Communication, PhD

The graduate faculty members of communication offer an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to the PhD in communication. Concentrations are available in interpersonal, intercultural and organizational communication. This program also provides course work and resources in rhetoric and performance studies.

The program is housed in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and is designed to prepare scholars for research-oriented careers in universities and in the public or private sectors. Students are provided training in communication theory, research methodology and a specialization in one or more areas of concentration. The goal of the program is to meet the needs of students whose interests transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.

PDF iconHDSHC PhD Program Guidelines 2017-18


Admission to the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication doctoral program is competitive. Applicants must have earned either a bachelor's or master's degree before starting the program and must present evidence of scholarly writing (e.g., an undergraduate honors thesis, a master's thesis, or their equivalent).

All applicants should be knowledgeable in the basic principles of both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, social statistics, and communication theory. In addition to meeting the minimum Graduate Admissions requirements, the applicant's scholastic and professional record must indicate special interest in and aptitude for systematic research in communication.

NOTE: ASU's Graduate Admissions office has specific requirements and The Hugh Downs School of Human Communications has our own specific requirements.  Priority will be given to applicants who have submitted all the required application materials to both Graduate Admissions and The Hugh Downs School by the deadline of January 5 for Fall consideration. Our program admits new students each Fall only.

You MUST send the following items directly to Graduate Admissions in sufficient time for them to be processed by the deadline (January 5th): 

  • The online application form
  • A $70 application fee ($90 for international students): payable online
  • Transcripts: one official copy of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): official score report (verbal, quantitative, analytical writing) taken within the past five years. The GRE is a requirement and will not be waived. Educational Testing Service submits these scores directly to Graduate Admissions. (Please use institution code 4007. A department code is not needed). If you are taking the exam after submitting your application materials, please email with the scores once you receive them.
  • TOEFL/IELTS: If you are an international student, you must submit your score report for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - use institution code 4007. Please see Graduate Admissions English Proficiency guidelines for details on their policy: If you are admitted into the program and receive an assistantship, you will need to take the SPEAK Test when you arrive here at ASU. This must be taken if you are to be a teaching or research assistant.

In addition, you MUST send (or upload to your online application) the following items directly to The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication by the deadline (January 5th):

  • Transcript: one copy (this can be unofficial) of all pertinent transcripts should be emailed to An unofficial copy of GRE (and TOEFL/IELTS, if applicable) scores is also requested.
  • Goals statement (must be uploaded into online application): Please include in your statement which emphasis area(s) (organizational, intercultural, interpersonal, rhetoric or performance studies) you wish to pursue. Please also mention any of our Strategic Initiatives that interest you (
  • Writing sample and Vitae (both must be uploaded into online application): a sample of your writing (e.g., a chapter from master's thesis, course or research paper, published article, etc.) is required. Your current CV is also required.
  • Three letters of recommendation: Must be sent directly from the recommenders via email to At least two of these should be from references who know your academic potential and achievement. The Hugh Downs School does not use a recommendation form. Ensure that your recommenders send their letters to by the deadline date of January 5.

All items sent to The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication must be emailed to

All items sent to Graduate Admissions (via U.S. mail) must be addressed to:

Arizona State University
Graduate Admission Services
P.O. Box 870112
Tempe, Arizona 85287-0112

(If sending by FedEx, DHL, or UPS, please use this address: Graduate Admission Services, Arizona State University, 1151 S. Forest Avenue, #SSV112, Tempe, AZ 85287-0112)

Questions? Please email

Arizona State University is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), which sets an April 15th deadline for acceptance of financial support (such as graduate scholarships, fellowships or assistantships).

Pay for College

The Hugh Downs School Fellowships and Awards

Additional Sources:

  • Academic Research and Grants Information System (ARGIS) provides up-to-date information on federal and private sources of grants, fellowships, scholarships, contracts, and awards to colleges, universities, research centers and individuals. ARIS also publishes reports covering the arts, humanities and sciences.
  • The Illinois Researcher Information Services (IRIS) a unit of the University of Illinois, complies databases of funding opportunities and maintains a library of publications from over 7,000 funding agencies. These databases contain records on federal and non-federal funding opportunities in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. ASU is a subscriber and anyone can sign on to the server, as long as they do so with an email address.

Diversity Support Programs

COM 507 Qualitative Research Methods in Communication, fall (3): Qualitative research methods, including interviewing, field methods, and other nonquantitative techniques for analyzing communication.

COM 508 Quantitative Research Methods in Communication, (3): Empirical research designs, measurements, and statistical strategies and techniques in analyzing and evaluating experimental and descriptive research in communication.

COM 598 Special Topics: Conducting Visual Ethnography, (3): Hands-on practicum in visual ethnography. Students will undertake and complete a project of their own design.

COM 604 Theory Construction in Communication, fall (3): Review and analysis of philosophical problems inherent in communicative research and of metatheories designed to deal with these problems. Prerequisite: instructor approval.

