Ph.D. in Communication

Founded in 1961, the Doctorate in Communication at Michigan State University has consistently been the most prestigious communication degree in the world. The focus of MSU’s Ph.D. in Communication is the scholarly analysis of social processes, with an emphasis on the characteristics of the messages and channels. This fully funded four-year program is organized around a set of experiences intended to maximize creative growth and development, and to provide students with the skills needed to succeed and thrive in an intellectual community.

Program specializations include social network analysis, social media, communication analytics, mass communication, persuasion and social influence, health and risk communication, interpersonal and group communication, diffusion of innovations, organizational communication and quantitative research methods.


Program Accolades

Michigan State University is ranked #3 in the world by ShanghaiRanking for Communication, and QS World University rankings place MSU 9th in the world and 6th in the U.S. in Communication and Media Studies. 

COM researchers rank first in latest research productivity study published in the Journal of Communication, which analyzed authorship of articles published between 1999-2004 in eight leading journals sponsored by NCA and ICA. MSU was number one in publications by current faculty and students and #1 in publications by doctoral alumni.

COM placed 11 faculty and doctoral alumni among the top 50 most productive researchers in two dozen communication journals from 1996-2001, according to a study published in Communication Research Reports.

Our alumni network is one of the most closely integrated in the field, and our graduates are highly sought after in academic and industry positions, such as these recent placements:  The Ohio State University; Albion College; University at Buffalo; University of North Carolina; Montana State University; University of Georgia; Bethany Lutheran College; Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; California State Long Beach; Georgia State University; Sam Houston State University; The MITRE Corporation; Guangming School, China University; University of Hawai'i at Manoa; StoryFit; University of Arkansas; Haworth Inc.; University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of Alabama at Birmingham

The Michigan State Department of Communication has been directly associated with the careers of more ICA Fellows than any other university, including current faculty members Monique Turner, Ron Tamborini, and Jim Dearing, and former faculty members Patrice Buzzanell, Sandi Smith, Everett Rogers, Steve Wilson, Charles Berger, Michael Burgoon, Joe Cappella, Akiba Cohen, Brenda Dervin, Randy Harrison, Judee Burgoon, Peter Monge, Byron Reeves, Joe Walther, Frank Boster, William Donohue, Marshall Scott Poole, Jim McCroskey, Brad Greenberg, GR Miller, James Dillard, Edward L. Fink, Robert Craig and Mike Roloff.

Current and former COM faculty have won one-third of ICA mentor awards for doctoral advising, more than any other university: GR Miller, Brad Greenberg, Frank Boster, Judee Burgoon, Edward L. Fink and Peter Monge.

With a longstanding combination of renowned faculty, productive scholars and successful alumni, our doctoral program continues to receive key awards and consistently ranks at the top in terms of reputation and journal productivity. In the 2004 NCA reputation survey of "effectiveness of Ph.D. program", MSU ranked #1 in health communication, #1 in communication and technology, #2 in mass communication, #4 in interpersonal and small group communication, and #4 in international and intercultural communication. MSU had the top average rating score among the subset of comprehensive doctoral programs with at least five specialties.


During their four years in the program, students work closely with faculty members and other graduate students on ongoing collaborative research projects where they gain skills in collaborating with others, experience working with a research team and securing funding for new research. Students learn how to generate independent hypotheses and research designs, the critical importance of real-world relevancy in keeping with the land-grant tradition and the art of working together with others in teams for common objectives.


Meet Our Current Students

Some of the sharpest minds in the world are currently pursuing their doctorate in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University.

Learn more about them


Additional information about the Ph.D. program in Communication may be obtained from:

Lisabeth Bylina
Academic Programs

472 ComArtSci Building
404 Wilson Rd.
East Lansing, MI 48824