Field of Communication Requirements

Although the regulations of the Graduate School preclude establishing specific course requirements, it is expected that most students in the PhD program will take approximately 15 courses for credit (2 - 2.5 years of coursework) for a total of about 45 course credits. Of those courses, it is expected that a significant portion will be taken outside the Field of Communication.

The PhD program involves two stages of study:

  • Stage I spans years one and two and culminates with the Second Year Project. During Stage I students take the core courses (COMM 6800, COMM 6810, COMM 6820, and COMM 6830) and, typically, two statistics or methods courses. Students should also take three to six credits of independent research to complete the Second Year Project by the end of their second year in the program.
  • Stage II involves completing the A and B exams.

Students should maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.7. Grades of B- and below do not normally constitute satisfactory progress. All required courses must be taken for letter grades. S/U or “Audit” grades may be used for undergraduate courses taken to provide basic background (such courses do not count toward the required minimum credits).

Recommended methods and statistics courses:

  • Methods courses are those in which the primary focus is on instruction in how to do research. A course should cover one or more methods that can be applied to communication research problems; it may focus in-depth on a particular method. Such courses may focus on either quantitative or qualitative methods but must be aimed at explaining techniques of rigorous social scientific information gathering and analyses.
  • Statistics courses are those in which the primary focus of the course is on students’ learning to use descriptive and inferential statistics in doing research. Such courses will usually include descriptive statistics and inferential statistics through t-tests, analysis, variance, correlation, and simple regression. Advanced courses are those that depend on a knowledge of these basic statistical techniques and that focus on learning to use more advanced statistics.

All students in the PhD program will develop core knowledge of communication theory and research methods. Although the specifics of each student’s PhD program will be determined by their special committee, most students will take a core of at least two courses in communication theory, two courses in research methods, and two courses in statistics. Normally, it is expected that Ph.D. students will take their two theory and two methods courses their first year on campus.

Most PhD students will take four or more courses in a substantive intellectual area outside the Field of Communication. These courses may not count toward more than one requirement. These courses would normally be taken for a letter grade, but in some circumstances, the special committee can approve taking one of these courses for a S/U grade.

A student’s elective courses should have a definite focus, usually relating to a specialization, to the dissertation topic, etc. This focus can be achieved by taking a number of courses within a field or across fields that offer related courses. Students should be aware that other fields may have specific requirements for “minors” in their fields; students should consult the relevant Graduate Field Assistant for more information.

Each PhD student is expected to teach or assist in teaching an undergraduate course for at least two semesters, including COMM 2010 Oral Communication. This requirement may be completed through a funded teaching assistantship (TAship). Anyone who TAs a Communication course is required to have successfully completed the Teaching Assitant Online Orientation. It is recommended to make use of the courses, workshops, and trainings held by the Center for Teaching Innovation.

Students are expected to complete a Second Year Project and present it during a Department Colloquium.

By the end of their first semester, students must provide documentation that they have completed Cornell’s Responsible Conduct in Research Online Training and registered with ORCID.

Beginning in their first year, students will complete the Student Progress Review (SPR) form at the end of the spring semester.