Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
School of Communication, Information and Library Studies
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Undergraduate Programs
Master of Communication and Media Program
Master of Health Communication and Information
Master of Information Program
Ph.D. Program in Communication, Information, and Media
Program Areas of Concentration
Program Requirements
Master's-Level Statistics Competency
Course Requirements
Qualifying Examination Requirement
Dissertation Requirements
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Ph.D. in Communication, Information, and Media Courses
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Camden Newark New Brunswick/Piscataway
  School of Communication and Information 2021-2023 Ph.D. Program in Communication, Information, and Media Program Program Requirements Course Requirements  

Course Requirements

Course requirements are summarized as follows (described in more detail below):

1. Core Course Requirements:
Communication (COM), Library and Information Science (LIS), and Media Studies (MS): 6 credits (600, 601, and 608)

2. Program Area Course Requirements: Taken in addition to the core requirements.

           LIS & MS:    27 credits                                

           COM:           30 credits

Core course requirements plus program area course requirements equal to a minimum total required credits of doctoral level coursework as follows:

           LIS & MS:  33 credits (6 core course requirements plus 27 program area                           course requirements)

           COM:          36 credits (6 core course requirements plus 30 program area                           course requirements)

3. Transfer of Approved Master's Degree Course Credits: Additional credits of graduate coursework including, but not limited to, master's degree transfer of credits.  Must be approved by the Ph.D. director.

            COM:          up to 18 transfer credits

            LIS:             up to 15 transfer credits

            MS:             up to 12 transfer credits                        

4. Dissertation Research Credits: Taken after completion of all coursework credits and the transfer of approved master's degree course credits. Must take a minimum of 1 research credit per semester until graduation.

             COM & LIS:  24 research credits

             MS:                27 research credits                               

Upon successful completion of: 1) core course requirements, 2) program area course requirements, and 3) transfer of approved master's degree course credits, the candidate is eligible to take the qualifying examination (see Qualifying Examinations section).

Course Listings and Schedules, Independent Study, and Assistantship Credits

Ph.D. Courses are listed here:

Current Course Schedules by semester are found here:

Independent Study Credits: As a general rule, students only take independent study credits when no course offerings matching their needs are available. Students should not have more than one independent study as an elective counting toward their doctoral degree requirements (unless the director, area coordinator, and/or student's adviser approve such a request). Students may take additional independent studies, as long as they are not used to fulfill minimal program credit requirements. In other words, only one independent study will count toward your degree credits, unless approved as above. The exception is those in LIS are required to take a guided research experience in a subfield, which will normally be in the form of Independent Study.

Assistantship Credits: Credits for funded graduate and teaching assistants do NOT count toward degree requirements in the Ph.D. program.


Core Course Requirements for COM, LIS, and MS

There are three core required courses for all Ph.D. students (600, 601, and 608) as follows:

16:194:600: Ph.D. Colloquium (0) Taken during each semester of coursework and attendance is required until qualifying exams are passed, Colloquium is held on selected Friday afternoons from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. It includes research presentations by students, faculty, alumni, and outside speakers, as well as professional development seminars.

16:194:601: Communication, Information, and Media Proseminar (3) Taken during the first semester, the Proseminar addresses the nature of communication, information, and media processes and their role in individual, social, and institutional behavior. Particular emphasis will be on the conceptual linkages between communication, information, and media processes, as well as theory and metatheory. Panels will alternate between interdisciplinary and area-specific topics featuring CIM program faculty as speakers. Proseminar will include topics in professional development, academic integrity, responsible and ethical conduct of research, and intellectual property. Students will pass CITI, Human Subjects Certification, as part of the course.

16:194:608: Research Practicum (3) Taken by arrangement with faculty member, usually toward the end of coursework, this requirement is met by a student registering for this course with a member of the program faculty who has agreed to supervise the student's participation in a research project of interest. Students are expected to contact faculty directly with practicum projects/ideas. The expected outcome of the Research Practicum is a paper (single or coauthored) submitted to a recognized conference or refereed journal. The results of the Research Practicum will be presented by the student at a Ph.D. poster session colloquium typically held at the end of each semester (see and click on Guidelines for Research Practicum Presentations bullet).

