Ph.D. Program


The doctoral program in the School of Media & Communication at BGSU is known for its balance in teaching and research, the diversity of its student body, and excellent record in graduate placement. The key commitment of the SMC faculty is to motivate and educate students to become independent intellectual leaders. During their time in the School of Media & Communication, doctoral students select one of the three areas of emphasis to serve as the knowledge basis for their program of study and future research endeavors. In addition, doctoral students take a variety of methods and tools courses that will prepare them for the rigors of conducting their dissertation research, and provide them with the tools necessary for research and scholarship throughout their careers.

PH.D Information

The School of Media & Communication at Bowling Green State University has a long and respected history of research and coursework that focus on scholarship related to intercultural communication, development communication, rhetoric, social movements, mass-mediated communication, emerging media, cyber culture, and more. The graduate programs in the School are organized around three areas of emphasis that are based in the research and academic interests of the graduate faculty. These areas inform the coursework offered in the School, and they serve as important components to the programs of study for graduate students.

Critical Media Studies & Rhetoric

This area of emphasis draws together several key and complementary dimensions of humanistic areas of inquiry, research methods, and theory. Among faculty expertise are Intercultural and International Communication, Rhetorical Theory and Criticism, Social Movements and Activism, Urban Geography, Media Ecology, Political Economy, and Rhetorics of Peace-Building. Work in these areas encompasses a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, concerning issues of media/mediated communication in cultural, economic, political or social contexts, including strategic mediated communication for development, digital environments, social change and social justice. We adopt this approach to an integrated critical engagement with social problems that include, but often extend beyond localities to international and global environments.

Graduate faculty: John Dowd, Radhika Gajjala, Alberto Gonzalez, Ellen Gorsevski, Lisa Hanasono, Lara Lengel, Srinivas Melkote, Clayton Rosati

Interpersonal Communication

This area of emphasis examines interaction processes in a variety of social and personal relationships such as romantic relationships, family relationships and friendships in face-to-face and mediated settings.  Research and coursework within the area focuses on relationship processes in contexts such as health, sexuality, identity negotiation, relationship maintenance, information management and technology.  Varying theoretical (e.g., narrative, dialectical, social exchange, disclosure theories) and epistemological perspectives (post-positivist, social scientific, interpretivist, feminist, queer, critical) are explored.

Graduate faculty: Emily Anzicek, Sandra Faulkner, Lisa Hanasono, Lara Stafford

Media Audiences & Processes

This area of emphasis relies on empirical observation to study audiences and the process of how media content and technology influence the public agenda and individuals’ attitude, emotion, knowledge and interpretation of society. The research orientation utilizes quantitative methods (e.g., experiments, survey) and qualitative methods (e.g., interviews, focus group) to answer pertinent issues in media audiences and processes. These include Media Technology Adoption, Emotional and Cognitive Response to Advertising, Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM), Narrative Persuasion and Comprehension, Media Effects, Cultivation and Perceived Media Realism, Effects and Effectiveness of Advertising, Audience Research Methods,  Media Industry Analysis, Social Network Analysis, Political Communication, Alternative Journalism, Activism, and Public Opinion.  This emphasis includes both administrative applied research and theoretical research on these topics. 

Graduate faculty: Joshua Atkinson, Rick Busselle, Louisa Ha, Lisa Hanosono, Ilyoung Ju, Yanqin Lu, Srinivas Melkote, Terry Rentner

Coursework & Areas of Emphasis: Doctoral students take a minimum of 64 credit hours: 48 hours of coursework, and 16 hours of dissertation work. Coursework entails the following:

Core Courses (12 credit hours):

  • MC 6000: Introduction to Media & Communication
  • MC 6100: Philosophical Foundations
  • MC 6300: Social Scientific Methods
  • MC 6400: Humanistic Methods

Tool Courses (9 credit hours):

  • Three courses that focus on research method or methodology.

