Course Work

A minimum of 56 credit-hours beyond the master’s degree are required to complete the Ph.D. program. The 56 credit-hours include the following requirements:

1. Core courses

15 hours

All students take five core courses that have been designed expressly for this program. These courses provide a common foundation for inquiry into the issues posed by new communication technologies and for shaping each student's specialized research focus. They provide multiple perspectives from both the humanities and the social sciences.

  • CRD 701 History and Theory of Communication Technology
    This core course introduces students to historical and theoretical perspectives on the significance of media technologies for socio-technical  change, providing a foundation for the study and critical analysis of emerging media. A grasp of the material, social, political, and economic contexts in which technological arrangements and practices emerge allows students to discern the ways culture and society both shape and are shaped by media. Course topics are thus chosen to broadly acquaint students with key historical moments in the history of technology. They provide a framework in which early theorizations of media and technology are studied to enrich the current understanding of new media, digital environments, and the internet. The course also provides grounding in a range of theorizations to give students a broad overview of the multiplicity of approaches that can aid investigations of technological change in social contexts. These include media theory, media archaeology, feminist theory, political economy, cultural studies, and functionalist perspectives on technology.  The course examines topics such as media and power, social movements, alternative media, technology and development, participatory communication, and technological diffusion.
  • CRD 702 Rhetoric and Digital Media
    Rhetoric is the ancient but also very contemporary study of how human beings influence each other.  As such, this course is part of the core curriculum in the doctoral program in Rhetoric, Communication, and Digital Media. The course provides in-depth coverage of rhetoric as an historically rooted but evolving humanistic perspective covering argumentation and figuration, performance and text, and delineating its connections to logic, aesthetics, politics, and ethics. Recently, rhetoric has been the center of much interdisciplinary attention, as many disciplines have taken a “rhetorical turn” in their foundational conceptions— visual design, anthropology, economics, history, philosophy, and sociology, for example. Rhetorical studies have firm departmental homes in both Communication and English departments nationwide, and the course features work being done in both locations on the import and impact, as well as the material consequences of digital technologies. This work includes attention to visual modes of communication as well as to text and interaction.
  • CRD 703 Communication in Networked Society
    The rapid development and proliferation of information and communication technologies has contributed to the growth and importance of networks. We can now speak of not only communication networks but also of financial, military, social, cultural, and political networks, to name a few. These networks, the technologies that support them and the data they produce and process have a profound effect on institutions, culture, identity formation, social organization, and communication practices generally. At least part of the effect is that these network practices take place through the representational interfaces of the technologies with which we surround ourselves. And behind these technologies are important political issues concerning systems of ownership and governance that drive the development, distribution and use of these technologies. The rate at which new information and communication technologies are developed and the degree to which these technologies are integrated into the practices of modem society ensures the need for a constantly evolving set of theories to articulate and understand these effects and an equally strong need for the development of new and use of existing research methods to study these technologically mediated network practices.
  • CRD 704 Technologies and Pedagogies in the Communication Arts
    Institutions of higher education are transforming the processes of teaching and learning by incorporating new technologies into traditional classroom settings and creating alternatives to those settings through online and hybrid instruction. Training programs in the workplace are being similarly transformed. Regardless of students’ career goals, a familiarity with the relationship between learning and technology is essential because of the centrality of technology-mediated practices in education, work, and everyday life, and the importance of these practices in students’ own ongoing development as both learners and educators. New information and communication technologies are also affecting the nature of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and visual communication, accentuating the role of these modalities in all subjects. This course focuses on the history, theory, research, and practice of technology to the processes of teaching and learning.
  • CRD 790 Issues in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media
    In the context of the Ph.D. program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, this course is designed to help students both synthesize the work they have done in required courses and electives taken during the previous semesters, and deepen their pursuit of independent areas of inquiry relating to their interests and specializations. The interdisciplinary nature of the program, which brings together scholarship in rhetorical and communication theory, visual, oral, written, and other aspects of digital media, and critical analysis of networked societies, encourages explorations across and within domains of research, making such a course important to the formulation of original thought, to the development of interdisciplinary collaboration, and to the generation of ideas for dissertation research.

A sixth core course, CRD 809 Colloquium in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media is described below under section 4, Professional development.

