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, 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 Hanasono, Ilyoung Ju, Yanqin Lu, 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 (9 credit hours):

  • MC 6000: Introduction to Media & Communication
  • 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 (15 credit hours):

  • 4 Courses related to one of the three areas of emphasis in the School of Media & Communication and one independent study of the area of emphasis. The following are courses typically offered from each emphasis area:
    • Critical Media Studies and Rhetoric:
      • MC 6570: Intercultural Communication
      • MC 7300: Critical Media Studies
      • MC 7630: Communication for Social Change
      • MC 7150: Communication and Social Movements
    • Interpersonal Communication:
      • MC 6530: Interpersonal Communication
      • MC 6560: Health Communication
      • MC 7610: Race & Communication
      • MC 7000: Relational Communication
      • MC 7530: Theory & Practice in Interpersonal Communication
    • Media Audiences & Processes:
      • MC 6440: Persuasion
      • MC 7110: Mass Communication Theory
      • MC 7370: New Media Research Seminar
      • MC 7770: 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
  • Fall: 9 course credit hrs + MC 6970 (COMM1020 instructors)
  • Spring: 9 course credit hrs

Year 2

  • Selection of permanent advisor (dissertation chair no later than 2nd semester of Year 2)
  • Forming the dissertation committee in consultation of the advisor.
  • 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
  • Spring/Summer: Application for Preliminary exam
  • Completion of preliminary exams (by the end of first semester in Year 3)
  • Successful defense of dissertation proposal
  • Begin significant work on dissertation
  • Summer: 6 course credit hrs
  • Fall: 8 dissertation hrs
  • Spring: 8 dissertation hrs

Year 4

  • Application for graduation
  • Completion of dissertation
  • Summer: 1 dissertation hr to graduate in summer
  • 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.

Richard Babb, Visiting Assistant Professor, Miami University, Ohio

Aimee Burns, Assistant Professor, Lakeland University, Wisconsin

Kim Kuiper, Visiting Assistant Professor, Defiance College, Ohio

Tarishi Verma, Assistant Professor, Albertus Magnus College, Connecticut

Tanja Vierrether, Visiting Assistant Professor, Rollins College, Florida

Graduate Testimonials

“BGSU and the SMC Graduate Program were game changers for me. Fantastic mentors who guided me and yet gave me wings to fly; global faculty who combined great teaching with scholarship; colleagues who became lifelong friends and research collaborators; an opportunity to hone my teaching and research skills; and a beautiful campus with wonderful friends from over 60 nations.”  

Dhiman Chattopadyay (Ph.D. 2018) Assistant Professor, Shippensburg University, PA


“MC 6000 was one of my favorite classes. Dr. Ha, you did a spectacular job introducing us to the history, conventions, and realities of our discipline. It truly set us up for success and I am forever grateful.”  

Aimee Burns (Ph.D. 2021)

Assistant Professor, Lakeland University, WI

“I began my MA program as an accelerated student still at the undergraduate level here at BGSU. I felt the accelerated path was very useful in not only getting a head start on a graduate degree, but also for a gradual introduction to graduate level work and research. Once I transitioned fully to the graduate level, I found that my experience during my teaching assistantship in audio, live event, and radio production courses was particularly rewarding. In fact, these experiences in both instruction and research have inspired me to continue my education as a doctoral student.”  

-  Zach J. Rzicznek (Accelerated BA to MA program, M.A., 2021) 

Enrolled in Ph.D. program, Temple University


"The Media and Communication program at BGSU is one of balance between teaching and research. The resources provided in this program prepare you to not only participate actively in all research endeavors but also how to translate all that knowledge into an effective way to teach adult learners. The department's diversity pushes all students to think about being inclusive in their own work. This department also has some of the best mentors who can guide excellent interdisciplinary research, including professors like Dr. Gajjala, Dr. Hanasono, and Dr. Ha. Here, you persevere and become resilient as you come out a much more learned and skilled person."  

- Tarishi Verma (Ph.D. 2021)

 Assistant Professor,  Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT

Updated: 10/05/2021 04:55PM