eligible graduate students may apply for graduate fellowships, including special fellowships from the Graduate School, which include weekly research assignments. Students may also apply for graduate assistantships which include up to twenty hours of service in teaching or research.

We also offer dissertation research awards for students in their final year of work toward the Ph.D. in Communication Studies degree.


Most first year grad students on assistantship teach two sections of stand-alone versions of the basic communication course. After their first year, students can apply to teach upper level undergraduate courses, as well as for non-teaching assistantship positions.

Non-teaching assistantships are available, including opportunities to work in editing/publishing the journal Kaleidoscope, alongside students in our Speaker's Center and PRSSA, and in the Marion Kleinau Theatre. There are also a limited number of research and administrative assistantships available each year.

Program Admission

Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School and should have completed a minimum of 24 quarter or 16 credit hours in communication studies or related subjects. A program for remedying deficiencies in background can be arranged by the school’s Graduate Committee. Inquiries regarding admission to the graduate program in communication studies should be directed to the graduate program director of the School of Communication Studies. 

Each applicant should apply online and upload three letters of recommendation from former instructors. Official transcripts should be mailed directly to the school. In addition, applicants for the Ph.D. in Communication Studies degree program may furnish a research paper as evidence of research and writing ability.

Here is a helpful checklist with more detailed information on the application process.

Inquiries regarding admission to the joint Ph.D. program between Theater and Communication Studies should be directed to the director of graduate studies of the School of Theater and Dance (Email:

International Students

International students must take the TOEFL and score at least 550 (paper score) or 80 (internet score) or have an IELTS score of 6.5 to be admitted.

Contact Information

Sandy Pensoneau-Conway
Program Director
Communications Building 2002
1100 Lincoln Dr.
Mailcode 6605
Carbondale, IL 62901

Rebecca Walker
Director of Graduate Studies
Communications Building 2002J
1100 Lincoln Dr.
Mailcode 6605
Carbondale, IL 62901

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