Program Area Course Requirements by Area (27-30 credits)

Each program area sets its own curriculum and area course requirements as follows:


Communication (COM)

Ph.D. students in COM are required to take Research Design (3 cr.) and Foundations of Communication Theory (3 cr.) as area requirements. In addition, students are required to take three specialized methods courses (9 cr.), one of which may be more broadly defined as a research experience or professional development course. Beyond these requirements, students are expected to choose a major and minor area of study and the remaining 15 credit hours (5 courses) are to consist of elective courses in the student's major and minor area of study. Students should take courses from at least two of the five core foci within the COM area, which include communication and technology, interpersonal communication, health communication, language and social interaction, or organizational communication. The core course for each of these five foci in the COM area will be offered on rotation once every two years, so students are encouraged to take the core course in their major and minor areas of study when they are offered. Students' major and minor area of study are typically two of these five foci, but in some cases students may choose as a minor area one of the other two areas of the Ph.D. program or programs elsewhere in the University. A qualifying exam in each area will be taken once the student has completed all course work. All qualifying exam questions will contain a methods component.

Methods: Three specialized methods courses (9 credits) offered in the program or outside the program (consult your advisor). One course (3 credits) can be taken as a research experience or professional development course (such as academic writing) that advance the student's training in conducting research and writing for publication.

Required COM Area Courses

In addition to the two methods courses, the following are required:

  • 16:194:623  Research Design (3)
  • 16:194:624  Communication Theory (3)

Elective Courses in Major and Minor Area of Study:

Five elective courses (15 credits) should be taken in the student's major and minor area of study, with three courses (9 credits) forming the major area and two courses (6 credits) forming the minor area.

Students should plan to take the core course in at least two of the five core areas in the COM department to form the basis for their major and minor area. The core courses in each area include those listed below and each course will be offered on a rotation once every two years:

  • 16:194:620 Interpersonal Communication (3)
  • 16:194:621 Organizational Communication Research (3)
  • 16.194:622 Health Communication (3)
  • 16:194:633 Mediated Communication (3)
  • 16:194. xxx Language and Social Interaction (3)

Remaining elective credits can be taken as special topics courses (16:194:670-674 Topics in Communication Processes I through V -- 3 credits each) in any of the following areas. Offerings vary by semester.

  • Topics in Communication and Technology (e.g., Mediated Communication Theory, Social Media, Communication Design, Work and Technology)
  • Topics in Interpersonal Communication (e.g., Interpersonal Communication Theory, Uncertainty and Communication, Relational and Family Communication)
  • Topics in Health Communication (e.g., Health Campaigns, Interpersonal Health Communication, Professional Practices and Issues of Health)
  • Topics in Language and Social Interaction (e.g., Basic Structures of Social Interaction, Communication and Emotion, Communication and Gender)
  • Topics in Organizational Communication (e.g., Conflict and Collaboration, Dynamics of Global Organizations, Leadership, Organizational Change, Communication Networks)
Students may take one elective course outside of the department in a different area of the CIM program, a different unit at the university, or as part of the inter-university consortium. Additional courses outside of the COM department require approval by the Ph.D. director, area coordinator, and the student's faculty advisor.

Library and Information Science (LIS)

Study in LIS consists of at least 12 credits in the primary LIS area (four courses, including Seminar in Information Studies and Human Information Behavior). Students must also take at least 6 credits (two courses) in a selected subfield or secondary area of study. With the assistance of their advisers, students select a relevant second area from one of the other areas of the Ph.D. program or from elsewhere in the university. The LIS Ph.D. area curriculum is structured around five themes: human information behavior; information retrieval, language, and communication; information agencies and artifacts; learning, youth, information, and technology; social and community informatics. Ph.D. students in the LIS area may choose to specialize in any of these themes. Courses within these themes will be offered on a regular basis, and students will select courses in consultation with their adviser.

Methods: Students must take three methods courses (9 credits), choosing either Option A or Option B.

Option A:

  • 16:194:604  Quantitative Research Methods (3) (Required)
  • 16:194:603  Qualitative Research Methods (3)  and
  • 16:194:605  Critical Research Methods (3)
If Option A is selected, both 603 and 605 are taken; one of these (3) may count toward LIS or secondary area credits.

