Ph.D. in Mass Communications

Our doctoral program in mass communication, jointly administered with the Department of Life Sciences Communication, is internationally recognized for our faculty and areas of research. Applicants to the Joint Ph.D. in Mass Communications may apply to one or both departments, depending on your areas of research interest. Options are:

  • Mass Communications: Journalism & Mass Comm (code G630L)
  • Mass Communications: Life Sciences Comm (code G630A)

The Ph.D. degree in Mass Communications provides future academics and professionals with rigorous training in theory and research with highly individualized programs that students develop in consultation with their advisors. Our Ph.D. graduates become some of the most successful researchers and leaders in the field of mass communication. We require our students to engage in a systematic search for answers to well-formulated and substantive questions. The research process culminates in the discovery and reporting of new knowledge to others.

A doctoral dissertation in Mass Communications demonstrates a student’s ability to examine in detail an important issue in the field, using original research. Faculty members expect the dissertation to be clearly presented while conveying the student’s close familiarity with his or her research area.

The program offers several internationally recognized areas of research and teaching excellence: 

-civic and political communication -international and inter-cultural communication
-health and environmental communication -public opinion
-history of media institutions -science and risk communication
-information technologies -social marketing
-social networking and digital media -journalism studies
-process and effects of mediated communication -media ecologies
-law and ethics of media -race and media

Working closely with their advisor and committee, students draw from courses offered in departments across campus to develop a plan of study in preparation for independent and original research in their area of specialization.

Visit the Ph.D. in Mass Communications website for more information.

Admissions requirements:

The Graduate School establishes minimum admission criteria for all students who enter the University of Wisconsin–Madison. International applicants should refer to the Graduate School’s website for information on English proficiency requirements and financial resource information.

Application deadline:

December 15

Application requirements:

  • Online application
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • CV/Resume
  • GRE: The GRE is optional for Mass Comm-Life Sciences Communication applicants for the fall 2023 application cycle.

The online application is available here.

Writing samples are not required for applications to Mass Comm-Life Sciences Communication.

Fee Waivers

The UW-Madison Graduate School offers a limited number of application fee waivers for eligible students. Please visit the Graduate School website to see if you qualify and to apply. If you are from an AOF Graduate Research Scholars-eligible group and do not already qualify for a waiver from the Graduate School, please contact our academic advising manager Lynn Bartholomew at at least one week prior to the application deadline to inquire about a fee waiver. Unfortunately, LSC is not able to provide fee waivers to international students or other domestic students who are not AOF GRS-eligible.

Do I need to secure an advisor prior to applying to the program?

No, in fact, students are admitted to the program without a formal advisor and will typically pick one during their first year. In order to help students get started in the program, they are assigned an orientation advisor who will help them prepare for and proceed through their first year in the program. In many cases, students work with this advisor throughout their time in the program. We also have a process for switching advisors if a student later decides that a different faculty advisor would be a more appropriate fit.

Is funding available for students in this program?

Yes. Please refer to our funding page for more information.

What can I do with this degree?

Students with a Ph.D. in Mass Communications go on to a variety of careers in academia and industry. Check out this page for a list of first jobs secured after graduation by our doctoral students.

Is the program offered in an online modality?

No, we do not offer an online Ph.D. in Mass Communications.

Plan a Visit to the Department of Life Sciences Communication
We encourage all potential graduate student applicants to visit the Department of Life Sciences Communication (LSC) at Hiram Smith Hall. The best time to visit is when most faculty and students are on campus, September through May.

We encourage applicants to contact specific faculty members to explore mutual interests.

Before scheduling a visit, please contact our Academic Advising Manager, Lynn Bartholomew, or the Director of Graduate Studies, Dietram Scheufele.

While visiting LSC, sit in on a class or a SCIMEP research group meeting, or tour campus facilities and attractions, such as the student unions, or the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

Finding LSC
LSC is located in Hiram Smith Hall, 1545 Observatory Drive.  Use the campus map to find us.

Getting Around Campus
The University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is located in downtown Madison. Public transportation is an easy way to travel on campus and buses frequently stop close to Hiram Smith Hall. Information about bus routes can be found on the Madison Metro website and also at the bus stops themselves.

  • Madison Metro Route 80 is a free campus shuttle that covers most of campus with a stop close to Hiram Smith Hall.
  • All City/UW bus routes can be found at Madison Metro
  • For more information about getting around campus, use the Transportation Services link and the official map of UW-Madison Campus

The closest public parking ramp to Hiram Smith Hall is Lot 36. There is also free after hours and weekend parking on campus. View the online campus maps with parking locations.

More Information
UW Visitor & Information Programs has information about the entire campus as well as the beautiful city of Madison.