Degree Requirements

In addition to completing 76 semester units, students must also meet the following degree requirements:

Screening Procedures 
The faculty director of the doctoral degree program and graduate advisor carefully monitors student progress beginning at the end of the first year of graduate study. Students are evaluated on their progress toward meeting degree course work, subject matter competence, teaching potential and their ability to conduct independent research.

Research Tool Requirement 
Prior to taking the qualifying examination in the third year of study, students are expected to demonstrate methodological competence in an area of specialization. Competence is demonstrated through successful completion of course work (B grades or better in selected core courses and cognates approved by the Ph.D. guidance committee), and successfully passing a research tool examination designed and administered by the Ph.D. guidance committee.

Guidance Committee 
This committee is composed of five USC faculty members, at least three of whom are from the Annenberg School of Communication. Students are expected to work closely with the members, especially the committee chair, in selecting advanced course work and shaping areas of interest and research. In addition, the committee administers the oral portion of the qualifying examination and approves the dissertation committee.

Qualifying Examination 
The qualifying examination is generally taken early in the fourth year of study following completion of all required courses and a preliminary research paper. The examination includes both written and oral portions and students must pass both portions to be advanced to candidacy.

Doctoral Dissertation 
The dissertation is an original research project contributing to the knowledge about human communication and must demonstrate a high level of competence in methodologies of scholarly inquiry. Students may begin to identify potential area(s) for their dissertation at any time in their graduate study, but must have an approved dissertation prospective within 30 days of passing the qualifying examination. Students select dissertation committee members and the members are approved by the Guidance Committee. Dissertations are defended in a formal meeting with the three-member dissertation committee.