Candidates for the doctoral degree must complete a dissertation.

A PhD student will submit a dissertation proposal to their special committee. This proposal must be approved by the special committee after discussion at a committee meeting, which the Graduate School recommends should be held at least twice a year. The proposal will include no less than a statement of the research question or questions, a brief review of the relevant literature, and a plan of research for answering the research question. The B Exam may not occur less than three months after the proposal has been approved by the special committee.

A complete draft of the dissertation should be given to each committee member at least six weeks before the final examination. At least five business days prior to the examination, each member should receive a copy of the dissertation, to be retained until the examination. Normally, the student can expect to revise the dissertation after successful completion of the B Exam. The graduate field faculty requires publication of PhD dissertations by ProQuest. The Graduate School maintains suggested timelines for completing the necessary steps to graduate in time for the three different conferrals that happen each January, August, and December.

Nature of Dissertation

The dissertation represents an original research effort leading to new knowledge in communication; it deals with significant theoretical issues in the field. Typical dissertations develop new theories or methods in communication, explore new areas in communication research, or deal with communication as a social phenomenon. Other approaches are possible in consultation with the student’s special committee.

The Graduate School has resources to support students throughout the dissertation writing process. Please utilize them.

Finished dissertation

  • The finished dissertation must conform to the formatting requirements for a doctoral dissertation listed on the Graduate School's website. 
  • All dissertations must have an abstract, using the American Psychological Association style, and citations and bibliographies must follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or another style approved by the committee chair.
  • For information on editing services, please see the Graduate School's resource list.