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Communication for Development

Information film about the programme.

About the education

This programme gives you the skills to work with media and communication in international developmental cooperation as well as in other areas.

This is a half-time study programme, combining courses on culture, communication and development and integrating them with practical field work. It explores the use of communication - both as a tool and as a way of expressing processes of social change - within the contexts of globalisation.

The form of study is unique, comprising a combination of live seminars and web-based communication. The seminars (2 days) are compulsory and consist of lectures, discussions and workshops. Overseas students who cannot physically attend can follow the seminars online. In between the seminars, the students carry out assignments individually and in groups.

Communication for Development starts with new students every autumn semester. In the first year, students receive a comprehensive overview of globalisation and a systematic inventory of the entire field. In the second year, students follow specialised courses which end with an independent project concentrated on one of the field's sub-areas.

Future employment opportunities include work for professional media companies, international organisations (governmental and non-governmental) and PhD studies.

Communication for Development (ComDev) is an interdisciplinary field combining studies on culture, media, communication and development. ComDev explores communication within contexts of articulating global and local processes of social change.

The ComDev field is part science, part craft and part art, and its multidisciplinary academic foundations draw on aspects of development studies, anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. These multiple entry points create a rich framework for challenging hegemonic notions and knowledge, and engage with questions of social, cultural, economic and political power. The theory and practices of ComDev play an important role as witness to global injustice and marginalisation, as amplifiers of dissent and as connectors between people, cultures and stories. ComDev is taught as a 50% full-time course that distributes 60 credits over four semesters. Our part-time approach is an ideal format for professionals already working in the field, to complement internships or part-time work, as well as for those on sabbaticals or parental leave.

The core courses of the first year triangulate concepts of international development by engaging with keywords such as globalisation, culture, participation or mediatisation. Virtual group work, short review assignments as well as longer essays and presentations help students to progress through the course, connect with their peers and explore different activity-based learning formats.

Individual feedback from the ComDev team as well as longer teaching seminars and workshops round off the classroom experience for students.

The second year comprises a hands-on, blog-based ICT4D module, a research methodology course and a thesis course. ComDev encourages students to conduct empirical fieldwork, reflect on their own practice and explore alternative formats to complement their MA degree projects.

In short, ComDev fosters teamwork and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and diverse perspectives among students.

It is also possible to add another year of full-time studies to the core, two year, part-time degree by doing courses on communication planning, an optional internship and an extended thesis production project.

ComDev has been successful in bridging the gap between traditional internet-based learning (often called ‘distance learning’) and conventional forms of education on campus. Our convergence pedagogy creates a glocal classroom — a global learning space grounded in local realties. Based in Malmö, our glocal classroom has travelled to partner universities, conferences and seminars in more than twenty countries. Seminars with local alumni, development organisations and our academic network usually take place once a year.

The programme’s alumni quite literally work on all continents and in a variety of capacities: in the aid industry nationally and internationally, in embassies, United Nations organisations and NGOs. In the spirit of ComDev, they interpret communication for development broadly and work in many capacities to advance positive social change — from social enterprises in The Gambia to local and regional government organisations in Sweden. Graduates from the programme also go on to successfully complete doctoral studies.

Courses within the programme

Autumn 2024 - semester 1.

  • Media, Globalization and Development (KK620C), 15 credits, compulsory

Spring 2025 - Semester 2

  • Communication, Culture and Media Analysis (KK621C), 15 credits, compulsory

Autumn 2025 - Semester 3

  • Media Strategies and Methodologies (KK629A), 15 credits, compulsory

Spring 2026 - Semester 4

  • Communication for Development: Degree Project (KK624D), 15 credits, compulsory

Syllabus autumn 2024

Earlier syllabuses

Entry requirements and selection

Here you can find the entry requirements, as well as how the available study places are distributed between applicants in the selection. For general admissions enquiries please contact the Admissions Office:  [email protected]

Entry requirements

Bachelor's degree or equivalent.

The equivalent of Swedish secondary school English 6.

Academic credits 20%, Letter of intent/Experience document 80%

There are specific instructions regarding eligibility or selection on the next field on this page, called Selection. Please, make sure that you read the instructions thoroughly!

Apply with supporting documents

You are recommended to submit supporting documents to increase your chances of being offered a place in this programme. 80 percent of the study places are offered to applicants who submit supporting documents.

To complete your application, follow the steps below:

  • Create an account and apply to the programme via .
  • Submit documented proof of your Bachelor’s degree and proficiency in English. Upload the documentation as a PDF at , or send it by post. You can apply if you are in your final year and will receive your Bachelor’s degree before the programme starts, by following specific instructions.
  • Submit your supporting documents via the form on this webpage. When you have completed the form and pressed “send”, you have submitted your supporting documents. Please make sure to do this after you have completed step one and two. If you apply in multiple admission rounds, you must upload supporting documents for each round.

Supporting documents deadline

Submit the supporting documents no later than 1 February, 23.59 Central European Time (GMT +1), when applying in the international admission round, 16 October–15 January.

Submit the supporting documents no later than 2 May, 23.59 Central European Time (GMT +1), when applying in the national admission round, 15 March – 15 April.

Supporting documents submitted after deadline will not be accepted. Only supporting documents submitted via the form will be reviewed

Assesment criteria for supporting documents (Word)

Part 1: Description of experiences

Please provide a brief description of your experiences of communication for development issues and problems that, in your opinion, prepare you for studying this programme.

These experiences may be acquired from working life, from non-profit work, from education or otherwise. You should describe how these experiences have made you aware of communication for development challenges.   

Part 2: Letter of Intent

Please include a Letter of Intent where you describe your motivation and objectives behind applying to the programme. Describe your ambitions and your envisioned career or professional path upon finishing the education, as well as in the long-term.

Malmö University is responsible for the personal data processed within the University's operations, and complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). For more information on how your personal data is processed, visit .

Kerstin found a more profound understanding of global development

Kerstin Gossé from Sweden was educated as a journalist, and worked as a news reporter for press and television before joining the Communication for Development Programme at Malmö University as assistant lecturer. Her experience at ComDev equipped her for her next position as a communications...

Kerstin Gossé from Sweden was educated as a journalist, and worked as a news reporter for press and television before joining the Communication for Development Programme at Malmö University as assistant lecturer. Her experience at ComDev equipped her for her next position as a communications specialist at the United Nations Development Programme in Burkina Faso. Kerstin presently works with strategic communication for the City of Malmö in Sweden.

ComDev was the perfect way to combine my skills in journalism and communication with international and development issues. The programme provided me with a more profound understanding of global development issues from social and cultural perspectives and gave me a more hands-on knowledge of how communication can be used as a tool to empower people to take responsibility for their own future and development.

"The web-based learning platform was a great tool for collaboration, networking and exchange with fellow students all over the world, which was professionally enriching and personally very inspiring. The many social challenges addressed at my department at Malmö Stad prove that communication for development and social change is just as relevant in the industrial world as the one we call 'developing'. Lots of things need to be improved, and communication plays a key role in the efforts to improve the lives of people living in the margins of the modern, multicultural welfare state of Sweden."

Jason received a grant to investigate the struggles of social inclusion

Originally from America, Jason Hallman worked with public arts management in California and in the education department of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before being hired as a commissioning editor for an independent scholarly publishing company in the U.S.

He has been living in Johannesburg, South Africa since 2009, where he consults with local and international NGOs on community media, knowledge management and participatory processes.

"In addition to allowing me to become conversant with sophisticated contemporary debates about the future of development, I also really appreciate my fieldwork experience.

"For my final project, I received a generous grant from the City of Malmö, which enabled me to work with participatory media and storytelling as means to better understand the struggles of social inclusion among marginalised youth in Sweden. I am continuing to explore how my ComDev education will inform my ‘real world’ practice, but in my brief time in South Africa, I have been able to see the direct benefits of both my coursework and my final project. Even though the programme was not entirely practical in nature, its emphasis on important debates around the theorisation of culture, discourse, and development itself has given me a very useful orientation."

For more information about the education:

Viktoria Brännström

Viktoria Brännström - Study and careers adviser

Study and career adviser

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Graduate school.

phd communication for development

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Doctor of Philosophy in Development Communication

Brief Description of the Major Field

CDC graduate programs provide aspiring students a high-level instruction in the study and practice of development communication. They tackle in greater depth and breadth the synergistic relationship between communication and development. 

