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Communication, Culture & Media

The doctoral degree (PhD) program in Communication, Culture and Media offers students the opportunity to become experts in a variety of compelling topics, such as:

  • Political communication (especially war and conflict)
  • Media treatment of immigration and immigrants
  • Consumer culture and culture change under commodification of the self
  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to social media, discourse and political economy
  • Social justice issues
  • Popular music and fashion

PhD students are continuously exposed to opportunities to enrich their academic and experience and career outlook. Students regularly present work at the meetings of the National Communication Association, the International Communication Association, the Eastern Communication Association and the Popular Culture Association. Former and current students have published work on political communication, new media, mediated communication and intergenerational perception, consumerism and messages, business communication, diversity, and critical media studies. Students also excel in research methods in high demand in communication studies, including quantitative analysis, network analysis, online ethnography, mixed-methods approaches and discourse analysis.


The PhD coursework is structured around a set of required core courses, a set of required seminars with rotating topics, and electives in graduate communication lecture courses, independent study work and dissertation credit.

All students in the program take five common core courses. They then take no less than five courses chosen from the Culture and Communications (COM) seminar offerings. Students are encouraged to take additional seminars after meeting this requirement since seminar courses enable collaborative relationships with professors and introduce students to the scholarly community.

After completing the core requirements and a sequence of seminars, students take a minimum of 10 additional courses from existing graduate level lecture courses (depending on their interests and research needs). Students may take up to two graduate courses (six credits) outside the department. Additional credits to meet the 90 credit requirement come from independent study and dissertation credits.

Sample Plan of Study

Applicant Information

The application deadline for the PhD in Communication, Culture and Media is December 1, and admits about three students each fall. As a small program, students work closely with faculty and serve as research or teaching assistants as part of their training.

Qualifying Exams

There are three qualifying exams, which must be successfully completed in order to progress in the PhD program, and move to the PhD Candidate status: Content Exam, Theory Exam, and Methods Exam. The Content Exam is developed over six months between the PhD student and the faculty advisor, either June to December or December to June, depending on the date of the exam. The Theory and Methods Exams are completed in-person, in 3-hour time blocks, according to the exam scheduled below. Please note: the Theory Exam question is developed between the PhD student and the faculty advisor. The Theory Exam question must be submitted to the Exam Committee for approval no later than two months before the exam date.


June exams for post-baccalaureate students:

  • Theory Exam: In-person, Friday of Week 10 of the spring term
  • Content Exam: Due via email, Sunday of Week 10 of the spring term
  • Methods Exam: In-person, Monday of Week 11 (finals week) of the spring term

December exams for post-Masters students:

  • Theory Exam: In-person, Friday of Week 11 of the fall term
  • Content Exam: Due via email, Sunday of Week 11 of the fall term
  • Methods Exam: In-person, Monday of Week 12 (finals week) of the fall term

Teaching Fellow Policy

The College of Arts and Sciences regards training in pedagogy and instruction to be core to the mission of doctoral education. Therefore, all PhD students in the College are required to perform significant teaching duties (defined over multiple terms) during their pursuit of their degree. These activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Supervising teaching labs
  • Running course recitations
  • Teaching as the primary instructor
  • Running student seminars
  • Training junior researchers in core research methods
  • Running or actively participating in pedagogical seminars or conferences

Alternate fulfillment of this requirement is at the discretion of the program director and the head of the student's home department.

Learn more in the Course Catalog


Apply for a graduate degree in Communication, Culture and Media or visit campus to get firsthand information about a Drexel education. We encourage applicants to review our CCM Admissions FAQs for further details. Please email Nicole Pearson, the CCM graduate program advisor, at with any questions.