Communication, Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Program Description

The Cornell University Ph.D. in Communication is designed to assist students in proposing, testing, and refining communication theories; in practicing skilled research; and in becoming knowledgeable about communication. It is the number two communication Ph.D. program in the country.

The Ph.D. degree is a research degree. Cornell's doctoral program is designed to be a small, high quality program that will encourage students' interests in academic work as well as prepare them for nonacademic job opportunities.  Doctoral students focus on developing communication theory based on empirical social science research.  Program graduates will be able to compete successfully for teaching and research positions at colleges and universities, work at consulting firms, or conduct research and contribute to policy in government and private organizations.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-2112

452 Mann Library
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • communication
  • human-computer interaction
  • language and communication
  • media communication and society
  • organizational communication
  • science, environment and health communication
  • social psychology communication


2017-2018: $20,800

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Dec. 1; no spring admission

Note: The application deadline is December 1, 2018, by which all application materials must be submitted (including GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores). Letters of recommendation are due by December 15, 2018

Requirements Summary:

Applicants must submit recent GRE general test scores and are expected to have some competence in at least one area of communication or to be willing to spend time beyond the normal degree requirements to gain competence. Persons with experience in communication are encouraged to apply; evidence of superior performance in the professional field will be considered in combination with academic records and GRE scores. 

  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam or IELTS for Non-Native English Applicants
  • only online submission of application materials; no hardcopy materials will be accepted
  • statement of purpose
  • transcripts
  • writing sample
  • three letters of recommnedation
  • GRE general test
  • further application information available here


Field of Communication Learning Objectives

Students completing a Ph.D. in Communication should be able to:

Make an original and substantial contribution to the field, advance communication theory, think originally and independently, and identify new research opportunities within the field.


  1. Dissertation Proposal.  Evaluation: committee approval via rubric
  2. Dissertation. Evaluation: committee approval via rubric
  3. Peer-reviewed Publications. Evaluation: bi-annual CV review by field faculty
  4. Fellowships/grant applications submitted.  Evaluation: bi-annual CV review, field records
    Demonstrate advanced research skills via critical evaluation of one’s own findings and those of others; synthesizing existing knowledge; identifying and accessing appropriate resources.


  1. Second-Year Research Project. Evaluation: committee approval via rubric
  2. A-exam. Evaluation: committee approval via rubric
  3. Student Course Performance. Evaluation: course grades
  4. Student Presentation Skills (in local colloquia and at conferences). Evaluation: structured observations
  5. Student Writing Skills. Evaluation: advisor and instructor assessment of writing skills
    Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship by keeping abreast of advances within one’s field and related areas, showing commitment to professional development via professional societies, publication and knowledge transfer; and supporting learning via teaching, mentoring and demonstration


  1. A-exam. Evaluation: committee approval via rubric.
  2. Peer-reviewed publication. Evaluation: bi-annual CV review by field faculty.
  3. Conference and colloquium participation. Evaluation: bi-annual CV review by field faculty.
  4. Participation in professional development activities. Evaluation: bi-annual CV review by field faculty, field records.
  5. Teaching Assistantship Performance. Evaluation: TA evaluation data.
  6. Supervising Undergraduate RAs or TAs. Evaluation: supervisor observation, RA/TA feedback.
    Demonstrate professional skills by adhering to ethical standards in the discipline, and by listening to, giving and receiving feedback effectively.


  1. Academic Integrity Infractions. Evaluation: field and graduate school records.
  2. Adherence to relevant research compliances. Evaluation: IRB, field and advisor records.
  3. Participation in Ethics Courses or Training. Evaluation: IRB and field records.
  4. Student receptivity to criticism of academic work. Evaluation: Committee observation