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Communication and Information - Ph.D.

Kent State's Ph.D. degree in Communication and Information offers a flexible and interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares you for a career as a faculty in higher education or as a researcher in communication, media, or information industries. Through coursework and research, you'll gain an integrative view of the disciplines of communication, media and information while specializing in research topics that intersect these disciplines. Read more...

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The doctoral program in the College of Communication and Information prepares students for careers as scholars in the disciplines of communication and information.

While students have a primary academic “home” in one of these six areas described below, we encourage CCI doctoral students to engage across disciplines, exploring the depth of knowledge that is derived from interdisciplinary reflection and scholarship. Areas include:


Cultural heritage informatics (CHI) is an emerging field of interdisciplinary research and practice concerned with the role of information and computing technologies (ICTs) to support the creation, capture, organization, and pluralization of culture, in whatever form, as heritage.

See More About Cultural Heritage Informatics 

The study of global communication features areas of emphasis which allow students to examine both traditional and emerging media systems and organizations, intercultural interactions, and message and information flows across the world. 

See More About Global Communication 

Human information behavior (HIB) is a broad, interdisciplinary, and foundational area in the field of information science. It brings diverse theoretical approaches to applications across domains, from empirical work on system design and behavior, to phenomenological and ethnographic approaches to understanding the information-seeking experience.

See More About Human Information Behavior 

This specialization focuses on all aspects of knowledge organization in different environments, including conceptual modeling, information organization, cataloging and classification, archival description, metadata, knowledge organization systems, indexing and abstracting, semantic analysis, ontologies and semantic technologies, Linked Data, and user research in knowledge organization. 

See More About Knowledge Organization

The study of mediated and mass communication examines a wide range of media uses and effects, including the use of media for mass, interpersonal, organizational, and group communication.

See More About Media, Technology, and Society 

Program Information

Program Description

Full Description

The Ph.D. degree in Communication and Information prepares individuals for traditional and emerging careers in teaching, research and administration in the converging fields of communication and information. The degree program consists of a prescribed core of interdisciplinary courses and varied selection of elective coursework within and across disciplines. The study is flexibly structured and designed to provide both an integrative and historical overview, as well as specializations in communication and information.


For more information about graduate admissions, visit the graduate admission website. For more information on international admissions, visit the international admission website.

Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree in one of the disciplines represented in the College of Communication and Information or a discipline closely related to the applicant's proposed course of study1
  • Minimum 3.300 graduate GPA on a 4.000-point scale (3.500 GPA or higher is recommended)
  • Official transcript(s)
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Goal statement2
  • Letters of recommendation from those in a position to evaluate graduate academic performance and potential
  • Sample of superior scholarly writing (published paper, major term paper, thesis chapter, etc.).
  • English language proficiency - all international students must provide proof of English language proficiency (unless they meet specific exceptions to waive) by earning one of the following:3
    • Minimum 94 TOEFL iBT score
    • Minimum 7.0 IELTS score
    • Minimum 65 PTE score
    • Minimum 120 DET score

The Ph.D. degree is strongly research oriented. Applicants are expected to demonstrate previous research experience such as thesis or conference paper. Admission will be restricted to the most promising applicants. Applications are viewed holistically to evaluate the student's likelihood of success in the program. Applicants normally are accepted for admission only for the fall semester and for full-time enrollment. Applicants who do not meet all of the requirements listed above but who have otherwise exceptional credentials may apply and may be admitted conditionally.


Applicants with academic preparation in other fields may be required to enroll in preparatory coursework at the master's level that will not count toward the Ph.D. degree.


The goal statement must describe the applicant's academic goals and intended topics of study that are compatible with the focus of the doctoral program including area of specialization. It is expected that this statement will clearly indicate why the applicant wishes to pursue doctoral education. Included in the statement should be an indication of the theoretical area or areas the applicant wishes to study and the line of research the applicant wishes to pursue. Statements that make reference only to the applicant's teaching or administrative goals are strongly discouraged. 


