Ph.D. in Communications | Columbia Journalism School

Ph.D. in Communications

A multidisciplinary approach to the study of communications

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Program Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communications offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the relationships between people and media in their cultural, social, political, historical, economic and technological contexts.

With the guidance of an interdisciplinary faculty advisory committee, students craft individual courses of study drawing on the university's graduate resources in the humanities, the social and practical sciences, the arts, and the professional schools.

Our goal is to connect the strengths of the Columbia journalism tradition with intellectual work in the humanities and human sciences to enhance our understanding of media and journalism in society. Dissertation projects have included "fake news" and political culture; the ordinary person's experience of appearing in the news; the evolution of the photographic pose; fact‐checking and objectivity in the age of digital media; and media, mobilization and political campaigns.

Nearly half of our graduates now hold full-time tenured or tenure‐track teaching positions, while others work in government, industry, consulting, research, policy, finance or the law.

A full time Ph.D. student is generally offered a standard financial aid package that can include tuition exemptions, coverage of medical fees and a stipend. Some service as a teaching or research assistant is required.

Ph.D. Requirements

To graduate, each candidate must demonstrate a general understanding of the field of communications as a whole and acquire deep knowledge in an area of concentration through research and coursework in appropriate disciplines ranging from history, sociology, or religion to business or international affairs.


Financial Aid

As of 2020/21, the standard financial aid package offered to full‐time Ph.D. students who do not receive significant awards from outside sources consists of a stipend for four years and a tuition exemption for the student's two or three years of coursework (the length of study depends on whether advanced standing has been granted).

During the first year of coursework no service is required, but in each semester of the second, third and fourth years students will be assigned an assistantship that will require research or teaching.

The university's Columbia Plan health insurance and the university health service fees are covered for all funded Ph.D. students through the fourth year after their completion of coursework—i.e. for a total of six or seven years depending on advanced standing. Students must actively register for their health insurance after the completion of coursework; enrollment is automatic while taking classes. University matriculation fees are covered for funded students for the first four years after their completion of coursework.

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