Degrees Offered

Explore recent dissertations!

Questions? Contact:
Elaine Hsieh
Department Chair

Kate Lockwood Harris
Director of Graduate Studies

Thank you for your interest in the University of Minnesota Communication Studies Graduate Program. The Department has a long-standing record of excellence and reputation in the discipline, especially in the critical approaches and interpretive traditions. The field of communication as a whole is strong, with the number of Communication positions outpacing the number of doctorates conferred.

The Department of Communication Studies offers Ph.D. degree in Communication, in addition to the graduate minor. We invite talented students with a baccalaureate degree, as well as those who have already earned their MA, to apply for admission to our doctoratal program. Through formal coursework, independent study, directed research projects, and participation in team research supervised by faculty, you will have many opportunities for training and experience in research. Every student we admit is provided with full, five-year financial support and gains valuable teaching experience with the support of faculty mentors. The main objective of the graduate program is to prepare you to become a researcher and a teacher in universities and colleges. Our graduate students are highly motivated scholars at the cutting edge of communication research with an equally strong commitment to becoming skilled instructors. 

The Department emerged from the pandemic with an unwavering commitment to pursuing public good by nurturing citizen-teacher-scholars to engage with our communities by critically reflecting and challenging existing structures and infrastructures that silence the Other. Social justice reflects and encapsulates the core themes of our faculty members' work. Faculty members of the Department have crossovered our historical division of three tracks (i.e., rhetoric, relational/organizational communication, and critical media studies) based on methodological approaches and worked to identify and collaborate in shared interests and substantive areas. We aim to build on our collective theme of social justice and broaden our understanding and investigation of disparities and public urgencies in our lived environment — with a focus on communicative practices in contexts.

Together, faculty members have investigated social justice on an interpersonal level (e.g., Dr. Elaine Hsieh's work on minority patients in healthcare settings; Dr. Susanne Jones' NSF-funded work on empathy), organizational/institutional level (e.g., Dr. Kate Lockwood Harris' work on organizational responses to sexual violence), national level (e.g., Dr. Mary Vavrus' work on media, war, and the US military; Dr. Atilla Hallsby's work on the national security state), and sociocultural and sociopolitical level (e.g., Dr. Gil Rodman's work on race and racism in media; Dr. Laurie Ouellette's work on reality TV's influences on public policy; Dr. Emily Winderman's work on reproductive justice). The Department has collaboratively and organically converged in addressing issues faced by a world-in-crisis (e.g., Dr. Ronald Green and Dr. Zornitsa Keremidchieva's work on public discourse and democracy, Dr. Kate Lockwood Harris' work on ending sexual violence, and Dr. Emily Winderman, Dr. Ascan Koerner, Dr. Elaine Hsieh, and Dr. Deborah Yoon's work broadly fit into health and reproductive justice). We also lead the field in feminist communication theory, with faculty members (e.g., Dr. Vavrus, Dr. Winderman, Dr. Harris, and Dr. Ouellette) tackling diverse social issues to address inequality and injustice in our communities. Both faculty members and graduate students are committed to building and incorporating DEI principles in a predominately White institution through our teaching, research, and service. Our faculty collaborate with one another and are highly interdisciplinary. We view communication studies as an integrated and coherent discipline. Through our research, teaching, and services, we are committed to collaboratively and creatively generating resources and opportunities to support an environment that embraces diversity, accountability, community, and excellence. This is an area where we see tremendous growth opportunities in the discipline.