International applicants who do not meet the above test scores may be considered for conditional admission.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall Semester
    • Priority deadline: January 1
      Applications submitted by this deadline will receive the strongest consideration for admission.
    • Application deadline: March 1
      Applications submitted after this deadline will be considered on a space-available basis.
    • Final deadline: April 15
      Applications will not be accepted after this deadline.
Learning Outcomes

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of an area of expertise within one or more disciplines within the field of communication and information.
  2. Produce research that advances existing areas of scholarly investigation within the field of communication and information.
  3. Be prepared to succeed as research-oriented, tenure-track faculty at research universities.

Program Requirements

Major Requirements

Major Requirements
Advisor-Approved Theory Courses from the College of Communication and Information6
Quantitative Research Methods Course3
Qualitative Research Methods Course3
Additional Methods Courses 16
Electives 212
Culminating Requirement
Minimum Total Credit Hours:70

Students choose two courses from any subject area.


Courses in the elective category are selected with the approval of the student's advisor and supervisory committee to support the student's research interests.


Each doctoral candidate, upon admission to candidacy, must register for CCI 80199 for a total of 30 credit hours. Thereafter, doctoral candidates will continuously register for CCI 80299 for each semester, until all requirements for the degree have been met.

Graduation Requirements

Minimum Major GPA Minimum Overall GPA
- 3.000
  • The Ph.D. degree in Communication and Information requires a minimum of 40 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the master's degree and 30 credit hours of dissertation work for a total of 70 credit hours.

Candidacy Requirement

To achieve candidacy, doctoral students must pass the doctoral comprehensive examination.

Program Delivery
  • Delivery:
    • In person
  • Location:
    • Kent Campus
Philosophy & Goals of The Ph.D. Program

Philosophy of the Ph.D. Program

The evolution of communication technologies and digital information systems has narrowed traditionally held differences among the academic disciplines represented within CCI. The College of Communication and Information provides a unified structure that promotes research, teaching, and application of the social-scientific, humanistic, critical, visual communication and psycho-social principles of communication and information in the digital age.

CCI is one of only a handful of similarly organized colleges of communication and information in the United States. As such, it can be an academic leader in research, teaching, and application related to changes in the information and communication landscape and can enhance Ohio's response to the growing information economy.

Collaboration by faculty members across traditional disciplinary lines is the key to the success of CCI and its component schools. Such interdisciplinary groundwork was laid in the years leading up to the establishment of the CCI doctoral program. Examples of such work include projects in: media use and effects in changing media environments, patterns of use of digital media, health information literacy, information usability, information architecture, wayfinding in the physical and digital environments, and visual communication. These research and creative projects also provide a foundation for the blending of established theoretical and research paradigms in the component schools. They suggest the need for development of new or hybrid paradigms and methods that capture more fully the information and communication practices in a digital environment.

The development of a convergent doctoral program is consistent with other instructional and curricular innovations in the college. At the baccalaureate level, a cross-disciplinary concentration—Applied Communication, housed in the School of Communication Studies—was approved in 2005. In addition, students pursuing undergraduate majors in one of CCI's baccalaureate degree-granting schools are required to take one or more courses from the other two schools. At the Master's level, the interdisciplinary M.S. program in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management has been offered since 2001.

View the CCI Ph.D. Handbook

Curriculum Philosophy

The College of Communication and Information doctoral curriculum provides exposure to theoretical fundamentals in both communication (broadly defined to include mass communication and journalism as well as other communication specialties) and in information science. In order to emphasize and facilitate interdisciplinary study within CCI, the doctoral program is administered through the college office rather than any its the constituent schools. The program of study begins with an interdisciplinary core and then leads to specialization in either a traditional single discipline or an interdisciplinary focus according to each student's interests. In fact, specialization after the core is expected, as long as grounding in the foundations of both communication and information is present. The program is receptive to intellectually innovative students who plan to create new and different combinations of these disciplines in their programs of study.

Goal of the Ph.D. Program

The goal of the College of Communication and Information's Ph.D. program is to develop each scholar's ability to generate knowledge by conducting, analyzing and presenting research in one or a combination of the CCI disciplines. Each scholar will demonstrate achievement of this objective through:

  • Creating a critical analysis and synthesis of existing research,
  • Mastering techniques for data collection and analysis,
  • Identifying research questions that need to be answered,
  • Designing, implementing and reporting independent research, and
  • Constructing a personal research agenda.

