Doctoral Program (Ph.D. in Communication & Information)

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:


Media, Technology, and Society

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.

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Global Communication

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. 

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Interpersonal Communication

Students specializing in interpersonal communication will be prepared to conduct research and teach in an academic institution and/or as a communication specialist in an organizational setting.

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Human Information Behavior

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.

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Cultural Heritage Informatics

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.

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Knowledge Organization

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. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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.

Applicants: In your statement of purpose, please make sure you clearly identify the specialization you intend to be your primary area.