Prospective Students

Prospective students are those with the following qualifications:  For the master’s program, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution. Likewise, PhD program must be a holder of a master’s degree from a recognized educational institution. The applicant must have at least one year relevant, professional work experience. 


  • Graduates are expected to occupy key positions as program/information officer; Decom/ComDev/IE specialist, faculty, social researcher, communication planner and analyst among others. 
  • PhD graduates are trained to develop the critical thinking skills needed in administration, theory-builiding, policy formulation and analysis, and scholarly research and strategy design.

Areas of Specialization

 The program is offered as Devcom general and has no field of specialization.


Requirements and Mechanics to Graduate

The PHD DEVC program has a minimum of 42 units, these are: 15 units of core courses (DEVC 310, DEVC 311, DEVC 320, DEVC 363, DEVC 391, DEVC 399); 6 units of major courses; 9 or 12 units of cognate courses; and 12 units of dissertation.

For students with DEVC as minor or cognate field DEVC 202 and 6 units (3 units for PhD students with two cognates) of DEVC courses are required.

Graduate Courses

  • Development Communication

DEVC 202. Communication Theory in Development Communication (3). Communication theories and their applications to development communication study and practice. 3 hrs (class). PR. None. (1,2) DEVC 205. Communication and Development (3).  Perspectives, theories, principles, and strategies of communication and development. 3 hrs (class). PR. COI. (2) DEVC 208. Communication Approaches in Development Programs (3).  Application of communication concepts, principles, strategies, and practices in promoting social ideas towards behavior change and mobilizing people in developmental programs. 3 hrs (class). PR. DEVC 202 or COI. (1,2) DEVC 212. Environmental Communication (3) . Application of environmental communication principles, strategies, and techniques to address risks, controversies, and crises associated with the environment. 3 hrs (class). PR. COI. (2) DEVC 215. Communication and Culture (3).  Nature and interrelationships of communication and culture, and their applications to development communication. 3 hrs (class). PR. COI. (1)  DEVC 230. Educational Communication Systems (3).  Learning theories and approaches in educational communication systems and their application to learning. 5 hrs (2 class, 3 lab). PR. COI. (1) DEVC 231. Educational Communication Systems Management (3).  Theories, principles, approaches, and tools in managing an educational communication unit. 3 hrs (class). PR. COI. (2) DEVC 234. Information and Communication Technologies for Development (3).  Theoretical perspectives, systems and structures, uses, and ethics in using information and communication technologies as tools in development. 3 hrs (class). PR. COI. (1) DEVC 290. Special Problems (1-3).  May be taken twice provided that the total number of units to be credited to the student’s program will not exceed 4 units. PR. COI.  DEVC 291. Special Topics (1-3).  May be taken twice provided that the total number of units to be credited to the student’s program will not exceed 4 units. (1,2) DEVC 295. Development Communication Research (3).  Quantitative and qualitative research methods in development communication. 3 hrs (class). PR. DEVC 202. (1,2) DEVC 299. Graduate Seminar in Development Communication (1).  May be taken for one or two semesters. (2)

DEVC 300. Master’s Thesis (6).  (1,2,S)

DEVC 310. Theorizing in Development Communication (3).  History, philosophical assumptions, communication theory traditions and praxis, and critique towards theorizing in development communication. 3 hrs (class). PR.

DEVC 202 or COI.  (1,2)

DEVC 311. Organizational Communication and Leadership in Development (3).  Theories, perspectives, processes, and applications of organizational communication and leadership in development practice. 3 hrs (class).PR. None. (1,2)

DEVC 320. Communication Systems Policies and Planning (3).  Concepts, theories, and approaches in communication systems policy formulation and planning in support of a development program. 3 hrs (class). PR.

DEVC 311. (1,2)

DEVC 363. Public Communication of Science (3).  Concepts, models, approaches, and issues in public communication of science in the context of development. 3 hrs (class). PR. COI. (1,2)

DEVC 390. Special Problems (1-3).  May be taken twice provided that the total number of units to be credited to the student’s program will not exceed 4 units. PR. COI.

DEVC 391. Special Topics (1-3).  May be taken twice provided that the total number of units to be credited to the student’s program will not exceed 4 units. PR. COI.

DEVC 393. Qualitative Approaches to Communication (3).  Participant-centered perspectives, concepts, tools, and approaches to the study of communication process. 3 hrs (class). PR. DEVC 310. (2)

DEVC 399. Graduate Seminar (1).  May be taken for one or two semesters.

DEVC 400. Doctoral Dissertation (12).  (1,2,S)

Faculty Information

Contact Information

Key Person to contact:  DR. CLEOFE S. TORRES

Contact numbers:  536 2429

Email Address:   [email protected]

EVENT CALENDAR (Under Construction)

Gs in action, graduate school launches 2 ms programs on its 42nd founding anniversary.

 Source: UPLB website

The UPLB Graduate School marked milestones with the launching of two new masters-level degree programs and the celebration of its 42nd founding anniversary on December 1.

At the Thanksgiving Dinner-Fellowship held at the Graduate School multi-purpose hall, UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. led the launching of the Master of Science in Entomology, an off-campus program implemented in partnership with ANFLO Management and Investment Corporation (ANFLOCOR) in Panabo City, Davao del Norte. He also relaunched the Professional Masters in Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management (PM-TMEM), a joint program with the UP Marine Science Institute (MSI) of UP Diliman and UP Visayas.

President Pascual to UPLB Graduate School: intensify internationalization of programs

Article by Mark Jayson E. Gloria, UPLB website

UP President Alfredo E. Pascual enjoined the UPLB graduate education faculty to intensify the internationalization of graduate programs during the Graduate Faculty Conference on Feb. 15 at the Tagaytay International Convention Center. Pascual, who gave the keynote speech during the Conference, said that UP’s mandate as a research, graduate, and regional/global university are intertwined and interrelated. He also commended UPLB’s tradition of excellence as a graduate and research university, especially in agriculture, forestry, veterinary medicine, and biotechnology.

UPLB graduate school responds to UP mandates

Posted on March 4, 2015 by upweb_wordpress in In the News, Article by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc, photos by Abraham Arboleda

Responding to the mandates officially spelled out in Republic Act 9500 or the new UP System Charter of 2008, which elects UP to be a research and graduate university, among other roles, the UP Los Baños Graduate School convened a faculty conference to plot the path of the school to the future. The conference titled “Responding to the Challenges of a Research and Graduate University” was held on February 15 and 16, 2015 at the Tagaytay International Convention Center. It was attended by around 260 participants consisting of junior and senior graduate faculty members, committee chairs of degree-granting units, college deans, institute directors, department chairs, and heads of UP campuses.

Int’l student center soon to rise in UPLB; GS launches 2016 int’l grad educ conference

What was once a silent and unoccupied area at the back of the Graduate School (GS) Building will soon become the site of a modern hub for graduate and international students of UPLB.

It will be called the Graduate School International Student and Cultural Center Building, as officially announced during the groundbreaking ceremony on Dec. 2.

UP System, UPLB, and Nagoya University bigwigs were present during the occasion, which served as one of the highlights of the School’s 43 rd  founding anniversary.

               UP President Alfredo E. Pascual and Vice-President for Legal Affairs Hector Danny D. Uy joined UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., Graduate School Dean Jose V. Camacho, Jr., and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Portia G. Lapitan in the traditional groundbreaking ceremonies.  read more

UPLB to host Nagoya U Asian satellite campus

UP and Nagoya University (NU), through President Alfredo E. Pascual and UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. and NU President Seiichi Matsuo, respectively, have inked an agreement for UPLB to host the Nagoya University Asian Satellite Campus (NUASC) through the UPLB Graduate School.

This agreement makes the Philippines the eighth country to host the NUASC through which the Transnational Doctoral Programs for Leading Professionals in Asian Countries will be implemented. This will enable Filipino doctoral candidates to enroll in NU doctoral programs without having to be physically present in Nagoya for the whole duration of the course.

