PhD Degree Requirements

photo of a group of students having an informal discussion
Please refer to the FGS academic requirements for Communication & Culture
FGS Calendar-2016-17 (.pdf)

To access past requirements, please visit the following website:

For doctoral students who entered the program prior to September 2014, please see PhD Degree Requirements (pre-2014).

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

Students must take a minimum of six half–courses including:

Communication & Culture 7000 3.0: Perspectives in Communication and Cultural Studies; and
Communication & Culture 7200 3.0: Advanced Research Methodologies; and
Communication & Culture 7005 3.0: PhD Field Seminar: Disciplinary Practices

Candidates must select a major area of specialization: a minimum of two half courses as selected from in–program electives, and a minor specialization: a minimum of one half course [which may be taken in a related program only with permission of the program(s)]. In program–courses selected from:

Media & Culture; and/or
Politics & Policy; and/or
Technology in Practice — Applied Perspectives:

Upon completion of the above course work are required to complete their Qualifying Examination (also called Comprehensive Exams) as described below:

Qualifying Examination

PhD candidates must demonstrate an overall command of the field and of the major and minor areas of area specialization by passing a written and oral comprehensive examination. The examination is normally taken by the end of the second year of registration (or by the end of the third year for part-time students). The examination tests the student’s grasp of the history of the field, its central themes and debates, and the key theoretical and methodological issues. The examination will also reflect the diversity of perspectives in the areas of specialization and its interdisciplinary nature in general. Successful completion of both the written and oral components of the examination demonstrates that the candidate is qualified to teach at the university level and has the level of knowledge in her/his area of specialization needed to begin work on the dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal

The expected outcome of the qualifying examination is that the candidate will prepare a formal dissertation proposal, under the direction of an advisory committee of program faculty (at least one from each university). Upon completion of the qualifying exams, the formal proposal will be submitted for approval by the Thesis Committee and the Graduate Program Director.


Candidates are required to develop the proposal into an original thesis that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field. The dissertation is submitted to the examining committee for review and oral examination.

Course Descriptions

CMCT 7000 3.0 Perspectives in Communication and Cultural Studies [Doctoral level]
This course provides an advanced exploration of the major theories and research approaches in the field, with particular attention to a critical assessment of contemporary theories and methods.

CMCT 7200 3.0 Advanced Research Methodologies
The principal aim of this course is to cultivate in students a critical research sensibility that addresses questions of communication and culture and their intersection, with research being defined as an engaged process of enquiry and discovery that leads to the production of social knowledge.

CMCT 7005 3.0 PhD Field Seminar: Disciplinary Practices [PhD Pro-Seminar]
This seminar consolidates graduate coursework and bridges the transition to independent research. It assists the student in developing professional skills as specific to the field including: peer review, proposal writing, teaching and pedagogical design, conference and publication submission which may include applied research in submissions, for example, to government or organizational policy papers, and public forums or hearings on communication and culture. The student’s work will be evaluated as per the standard FGS grading scale. The aim is to facilitate students’ specialization in one or more of the three areas of communication and culture (media and culture, politics and policy, and technology in practice) and to develop their individuated contributions to the field. Thus, the major outcome of the course is the delivery of the requisite components for the subsequent design of comprehensive exams and dissertation proposals. Aside from evaluated assignments, the seminar may also discuss, and provide the opportunity for, development of other disciplinary skills, for example, of peer-review and assessment, curriculum design and teaching peer-evaluation as well as critical application of research outside of academia.