PhD in Journalism

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.

Degree Requirements

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 Portfolio (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.

Research Method Requirements

Students are expected to take a minimum of four research methods courses during the course of their doctoral coursework. These courses include three research methods courses from within journalism with at least one being an advanced research methods course. Students are also required to take at least one research methods course from a department other than journalism. At the discretion of the student’s doctoral committee and the associate dean for graduate studies, students may substitute a course from outside the institution if it is deemed equivalent to a required research methods course offered within the school of journalism.


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 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.

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 Doctoral Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: January 15

  • 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
  • Typical successful applicant 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 January 15 for fall entry. 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)

Admission Contact Information

Journalism Graduate Studies
179 Gannett Hall
Columbia, MO 65211

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.

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