Mission of the Ph.D. Program

The mission of the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in the College of Communication and Information (CCI) is:

  • To explore the convergence of theoretical and research models from the college's component schools,
  • To promote the development of new or hybrid models appropriate to information and communication practices in a digital environment, and
  • To realize the advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration within the College of Communication and Information.

This program is designed to prepare individuals for careers in research, teaching and administration in the rapidly converging fields of communication and information through a prescribed core of interdisciplinary courses and approved selection of additional coursework within and across disciplines.

Ph.D. Research

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is research-oriented. The goal of the Ph.D. program in Communication and Information is to develop doctoral scholars’ ability to generate knowledge by conducting and publishing research in their areas of expertise. Students and faculty in CCI are participating in many exciting research projects.  Whether interdisciplinary or within traditional disciplinary bounds, as part of a research team or working alone, CCI researchers seek to expand our understanding of the world around us.

Faculty in the CCI Schools

See the list of full-time faculty in the College of Communication and Information. For more information about individual faculty members, see the school specific websites.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are available to qualifying applicants. Contact Miriam Matteson, PhD. if you’re interested in a graduate assistantship. 

Current Doctoral Students
Michael Bowen headshot

Michael Bowen


Primary Field of Study Area: Media, Technology and Society

My research focuses on how people experience and reflect on time, one of our most valued resources, and how it is spent with media and technology. Specifically, I am exploring the ways in which we can discern and understand time well spent within the 'attention economy', as opposed to time that may be squandered and later regretted.

My advisor is Dr. Michael Beam. I also continue to work full time for Spotify as a Principal Quantitative User Researcher.



L.P. Coladangelo headshot

L.P. Coladangelo


Primary Field of Study Area: Knowledge Organization

I am studying domain modeling and knowledge organization systems for intangible cultural heritage, information representation of folk traditions, and how semantic technologies can support cultural heritage safeguarding and transmission. Overall, I am interested in the relationships between language, meaning, storytelling, representation of ideas, and knowledge building.

My advisor is Dr. Marcia Lei Zeng.



Matthew Craig headshot

Matthew J. Craig


Primary Field of Study Area: Interpersonal Communication>

My research focuses on Human-Machine Communication and privacy management and disclosure. Specifically, I seek to understand how humans communicate identity and negotiate privacy when interacting with and through communicative AI in addition to computer-mediated communication contexts.


My advisor is Dr. Jeffery T. Child.

See more about me, my research, and up to date information for where I’m presenting next on my website:


PhD Student

Theorose Elikplim Dzineku


Primary Field of Study: Emerging Media, Technology, and Journalism

I am working at the intersection of Technology, New Media platforms, Journalism, and Journalism Education. My research explores how journalism education institutions in Africa are using social media platforms like Clubhouse, Twitter Space, and TikTok for example in educating and training students. I am also enthused and interested in learning about how new generative AI can be applied in local newsrooms for news production. I have an interest in research work that explores AI and social media effects, local journalism, and Journalism education.

I am a research assistant to Dr. David Silva and Dr. Andrea Lorenz.



Harrison LeJeune headshot

Harrison LeJeune


Primary Field of Study Area: Media, Technology, and Society

I am studying mass media and political communication, specifically how mass media is used to manufacture public consent for policy.

I am working as a research assistant for Dr. Teddy Workneh, Dr. Paul Haridakis, and Dr. Danielle Coombs.




Samuel Noi headshot

Samuel Noi


Primary Field of Study Area: Health, Technology, and Society

I study health communication and its emerging technology in dealing with some of the health and health communication challenges. My research focus is about examining digital health communication technologies or applications in tackling some of the health issues that have bedeviled society. This is to mitigate the effect of damages borne out of delays in the use of communication technology in the healthcare sector.

I am working with Dr. Tang Tang and  Dr. Egbert-Scheibelhoffer Nichole.

Personal Website:




 Guilherme Pedrosa Quintela headshotGuilherme Pedrosa Quintela

Primary Field of Study Area: Interpersonal Communication

I study the relationship between organizations, sports and transmedia communication. My research focuses on understanding new trends in sports organizations' communication and how it affects the manner these organizations interact with society in many ways, such as economically, technologically, culturally and communicatively. I am also studying fandom, sports political economy, media and sports cultures, media practices of fans, protests and activism in the sports field, gender and sports and sports journalism. I also participate in two research groups in Brazil: Coletivo Marta - Research Group in Communication and Sports Culture (UFMG) and Dialorg (PUC Minas).

