Skip Navigation
search: People | Departments | Penn State | Web
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Mass Communications (MASSC)

Program Home Page (Opens New Window)

Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
College of Communications
201 Carnegie Building


Degree Conferred:



The Graduate Faculty


Doctoral Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. Program in Mass Communications is administered by the College of Communications. All students seeking admission to the program are required to submit Graduate Record Examination scores, transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work, and three letters of recommendation from individuals qualified to comment on their ability to perform successfully at the doctoral level. Students whose native language is not English must present a minimum TOEFL score of 600 to be considered for admission. In most cases, a completed master's degree is required for admission to the program. In addition, applicants are required to submit a formal statement indicating what they expect to achieve and how their educational background qualifies them for doctoral-level study in mass communications. Admission decisions are made by the college admissions committee.

Requirements listed above are in addition to general Graduate School requirements listed in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students admitted to the doctoral program must complete a candidacy examination. For students with a master's degree or equivalent, this examination ordinarily will occur before the student has completed 10 credits of doctoral-level work. For individuals admitted with only a baccalaureate degree and no graduate-level work, the candidacy examination will be administered after 30 credits and before 40 credits of graduate-level work, have been completed. The committee designated to conduct the examination will determine whether the student's knowledge of mass communications is adequate for doctoral-level study, specify what deficiencies, if any, must be removed, and pass judgment on a proposed plan of study.

The program requirements include both semesters of the Mass Communications Proseminar (COMM 501.1 and COMM 501.2), a foundation course and other courses selected by the student, with committee approval, that collectively constitute a coherent sequence appropriate to the advanced study of mass communications. Students are expected to take a minimum of 20 credits in communications-related courses. No more than 6 credits can be taken as independent study credits. Students also are required to take at least one course in research methods approved by the doctoral committee. Upon completion of the course work approved for the plan of study, the candidate will take a comprehensive examination. Following the comprehensive examination, doctoral candidates schedule a dissertation proposal meeting at which the research plan for their dissertation is reviewed and approved by their committee. Upon completion of the dissertation, doctoral candidates present a final oral defense of their dissertations before their committees.

The communication and foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree may be satisfied by intermediate knowledge of one foreign language or by an equivalent research skill relevant to the student's field of study.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.




Faculty linked: 6/27/14


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Graduate Course Descriptions
  2. Graduate Programs
  3. Doctoral Degree Requirements
  4. Master's Degree Requirements
  5. Application and Admission Procedures
  6. Credit Certificate Programs
  7. General Information
  8. Tuition and Cost
  9. Intercollege
  10. Academic Information and Procedures
Skip PDF and Print Options

Print Options