The agreement was formalized at the Executive Conference Room in BM Gonzalez Hall, UPLB on Dec. 2. Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., dean, Graduate School and Dr. Fumio Isoda, director, Nagoya University Asian Satellite Campuses Institute, served as witnesses of the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA). read more

UPLB, NU open NU Satellite Campus and hold int’l symposium on the internationalization of graduate education

UPLB and Nagoya University (NU) formally opened the NU satellite campus in the Philippines and held the International Symposium on the Internationalization of Graduate Education at Acacia Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City on March 8.

UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr.  said in his message during the opening program that to be a globally competitive research and graduate university, UPLB must pursue joint programs and collaborative activities with international academic and research institutions. He cited as an example the Philippines Transnational Ph.D. Program for Leading Professionals in Asian Countries being implemented by UPLB and NU.  

UP President Alfredo E. Pascual added that the program takes the University to a higher level and a step closer to being a globalized institution in terms of research and graduate education.  It will also allow experts to build lifelong partnerships with NU without leaving the country. He issued a challenge for UPLB to become a leader in global intellectual conversations of tomorrow. read more

UPLB, UPMin launch Mindanao Development Studies Seminars

The Graduate School (GS) and the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf), together with UP Mindanao, launched the Mindanao Development Studies Seminars (MDSS) on May 13-14 at UP Mindanao, Davao City. 

The MDSS aims to stimulate critical discussion about contemporary issues and challenges affecting the development of Mindanao. 

Dr. Portia G. Lapitan, vice chancellor for academic affairs who delivered a speech on behalf of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. reiterated the importance of Mindanao in the development of the country. She expressed her hopes that through the MDSS, participants would gain a more thorough insight of the issues affecting Mindanao.

“It is also my hope that this seminar would pave the way for scholars to engage in further discourse about Mindanao’s key concerns and strive to influence national policies that would benefit the people of Mindanao,” she added. read more

University of the Philippines Los Baños - UPLB to hold GS hooding and recognition rites

The Graduate School will hold its Hooding and Recognition Ceremony on June 24 at the DL Umali Freedom Park. During this occasion, the students who will have finished their doctoral program will be conferred their degrees through a ceremony in which their academic regalia (hoods) would be put on them by their advisers and University officials led by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr and Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., dean of the Graduate School.

The guest of honor and keynote speaker for this year’s ceremonies is Dr. Chamnian Yosraj, president of Maejo University in Thailand. Dr. Yosraj is a UPLB alumnus, having earned both his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Animal Science in 1983 and 1990, respectively. read more

University of the Philippines Los Baños - Maejo Univ. president to GS graduates: ‘learning is lifelong’

The UPLB Graduate School (GS) held its 2016 Hooding and Recognition Ceremonies on June 24 at the DL Umali Freedom Park. Of the 279 graduates, 229 obtained master’s degrees and 50 earned doctorate degrees.

In his opening remarks, Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. expressed confidence that the graduates will exceed expectations around them. “UPLB has prepared you to become leaders who have the intellectual capacity and the heart to contribute to your respective communities,” he said.  He also encouraged the graduates to use the knowledge they gained from the University not only in pursuing academic and intellectual endeavors, but also in addressing social concerns. read more

University of the Philippines Los Baños - President Pascual to UPLB Class 2016: ‘Be the best in what you do’

“How do you thank your benefactors? How do you thank the Filipino taxpayers? How do you thank the Filipino people as a whole?” asked UP President Alfredo E. Pascual to the 2,245-strong UPLB Class of 2016 on June 25 at the DL Umali Freedom Park.

President Pascual was the keynote speaker during the 44 th Commencement Exercises of UPLB that started at six o’clock in the morning, a deviation from the usual afternoon-to-evening ceremonies in the University. He was introduced by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. read more

UPLB signs MOU with Kobe University

UPLB and Kobe University (KU) in Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop academic programs and projects that will benefit both in their instruction, research and training programs.

The MOU, which covers a 5-year period, was signed by KU President Hiroshi Takeda on March 23 in KU while UPLB chancellor, Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. signed it on April 21 at the BM Gonzalez Hall in UPLB. read more

UPLB launches off-campus MMgt program at the PS-DBM

UPLB, through the Graduate School (GS) and the College of Economics and Management (CEM) has launched the off-campus Master of Management program for employees of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) at the DBM headquarters in Paco, Manila on Nov. 26.

PS-DBM has provided partial scholarships to its deserving employees who will be on the MMgt program that is being implemented by UPLB for continuing organizational development in the former. According to Atty. Tomas C. Syquia, executive director of PS-DBM, “to be the best, we must be taught by the best,” referring to the choice of UPLB as the partner institution.   read me

Int’l students showcase talent at cultural night

In celebration of its 37th anniversary, the International Students Association (ISA), in cooperation with the International Student Services of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), staged its annual cultural night at the DL Umali Hall on Oct. 14.

According to Dr. Nina Cadiz, OSA director, the event was “meant to promote the welfare and cooperation of foreign students in UPLB and to promote the benefits of internationalization in a University” such as UPLB.

With the theme “Unifying Force for Global Community,” the event featured song and dance performances of students from the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. read more

ILC, GS hold workshop on teaching innovations

In order to modernize pedagogy and equip faculty members with technology-mediated teaching strategies, the Interactive Learning Center (ILC) and Graduate School (GS) co-sponsored the workshop on Graduate Program Innovations: Hands-On Training on Blended Learning for faculty members on July 27-28, at the ILC Computer Laboratory, CAS Annex I Bldg.   

Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., GS dean, lauded the participants for attending the workshop despite the fact that they were on teacher’s leave. He said that since faculty members are in the forefront of the internalization efforts of the University and UPLB-GS has already embarked on off-campus offering, there is a need to conduct training programs on technology-mediated approaches that would help enhance the graduate programs of the University.  read more

CHED chair says research and higher education will promote development

The UPLB Graduate School (GS) conducted its 2015 Hooding and Recognition Ceremonies on July 3 at the DL Umali Hall, conferring degrees on 48 Ph.D. and 212 masters candidates. It also gave recognition to its top five Ph.D. and masters candidates, and two recipients of special awards.

In his opening remarks, Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. advised the graduate students to actively participate in collaborative research activities that promote knowledge building and policy making, to publish their work, and serve the people. He further explained that as the ASEAN integration promotes mobility among faculty and students, it also presents UPLB an opportunity to pursue research and development policies in the region. read more

Graduate School Appoints New Officials

The Graduate School welcomes new staff officials to improve and strengthen its graduate services. On 15 November 2017, Dr. Mark Dondi M. Arboleda, former School Secretary since 2015, was officially appointed as Associate Dean; Dr. Aimee Lynn A. Barrion-Dupo as School Secretary; and Ms. Nanette A. Aquino as Assistant Secretary. Read more


Dr. Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo, Graduate School Secretary, was one of the 68 awardees of the UP Scientific Productivity System for CY 2017. 

The UP Scientific Productivity System (SPS) aims to support the development of science and technology; and encourage and reward scientific productivity. 

The nominees are evaluated according to the following: Scientific Productivity as measured by scientific publications, significant technological output and discoveries; Scientific Standing; and professional Standing

Visit for more details on the UP Scientific Productivity System.

The Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) had its 6th Graduate Forum in virtual mode.

This was hosted by Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) from 10-11 December 2020 with the theme “Resilient Food and Agricultural System for Accelerating Economic Recovery: Strategy and Implementation”. UPLB won some awards: Rodelina C. Deyto was awarded as the Best Presenter on the subtheme Sustainable Production System, and Emmanuel Flores was awarded as the Best Presenter for the subtheme on Logistic and Value Chain. Team Liwanag of UPLB also won 1st place for cultural performance. 

The UPLB Graduate School celebrated its 48 th year anniversary on 21 December 2020.

As part of the celebration, GS hosted a 2-day webinar and the invited speakers shared their insights on the importance of graduate education, open science, open data, interdisciplinary collaboration, mentoring, research, and leadership. In addition, graduate faculty members, staff, and students had a virtual GS Nightout party on 18 December 2020. The GS Student Council organized an outreach where school supplies were given to the children of farmers in San Pablo, Laguna.  Media snippets with greetings from GS friends can be watched via the following link: . 

Dr. Jose V. Camacho elected 10th chancellor of UPLB


The UP Board of Regents elected Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr. as the 10th chancellor of UPLB at its 1354th meeting on Sept. 24.

Dr. Camacho, dean of the Graduate School (GS) and a professor of economics at the College of Economics and Management (CEM), will serve a three-year term that will start on Nov. 1, 2020.