Option B:

  • 16:194:604  Quantitative Research Methods (3) (Required)
  • 16:194:603  Qualitative Research Methods (3) 
  • or 16:194:605  Critical Research Methods (3)
  • and one advanced Ph.D. methods course (3) taken from elsewhere in the university.

Required LIS Area Courses

In addition to the three methods courses, the following are required:

  • 16:194:610  Seminar in Information Studies (3
  • 16:194:612  Human Information Behavior (3)
Required: Two Additional LIS Area Courses:

In addition to LIS required courses, at least two other courses in the LIS area (6 credits) must be taken, such as:

  • 16:194:614  Information Retrieval Theory (3)
  • 16:194:619  Experiment and Evaluation in Information Systems (3)
  • 16:194:641  Information Policy and Technology (3)
  • 16:194:656  Theories and Issues in Library Studies (3)
  • 16:194:675-679  Topics in Library and Information Science I through V (3 each)
  • Offerings vary by semester.

Required Secondary Area Courses

Two courses outside of LIS in your subfield or secondary area (6 credits) (consult with your adviser on selection of these)

Required: Guided Subfield Research Experience:

Students are required to have a guided research experience in their chosen subfield which can be taken as 16:194:698 Independent Study (3 credits)


Media Studies (MS)

Students in the media studies area must take 27 credits, including two required 3-credit courses (Media Theory and Critical Research Methods); three 3-credit area courses from courses listed as Topics in Media Studies (i.e., 16:194:680-684 Topics in MS I-V); and three 3-credit elective courses approved by the adviser. With the assistance of their advisers and the area coordinator, students may designate major and minor areas that fit their interests. Students may choose as a minor area one of the other areas of the Ph.D. program, or may choose a minor area elsewhere in the university. A qualifying exam in each area will be taken once the student has completed all coursework.

Methods: Students must take Critical Research Methods (16:194:605) (3) and one additional methods course (3 credits) to be determined in consultation with the student's adviser.

Required MS Area Courses: In addition to the two methods courses, the following are required:

  • 16:194:631  Media Theory (3) Course must be taken in the first semester of study.
  • 16:194:680-684  Topics in Media Studies I-V. Must take a total of three courses (9 credits). Offerings vary by semester.

Elective Courses: The remaining three courses (9 credits) can be taken from any department at the university or from any school in the consortium (with approval). At least one of these MUST be a course in one of the other areas in the CIM Ph.D. program, as approved by the student's adviser.

3. Transfer of Approved Master's Degree Course Credits

Additional credits of graduate course work including, but not limited to, master's degree credits may be transferred.

           COM:         up to 18 transfer credits

           MS & LIS:  up to 12 transfer credits                               

Students should consult their adviser before applying for transfer of credits. The Ph.D. program director will then recommend to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) which and how many courses are approved for transfer. It is not uncommon to limit transfer credits to less than 12 or less than 18 credits (depending on the program area and individual student circumstances). Transferred courses must be theoretical or research-based courses in communication, information science, and library studies; media; or closely related fields. Students must have received a B or better on any coursework to be transferred, and courses should have been taken within the previous six years. Applied or professional courses (such as internships, video production, or newswriting) are not acceptable. For further information, see the SGS Handbook.

The Application for Transfer of Credit (see: Ph.D. Handbook and Key Forms) should be completed and submitted to the Office of Student Services as soon as the student has finished 12 credits of doctoral studies in the program. Failing to do so in a timely manner could result in additional coursework requirements and/or delays in taking qualifying exams.

4. Dissertation Research Credits

These credits are taken after completion of all coursework credits and the transfer of approved master's degree course credits.                                               

            COM & LIS:     24 research credits

            MS:                   27 research credits

The number taken during a particular semester will vary and should reflect the degree of involvement of the student and their adviser during that semester.  Once a student has passed his or her qualifying examination, the minimum registration required by SGS is 1 research credit per semester. Please consult with the program director if you need to take a leave of absence (e.g., for medical, family, or other reason) for any semester prior to graduation. Any leave must be formally requested. See catalog section on timelines for completing requirements

For additional information, contact RU-info at 848-445-info (4636) or
Comments and corrections to: Campus Information Services.

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