Public Communication

Students earning a PhD in Public Communication can choose between two concentrations: Media & Society and Rhetoric & Politics

The area of emphasis in Media and Society is designed to provide students with the conceptual and methodological tools to study mass media and its multiplex relations with diverse audiences and institutions. Our program encourages students to engage in theoretically rigorous, methodologically sophisticated, and ethically informed research. Students are urged to contribute substantively to human understanding of how media shape, and are shaped by, an increasingly complex social world. Faculty specialize in various areas of research including: international, political, health, and environmental communication, media effects, stereotypes, gender and media, journalism law, media ethics, and strategic communication.

The Media and Society concentration is designed to give students a solid foundation in both well-established and more cutting-edge media theories and models. In addition, the doctorate is designed such that students gain facility with innovative and often interdisciplinary methodological approaches to the study of media, approaches that may incorporate qualitative, quantitative, computational, and mixed methodologies. The overall goal of the doctoral program is to develop excellent academic researchers and instructors who will function as exemplary members of academic departments or highly skilled media professionals in either the commercial or non-profit sectors.

Our doctoral students are very active in the professional organizations in our field. They have presented conference papers at the annual meetings of the International Communication Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the National Communication Association, and the Southern States Communication Association.

Additional Information

Degree Requirements

Course Catalog 

Handbooks & Forms 

Application Process

Graduate Admissions 

The area of emphasis in Rhetoric and Politics examines how institutional and non-institutional actors enhance their influence in mediated environments. Faculty working in the area have particular expertise in public argument, multimodal discourse analysis, strategic use of affective appeals, and ideological formations of power and resistance that generate theoretical and applied insights into how persuasion works in contested offline and online spheres. Graduates in this concentration go on to leadership positions in academic settings, public advocacy organizations, corporate environments, and governmental institutions.

Our doctoral students are very active in the professional organizations in our field. They have presented conference papers at the annual meetings of the National Communication Association, ALTA, the Rhetoric Society of America, and the Southern States Communication Association.

Additional Information

Degree Requirements

Course Catalog 

Handbooks & Forms 

Application Process

Graduate Admissions