Emphasis Courses (12 credit hours):

  • Courses related to one of the three areas of emphasis in the School of Media & Communication. The following are courses typically offered that are informed by these areas:
    • Global Communication & Social Change:
      • MC 6570: Intercultural Communication
      • MC 7300: Critical Media Studies
      • MC 7630: Communication for Social Change
      • Social Movements
    • Interpersonal Communication:
      • MC 6530: Interpersonal Communication
      • MC 6560: Health Communication
      • MC 7610: Race & Communication
      • Relational Communication
      • Theory & Practice in Interpersonal Communication
    • Media Audiences & Processes:
      • MC 6440: Persuasion
      • MC 7110: Mass Communication Theory
      • MC 7370: New Media Research Seminar
      • Topics in Advanced Social Science Research Analysis

Elective Courses (15 credit hours):

  • Additional coursework that supplements the emphasis.

Additional Requirements:

  • A minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA in all coursework
  • No incomplete grades in graduate coursework
  • Complete the degree within 8 years from the end of the semester of the first course
  • Continuous enrollment in consecutive Fall/Spring semesters [Summer optional]
  • Completed dissertation defended and uploaded by the Graduate College Deadline
  • Completed English Requirements (for international students. See ESOL courses and requirements)

Most students complete the program in 3-4 years. Students should complete coursework in 2 years. Most students take and defend their preliminary examination after the second summer. In the third year, students should defend their dissertation proposal and begin significant work on their dissertation project.



Credit Hours (Minimum)

Year 1

  • Temporary advisor: assigned
  • Qualifying examinations (second semester)
  • After passing the qualifying exams, declare the permanent advisor by filing the “Advisor Change Form” and, in consultation with the advisor, compile a “Tentative Degree Program Form” detailing the doctoral coursework.
  • Fall: 9 course credit hrs + MC 6970
  • Spring: 9 course credit hrs

Year 2

  • Composition of the dissertation committee.
  • Summer: 6 course credit hrs
  • Fall: 9 course credit hrs
  • Spring: 9 course credit hrs

Year 3

  • Completion of required coursework by the end of summer
  • Application for Preliminary exam
  • Completion of preliminary exams
  • Successful defense of dissertation proposal
  • Begin significant work on dissertation
  • Summer: 6 course credit hrs
  • Fall: 4 dissertation hrs
  • Spring: 4 dissertation hrs

Year 4

  • Completion of dissertation
  • Application for graduation
  • Summer: 1 dissertation hr
  • Fall: 4 dissertation hrs
  • Spring: 4 dissertation hrs


There are graduate assistantships available to doctoral students in the School of Media & Communication. Incoming doctoral students who are awarded an assistantship are typically granted three years of funding. The continuation of those assistantships from year to year is based on two primary criteria: whether they are meeting the requirements of their assistantship, and whether they are making significant progress toward their degree. Students may also apply for a fourth year funding.

The graduate assistantships typically entail teaching or working with faculty in classroom settings. Most first year GAs teach the public speaking course COMM 1020. After the first year, there are other opportunities for GAs to teach or assist in other courses across Communication, Media Production & Studies, and Journalism & Public Relations.

The graduate assistantships come with a scholarship and stipend package. The scholarships cover the instructional fees and non-resident fees of doctoral students. The stipend provides income for the students as they work in their GA duties and study throughout the year.  As the cost of living in the Toledo metropolitan area has trended 15% lower than the national average, our stipends and overall assistantship package proves to be quite competitive compared to other institutions. All of our regular assistantships require that students work 20 hours/week in the Fall and Spring at a particular assignment.

While on assistantship, doctoral students are contractually obligated to enroll in a minimum of 9 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester.

  • Ph.D. Student Profiles
  • Our students come from all over the world, including but not limited to Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East, East Asia, South Asia, as well as rural, urban, and suburban USA. Doctoral students come with a wide range of backgrounds and are both traditional and non-traditional.
  • Recent Ph.D. dissertations have addressed a wide range of topics. Visit OhioLink Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center to view recently published work of our graduate students:,P6_ETD_INST_DEPTID:4,842
  • Recent graduates found employment at such institutions as Arkansas State University, Boise State University, Cedar Crest College, Central Michigan University, Cleveland Clinic, Coastal Carolina University, Fayetteville State University, Indiana University East, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Northern Michigan University, Saint Mary's College, SEE University in Macedonia, University of Michigan-Dearborn, University of Nebraska, Utah Valley University, American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.