Communication Studies (PHD)


Communication Studies, PhD

On Campus 90 cr

The graduate program is dedicated to cultivating scholar-teachers capable of advancing the study of relational and civic dimensions of communication.


We reflect the pluralism of the communication discipline by currently offering two primary areas of study: Interpersonal, Family & Health Communication and Rhetoric & Public Culture. The mission of the faculty and students of the Department of Communication Studies is to examine human symbolic activity as it shapes and is shaped by relationships, institutions, technology, and culture. This work concerns the creation, analysis, and critique of messages ranging from face-to-face to digital media contexts. The department’s research and teaching devote particular attention to three cross-cutting strategic initiatives: Health and Well-Being, Civic Engagement, and Identity and Difference. Our goal is to nurture scholars who appreciate and embrace the interconnectedness of these primary areas as well as other faculty foci (e.g., organizational communication). Our doctoral students have great success in securing academic appointments upon graduation. Our M.A. program will prepare you for continuing your doctoral studies in prestigious doctoral programs. You will develop programs of study that serve your individual focus based on your primary area of study and our department strategic initiatives.

For more information, visit

Academic Pathways


  1. Ethnic Studies
  2. Great Plains Studies
  3. Women's & Gender Studies

Applying for Admission

Standard requirements for all graduate programs

  • Application for Admission with $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • Transcripts (unofficial): Uploaded as part of application form.

    If International: Uploads must include all college- or university-level transcripts or mark sheets (records of courses and marks earned), with certificates, diplomas, and degrees plus certified English translations.

    After admission: Official documents are required from all students who are admitted and enroll. Photocopies of certified records are not acceptable. International students enrolled in other U.S. institutions may have certified copies of all foreign records sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies by their current school’s registrar office.

  • If applicant’s native language is not English, verification of English proficiency is required.
  • If applicant is not a US citizen and expects an F or J visa: financial information.
  • Applicants must also fulfill any additional requirements the department specifies at the time of application.

Additional requirements specific to this program

  • GRE
  • Minimum English proficiency: Paper TOEFL 600, Internet TOEFL100, IELTS 6.5
  • Three recommendation letters
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Personal Statement:  At minimum, your statement should include the following:
    1. A discussion of your overall academic goals
    2. A review of your undergraduate and graduate experiences that prepare you for master's or doctoral-level graduate work
    3. A clear articulation of your perspective on the potential intersections between our research endeavors and scholarly initiatives and your current research interests. For this last point, it is not necessary to link your research interests with all faculty members. For instance, you may identify a specific faculty member's program of research or you may see a cluster of scholarly foci from different faculty that you believe will assist you in achieving your academic goals. In your statement, we ask that you be very clear on what faculty member you would like to serve as your primary academic advisor. However, we are open to changes in this as students progress through the program.
  • Writing sample
  • Other Upload: Demonstration of teaching effectiveness: A summary of your teaching experience or a discussion of your teaching potential.
  • Assistantship: If you wish to be considered for an assistantship, be sure to check the appropriate box(es) in the Funding section.

NOTE: When sending GRE or TOEFL scores, our institution code is 6877 and a department code is not needed.

Admission Application Deadlines

January 15 

Graduate Chair

Casey Kelly

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The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation in its programs, activities, or employment.

UNL Graduate Chairs and staff please complete the program update form to provide edits. Updates to graduate program pages are made on an annual basis in conjunction with the Graduate Application for Admission.