For more information, visit :  

The Graduate School Welcomes new O.I.C Dean and Graduate School Secretary

From 01 November 2020 until a new GS Dean has been appointed, Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante will serve as the OIC-Dean, and Dr. Mark Dondi M. Arboleda will serve as the GS Secretary.

Dr. Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo is the new UP Faculty Regent

Graduate School Secretary, Dr. Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo is the new UP Faculty Regent. 

Dr. Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo of the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) took her oath of office as the new UP Faculty Regent before UP President Danilo L. Concepcion on Jan. 8 at the UPCO Social Hall, UPLB.

Her two-year appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2022. She succeeds Dr. Ramon Guillermo of UP Diliman.

For more information, visit:

Graduate School Satisfaction Survey

Sharing with you the SATISFACTION SURVEY results conducted last October-November 202O among the 800+ Graduate Students of UPLB on GS services.

Thank you for your participation and the insights that you have given us. We have taken note of the good as well as the things that need improvement. We are acting on things that will make our services more efficient and maintain those that make us a relevant and responsive unit of UPLB for graduate education.

2021 GS Executives

Introducing the new set of gs executives.

Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante starts his tenure as the new dean of the UPLB Graduate School effective March 1, 2021. In his team are Dr. Ronilo Jose D. Flores as associate dean, Dr. Pamela A. Custodio as school secretary and Dr. Rhea Ledesma-Gumasing as assistant school secretary. Team GS202X aims to transform GS as a bastion of excellence towards reshaping the future of graduate school education.


Mymp: mentoring young menros program.

The Graduate School launched the Mentoring Young Mentors Program to orient, train and mentor up and coming graduate school advisers and committee members on GS policies and processes , graduate curriculum design, mentorship and other aspects related to becoming a good mentor to our graduate students. This activity is part of GS' aim to Reshape the future of graduate education.#GS202x


GSCares was launched in order to reach out to GS constituents especially during this time of the pandemic. The GS, cognizant of the need for a venue outside of the classes to unwind, learn new things, get inspired and breathe, had organised the first episode which tackled issues on stress and coping in the now normal. Ms. Lavi Penaverde of Opus Ad Lucem, Inc and Ms. Aji Villamin of the Office of Counselling and Guiadance served as resource persons.


Dean, gs faculty awarded 2021 outstanding young scientist award.

GS Dean Jomar F. Rabajante was named as one of the recipients of the very prestigious Outstanding Young Scientist Award for the year 2021 by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Technology. This award is conferred to Filipino scientists below the age of 40 who has contributed to science and technology in the Philippines. Congratulations!


Sais tutorials and guides.

SAIS Video Tutorials

SAIS Problems troubleshooting guide for GS students 

The Graduate School is in Facebook

The Official Graduate School page is  .  Information for the general public are usually posted there.

The Official UPLB Graduate Student's Group is , a closed group for bonafide UPLB-GS Students only. Announcements and other useful information aimed for students are posted there. All GS students are encouraged to join the group.

2019-2020 UPLB Academic Calendar

Click here for the 2019-2020 UPLB Academic Calendar


Click here to view the  1st SEMESTER 2019-2020 IMPORTANT DATES

Updated Enrollment Procedure for New Students for 2nd Semester 2019-2020

Click here for the Updated Enrollment Procedure for New Students for 2nd Semester 2019-2020

GS Important Dates 2nd Semester 2019-2020

Click here for the GS Important Dates 2nd Semester 2019-2020

UPLB Graduate School Guidelines on the 2nd Semester AY 2019-2020 (

The UPLB Graduate School programs is adopting the general framework, rationale, and guidelines, of UP System Policy on the Second Semester AY 2019-2020 in the Time of Covid-19 and OC Memo No. 072.

UPLB Graduate School Guidelines on the 2nd Semester AY 2019-2020

Memo no. 072 s 2020 Implementing Guidelines of the UP System Policy on the 2nd semester AY 2019-2020 in the Time of COVID-19 issued by UP PRES. CONCEPCION

PDLC Signed  Implementing Guidelines BOR Decision on the Second Semester


Click here for the MIDYEAR 2020 ENROLLMENT PROCESS 


Click here for the notice from the Office of the University Registrar.

Deadline of Preregistration COI: August 10, 2020. We cannot move it further just like the previous sems because we will also be arranging the Virtual Graduation. Well try our best to encode late submissions for the prereg, if not it will be good for the regular registration.

To Process your COI: (1) download and accomplish COI Form: (2) Sign with your e-signature and fill-up all necessary information. (3) Email it to the Professor in charge so that they can attach their e-signature. (4) Submit the e-signed COI to Mr. Rivera at: [email protected] on or before August 10, 2020 for encoding with SUBJECT: COI 1st 2020-2021 BODY: Full name, Student no, SAIS ID. Use your UP Mail when submitting anything to GS.

Note: COI is NOT Enrollment. It is only a Prerequisite, GS only removes the restriction. Students still needs to do self-service enrollment via SAIS on August 18-21. 


Click here for the Enrollment Process 1st Semester 2020-2021


Kindly read Updates and FAQs posted in our Facebook page: before emailing us. We are experiencing heavy email traffic. Help us help you and help others through self-service information.

GS Important Dates 1st Semester 2020-2021

Click here for the GS Important Dates 1st Semester 2020-2021

Click here for the UPLB Academic Calendar

Click on the links in the PDF file to view the e-Forms. Downloadables and e-Forms are also available at .  Instructions on accomplishing the forms are also embedded in the e-forms. After generating the form, e-sign and email the PDF one by one to all signatories so that they can affix their e-signatures, submit it via email at: [email protected]. (usually when only the GS Secretary and Dean's e-signature are missing).


The UPLB Graduate School (GS) constituents (faculty, students, REPS, administrative staff, alumni) are invited to the webinar presentation of the Accomplishment Report of the Out-going Dean, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., on 21 January 2021, Thursday, 3:00 pm. This will be followed by the presentation of the mission, vision and plans of the nominees for the New GS Dean.

Those who would like to attend this webinar on Zoom may register at this link:

To get to know more about the nominees, please click this link:

Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante    Short CV     Full CV

Dr. Zita C. Villa Juan-Albacea    Short CV    Full CV


All Constituents (Faculty, REPS, Staff, Students) with UP Mail, submitting digital files to the Graduate School should be through the UPLB GS Online Document Submission System:  instead of emailing them to us.

  Those who do not have access to UP Mail (Applicants, Alumni, etc.) may submit using the previous protocol (through email). Please do not submit documents through this system and email at the same time to avoid duplicate tracking.

Demonstration and Tutorial:


See: All Graduate Students are to follow this process. The OUR Process is more intended for undergraduate students. This document is live and will be updated when necessary. Always check this Google Doc for updates. We will centralize all enrolment updates in this document for easy reference.

Dates to Remember

(updated 27 May 2021) - 29 April to 5 May: Reading/Wellness Break - 13 May: Last Day of Clearing Deficiencies - 14 May: Last day of Online Application for Graduation ( ) - 14 May: Last Day of Submission of Nomination of Advisory Committee for new regular PHD ( ) - 14 May: Last Day of Submission of Nomination of Guidance Committee and Plan of Coursework for New regular Master's ( ) - 19 May: Deadline for Dropping of Courses ( ) - 25 May: Last Day of Holding of Activities - 31 May: Deadline of Filing of LOA ( ) - 31 May: Deadline of Submission of Deferred Grade Completion (incurred during 2S 2019-2020) [deadline moved to August 7, 2021] ( ) - 4 June: Last day of Filing Application for Final Examination ( ) - 11 June: Last day of classes - 11 June: Deadline of submission of Plan of Study of New PHD Students ( ) - 11 June: Deadline of Revision in Plan of Coursework ( ) - 11 June: Deadline of Change in Member/Adviser in Guidance/Advisory Committee ( ) - 18 June: Last Day to conduct Final Examinations. Note Application for Final Exam must be filed at least 2 weeks from actual exam date and not later than 4 June. - 25 June: Last Day of Submission of Manuscripts. - 25 June: Last Day of Submission of Grades.

