Criteria for "Good Standing" in Communication Arts
The PhD in Communication Science prepares students for a future scholarly career. It is designed to train students to conduct research and to disseminate knowledge in the classroom and in other professional settings. Reflecting this overall aim, the program integrates course work, research, and teaching experience.
Successful completion of the PhD requires 51 credit hours of coursework. This requirement includes that at least 50 percent of these credit hours must be received in courses specifically designed for graduate work, which the Graduate School defines as: courses numbered 700 and above; courses numbered 300-699 that are specifically designed for graduate students in a graduate program; courses numbered 300-699 that assess graduate students separately from undergraduate students; courses numbered 300-699 that have a graduate student enrollment greater than 50 percent in a given semester. Coursework taken towards the completion of a Master’s Degree in the Department of Communication Arts may count toward this requirement. Coursework taken outside of the Department and UW-Madison may count toward this requirement with the approval of the Graduate Committee. If you have any questions about which courses meet these requirements, contact your advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, or the graduate coordinator.
Requirements for Successful Completion of Degree
- Complete the course work required of MA students in Communication Science
- Complete and defend their MA thesis
- At least two courses in statistics and two in research methodology
- At least four other courses at the 700 level or above related to the student's area of specialization, to be approved by the student's advisor
- Completion of a 12 credit minor
- Successful completion of the PhD Preliminary Exam
- Timely progress towards the dissertation and successful dissertation defense
The 51 graduate-level credits required for the PhD include work in the doctoral minor. The minor requirement is designed to give breadth to the doctoral program and should expose the student to subjects and/or methodologies that expand upon and complement his or her work in Communication Science. The minor requirement can be fulfilled in one of three ways:
- Option A: 12 credits in a single department other than Communication Arts
- Option B: 12 credits distributed across two or more departments other than Communication Arts; may include non-Communication Science courses within Comm Arts (distributed minor)
- Option C: 12 credits outside the Communication Science area in Communication Arts (intradepartmental minor)
The choice of which option to pursue is made by the student in consultation with his or her advisor and doctoral committee. Depending on their dissertation topic, students may need to fulfill a foreign language or tool requirement. The need for such a requirement is determined by the student's advisor and doctoral committee. The mix of courses to be completed must reflect the following principles:
- Building a solid theoretical and methodological foundation in Communication Science
- Covering sufficiently broad areas in communication and related social science disciplines
- Having at least one area of specialization. This program should normally be developed before the start of the second semester in residence. The course work must be approved by the student's advisor and must be completed with a minimum grade point average of 3.5.
Upon completion of the above criteria, a PhD preliminary examination totaling 16 hours of writing is administered (four exams, four hours each). The writing component of the preliminary examination is followed by an oral defense. The examination is administered three times a year:
- Late August
- End of the fall semester
- End of the spring semester
Students take 16 hours of examination in the following areas:
- Communication Processes and Contexts (8 hours)
- Four hours each in two major topic areas in Communication Science, focusing on theories and major empirical findings in the field.
- Specialization (4 hours)
- Four hours in the student's area of specialization. Normally, the dissertation research dictates the area of specialization.
- Quantitative Research Methodology and Theory Construction (4 hours)
- This portion of the exam may include questions addressing statistics, research design, measurement, and the construction and evaluation of theory
The preliminary examination typically emphasizes the student's ability to synthesize and apply creatively what he or she has learned. Factual knowledge is not the sole focus of the examination; nor does it suffice merely to know what others think or say. Likewise, the preliminary examination should not be regarded simply as a repetition of exams and materials encountered in the student's courses, although the questions often relate to coursework. Rather, the preliminary exams should demonstrate the students' competent mastery of an area of study related to a proposed dissertation project.
Upon passing the preliminary examination, the student enters the dissertator phase. The student begins by writing a dissertation proposal. The aim of a dissertation proposal is to articulate a scholarly question or problem and a plan for addressing it. The proposal should:
- Identify and explain the significance of the dissertation topic
- Analyze the state of the scholarly literature on the topic
- Describe preliminary arguments or hypotheses the dissertation will investigate
- Identify the primary research sources for the dissertation
- Sketch out a research and writing schedule
The proposal is developed in consultation with the student's advisor and must be formally approved by the advisor before the student may proceed with writing the dissertation. Once the proposal has been approved, the student must form his/her dissertation committee. A dissertation committee consists of five members:
- The student's advisor
- At least two members from within the program
- At least one member from outside the department
In accordance with Graduate School policy, doctoral students must orally defend and deposit the dissertation within five years from the date of passing the preliminary examination.