Communication and Media Studies PhD Program Courses

To obtain a PhD in communication and media studies from the SOJC, you’ll need to complete approximately 80 graduate course credits beyond the master’s level and at least 18 dissertation credits. This includes a core sequence you’ll complete in your first year as well as courses in research methods, a media studies specialty, and a field outside the SOJC. After passing comprehensive exams, you’ll apply what you’ve learned to original research and a dissertation that contributes to the field. 

To see which order most students take these courses and complete other benchmarks, see our sample schedule.

To review the full list of available courses, consult our course catalog. Doctoral-level classes are 600-level classes. Please note that course offerings vary from year to year.

J601 Research: [Topic] (1–6 credits)
Repeatable for maximum of 16 credits.

J603 Dissertation (1–16 credits)
Your dissertation is a substantial document presenting your original research that adds to the scholarly body of knowledge about media studies. You’ll need to enroll in at least 18 credits of J603 and work on your research and dissertation for at least two terms. For more details about and guidelines for the dissertation, download the graduate handbook.

J605 Readings: [Topic] (1–12 credits)

J607 Seminar: [Topic] (1–5 credits)

J609 Terminal Project (1–6 credits)
Repeatable for maximum of 6 credits each term.

J610 Experimental Course: History and Theory of New Media (4 credits)
This course will introduce students to the history of the new media as well as to the key theoretical issues that have emerged in their wake. During the term we will address some of the key categories that are specific to new media: computation, information and data, networks, machines and the artificial, and digital capitalism. We will also examine how new media processes and practices have impinged upon and reconfigured crucial areas of social life.

J610 Experimental Course: Political Communication (4 credits)
This course examines some central controversies, theories, and research questions about the role of the media in elections and governing. Some key questions we will consider are: How do political actors attempt to manage the news, and how does that matter? What framing and persuasion strategies do politicians employ to shape public opinion and voter behavior? How do standard routines for covering politics affect the quality of the news the public receives and the ability of political officials to lead? And how have elite strategies and news coverage been transformed by the rise of today’s “hybrid” media system? This course will focus more on the supply side of political communication than the demand side—that is, on the actors, organizations, and systems that shape the political messages people receive. We will also focus primarily on media and politics in the United States.

J610 Experimental Course: Visual Theory (4 credits)
Visual Theory examines the power of seeing as a way of knowing and living. Grounded in cross-disciplinary theory, this seminar explores how images emerge from and affect our understanding of the world, our perceptions of the real and the illusory, and the processes of living and doing. We will examine ways we interweave galleries of the mind with external media forms to express meaning and shape stories of the self and others.

J612 Media Theory I (5 credits)
This is the first in a two-part sequence introducing students to media theory, focusing on the social scientific tradition.

J613 Media Theory II (5 credits)
This is the second in a two-part sequence introducing students to media theory, focusing on critical approaches.

J617 Media and Identity (4 credits)
Within critical/cultural-oriented media studies, the subject of identity and its relationship to media representation, production, and use is inevitably related to issues of power, agency, and resistance. This course uses a survey of research primarily focused on Black American media representation, production, and fandom to introduce students to various theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of media and identity. Through weekly discussions, students will engage in scholarly analysis and critique of the assigned readings and think through how specific theories and/or methods of research can be applied to their own research projects.

J619 Teaching and Professional Life (4 credits)
Explore teaching strategies, curriculum development, and other aspects of academic professional life in journalism and communication.

J629 Media and Communication Ethics: [Topic] (4 credits)
This course explores ethical issues facing media workers and media users in culture and society today. Topics may include digital ethics, strategic communication ethics, visual ethics, and global media ethics.

J641 Qualitative Research Methods (4 credits)
Get an introduction to qualitative research methods including traditional historical inquiry, oral history, ethnography, and participant observation.

J642 Quantitative Research Methods (4 credits)
Learn about and analyze quantitative research methods in terms of design, measurement, inference, and validity, with a focus on conceptualization in communication research.

J643 Advanced Doctoral Seminar (5 credits)
Demonstrate competence in broad families of social research by drawing on the skills and knowledge you obtained in J612, J613, J641, and J642.

J644 Philosophy of Communication (4 credits)
Explore the philosophical foundations of communication in the United States, including political philosophies that range from Milton to McLuhan.

J646 Political Economy of Communication (4 credits)
Get an introduction to the political economy of communication. Includes such issues as ownership and control patterns, the role of the state, labor, intellectual property rights, and international markets.

J648 Cultural Approaches to Communication (4 credits)
Examine communication and mediated communication as cultural processes in the production and reproduction of social systems.

J649 International Communication (4 credits)
Examine global communication structures and processes and their consequences. Topics include new technologies, news and information organizations, cross-cultural uses of Western media, and information policies.

J660 Advanced Research Methods: [Topic] (4 credits)
Explore specific qualitative or quantitative communication research methods. Topics may include discourse analysis, oral history, historical methods, legal methods, content analysis, survey methods, document analysis, ethnography, advanced qualitative methods, and experimental design. Repeatable when topic changes.


Need some guidance? Here are a few options:

  1. Download our graduate handbook for more details about program requirements and resources.
  2. Contact Amy Boutell, director of graduate affairs and student experience, with questions about the program, the application process, and admission.

Once you’re admitted, you’ll be matched with a faculty advisor who will be your first point of contact for academic and career guidance.