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Graduate Degree Requirements

The Doctorate in Communication requires 72 credits of coursework, completed through a combination of transfer credits for a completed MA degree (30 credits, when applicable), core foundational courses, Communication Department graduate seminars, and select courses from other department's across the University of Pittsburgh campus (and, when appropriate, courses from other Pittsburgh area universities).

The department's core requirement is made up of five foundational courses:
COMMRC 2295: Teaching Practicum. This course covers pedagogical issues as connected to the teaching of communication courses, with a particular focus on public speaking pedagogy. Students learn about philosophical and ethical issues within teaching as well as practical questions such as syllabus design and course planning.
COMMRC 2296: Approaches to Communication. This course offers an overview and introduction to the field of communication for graduate students, including the history of communication as an area of inquiry and important contemporary work taking place across various subfields of communication.
COMMRC 2297: Faculty Research Forum. In this 1-credit course, taken in a student's first semester in the program, different members of the department's faculty visit each week to introduce students to their research and teaching interests.
COMMRC 2298: Research Laboratory. This seminar aims to help students develop the core skills of research design by introducing them to various methods and practices of communication research.
COMMRC 2299: Writing Workshop. In this course, students work through a scaffolded sequence of writing projects that help them revise a piece of writing into a publishable peer-reviewed article.

In addition to these required core courses, students also take seminar classes in such areas as "Rhetorical Criticism," "Visual Rhetoric," "Readings in Critical Theory," and "Media and Cultural Studies," as well as a series of rotating topics courses built around our various faculties' research and teaching interests.

In addition to these seminar classes, students also have the opportunity to take up to 12 credits of individual study opportunities--independently organized credits in which they work with a faculty member on some designated project or issue. For instance, students often use these credits to revise and develop papers they have written for seminar classes towards future conference presentations or journal publications.

Students without a Master's degree in hand when they begin the doctoral program receive their MA by completing and defending an MA comprehensive exam portfolio during their second year. 

During or after the semester in which students complete their course requirements for the doctoral degree, they complete and defend a PhD comprehensive exam portfolio. After having successfully done so, they then write and defend a dissertation prospectus that outlines their plans for their doctoral dissertation. Students' work in the program culminates in the oral defense of their completed doctoral dissertation.