COM 607 Contemporary Rhetorical Method: Analysis of issues in the practice of rhetorical communication research, including criticism and scholarship. Seminar.  

COM 608 Multivariate Statistical Analysis of Data in Communication: Statistical analysis of communication research data. Multivariate procedures used in communication research and methods of causal analysis. Prerequisites: COM 508 (or its equivalent). 

COM 609 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Communication: Analysis of issues in the practice of qualitative communication research, including data gathering, fieldwork issues, analysis strategies, and reporting results. Prerequisite: instructor approval.

COM 690 Reading and Conference, selected semesters (1-12): Independent study in which a student meets regularly with a faculty member. Course may include such assignments as intensive reading in a specialized area, writing a synthesis of literature on a specified topic, or writing a literature review of a topic.

COM 691 Seminar, selected semesters (1-12): A small class emphasizing discussion, presentations by students, and written research papers. Previous topics include:
Family Communiction
Digital Technology Cultures
Performance Survey
Survey of Organizational Communication
Survey of Interpersonal Communication
Risk and Crisis Communication
Community-Centered Health Communication
Critical/Cultural Approaches to Gender & Sexualities
Health Communication Campaigns
Emotion in Organizations
Facilitating Intercultural Dialogue

COM 692 Research, selected semesters: Independent study in which a student, under the supervision of a faculty member, conducts research that is expected to lead to a specific project such as a thesis or dissertation, report, or publication. 

COM 792 Research, selected semesters (1-15): Independent study in which a student, under the supervision of a faculty member, conducts research that is expected to lead to a specific project such as a dissertation, report, or publication.

COM 792 Comprehensive Exam Preparation

COM 792 Dissertation Prospectus Preparation

COM 792 First Friday Forum

COM 792 Seminar Assistant

COM 799 Dissertation, selected semesters (1-15): Supervised research focused on preparation of dissertation, including literature review, research, data collection and analysis, and writing.

Fall 2017 Graduate Courses

View all graduate Communication (COM) courses

Archived Doctoral Program courses spring 2012-spring 2016

The Graduate Faculty in Communication (GFC) is constituted by faculty from across the campuses of Arizona State University. When the PhD program was founded in 1988, the program was explicitly created as an interdisciplinary entity. As such, the faculty members responsible for the governance of the program come from a range of disciplines. As the program and university has grown, so too has the GFC. It is this group of faculty who meet as a whole on a semi-annual basis to manage programmatic guidance to the Ph.D. Director, including admissions, doctoral student evaluations, advising and various other business elements of the body. The model for affiliated faculty which guided the creation and management of ASU's Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Communication has subsequently been adopted by Graduate Educationas a template for the organization of graduate faculties across campus.

Current and prospective students are encouraged to make connections with members of the GFC. Members of the GFC were asked to identify three broad areas of research interests, provide a preferred web address for accessing their resources and information and email address. Faculty members who are designated as Doctoral Chair eligible have been identified on the tab le below. All members of the GFC are eligible to serve as Members of PhD committees. In addition to being available for chairing or serving on graduate committees, GFC faculty teach content and methods courses which students will find helpful for their required out-of-department coursework. GFC faculty are invited to participate in welcome-weekend and orientation activities. Students are encouraged to contact and foster connections with these faculty by assisting with research projects or creative activities, as well as become seminar enrollees prior to asking a faculty member to serving on their committee.

Graduate Faculty in Communication

Degree Offered

Communication, PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Admission Deadline

All application materials must be received no later than January 5 for Fall admission. Our program admits new students each Fall only.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must submit the following:

  1. A completed Graduate Admission application (submitted online).
  2. Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts.  
  3. A formal curriculum vitae.
  4. A statement of career goals and the relevance of this degree program to those goals.
  5. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (verbal, quantitative, analytical) taken within the past five years, plus other relevant test data volunteered by the applicant. Our institution code is 4007 (no department code is needed). The GRE is required to apply to our program and cannot be waived.
  6. Three letters of recommendation prepared within the preceding 12 months (to be submitted via email directly from recommenders to
  7. A sample of writing (e.g., chapter from master's thesis, course paper).
  8. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for international applicants. Our institution code is 4007 (no department code is needed). The Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) test will be administered on campus to all graduate teaching and research associates whose native language is not English.

Please follow the Application Requirements (tab above) to ensure that all information is submitted correctly.


Assistantships carry a compensatory stipend for services rendered, include activities that are relevant to each student’s own program of study, and contribute to ASU’s teaching and research effort. Graduate assistantships for doctoral students include a stipend for the academic year. These packages may also include a tuition waiver and health insurance. Assistants must be enrolled for a minimum of six credit hours each semester (audit hours do not count towards the six hour minimum).

Teaching Assistants (T.A.) have a primary responsibility in an instructional capacity. Services provided by a graduate teaching assistant may include lecturing, leading discussion groups, serving as assistants to laboratory classes, and grading tests and papers.

Research Assistants (R.A.) are selected for excellence in scholarship and promise as researchers. They perform part-time research as a portion of their training under the direct supervision of regular faculty members.  

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