I am currently working with Dr. Tang Tang and Dr. Danielle Sarver Coombs. 

Madison VanWalleghen headshot

Madison VanWalleghen


Primary Field of Study Area: Communication and Identity

My research examines how we develop and communicate about our identities, both as individuals and part of a group, based on identity discourse in various forms of media. Specifically, I aim to serve underrepresented communities at the intersection of sports, race, and gender, and share their stories of self.

My advisor is Dr. Cheryl Ann Lambert.

Adam Whiteside

Adam Whiteside


Primary Field of Study Area: Interpersonal Communication

I am currently studying discourse around gender, sex, and sexual violence within global and interpersonal contexts. I primarily am concerned with what impact dominant gender scripts have on sexual relations for young people (18-25). I also have also explored how history, socio-economic factors, culture, and mass media discourse potentially influence our understanding of sexual violence in other part of the world (e.g. India and South Africa).

My advisor and researcher I am working with is Dr. Suzy D’Enbeau.

Connor Wilcox

Connor Wilcox


Primary Field of Study Area: Media, Technology, and Society

I am focused on the intersection of culture, identity, and music. More specifically, I aim to explore the complex ways music-based subcultures construct knowledge, circulate meanings, and negotiate identities through communication. As a discipline, communication offers me an ideal set of theoretical tools for breaking apart and better understanding these nuanced social interactions and patterns.

My advisor is Dr. Cristin Compton.

Molly Wingard headshot

Monique Wingard


Primary Field of Study Area: Media, Technology and Society

I am a member of the Coalition for Independent Tech Research and will be studying how social media propagates hate speech and impacts intergroup relations. My research will also focus on automated journalism and the effects of AI authorship.

My advisor is Dr. Tara Conley.



Headshot of PhD student Chengyuan Yu

Chengyuan Yu


Primary Field of Study Area: Human Information Behavior

With degrees in Applied Linguistics and Library and Information Studies, I am studying the relationship between language and human information behavior from both cognitive and social perspectives. Specifically, I seek to understand the nature of multilingual speakers' information literacy practice and cross-lingual information retrieval, with the aim of helping them seek, organize, and process information in academic and non-academic settings.



Elaine Yuen headshot

Elaine Yuen


Primary Field of Study Area: Cultural Heritage Informatics

I am studying cultural heritage informatics, especially in setting up and telling stories of artifacts. My research focuses on connecting and applying innovative design to preserve cross-culture in the east and west with my fashion and costume design background.

I am working as a research assistant for Dr. Karen Gracy. 



Here are some of our more frequently asked questions about the program.

Can I do the program online?

The short answer is no. The program requires coming to the Kent campus for coursework in the first two years. After you have passed your comprehensive exam and are working on your dissertation, it would be possible to work remotely.

How many years does it take to finish?

The program is designed to be completed in 4 years: coursework years 1-2; comprehensive exam and dissertation proposal in year 3; and dissertation research and defense in year 4. Some students take an extra semester or two depending on personal circumstances, but if you stay on track you can finish in four years.

Will I be assigned an advisor?

New students are assigned a temporary advisor to help them get started in their first semester. During their first year, students then choose a permanent advisor who will help them choose courses, complete the comprehensive exam and complete the dissertation.

Is funding available for domestic and international students?

Yes, funding is available to outstanding domestic and international applicants which includes tuition remission, a significant discount toward health insurance, and a stipend. The funding is renewable for up to four years.

What will the PhD prepare me for?

The program is a research-intensive program that is designed to prepare students for careers in academia as tenure-track faculty in the fields of communication, media studies, information studies, library science, and allied disciplines.

What kind of background is most aligned to your program?

Students with master’s degrees in communication, media, and information areas who are interested in pursuing a research-focused degree will be most aligned with the philosophy of the program.

How does the program help students on the job market?

Students receive significant personal mentoring from a variety of faculty affiliated with the program throughout their course of study. Course assignments are often designed to promote submissions to conferences and journals, and funding is available to send students to conference where they may present their own work and network with scholars from other universities. Students are encouraged to deliver practice presentations and job talks at multiple stages of their program to prepare them for job interviewing.