Research, Mentorship, Community
Our trailblazing, interdisciplinary doctoral program is designed to prepare students for positions in research-intensive institutions or to work at other types of educational institutions and industry positions.
Graduates from the CCI doctoral program have gone on to successful careers in higher education, government, industry, and other business sectors.
Industry and business leaders continue to tell us that they want a workforce with integrated knowledge and skill sets that are needed to solve the problems of the world today. CCI’s interdisciplinary doctoral program meets these market demands and prepares students for that workforce.
The combination of outstanding professors, excellent students from diverse backgrounds, interdisciplinary curriculum, state-of-the-art labs, and professional development opportunities sets CCI’s doctoral program apart from other programs.
The committee wanted my research to be rigorous, and because it was, I was able to land this ideal position. If it wasn’t for the advising, mentorship, and encouragement I received, I wouldn’t be prepared for this position.”
Kevin Mallory (’22)
On accepting a tenure-track position after graduating from CCI with his PhD
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Associate Dean for Graduate Programs
Administrative Specialist III
PhD Program Requirements
The goal of the PhD program is to prepare graduates for positions in research-intensive institutions if they so choose. This preparation will also enable them to work at other types of educational institutions and industry positions. This is a residential program with students attending classes in person.
Program Curriculum and Concentrations
The program’s core curriculum helps students understand the common threads across College disciplines that span the communication and information fields. After completing the core, students choose a concentration area in advertising, communication studies, information sciences, journalism and electronic media, or public relations. Students also complete a cognate area that typically consists of a set of courses outside the College to further support the student’s focus area.
The content of the doctoral program consists of the following requirements:
- Core Courses (17 credit hours): CCI 605, CCI 631, CCI 635, CCI 620 (2 credit hours), CCI 611 or Advanced Statistics, Additional CCI Doctoral Level Course.
- Primary Concentration (12 credit hours): 3 credit hours of ADVT 680, CMST 680, INSC 680, JREM 680, or PBRL 680. Other concentration courses are defined by the student and his/her program committee.
- Cognate (9 credit hours): Defined by the student and their program committee.
- Dissertation (24 credit hours minimum).
Total credit hours must be no less than 62 credit hours. A student should anticipate at least three years of full-time study, which includes time for dissertation research. A comprehensive examination is given when the student has completed all required and prescribed courses.
The comprehensive examination must be taken within five years and all requirements must be completed within eight years from the time of a student’s first enrollment in the doctoral program.
CCI Program forms, Graduate Scholarship forms, Student Travel Approval forms, and Research forms are available on the CCI Graduate Form Central page.
Student learning expectations for the doctoral program are to be able to explain and apply core theories within their area of concentration (i.e., advertising, communication studies, information sciences, journalism and electronic media, and/or public relations); explain and apply quantitative and/or qualitative research methods; and be productive in advancing knowledge in the communication and information fields and demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach to research.
Upon completion of the program, students should:
- Be prepared to be successful in academic positions at local, regional and research-intensive institutions.
- Have confidence in their research abilities.
- Have had the opportunity to prepare, submit and present/publish research manuscripts before completion of their degree either alone or in conjunction with faculty.
- Be well versed in philosophy of inquiry, be familiar with the theoretical and methodological traditions that constitute the body of knowledge in areas of communication and information studies, and steeped in the literature of at least one (preferably more) specific discipline(s) represented by the college.
- Have a working knowledge of the fundamental principles and practices of at least one discipline represented by the larger university beyond their primary area within communication and information study.
- Be prepared to teach in the classroom at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
- Have experience with the scholarly and professional associations relevant to their area of study/teaching.
- Have an understanding of the types of service expectations they may encounter in their academic careers.
Admissions and Application
Admissions Snapshot – Doctoral Program
Admission to the CCI doctoral program is limited to students of exceptionally high competence and promise. A completed master’s degree is required for entry into the doctoral program. Students lacking academic or professional experience in communication and information may be required to take prerequisite courses. All new doctoral students begin their classes in the fall semester.
Submit the following materials with your Graduate Admissions application:
- A Resumé or C.V. (Curriculum Vita).
- Official transcripts. A 3.00 (4.00 system) Grade Point Average (GPA) in undergraduate studies, and a 3.50 GPA for graduate studies is typically required for admission.
- The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are optional, beginning with Fall 2023 admissions.
- Research Statement, Writing Sample, and Personal Statement.
- Recommendation letters and/or rating forms from at least 3 former instructors, professional supervisors, or similar.
- A Statement of Interest in a CCI Graduate Teaching Assistantship position (optional).
- Personal interviews with the CCI PhD admissions review committee may be required.
- For students whose native language is not English and who have not earned an earlier degree at an English-language college or university, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), is required. The score must not be older than two years. Please see the Graduate School’s Admissions Requirements section of the Applying to Graduate School page for more information.
- Graduate School Admissions require that international students submit applications no later than February 1.
Details regarding these and other application requirements are included in the online application.
Admission to the PhD Program is a two-step process: 1. Applicants must meet admissions requirements of the Graduate School and of the College. 2. At the College level, applications are examined to determine the likelihood of success in doctoral studies, and the match between student research interests and program offerings.
To apply to the doctoral program, go to the University of Tennessee Graduate Admissions Application Online Submission site.
College formal review of applications begins January 10. Applicants who also want to apply for assistantship funding should do so by January 10, as preference is given to applicants whose materials are submitted by that date. A limited number of positions open each fall.
If you are interested in applying for a Graduate Teaching Associate position (an assistantship), please indicate this in your application, and be prepared to provide a statement explaining why you are applying for the position.
Possible sources of funding and other student position opportunities are listed on the UT Graduate School “Costs and Funding” page.
PhD Student and Faculty Research
CCI faculty are the heartbeat of our graduate programs. They are active in every phase of the student’s life at UT—from admission to graduation, and serve as important mentors.
Graduate students learn and work with nationally and internationally recognized faculty, who publish in leading disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals. As a doctoral student, you will have multiple research opportunities in the College of Communication and Information. Faculty enjoy working with doctoral students and you can expect to become involved in faculty research as you develop your own research stream.
Doctoral students engage in many professional development opportunities including publishing and presenting research papers, collaborating with experts from around the world, gaining teaching experience, and building a strong and influential professional network. CCI also sponsors a research symposium every spring that serves as a venue for students and faculty to present developing and previously presented research. You can expect to receive some funding for travel to present your work because CCI and UT contribute funds to support graduate student travel to present research at academic conferences.
CCI possesses state-of-the-art research facilities including the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center, Public Speaking Center, Message Effects Laboratory, User eXperience Laboratory, Converged Newsroom, and Scripps Convergence Laboratory, which are available for doctoral student research. The Message Effects and User eXperience Labs earned UT’s designation of “Core Facility”, which means they have been recognized by the UT Office of Research Engagement as being important components of the University’s research portfolio and visibility.
CCI faculty research is in variety of contexts using a sophisticated range of methodologies and theories. Several interdisciplinary research themes that represent the nature of the research conducted in the College include:
- Interpersonal Communication
- Methods: Research/Quantitative/Qualitative
- Organizational/Group/Team Communication
- Science/Health Communication
- Social Influence/Persuasion/Public Opinion/Politics
- Social Media/ Mediated Communication
- Workplace Privacy
Request More Information
Please complete the form to receive updated application information for our doctoral program. We will keep in contact with you to provide detailed enrollment information and application deadlines.