PhD in Journalism

Admission Contact Information

Kathy Appun-Hodges (
179 C Gannett Hall
Columbia, MO 65211

About the Doctorate

The objective of the doctoral program is to develop an ability to conduct independent and advanced scholarly research and to integrate this skill with a depth of scholarship in journalism and mass communication. Although it is primarily a research degree, the PhD is designed to facilitate a variety of academic aims. Students must expand their intellectual horizons, gain a theoretical framework for examining and understanding communication and refine their own communication competencies.

 Doctoral Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: January 15
Spring deadline: September 1

  • Minimum Academic IELTS scores:
Item Score
Speaking 7.0
OVERALL Score 7.0
  • Minimum TOEFL scores:
Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
Speaking: 25
100 600
  • Minimum GRE scores:
When did you take the GRE? Verbal + Quantitative
Prior to August 1, 2011 1100
On or After August 1, 2011 V: 156+; Q: 146+
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0, undergraduate, 3.5, graduate

Applicants should have demonstrated interest, education or professional experience in journalism, advertising, public relations, mass communication or a related field. A degree (bachelor’s or master’s) in one of those fields or two years of full-time professional media experience is preferred. All required information must be received before the admission review can begin. Applicants may be required to participate in an interview with the doctoral faculty as part of the review process. Students who did not write a thesis in their master’s program may be required to complete a project to demonstrate their ability to do independent research.

Deadlines for application are December 15 for fall entry and September 1 for spring. Deadlines are firm, and no applicant is considered for admission until all required information is received.

Required Application Materials

Upload the following application materials into the Graduate School's online application system:

  • All required Graduate School documents
  • Statement of Doctoral Objectives
  • Résumé
  • An abstract of your master’s thesis (or thesis proposal, if your thesis is not yet complete)
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • 3 letters of recommendation (use the online Graduate School application system)

Financial Aid from the Program

Doctoral students are provided assistantship and scholarship support for a maximum of six terms (three years). Contact the department for details on this financial assistance.

Plan of Study

Doctoral study in journalism and mass communication is an interdisciplinary enterprise. The doctoral program is designed by the student in collaboration with the advisor and doctoral committee. Course selections are based on the intellectual requirements of the dissertation and the teaching areas the student wishes to pursue. No courses that focus primarily on professional skills may be counted toward the doctoral program, whether taken at the master’s or the doctoral level. Courses from journalism should compose no more than two-thirds of the total credit.

Students must develop two research tools, pass qualifying and comprehensive examinations, submit and defend a dissertation, and satisfactorily meet all other requirements of the Graduate School. Doctoral Theory and Research I (JOURN 9000), and Professional Development (JOURN 9087) are required of all PhD students.

Qualifying Examination

Students are admitted to the PhD program in journalism when they have passed Doctoral Research Design (qualifying examination), which must be taken the semester in which the student completes 18 hours. Graduate School regulations about comprehensive examinations, dissertations, plans of study, residency and other matters are specified in the Degree Requirements section of the catalog.

Foreign Language & Research Tool Requirements

Students are expected to have a background in a foreign language or to develop research tools. The language requirement may be met by three semesters of college-level foreign language courses or an equivalency acceptable to the doctoral faculty. At the discretion of the student’s doctoral committee and the associate dean for graduate studies, a second tool may be used to substitute for the language requirement.

There are four research tool options:

  1. competency in a second foreign language. This may be satisfied by two years of college-level work recently passed with a grade of C or better or an acceptable ETS score. A foreign language is one that is non-native or not the primary language used in the student’s school system;
  2. computer proficiency as evidenced by completion of two computer courses or an equivalency acceptable to the doctoral faculty;
  3. two courses in statistics;
  4. two 7000 or 8000-level research methods courses outside the School of Journalism.

A grade of A or B must be made in any course used for options 2, 3 or 4.


Doctoral students who plan to teach will participate in a teaching program. Each student’s teaching skills will be evaluated in the first year of study, at which point planning for the student’s future teaching opportunities begins. Most students will serve as teaching assistants in such classes as JOURN 1100 or JOURN 2100 during their third semester in the program.

In the student’s fourth semester, he/she may have an additional teaching experience, either as a teaching assistant, co-instructor or instructor of record in a course. Depending on the student’s ability and desire, students might teach a course independently during later semesters.