MIDYEAR 2021 Enrollment Instruction

Click here for the Midyear 2021 Enrollment Instruction (link to open this pdf)

UPLB GS 2021 Hooding Ceremony

phd communication for development

Zoomustuahan with UPLB DOST ASTHRDP Scholars

phd communication for development

GS Announcement: 2nd Semester Enrollment Guidelines

For the 2nd Semester 2021-2022 Enrollment process, please go to:

Please be reminded that physical enrollment transactions are not allowed at the Graduate School Office. Carefully read and reread the enrollment process document before inquiring. It is better to spend 5-10 minutes reading than to wait for our reply 3-5 days later. We will put all updates at the bottom of the document for your easier reference.

For inquiries regarding enrollment, you may submit it at .

All enrollment inquiries should be through this link. Do not email any enrollment concern to any Graduate School Email and/or Staff Members. Do not email the GPMC or RegCom with concerns other than matters specified in the enrollment process document.

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES LOS BAÑOS DOST-ASTHRDP Scholarship Program is in need of: POSITION: Project Assistant III (Project-based)



is in need of:

POSITION: Project Assistant III (Project-based)

SALARY: P31,262.40/month


  • Graduate of any 4-year course, with at least one year continuous work experience
  • Proficient in MS Office applications (eg. Excel, Word, PowerPoint) and Google Workspace Experience in project handling in UPLB or in other funding agencies is a plus
  • Willing to start immediately


  • Monitor scholarship status of scholars, and maintain and update databases;
  • Generate necessary reports and other program deliverables to DOST-SEI;
  • Organize physical and electronic scholarship-related documents, Assist scholars during registration period (tagging of scholars, generation of Form 5) and during local/international conferences/orientation;
  • Evaluate and processes payments;
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the Project Leader and Scholarship Head

Send your letter of intent and CV on or before February 22,2022 to [email protected] with the email subject UPLB-DOST_PAlll [your last name]


Payment of fees extended until 11 March. If you still have registration issues, please attend 08 March (Tuesday) Zoom meeting, 3pm. Link can be found in the Updates page of the GS Enrollment Process Google Doc.( There will also be one last Zoom meeting for enrollment concerns on Thursday, March 10, 3PM check GS Enrollment Process Google Doc again for updates. (


Chancellor sanchez presents uplb’s internationalization initiatives.

Click this link to view or download

UPLB has new Graduate School secretary

Dr. Mark Dondi M. Arboleda takes-over as secretary of UPLB Graduate School effective March 4, 2015.

He succeeds Dr. Willie P. Abasolo who was appointed by the UP Board of Regents as the new dean of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources on March 3, 2015.


The 43rd Commencement Exercises of UPLB will be held on Saturday, July 4, 2015 at the D.L. Umali Freedom Park in front of the D.L. Umali HAll (UPLB Auditorium).

Click here to download the instructions

AsiaEngage: The 3rd Regional Conference 2016

Click here for more info


phd communication for development

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Bulletin 2023-2024, communication for development and social change ms.


Learn more about the Master of Science in Communication for Development and Social Change .

About the Program

The Master of Science in Communication for Development and Social Change (CDSC) is a 30-credit program designed to be completed in one year. The program focuses on using communication, media and digital platforms to empower communities, bring about social change and strengthen social justice. There is a pressing need for communication for social change experts who can foster communication within communities, governments, and nongovernmental and civil society organizations. This work requires specific expertise in using tools like strategic communication, communication campaigns, participatory interventions, managing and evaluating social change projects, media and information literacy training, and media and digital platforms for social change.

The MS curriculum provides a comprehensive overview of theory and practice in the field of communication for social change, including research methods tailored to the specific needs of social change professionals. Our curriculum emphasizes the importance of empowered communities, local voices and participatory strategies in social change processes. Students complete 18 credits of required core coursework, 9 credits in an area of specialization, and 3 credits of capstone field experience.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 4 years, although the program is designed to be completed in one year

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: While the degree program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis, full-time enrollment is strongly encouraged.

Interdisciplinary Study: The program is designed to be interdisciplinary in nature.

Areas of Specialization: Previously designed specializations include those listed below, but the possibilities are limitless as students are encouraged to design their own specializations based on their interests:

  • Civic Engagement and Democratic Governance
  • Climate Change and Adaptation
  • Conflict, Peace and Human Rights
  • Gender Equity
  • Media Development and Advocacy
  • Public Health
  • Social Justice
  • Sustainable Development

Job Prospects: The program prepares graduates as communication specialists who can help raise public understanding, build consensus and generate change by effectively using the range of communication alternatives available, whether by facilitating processes of dialogue among stakeholders or through media campaigns for governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Among the positions held by our alumni after graduation are: 

  • communications consultant for the United Nations
  • communications manager for Read by 4th
  • community outreach specialist for Stokes Creative Group
  • digital communications specialist for UNICEF
  • monitoring and evaluation officer for Greenpeace
  • project manager for The Corps Network

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: Non-matriculated students may take up to 9 credits before applying to the MS program.

Financing Opportunities: Merit scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis by the admissions committee. For information on endowed scholarships, please contact Klein’s Graduate Office.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: March 1

Admission is open for the Fall term only. Applications are accepted after the deadline, but late applications cannot be guaranteed merit scholarship consideration.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program .

Letters of Reference: Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from evaluators who are able to provide insight into the applicant's potential for professional achievement and aptitude for graduate study. It is important that recommenders offer insight into the applicant’s academic skills, including writing, analytical and critical thinking, and research abilities.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of the baccalaureate degree at Temple University.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 1,000 words, present your strongest statement in the form of an essay about your interests and experiences in the field of Communication for Development and Social Change. The goal of your essay is to allow us to assess your institutional fit. Toward this end, please review the descriptions of our program, curriculum and faculty, also incorporating this content into your statement. You may use one or more of the following prompts as a starting point:

  • What are your interests, experiences or academic research in the area of media and communication for development and social change, including your life experiences? The best candidates are people who can connect their life experiences and passions to their career goals.
  • How will the MS in Communication for Development and Social Change advance your professional aspirations, intellectual objectives or social change/social justice goals?
  • What is your experience as a social justice activist, public information campaign practitioner, community media practitioner or local journalist?
  • How will you benefit from our program, and what will you contribute to our learning community?

Standardized Test Scores: GRE: Optional. If provided, scores at or above the 65th percentile are expected.

Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores within two years of the test date for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 105
  • IELTS Academic: 7.0

Resume: Current resume or curriculum vitae is required.

Writing Sample: If you elect to not submit GRE scores, you are required to submit one of the options below so that your readiness and ability/potential to engage rigorously with graduate-level work can be assessed:

  • the institution where you took the course for which the paper was produced,
  • the course number and title of the course for which the paper was written,
  • the professor for whom you wrote the paper, and
  • the term in which you took the course.
  • what role you played in the publication’s production,
  • the institution that sponsored it, and
  • on what date the material was produced.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements: Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 30

Required Courses:

Students choose three courses in one area of specialization. Coursework options can be identified by contacting the Program Director. In addition, courses from across the University may be selected by students as they design their own specializations.

Culminating Event: Capstone Course: GDC 9995 Master's Research Project is a hybrid course in which students meet with the course instructor early in the Summer term and then complete their field experiences independently during the summer under the supervision and evaluation of the instructor. Research projects can include internships with governmental and non-governmental organizations, investigative projects with socially responsible businesses, participation in community development initiatives, or media productions for social changes that allow students to acquire knowledge and new skills and become more reflective development practitioners.

Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Lew Klein College of Media and Communication

Office of Research and Graduate Studies

2020 N. 13th Street, 344 Annenberg Hall

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6015

[email protected]


Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:

Director of Graduate Admissions:

Kaitlin Pierce, EdD

Program Director:

Clemencia Rodriguez, PhD

[email protected]


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About the Program

This interdisciplinary master’s program is designed to prepare students to address current issues through social and behavioral change by gaining an in-depth understanding of the different methodologies needed to communicate problems and facilitate change within global and local communities. Students may customize their curriculum to study community development, global health, media advocacy, environment and food sustainability.

Celebrating 35 years of CommDev

2022 marked our 35th anniversary, and we hosted a two-day conference and gala in November to mark the occasion. Pictures and recorded sessions coming soon!

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Information regarding application and admission to the Communication & Development Studies program.

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PhD in Communication

Doctor of philosophy in school of communication.

PhD Communication Studies

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At the Intersection of Media, Technology, and Democracy

The AU School of Communication's Doctor of Philosophy in Communication allows you to research at the intersection of media, technology, and democracy. We study how media and technology interact with democratic culture and politics. Communication creates culture; communication is a vector of power; communication is central to democratic action. Our normative orientation toward a healthier democratic process is a theme consistent with the core public service mission of American University. Internet governance, podcasts as news sources, disinformation on Twitter, digital surveillance, facial recognition and power, racism on social media, and state social-media propaganda are all topics of recent dissertations.

Our focus is at the cutting edge of the field of communication studies today, and our students routinely present at our leading conferences. Our approach is also interdisciplinary, and we benefit from the diverse intellectual resources across American University, such as those showcased at the Internet Governance Lab , the AU Game Center ,  the Center for Media & Social Impact , the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies , and the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) . We also tap into our relationships with NGOs, media companies, foundations, and government institutions throughout the Washington metro area. 

In our doctoral program, you'll produce scholarship, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, that has real-world connection and impact . Your work will position you well to pick from career options that range from the professoriate to public policy research to media production to government. 

This is a three-year PhD, and from the moment you arrive, you will be working in a highly-structured program toward your dissertation research, building your networks, and developing publishable projects. You will join us in using knowledge to address our most pressing political and social challenge s . We welcome your application to become a part of the next generation of communication scholars, professors, leaders, and practitioners.

Demonstrate Your Commitment and Interest

Applicants for the Communication (PhD) degree program must hold an accredited bachelor's degree and a master's degree in communication, or a related field, with a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher, unless the applicant demonstrates comparable experience. The degree does not have to be in the field of communication or be research-based, as many of our PhD students have master's degrees in film or journalism. 

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose that outlines the intended research area, what research methods and theories the applicant will use, and which faculty members the applicant hopes to work with.

The candidate must also submit either a master's thesis or another example of substantial research. The GRE is optional. Students should submit their official GRE scores to CEEB code 5007 if desired.

The School of Communication's PhD program operates on a hard deadline. Applications must be received by December 15th.  Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

A complete PhD application consists of the following:

  • Statement of purpose
  • University transcripts from all universities attended (transcripts from outside of the U.S. must be evaluated by a NACES approevd organization)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • Master's thesis (or another example of substantial research)
  • Proof of English proficiency (100 on the TOEFL, 7.0 on the IELTS, 120 on Duolingo, or a bachelor or master's degree from a university in an English speaking country)

The admissions committee may ask applicants to interview with the program director and affiliated faculty. Interviews are conducted either on campus or virtually.

Financing Your Education

Each year, we welcome several doctoral students with full tuition remission as well as a graduate assistantship . We may also offer admission to top candidates without merit funding. If funding becomes available, students admitted without funding may be eligible to receive a merit package from the school.

The PhD in Communication is 54 credit hours. To estimate the cost of tuition , please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

Students whose funding package includes a graduate assistantship will work as research or teaching assistants for 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. 

The School of Communication offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid . Merit awards, named scholarships, and fellowships are administered by the SOC Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid . Several prestigious graduate fellowships are also available for students in the Political Communication program. Additional financial support is available for veterans .

Each year, we welcome several doctoral students with full tuition remission as well as a graduate assistantship. We may also offer admission to top candidates without merit funding. If funding becomes available, students admitted without funding may be eligible to receive a merit package from the school. 

All merit awards are based on your academic merit and professional experience , specifically your undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Some merit awards come in the form of graduate assistantships , which consist of graduate tuition remission, a stipend, or both. Tuition remission will vary in the number of credits offered. If you are offered a stipend, you must employed as a graduate assistant for a School of Communication faculty member for 10 hours per week.

Graduate Fellowships for Political Communication

The School of Communication offers prestigious merit-based fellowships in partnership with leading Washington, DC-based media organizations. These fellowships provide varying amounts of tuition remission and stipend and allow you to pursue professional projects with some of the finest media organizations while completing your graduate program. Separate applications are required . 

Research fellowships at academic centers within the School of Communication and throughout the university may also be available.

Unless indicated, students may not accept both a graduate assistantship and a graduate fellowship.

 Advanced Study at Your Convenience 

The School of Communication makes continuing on for your advanced degree a simple, straightforward process. You may apply for admission to our combined bachelor of arts/master of arts program during the second semester of your junior year (after completing 75 credits, but before you have completed 90 credits). Students in any undergraduate major at AU are eligible for consideration. An undergraduate degree in communication is not required.

You may apply for combined degrees in Political Communication, Strategic Communication, Film and Video, Journalism and Public Affairs, Game Design, or International Media.

More information about admissions requirements can be found here.

PhD Students

Meet Our Students

Our students produce scholarship, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, that has real-world connection and impact.

The CMSI team poses with the lineup of comedians at Comedy Saves Democracy. Photo by Ari Scott.

Democracy is a Laughing Matter

In the Top 5 percent of Best Ranked Programs in Communication and Media Studies

According to College Factual

Course Progression

Complete your degree in three years.

In contrast to the traditional 9-month-per-year schedule, your annual course of study takes place over 11 months, including faculty supervision and mentoring via formal course work, organized research group meetings, and online collaboration. The  accelerated structure  of your program allows you to complete your degree in three years.

You'll take six required courses, three each in the fall and spring semester. Depending on your past master's coursework and professional experience, you may be able to petition for credit for methods and/or statistics course work, substituting an advanced methods course or other elective. The required teaching seminar prepares you to work as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate course during your second year of coursework. Students who have prior college teaching experience or who have already taken a similar teaching seminar as part of their master's program can place out of this course, substituting an additional elective. In the summer immediately following your first year, you'll enroll in one course for credit and participate in research group meetings.

COMM-704: Media, Technology & Democracy (3) This is a foundation overview course focused on scholarship and analysis concerning the intersections of media, technology, and democracy. It also introduces other core courses and study concentrations for advanced study in these topics.

COMM-750: Advanced Media Theory (3) This course examines a range of theories for explaining the complex interrelationships among media, technology, human behavior, social interaction, and democratic processes. It provides an in-depth comparative analysis of theoretical approaches from a variety of academic fields including mass communication, cultural studies, film criticism, and digital media.

COMM-751: Advanced Media Research Methods (3) This course covers major social scientific, historical, ethnographic, qualitative, and critical approaches to media research, including discussions of epistemology, conceptualization, measurement, and ethics.

COMM-754: Media, Law & Policy (3) This course equips students with a strong grounding in U.S laws, policies, and regulatory infrastructure. It analyzes how public debates and political struggles over policy issues have shaped the culture, structure, and operations of contemporary U.S. media industries and institutions.

COMM-711: Teaching Seminar (3) This course provides students with career preparation knowledge, including understanding the culture and history of higher education, teaching skills, and career skills including submission to journals, book proposals, finding appropriate job opportunities, writing cover letters and doing job interviews. Some individual coaching is also involved.

NOTE: This course begins the Friday BEFORE school starts in spring semester, with attendance at an all-day event, the Ann Ferren Conference. This affects your travel schedule over winter holidays!

Approved graduate statistics or research methods course (3) (by preference) OR

Elective selected in consultation with faculty mentor (3)

Note: Students will work with their faculty mentor, who must have an appropriate terminal degree, to select two electives for the first fall semester.

COMM-755: Research Design in Communication (3). This course strengthens student skills in defining an answerable research questions and finding appropriate methodologies.

In the fall, you'll take two electives and a course to prepare you for the comprehensive examinations. By the end of your fall semester, you'll be expected to have gained approval and to have finalized the four faculty members of your doctoral committee, with at least one member being from outside of the School of Communication. At the beginning of your spring semester, you'll begin your qualifying exams. This process takes approximately one month from the assignment of questions to a successful written and oral defense. You will also take a seminar to guide you in developing your dissertation proposal. By the end of the spring semester or beginning of the summer, students are expected to have successfully defended their dissertation proposals and to spend the summer focused on dissertation research.

COMM-860 Seminar in Doctoral Teaching and Research (3) Creation of dissertation literature review and preparation for the comprehensive exam. Introduction to teaching philosophies and strategies, preparation for scholarly career in Communication Studies.

