Ph.D. in Communication Studies

The PhD in Communication Studies is a 5-6 year program requiring successful completion of the following:

1. One year of required coursework (18 credits) that includes the COMS 616 Professional Seminar (3 credits) + 5 complementary graduate-level courses (15 credits), one of which may be taken outside of the Art History and Communication Studies department at McGill or at another university in Montreal.

Graduate course titles in the McGill calendar are rather general, as professors tend to explore different topics each year in keeping with recent research developments in their fields and in the discipline.

All courses taken outside of the Art History and Communication Studies department require the approval of the Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the student’s academic supervisor and the professor teaching the seminar.

PhD students who have selected the Graduate Option in Gender and Women's Studies are required to take 9 credits (as part of the 18 credits of required coursework): WMST 601 Feminist Theories and Methods (3 credits) and Feminist Research Symposium (3 credits) + one complementary 3-credit Communication Studies course related to gender and women's studies. All course selections must be approved by the academic supervisor and the graduate program director.

2. Comprehensive exam (COMS 702 Comprehensive Exam).

The Comprehensive Examination requires students to demonstrate competency in an area of communication studies. Students are encouraged to designate an area of communication studies with application to their chosen area of thesis research, but this is not an absolute requirement. The Comprehensive Examination will ensure that students are familiar with a significant body of work within the field of communication studies, and allow them to demonstrate their ability to critically analyze and synthesis a body of literature.

Students should prepare a bibliography of approximately 40 sources focused on a broad problematic or area of study within communication studies. This area should be agreed upon with a faculty advisor chosen for this purpose. This advisor need not be the supervisor of the student's dissertation. The student and advisor will agree upon a second faculty member, who will approve the bibliography. These two faculty members will constitute the Comprehensive Examination committee. In certain cases, a third member may be added to provide additional expertise. If appropriate, and with the approval of the Graduate Program Director, a faculty member can be designated by the student from outside the Department.

The committee will prepare a question or set of related questions arising out of the bibliography. The chair of the committee will provide the question(s) to the student. The student shall then have 30 days from receipt of the questions to prepare a paper answering the question(s) on the basis of their reading, synthesis, and critical analysis of the material. This paper should be 30-40 pages in length (typed, double-spaced, and exclusive of bibliography and notes).

The student will orally defend the Comprehensive Examination before the committee within four weeks of the date of submission of the paper. Upon completion of the Comprehensive Examination, the student will proceed to the Dissertation Proposal.

3. Language requirement. PhD students must demonstrate proficiency in one or more languages other than English that is related to their dissertation research, as determined by their supervisor. Certain areas of study may require more extensive language training, which will be determined by individual supervisors. In cases where dissertation research does not require non-English proficiency, PhD Students must demonstrate proficiency in French.

4. Dissertation Proposal (COMS 703).

The objective of the Dissertation Proposal is for students to demonstrate their readiness to undertake their thesis project. It should be completed once the student has a well-defined research problematic, a preliminary theoretical framework, and has a sense of how he or she wants to conduct the thesis research.

The Dissertation Proposal will consist of a thesis proposal of approximately 40-45 typewritten, double-spaced pages (exclusive of notes and bibliography). It should specify the focused research problematic of the thesis, situate that problematic within the field, specify the theoretical framework/approach to be used, offer a well-developed methodological discussion of the program of research, and provide a preliminary title, chapter breakdown, schedule for completion and working bibliography.

It is anticipated that by the time of the preparation of the Dissertation Proposal, students will have designated a thesis supervisor. The Dissertation Proposal will be evaluated by a committee to be designated by the student in consultation with that supervisor. The committee can be composed from within the members of the department, including Adjunct Instructors. The Committee must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.

Upon completion of the Dissertation Proposal, the student should submit four copies to the Graduate Administrative Coordinator (who shall distribute them to the committee members) and within four weeks from that date shall orally defend the Proposal before the committee. The defence of the Dissertation Proposal shall be chaired by the student's thesis supervisor.

The Dissertation Proposal shall be graded as Pass or Fail. In the event of a failure, the student would have the opportunity to resubmit the proposal, bearing in mind that the university permits only two failures before the student is asked to withdraw from the program.

All written material must be presented in accordance with the stylistic regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research and must include appropriate documentation, footnotes and bibliography. Projects associated with confidential research may only be submitted in accordance with the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

5. A thesis developed in consultation with the student's supervisor. The Communication Studies program recommends either the American Psychological Association (or APA) or the Chicago Manual of Style, but the student and supervisor can agree to an acceptable style. Students should consult a style guide before submitting course work, proposals, or theses. Guidelines for final submission of the e-Thesis to the University can be found at: https://mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/final-e-thesis.


 

Typical PhD Timeline

Year in Program

Milestones

Details

Year 1 (PhD2)

Entering program with an MA = PhD2; otherwise, PhD1

Complete required coursework.

Compile comprehensive examination bibliography.

Fall

Meet with supervisor for annual progress tracking (forms due November 15).

Register for COMS 616 Pro-Seminar (unless you took it already as an MA student).

Register for 2 Complementary Seminars.

Winter

Register for 2 Complementary Seminars.

Begin preparing bibliography and annotations for comprehensive examination in Year 2.

Summer

Complete bibliography for the comprehensive examination in 2nd year.

Year 2 (PhD3)

Complete Comprehensive exam.

Develop your thesis proposal.

Expand your skillsets.

Fall

Meet with supervisor for annual progress tracking (forms due November 15).

COMS 702 essay(s) and defense.

Winter

 

Work on thesis proposal and submit for defense in Spring or Summer.

Establish Supervisory Committee.

Summer

Begin thesis research and writing.

Year 3 (PhD4)

Ensure that language requirement has been fulfilled and continue progress on thesis.

Fall

Meet with supervisor and Supervisory Committee for progress tracking (forms due November 15).

Winter

Continue thesis research and writing.

Language requirement deadline.

Summer

Continue thesis research and writing.

Year 4 (PhD5)

Thesis research and writing continues.

Fall

Meet with Academic Supervisory Committee for progress tracking (forms due November 15).

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before Dec 15 for June graduation.

Winter

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before April 15 for October graduation.

Summer

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before Aug 15 for February graduation.

Year 5 (PhD6)

Thesis successfully examined and oral defense passed.

Fall

 

Meet with Academic Supervisory Committee for progress tracking

Initial thesis submission before Dec 15 for June graduation.

Winter

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before April 15 for October graduation.

Summer

 

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before Aug 15 for February graduation.

Year 6 (PhD7)

Thesis successfully examined and oral defense passed.

Fall

Meet with Academic Supervisory Committee for progress tracking

Initial thesis submission before Dec 15 for June graduation.

Winter

 

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before April 15 for October graduation.

Summer

 

Continue thesis research and writing.

Initial thesis submission before Aug 15 for February graduation.