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2. Research methods courses

3 hours

A student’s program must include a minimum of 6 credits of research methods, one course in quantitative methods and the other in qualitative methods. A student may use a course from the master’s degree for either the quantitative or the qualitative methods requirement, but not both. The chosen course will be part of the 18 hours a student can transfer from their master’s degree. The other course must be taken during the CRDM program to count toward the research methods 3-hour requirement.

Depending on the student’s background and research plans, the student’s advisory committee may require additional methods courses that may count towards a student’s elective focus.

Courses in the departments of Communication and English may fulfill this requirement, and in some circumstances a course in another department may be appropriate. The courses in Communication and English include, but are not restricted to:

Quantitative or Computational Methods

  • COM 541 Quantitative Methods in Communication Research 
  • COM 543 Visual Content Analysis 
  • ENG 508 Usability Studies for Technical Communication 
  • ENG 513 Empirical Research in Composition 
  • ENG 543** Introduction to Digital Humanities 

Qualitative or Interpretive Methods

  • COM/ENG 506 Verbal Data Analysis
  • COM/ENG 516 Rhetorical Criticism: Theory and Practice 
  • COM 540 Critical and Interpretive Inquiry in Communication
  • COM 542 Qualitative Methods in Communication Research 
  • COM 543 Visual Content Analysis
  • ENG 527 Discourse Analysis 
  • ENG 532 Narrative Analysis
  • ENG 587* Methods and Theories in Media studies
  • ENG 513 Empirical Research in Composition 

*Please note: Courses identified with special topics numbers may change subject each term. Course titles should match in order to count toward the methods credit.

** ENG 543 is Interdisciplinary Studies in English. Not all topics will fulfill a methods course. 

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3. Elective focus

12 hours

Each student will create a focus area that complements the disciplinary area and helps prepare for dissertation research. Courses for the elective focus are selected in consultation with the student’s advisor from offerings in Communication, English, and across the campus.

Among the many possibilities are areas such as technology and gender, human–computer interaction, instructional design, visual communication, linguistics and literacy studies, technologies in organizations, and globalization and culture. Students are encouraged to work with their advisory committee to develop an elective focus that advances their specific interests.

CRD Specific Electives:

CRD 893 Doctoral Supervised Research* (1 to 9 hours)

CRD 885 Doctoral Supervised Teaching (3 hours)

CRD 791 Special Topics in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

*CRD 893 can also count towards exams and dissertation credits

Other electives:

  • COM/ENG 810 Directed Readings

CRDM does not offer a directed readings course. Students interested in enrolling in a directed readings course in either English or Communication should follow the policies of each department. For enrollment, please contact the Graduate Services coordinator or Administrative Support Specialist in the English department or the Communication department

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4. Professional development

6 hours

To ensure that students are prepared to contribute at a professional level in academic and business environments, the program requires a colloquium on professional and ethical issues in the context of interdisciplinary research (CRD 809), as well as an advanced course on teaching or professionalization.

CRD 809 Colloquium in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (3 hours)

This one-hour course meets each fall semester, and students register for it three successive times. In the colloquia, students will lead discussions of current research, present their own research findings, and discuss other students' and faculty members' research.

The purpose of these colloquia will be to introduce students to the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of research, to provide a forum where incoming students work with advanced students and faculty, and to encourage ongoing discussions of ethics and class.

Professional development courses (3 hours)

  • COM 585 Teaching College Communication
  • ENG 511 Theory and Research in Composition
  • CRD 885 Supervised Teaching

Those with no prior teaching experience or insufficient graduate credits to meet accreditation requirements to teach their own courses will follow the same course of training as students admitted into M.A. or M.S. programs in English or Communication, and will be required to enroll in COM 585 or ENG 511 in the first semester. Those who enter with appropriate teaching experience and master’s degrees or sufficient graduate credits to meet the requirements won’t be required to take these classes in their first semester, but are still expected to complete 3 hours of professional training towards their degree.

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5. Exams and Dissertation

20 hours

Beyond their required coursework and professional development, students in CRDM will take 20 hours of research and exam credits, including a minimum of 6 credit hours of dissertation research credits (CRD 895). The remaining 14 credit hours can be made up of coursework that is in preparation for exams or the dissertation. These courses may include:

  • CRD 893 Doctoral Supervised Research
  • CRD 895 Doctoral Dissertation Research
  • CRD 899 Doctoral Dissertation Preparation

  • ENG/COM 810 Directed Readings
  • Elective Seminars at the discretion of the advisor.

Selection of these credit hours will be guided by the student's advisory committee.

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