Approved elective courses (6)

Approved graduate statistics or research methods course (3)

COMM-861: Advanced Research & Project Development (3) Prepares students for advancing to candidacy by taking the comprehensive exam and preparing a dissertation proposal.

COMM-898: Doctoral Continuing Enrollment (6) May be taken by doctoral students completing coursework, exams or proposals in preparation for advancement to candidacy.

In the fall and spring semesters, you'll register for dissertation research credits. During the fall and spring semesters, you will also probably be applying and interviewing for jobs, drawing upon information from your first-year course, COMM 711 and on your mentors’ advice. By late spring, your dissertation committee expects to have about six weeks to read and respond to a dissertation draft and to read and respond to a revised version.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply to the phd in communication program.

Applicants could be interested in tenure track, faculty positions in academia, or seeking careers at prestigious institutions in government, industry, and/or the nonprofit community.

How can the PhD program help strengthen my pedagogical skills?

In addition to the teaching seminars and teaching assistantships that are part of the regular doctoral curriculum, The Art of Teaching is a one-credit course offered each spring semester for PhD students who want to learn more about educational pedagogy. The course was originally designed by American University's former provost, Milton Greenberg.

Previously known as the Greenberg Seminars for Effective Teaching, this course complements the PhD academic experience, providing hands-on, practical introduction to professional development and classroom techniques. PhD students can participate at any time during their PhD program. There is no tuition fee for the course.

What are areas of faculty expertise?

Our program is focused on impactful research at the intersection of media, technology, and democracy. Our faculty and students study how media messages and communication technologies shape, and are shaped by, social and governmental processes. Specific sites of research range from Internet governance to music and film culture to social and political organizing to journalism to new media and games. We study communication patterns and their meanings across and between societies on a global scale, including, every continent in addition to indigenous and stateless groups. We draw upon cultural production, critical communication, science and technology studies, law and society perspectives, and other theories, and we use both quantitative and qualitative research methods as well as policy analysis.

What kinds of positions do alumni have now?

Our alumni have found full time and tenure-track jobs at universities throughout the U.S. and around the world, as well as prestigious post-doctoral positions and non-profit and government posts.

What kinds of collaborations can I expect with faculty?

You are assigned a mentor when you first arrive, a selection that results from both your stated interests and faculty interest. This assignment can change by request. You can expect to work with your mentor and, potentially, other faculty on research resulting in joint publications and conference presentations. In your second year, you may assist a faculty member with teaching. Several recent alumni have continued to collaborate with SOC faculty and student colleagues after graduation, resulting in dozens of published research articles, book chapters, and policy papers.

What other opportunities do the school and university offer?

The PhD program offers several PhD Symposia throughout the year, offering informal presentations of completed work and work in progress by both students and faculty. The  Internet Governance Lab , a joint program in the School of Communication and School of International Service, offers a range of activities throughout the year, putting a spotlight on Internet policy. The Center for Media & Social Impact offers workshops, events, a biannual conference, and research projects for which you can apply as research assistant. The AU Game Center  provides a community of scholars and graduate students in numerous programs across the university engaged in the design, production, and study of games, including the cultural and social impact of the medium, with substantial opportunities for collaboration with faculty, staff, and students across multiple related fields and contexts. The Institute for Immersive Designs, Experiences, Applications, and Stories (Institute for IDEAS) offers paid fellowships and research projects for which you can apply as a research assistant, often collaborating with faculty at other institutions. The PhD programs in the School of Communication, School of International Service, and School of Public Affairs jointly host a day-long research conference featuring work in progress by their PhD students, in February. The university-wide Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL) provides tools and programs throughout the year to help faculty and PhD students with best practices in teaching, and hosts an annual conference on teaching in January. PhD students are welcome, at no cost. CTRL also offers training and access to research tools . Finally, each PhD student receives enough annual funding to attend at least one major scholarly conference or event, anywhere in the world.

What are examples of dissertations students have written?

Our students have explored a wide diversity of interests with rigorous research, including dissertations such as:

  • Lucy Odigie, “Digital Margins: Digital Technology Use, Social Change and the Empowering Strategies of Domestic Workers of Color in Brooklyn, NY”
  • Isabelle Zaugg, “Ethiopic: Coding for Linguistic Survival in the Face of Digital Extinction”
  • Aras Cosuntuncel, “Networking Authoritarian Neoliberalism: Realigned Strategies of Information Control and Resistance in the Case of Turkey” Dorian Davis, “The Twitter Election? New Perspectives on Agenda-Building during the 2016 Campaign”
  • Louisa Imperiale, “Democracy for Sale: A Critical Examination of the Political-Media Complex at work in Campaign Finance and Political Broadcast Regulation in U.S. Presidential Elections from 1976 to 2016”
  • Fernanda Rosa, “Global Internet Interconnection Infrastructure: Materiality, Concealment and Surveillance in Contemporary Communication”
  • Donte Newman, “Straddling the Fence: How White Facebook Users Express Ambivalence to Navigate the Context Collapse”
  • Emily O’Connell, “Hybrid Systems and Hybrid Genres: Exploring U.S. Political Podcast Framing Tactics and Effects”

How many applicants are admitted each year?

Five people are selected each year to join the program, and there are usually about 20 people in the program at any one time.

Can I attend part-time?

The program is designed to be full-time.

Can I take courses outside of the School of Communication?

The SOC PhD program was designed as an interdisciplinary program. We encourage students to take full advantage of the wealth of resources and opportunities across the university, including taking courses and finding expertise in other departments, as well as courses at our partner universities around Washington, DC. Dissertation committees are required to include at least one member outside of the school.

Can I complete my PhD program in 3 years?

The program is designed to be completed in three years, and more than half of our PhD students accomplish their goal in doing so.

Still have questions? Send us an email: [email protected]

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phd communication for development

M.A./Ph.D. Overview

Compared to other M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs in communication, the University of Washington’s Department of Communication takes a distinctive approach by presenting students with an integrated curriculum founded upon principles of intellectual and cultural pluralism, interdisciplinarity, innovation through collaboration, and public scholarship. Graduate students in the M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs develop expertise in a particular area of study, but they also learn to appreciate alternative theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to studying communication. Coursework brings together humanistic and social scientific intellectual traditions through a unified core curriculum and a wide array of graduate seminars, offered both in the Department of Communication and in other departments at the University of Washington. In addition to work in the classroom, research teams bring diverse groups of students and faculty together to investigate and apply current communication theories. Students are encouraged to use their knowledge to address social and political problems facing communities outside academia. This portion of the website provides a comprehensive overview of the design and policies of the M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs in the Department of Communication. If you wish to learn more, go to any of the following pages:

Core Principles

Areas of Study

Certificates and Concentrations

M.A. Requirements and Policies

Ph.D. Requirements and Policies

Funding Opportunities

Recognition and Awards

M.A./Ph.D. Placements

Frequently Asked Questions

M.A./Ph.D. Recent Publications

M.A. Theses

Ph.D. Dissertations

Current Department of Communication M.A./Ph.D. students can access additional information on the Department Intranet .

For questions about the M.A./Ph.D. program, please contact our Graduate Program Advisor at [email protected] .

102 Communications Box 353740 Seattle, WA 98195 Phone: (206) 543-2660 Fax: (206) 616-3762

Graduate Program (206) 543-6745 Undergraduate Program (206) 543-8860

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Mphil/phd in development studies.

phd communication for development

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phd communication for development

Key information

Home student fees (full-time) : £4,860 per year Home student fees (part-time) : £2,430 per year Overseas student fees (full-time) : £22,490 per year Overseas student fees (part-time) : £11,245 per year

Please note that fees go up each year.   See  research fees  for further details.

We normally require a 2.1 bachelor's degree plus a Masters degree with a Merit classification in a Social Science plus one reference. In exceptional cases we may accept applicants who do not meet these criteria if they show evidence of a strong Masters degree and/or appropriate level of relevant work experience. International applicants should also see Doctoral School English language requirements . 

Identifying a supervisor

Potential applicants are advised to personally discuss their (draft) research proposal with (a) potential supervisor(s) (see departmental staff list ) and sound their willingness to supervise. This significantly increases the chance of a successful admission application.

Course overview

Study our on-campus MPhil/PhD in Development Studies at SOAS to realise your potential to tackle global injustice and transform the world with your research impact.

