Mass Communication, Ph.D.

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Minimum Total Hours: 90

Program Code: D660

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. program in the Gaylord College allows students to examine more deeply the theories that underlie mass communication and to critique mass communication practices. The program also allows students to pursue advanced study in the Gaylord College and to prepare for university-level research and teaching across a variety of areas.


The following requirements must be met before a student will be admitted to the doctoral program in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication:

  • 3.50 in previous graduate work
  • Strong Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A one to two-page resume
  • A minimum 1,000-word essay detailing reasons for pursuing the Ph.D., to include the intended future application
  • A minimum TOEFL score of 550 (213 computer-based)

A minimum of three years of professional experience in a mass communication field is preferred.

Excellent candidates who do not meet admission requirements will be given careful consideration.

Retention and graduation standards reflect OU Graduate College policies.

In addition to taking coursework aimed at fostering research, students must prepare an original research paper for presentation in an annual mini-conference each year until admitted to candidacy.


The program offers three areas of concentration:

News and Information

Emphasizes performance, critical analysis, effects, representations and the community-building potential of news and information media. Faculty expertise: organizational management; media ethics and normative theory, media law, race and gender, media credibility, and international/intercultural/ethnic media.

Strategic Communication

Emphasizes a broad spectrum of theoretical and practice-oriented research topics and problems in public relations and advertising. Faculty expertise: rhetorical analysis; race and gender, international public relations, law, new media advertising, crisis communication, organizational behavior, and message strategy and tactics.

Media Arts

Emphasizes performance, critical analysis, effects, representations and the community-building potential of entertainment and experimental media including visual digital and video; audio; multimedia, and long-form print media. Faculty expertise: creative, writing, script writing, documentary film, multimedia, video, and digital production.

Areas of Emphasis within Concentrations

Doctoral students will be encouraged to design a flexible, interdisciplinary program targeting an area of emphasis within these concentrations. Some examples are: history; media management and economics; media ethics; visual communication, international communication, and communication theory and methodology. Students will be guided in making these choices through consultation with their committees and by examining topic areas as defined in leading professional organizations such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and the International Communication Association. These choices will allow students to tailor courses to their interests and plan dissertation topics accordingly.

Program Requirements

Core Classes (27 hours)
JMC 5083Mass Communication Theory (or 3 hours 5000-or 6000-level elective approved by advisory committee if JMC 5083 was taken at M.A. level)3
JMC 5093Introduction to Research Methods in Mass Communication (or another OU or transfer graduate-level methods course as approved by advisory committee)3
JMC 5113Qualitative Research Methods (or 3 hours 5000-or 6000-level elective approved by advisory committee if JMC 5113 was taken at the M.A. level)3
JMC 5133Quantitative Research Methods (or 3 hours of 5000-6000-level elective approved by advisory committee if JMC 5133 was taken at the M.A. level)3
JMC 5391Grant Writing1
JMC 5463Conceptualization3
JMC 5653Prac: Research Proposal & Design3
JMC 6091Ph.D. Seminar (1 credit hour per semester, minimum 2 hours)2
JMC 6183Approaches to Teaching in Mass Communication3
Additional 3-hour research methods course and/or graduate level statistics at the 5000 or 6000 level in an OU department outside or JMC (for example: Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, History) 3
Concentration & Emphasis (27 hours)
Choose a minimum of 12-15 hours of JMC Advanced Topics courses from:12-15
Advanced Topics in News and Information
Advanced Topics in Strategic Communication
Choose 12-15 hours of Non-JMC coursework with approval of advisory committee12-15
Dissertation Research (12 hours minimum)
JMC 6980Research for Doctoral Dissertation12
Additional Coursework (up to 24 hours)
Remaining hours to bring degree total to 90 will come from a combination of additional electives taken during the student's doctoral study at OU, transfer credit, or both0-24
Total Credit Hours90

General Requirements for Doctoral Degrees

A student should expect to spend at least the equivalent of three full academic years beyond the bachelor’s degree to obtain the doctoral degree. During this period the student will take appropriate graduate coursework, successfully complete the general examination, and successfully defend and submit the final dissertation.

All coursework applied to the doctoral degree must carry graduate credit.

The doctoral degree requires at least 90 post-baccalaureate hours, including both formal coursework and hours of research.

The minimum hour requirement for a specific doctoral degree program cannot be waived.

No more than one-half of the credit hours, both OU and overall, excluding Research for Doctoral Dissertation (6980), may be S/U-graded coursework.

The student must be in residence at OU for at least two consecutive 16-week semesters during the pursuit of the doctoral degree while enrolled and engaged in coursework or research activities as prescribed by the major academic unit.

For more detailed regulations and requirements for Doctoral degrees, please consult the Graduate College Bulletin: