Communication, Culture and Media PhD

Major: Communication, Culture and Media
Degrees Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 90.0 (post-bachelor's) or 45.0 (post-master's)
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 09.0102
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code:

About the Program

The PhD program in Communication, Culture and Media develops innovative scholar-teachers who know how to impart theories and studies on the interaction of social forces and communication. Our graduates are trained as committed researchers in quantitative and qualitative approaches to communication study. The program also encourages interdisciplinary approaches to the study of communication and media through faculty strengths in anthropology, communication, linguistics, and sociology.

Additional Information

For more information, please visit the Communication, Culture and Media web page.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the PhD program will be evaluated by the CCM Admissions Committee for acceptance into the program. Prospective students must submit with their application:

  • A statement of purpose, up to 1500 words, explaining interest in the CCM program. This should include a description of research interests and major theoretical influences, and information on previous research experience, if any. The statement should explain why the CCM program foci and faculty expertise match the applicant’s specific interests. If the previous degree(s) obtained is not in communication, it is important to explain here what influenced the decision to pursue communication and media studies.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Transcripts of all college-level coursework demonstrating completion of a BA/BS at minimum
  • A writing sample (essay, paper, thesis, article, or capstone project) that demonstrates proficiency in description and analysis, and in developing and defending new ideas about a topic. The sample can review and rework a previously submitted paper or write something completely new. The sample does not need to be communication- or media-related, but it should be an example of the applicant’s best work. The applicant must be the sample’s sole author.
  • For international students where English is not the official language, a TOEFL score of 100 (iBT) or IELTS Overall Band Score of 7.0. For more information regarding international applicant requirements, view the International Students Admissions Information page.

GRE scores are optional. If the applicant chooses to submit them, results will be evaluated based on performance in the Analytical Writing and Verbal Reasoning sections. The Admissions Committee will consider all application materials, with or without GRE scores. Applicants are encouraged to submit materials that provide clear evidence of their aptitude for graduate study.

Additional Information

For more information on how to apply, visit the Drexel University Requirements for Admissions page.

Degree Requirements

The PhD requires a minimum of 90.0 credits beyond a bachelor’s degree, including 45.0 credit hours of coursework prior to taking qualifying exams, 15.0 credit hours of coursework after exams, and 30.0 hours of research credits.

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 CCM 800 level seminar offerings. Students are encouraged to take additional seminars after meeting that requirement since seminar courses enable collaborative relationships with professors and introduce students to the scholarly community. In addition to coursework, students will be assigned required teaching and research duties in the fall, winter, and spring terms.

After completing the core requirements and a sequence of seminars, students are expected to 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 90.0 credit requirements will come from independent study and dissertation credits.

Qualifying Examinations

After students have completed 45.0 credits, which will usually be at the end of their sixth term, they will be required to take a qualifying examination. The qualifying exam includes three parts: theory, methods, and a content area. Students will be given the grade of fail, pass, or high pass on the exam. A grade of pass in all three sections of the exam will be required to qualify for the PhD. 

Dissertation Defense

Students should defend the dissertation and graduate towards the end of their fourth or fifth year, depending on whether they entered the program with a master's degree.

Visit the Communication, Culture, and Media website for more information.

Program Requirements

Core Courses
CCM 701Contemporary Social Theory3.0
CCM 702Communication Theory I: Persuasion and Media Effects3.0
CCM 703Communication Theory II: Discourse and Semiotics3.0
CCM 704Research Methods in Communication, Culture and Media3.0
CCM 705Data Analysis in Communication3.0
Students select 12.0 credits from the five categories of seminars *12.0
Seminar in Contemporary Theory
Seminar in Discourse and Semiotics
Seminar in Structural and Cultural Dynamics
Seminar in Research Methodology
Seminar in Communication Ethics
Communication, Culture & Media Electives **27.0
Dissertation Credits ***36.0-135.0
PhD Dissertation Research in Communication, Culture & Media
Total Credits90.0-189.0

There are five categories of seminar: one in which students learn advanced work and influences on a specific theorist or theoretical school; one in which students learn about theories of language, discourse and the sign; one that teaches the paradigm of structural dynamics central to social sciences theory and research; one in which students study a research methods approach; and one that deals with approaches to research ethics. Seminars can be repeated, with a maximum of three courses taken in each area, as long as the subject covered is different each time.


Elective credits may be chosen from CCM courses at the 500-800 level, including 800-level seminars that are a different topic from earlier courses taken. Students may take up to 6.0 graduate-level credits outside of the Communication, Culture and Media program rubric with approval of the program director.


For the dissertation, students work with a principal advisor, one of the Communication, Culture and Media Program graduate faculty and no less than two additional faculty from within the department. Students must find one additional outside reader, and students may bring in up to two outside readers. 

Sample Plan of Study

Students entering the program with a master’s degree or with some graduate credit will be evaluated by the Graduate Committee as to how many of their courses could possibly be counted toward the PhD. Students entering with an MS in an appropriate field are required by the university to take a minimum of 15.0 credit hours in the PhD program before being eligible to take qualifying exams.

First Year
CCM 7023.0CCM 7013.0CCM 7033.0VACATION
CCM 7043.0CCM 7053.0CCM Elective3.0 
Seminar Elective3.0Seminar Elective3.0Seminar Elective3.0 
 9 9 9 0
Second Year
CCM Electives6.0CCM Electives9.0CCM Electives9.0VACATION
Seminar Elective3.0   
 9 9 9 0
Third Year
CCM 9989.0CCM 9989.0CCM 9989.0VACATION
 9 9 9 0
Fourth Year
CCM 998*9.0   
Total Credits 90

Students continue to register for 9.0 credits of CCM 998 each Fall, Winter, and Spring Term until the completion of program requirements, including successful defense of the dissertation.

Communication, Culture and Media Faculty

Ronald Bishop, III, PhD (Temple University). Professor. Investigative reporting, sports journalism, journalism history, journalism sourcing patterns, textual narrative and ideological analysis, cultural history of fame.
Mary Ebeling, PhD (University of Surrey). Professor. Science and technology studies; emerging technologies and biocapital; media and democratic cultures; radical social movements; sociology of markets; political sociology; and ethnographic methodologies.
Ernest A. Hakanen, PhD (Temple University) Director, Graduate Programs in Communication, Culture & Media. Professor. Telecommunications policy, adolescent media use, communication theory and history, global media, and semiotics.
Nahyun Kim, PhD (Penn State University). Tenure Track Assistant Professor. Strategic communication, organizational communication, political consumerism, quantitative methods (experiments, survey, content analysis, computational text analysis).
Emmanuel F. Koku, PhD (University of Toronto). Associate Professor. Social network analysis; qualitative/quantitative research; medical sociology; social epidemiology; social demography; sociology of development; communication and information technology; community and urban sociology.
Hyunmin Lee, PhD (University of Missouri) Director, Undergraduate Programs in Communication. Associate Professor. Social media strategies for relationship and reputation management in public relations; media messages of public health issues and its psychological and behavioral effects on the public.
Brent Luvaas, PhD (UCLA). Professor. Visual anthropology; photography; social media; digital culture; urban futures; United States and Southeast Asia.
Douglas V. Porpora, PhD (Temple University). Professor. War, genocide, torture, and human rights; macro-moral reasoning in public sphere debate; contemporary social theory moral and political communication; religion.
Rachel R. Reynolds, PhD (University of Illinois). Associate Professor. Sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication and discourse analysis; violence against women in mass media; political economy of migration; semiotics including the textual, the visual and multimodal.
Wesley Shumar, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Professor. Digital media and learning; culture of higher education; entrepreneurship education; craft culture; semiotic of consumer culture.
Hilde Van den Bulck, PhD (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) Department Head of Communication. Professor. Political economy of media structures; media policies for digitized media ecologies; stakeholders and coalitions in media policies; digitization; convergence and legacy media; public (service) media; celebrity culture and industry; fandom and anti-fandom.
Asta Zelenkauskaite, PhD (Indiana University). Associate Professor. Social media; user-generated content; computer-mediated communication; interactivity; active audience analysis; mobile communication; gender and online identity; prosumer culture; internet of things; quantitative/qualitative research.
  • Schedule of Classes
  • All Course Descriptions
  • Co-op
  • Academic Advising
  • Admissions
  • Tuition & Fees