The Interdisciplinary PhD in Communication provides students with a strong conceptual and methodological foundation in communication theory and research.  This foundation allows students to create a program of study focused on one or more of our six areas of concentration: interpersonal communication, organizational communication, intercultural communication, rhetoric, performance studies, and health communication. Students in our PhD program work closely with nationally and internationally recognized faculty who guide and mentor them throughout their doctoral studies.

Our Research Initiatives provide unmatched opportunities to work collaboratively with other students and with faculty through research and applied projects. Students also have access to all graduate program faculty, which includes scholars from many of ASU's top-ranked graduate and professional schools. Our highly-ranked program prepares students for careers both inside and outside the Academy. Graduates obtain positions in higher education (tenure-track faculty, research professors, and instructors), and research, evaluation, and training in government, corporate, and non-profit settings.

4.3 years to degree
80% of students funded
90% completion rate

Degree Overview

The 66-hour program of study includes a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus, and a dissertation.  Prospective doctoral candidates should have a passion and interest in communication and demonstrated research skills, a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA and score in the upper quintile of GRE scores.  

For students who have completed only the bachelor's degree prior to admission, a minimum of 96 hours of graduate work is required, with the last 66 hours duplicating the requirements for those students admitted with a master's degree.  

Fields of Study

What We Study includes interpersonal communication, organizational communication, intercultural communication, rhetoric, performance studies, and health communication. 

Research Initiatives include Health Communication (HCI), Strategic Communication (Center for Strategic Communication), Civil-Critical-Creative Communication (I4C Collective), Intercultural Communication and Global Engagement Interest Group (ICGlobal), and The Transformation Project. 

How to apply

The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program In Communication application process is completed online through ASU Graduate Education.  Prospective students must submit the admission application form online, along with the fee and official transcripts.  

Number of students in the PhD program

"The opportunities are endless in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. I have been able to teach a variety of courses, take seminars and modules in different topic areas and methodologies, collaborate with our initiatives and research teams, and explore other department's courses offered at ASU. The best thing about these opportunities is that our faculty, instructors, and department staff serve as guiding lights and mentors. Here, opportunity is coated in support."

Nikki Truscelli, Graduate Teaching Associate, Communication


The interdisciplinary nature of the degree and breadth of faculty expertise allow students to design programs of study geared towards their area of interest and in line with future career plans.  Students develop a plan of study with the guidance of their principal advisor and their Supervisory Committee.  The program allows specialization in traditional areas of communication study while meeting the needs of students whose interests transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. 

Requirements and electives                      Hours            
Core courses6
Interdisciplinary courses9
Total hours required66

Courses and electives

Each student will develop an individualized program of study based on professional interests and goals.  A proposed plan of study for the degree will be developed by the student with the direct guidance of a principal advisor and the student's Supervisory Committee. 

The interdisciplinary nature of the degree and the breadth of faculty expertise allow students to design individual programs of study geared toward specialized topics in human communication.  The program, therefore, is designed to meet the needs of students whose interests transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and whose records indicate the capability to pursue such studies.  

View all graduate Communication (COM) courses

A required core sequence of a theory and methodology course(s) will be taken early in each student's program.  To complete the core, all students entering the program must take:

  • COM 604 Theory Construction in Communication

All students must also take one or more of the following methodology course(s):

  • COM 607 Contemporary Rhetorical Method
  • COM 608 Multivariate Statistical Analysis of Data in Communication
  • COM 609 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Communication


All students must have 18 hours of COM 691 seminars.  

Three 1-hour COM 692 Methods module courses can add up and count as a 3-credit COM 691 seminar (this can only be done once).

COM 691 Seminar, selected semesters (1-12): A small class emphasizing discussion, presentations by students, and written research papers.

Previous topics include:

  • Family Communication
  • 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

Students will choose 9 credits of graduate coursework from disciplines outside of  Communication.


Must have 9 hours of "other" coursework (can be COM or not COM, but not 792 or 799).

During the third or fourth year of the doctoral studies, the student concentrates much of his or her effort on a scholarly review of the areas of Communication.  The student works with at least three faculty committee members to put together a reading list upon which the Comprehensive Exams, wirtten and oral, are based.  The student completes 8 hours of "closed-book" written exam and 16 hours of "open-book" written exam, completed within one calendar week.  The oral exam is conducted after the conclusion of the written exam and serves to clarify the student's answers to the written questions.  Often, the literature review that the student conducts during this time period becomes the basis of the doctoral dissertation.   

  • 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 or publication.
  • COM 792 Comprehensive Exam Preparation
  • COM 792 Dissertation Prospectus Preparation
  • COM 792 First Friday Forum
  • COM 792 Seminar Assistant

The doctoral dissertation is an extensive piece of original research that demonstrates the capability of the student to act as an independent scholar and use experimental methods.  The dissertation is closely supervised by the research advisor and at least two additional faculty members who constitute the dissertation committee. There are three components.  First, the student writes a formal dissertation proposal and defends it to the committee.  After the proposal defense, the student is admitted to Ph.D. candidacy by the Graduate College.  Second, following data collection, there is a “data meeting” at which the analysis is reviewed by the committee.  The process culminates with the student’s defense of the dissertation before the committee and the academic community. 

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



Online MA Course Descriptions

MA in Communication Course Descriptions

COM 501 Communication Research

Online Overrides

Overrides for Spring COM Classes Have Ended!

Course override requests for summer 2018 COM classes will open on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 (course and pre-requisite overrides). 

Course override requests for fall begin March 22, 2018, and space begins August 2, 2018.  


Academic Advising

The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication provides academic advising on a scheduled appointment basis Monday through Friday. Walk-in advising hours will be available during critical registration periods at the beginning of each semester. Dates and times for walk-in advising will be announced on the website when scheduled.

Our academic advisors help students successfully transition to the university and make progress towards their educational goals and graduation. Communication majors are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a year.

Contact Us



Feel free to contact us:

Phone (480) 965-5095

Fax (480) 965-4291