PhD in Communication

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

We strongly encourage applicants to reach out to a particular faculty member with whom they share research interests. This is an excellent way to learn more about faculty research, as well as the department and UMaine more generally. For PhD admissions, we admit only those students who we feel demonstrate a clear fit with our faculty strengths, which is particularly important given our relatively small size. Please reach out to the Graduate Coordinator with any questions.

Required Materials

Application materials must include a completed Graduate School application (online), three letters of recommendation, official transcripts of completed coursework at the undergraduate and graduate level, a writing sample, and an official TOEFL score (if previous graduate-level instruction was not in English).

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

PhD applicants also must provide a cover letter that states:

  1. The concentration area desired (e.g., Communication with a concentration in History).
  2. A rationale for pursuing a degree that synthesizes these disciplines (i.e., answer “Why Communication & History?” and indicate the kind of research the applicant wishes to pursue, including possible topics and methodological approaches). We also encourage applicants to describe any correspondence they have had with CMJ faculty members about their desired plan.
  3. An explanation of the applicant’s background in Communication and in the concentration.

You are responsible for monitoring the completion of your application in a timely manner. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator with any questions.

PhD Program Requirements

Graduate students must take a minimum of 90 credit hours of graduate coursework (including their Masters degree), with at least 60 hours beyond the Masters. At least 48 of those 90 hours must be in primary 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 credit hours from the MA degree.

Coursework by Degree & Discipline

Credits from MA 30 maximum
Hours in 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 PhD Program 90 credit hours 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 + Concentration): 12-15 credit hours
Theory (Comm + Concentration): 12-15 credit hours
Content (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 PhD Program 90 credits hours minimum


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

Advisory Committee

A PhD student has a 5-person faculty advisory committee, typically consisting of 3 faculty from CMJ and 2 from his or her area of concentration. After enrolling in the program, the student assembles a committee with input from their advisor. A student may change committee membership with the advice and consent of their advisor.

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 MA and a PhD 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 MA and PhD degrees in three broad areas: clinical psychology, developmental psychology and psycho-logical sciences. Students may blend areas as well.

PhD candidates can also design their own concentrations.

Questions about our graduate programs?

Please contact:

Dr. Laura Rickard

Graduate Coordinator
Department of Communication and Journalism
5724 Dunn Hall, Room 430
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469