Ph.D. in Communication and Mass Communication

Review of applications begins on January 15, with priority for funding given to complete applications received by this date.

A select committee will decide on a short list of applicants for whom we will help assemble a five faculty advisory committee (a Graduate School requirement for all Ph.D. applicants).


Required Materials

Application materials are sent to the graduate school and must include a completed Graduate School application form, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts of completed coursework, a writing sample, and an official TOEFL score (if necessary).

Submission of an official transcript of your GRE scores (dates and sites of exams are available here) is optional.

Ph.D. applicants also must provide a cover letter that states:

1. The track and concentration desired (e.g. Mass Communication with a concentration in History);
2. A rationale for the applicant to pursue a degree that synthesizes these disciplines (i.e., answer “Why Mass Comm. & History?” and indicate the kind of research projects the applicant wishes to pursue, including possible topics and approaches);
3. An explanation of the applicant’s background in his or her major track and in the concentration.

Please contact the Graduate Coordinator as soon as you have an interest in the Ph.D. to help with your letter and application.  The University of Maine Graduate School’s application website is located at this link.

January 15th: Once advisory committees have been assembled, the full CMJ graduate faculty will decide who is admitted. Funding decisions will follow. You are responsible for monitoring the completion of your application in a timely manner.


Advisory Committee

A Ph.D student has a 5 faculty advisory person committee, typically consisting of 3 faculty from CMJ and 2 from his or her area of concentration. Committees are assembled before admission, under the direction of the CMJ graduate coordinator. A student may change his or her committee membership with the advice and consent of his or her advisor.


Ph.D. Program Requirements

Graduate students must take a minimum of 90 hours of graduate coursework (including his or her Masters degree), with at least 60 hours beyond the Masters. At least 48 of those 90 hours must be in primary Communication or Mass Communication graduate courses, and at least 18 hours must be in an external concentration area. Across the major and concentration, students are also required to take a minimum of 12-15 credit hours each in appropriate theory and methods coursework, to complete a comprehensive examination, and to write a dissertation that draws on and synthesizes the program coursework.  

There are two ways to break down the credit hours for the doctorate. The first way is by major and concentration. Note that the 66 minimum hours of coursework includes up to 30 hours from your MA degree.


Coursework by Degree & Discipline

Credits from MA 30 Maximum
Hours in Comm/Mass Comm 48 minimum (including MA)
Hours in Concentration Area 18 minimum (including MA)
Sub-total of Degree & Discipline Hours 66 credit hours minimum
Dissertation Hours 12-24 credit hours
Total Hours in the Ph.D. Program 90 credits minimum


The second way to break down the credit hours for the doctorate is by course type. Note that students are required to take an appropriate number of theory and methods courses in their concentration so as to be conversant and competent in the forms of research particular to that concentration. The student’s advisory committee will help determine what “appropriate” means in his or her case.


Coursework by Course Type

Methods: Comm/Mass Comm + Concentration 12-15 credit hours
Theory: Comm/Mass Comm + Concentration 12-15 credit hours
Content: Comm/Mass Comm + Concentration 36-42 credit hours
Sub-total of Method, Theory and Content Hours 66 credit hours minimum
Dissertation Hours 12-24 credit hours
Total Hours in the Ph.D. Program 90 credits minimum


Doctoral Program Research Option: Dissertation

After completing a comprehensive examination, doctoral candidates enroll in CMJ 699 for a maximum of twenty-four (24) hours. The comprehensive exam is a timed essay exam based on questions developed by the committee in consultation with the student. Post-exam, the student’s official advisory committee must approve a dissertation prospectus prior to the student undertaking the research. After the thesis is completed, the student defends the research in an oral examination.

Doctoral Concentrations

English — The English Department has a substantial graduate program that offers specializations in Composition/Pedagogy, Gender & Literature, Poetry & Poetics, and Creative Writing.

Disability Studies — The Graduate Interdisciplinary Concentration in Disability Studies provides the opportunity for advanced study of theory, research, policy, and practice relevant to the lives of individuals and groups with disabilities.

History — The History Department offers both an M.A. and a Ph.D. Communication and Mass Communication students may develop a concentration in geographic areas such American, Asian, Canadian, European, or Latin American history, and they may develop a topical concentration.

Psychology — The Psychology Department offers programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in three broad areas: clinical psychology, developmental psychology and psycho-logical sciences. Students may blend areas as well.

Women’s Studies — The Women’s Studies Program offers a graduate concentration designed to enhance masters and doctoral programs. Students are mentored toward a richer understanding of the social construction of gender and its influence on women’s roles, contributions, and experiences.

The Department of Communication & Journalism is developing graduate concentrations in American Studies, Visual Studies, as well as forging agreements with the College of Business and the College of Education. Ph.D. candidates can also design their own concentrations.


Questions about our graduate programs?

Please contact:

Graduate Coordinator
Department of Communication and Journalism
5724 Dunn Hall, Room 420
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469