As a PhD researcher, you’ll join a renowned globally diverse research community with access to research and teaching opportunities, as well as a substantial series of seminars presented by leading development professionals and practitioners.

The Department currently has over 70 research students, working on a range of research topics in many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. We are particularly interested in potential research students who wish to work in one of the main Departmental Research Clusters , specifically: 

  • Agrarian Change and Development  
  • Labour, Activism and Global Development  
  • Violence, Conflict and Peace  
  • Migration, Mobility and Development  
  • Environment  

SOAS research students are encouraged to attend weekly training sessions to introduce them to a number of practical techniques and vocational skills utilised within the development profession, seminars on topics relevant to Development Studies and, where appropriate, post-experience workshops.

  • See the list of completed PhDs

Why study MPhil/PhD Development Studies at SOAS?

  • SOAS is ranked 2nd in the world for Development Studies (QS World University Rankings 2023)

Students are expected to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status after their first year. It is expected that you will meet your assigned Supervisor in your first week at SOAS, and that, in consultation with your Supervisor, you will choose one other academics to serve on your research committee.

During the module of your first year, you are required to attend the Department’s Postgraduate Research Training Seminar. These sessions will provide you with the essential training in research methodology and will assist you in getting started: specifically, they will assist you in writing the constituent components of the ‘upgrade paper’ that you have to submit and defend in a viva in Term 3 of your first year.

Given the wealth of training resources in research methods and other theoretically and empirically relevant postgraduate modules across the Faculty and in other Faculties at SOAS, students are strongly encouraged to audit modules.

Additional modules can be invaluable, especially for conceptual or area specific issues or topics, as ways to supplement the training imparted in the MPhil Seminars. The supervisor and the student will discuss at the beginning of the year the most suitable portfolio of training and modules in relation to the topic of the thesis, its main research questions and the setting in which the research will be conducted.

Schedule after year 1

Once students have passed their upgrade, they should immediately proceed with designing the details of the empirical work and organising the drafts written in the module of the first year. As most Development Studies students will embark on fieldwork in their second year, it is important to keep the 3-year time limit in mind, and to not postpone writing chapters until after the completion of fieldwork.

Any writing done during that period will save crucial time on return.

Ordinarily, a student would then adhere to the following writing up schedule:

Terms 4, 5 and 6

Fieldwork, and beginning of data processing as well as drawing up of chapter templates.

Summer holidays of the second year, terms 7 and 8

Data analysis and back to literature review to revise initial chapters and producing a full final draft.

Reviewing the first draft, complete any required rewriting, and submission of dissertation. There is a possibility of continuation of writing-up after term 9 but the thesis will have to be submitted in any case before the end of the 4th year. This will be the final deadline although the thesis is expected to be finished within three years of full-time active research.

Important notice

The information on the website reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. The modules are indicative options of the content students can expect and are/have been previously taught as part of these programmes.

However, this information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. 

Teaching and learning

All MPhil/PhD students have a supervisory committee, comprising their main supervisor, and one other academic staff member. In the first year, PhD students will have regular formal tutorials during term time with their main supervisor, working towards the production of their upgrade paper and viva at the end of the academic year.


Supervision during the 2nd year (usually the fieldwork year) will often by through email and Skype (whilst students are away in the field), and in person if they return to the UK during this period. In the final year, tutorials are arranged around the writing-up of thesis chapters. Outside the formal supervision tutorials, all research students are encouraged to chat with their supervisors to discuss issues as they arise.

Weekly research seminars

In addition to the individual tutorials with their supervisors, all research students are required to attend and participate in the weekly research seminars, which provide training and skills in specific research methods. They may also take specific taught masters options where relevant to their particular research.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


Fees and funding, fees for 2023/24 entrants per academic year.

Please note that fees go up each year.  See  research fees  for further details.

A degree from the Department of Development Studies at SOAS will further develop your understanding of the world and how society is organised, with specific focus on violence and conflict, the role of aid, refugees and forced migration. Graduates leave with a range of transferable skills, including critical thinking, analytical skills and cultural awareness.

Recent graduates have been hired by:

  • Amnesty International
  • BBC World Service
  • British Embassy Brussels
  • Department for International Development
  • Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
  • Embassy of Japan
  • Government of Pakistan
  • Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Overseas Development Institute
  • Royal Norwegian Embassy
  • Save the Children UK
  • The World Bank
  • Thinking Beyond Borders
  • US Department of State
  • UN World Food Programme
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Find out about our Careers Service.

phd communication for development

Dr Subir Sinha

South Asia; social movements; civil society; the environment; institutions; agrarian questions; Marxist and postcolonial theory; Social theory in Development studies.

SOAS Voices

phd communication for development

How to develop a career in the humanitarian sector 

Oyessorzo studies MSc Humanitarian Action online while working in the humanitarian sector. She offers advice for anyone hoping to develop a career in humanitarianism.

phd communication for development

Remitting through crisis: learning lessons from the pandemic

As the world confronts ongoing climate, conflict and cost-of-living problems, what can we learn from the pandemic period about people’s remittance practices through times of crisis?

phd communication for development

Careers: "Making a tangible difference in someone’s life is a really motivational concept"

Chris Bowden studied BA Swahili and Development Studies at SOAS and is now Head of Cargo - Global Partnerships at Cathay Cargo. We asked him about his time at SOAS and his career journey so far.

Ken Loach discusses austerity in neoliberal Britain

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Tipping points: could this be the climate movement we need?

A global movement against the climate crisis has finally emerged, and it could be one of the most positive breakthroughs for social justice in a generation.

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Riots in Knowsley: How the state perpetuates violence in asylum accommodation

"This is our city". The anti-asylum violence at accommodation centres starts with state-led violent border management policies seen around the world. 

London International Development Centre Migration Leadership Team

Developing a shared and participatory global strategy for identifying and supporting migration research.

Research and Evidence Facility: Informing migration policy in the Horn of Africa

Collating and producing evidence and policy relevant knowledge to generate a better understanding of the drivers of instability, migration, and displacement in the greater Horn of Africa, and the dynamics of cross-border economies and centre/periphery relations.

Drugs & (dis)order

A SOAS-led consortium researching into the role of illicit drug economies in conflict-affected borderlands of Afghanistan, Colombia and Myanmar.

The AGRUMIG project: "Leaving something behind"

Studying comparatively the impact of large-scale labour out-migration on agricultural and rural change in seven countries (Morocco, Ethiopia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Thailand, PR China) to inform regionally specific combinations of rural development and migration policies.

Industrial Development, Construction and Employment in Africa (IDCEA): A comparative analysis

Exploring evidence on the employment effects of firms investing in manufacturing and building infrastructure in African economies.

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phd communication for development

Media and Communication PhD

Doctor of philosophy in media and communication.

Immerse yourself in a rigorous curriculum that has strong ties to the humanities and social sciences, with the Doctor of Philosophy in Media and Communication from the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple. Explore the relationship between media and people through a variety of lenses, including cultural, economic, historical and social-psychological. Receive the academic support of an R1-classified research university as you successfully propose, create and defend your dissertation.

The advanced, multidisciplinary Media and Communication PhD provides access to individualized courses of study, faculty guidance and other opportunities that enable you to

work with active scholars who boast international reputations;

present at conferences and publish work in respected academic journals; and

obtain experience in undergraduate teaching.

Comprehensive coursework in communication theory and research characterizes the Media and Communication PhD program, endowing students with the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to make significant contributions in the academic and professional field of mediated communication. You will collaborate with mentors, develop your own research agenda, and graduate with a strong foundation in theory and methodologies that covers several areas of interest, including the following.

Communication effects and psychological processes

Emerging media and technology

Global media, social change and activism

Journalism studies

Media, identity and representation

The media industry, laws and policies

Political communication

Popular communication

Graduates of this PhD program pursue administrative, research and teaching careers in universities and colleges. They also pursue research jobs in media industries, as well as senior-level policy and communications roles in government and nonprofit sectors. If you are hired to teach or conduct research, you will have access to the Temple University Graduate Student Association , the first recognized graduate employee union in Pennsylvania. You will also have the opportunity to request a travel award that provides funds to help cover the cost of presenting your research at scholarly symposiums.

Program Format & Curriculum

The 48-credit Doctor of Philosophy in Media and Communication is held on Temple’s Main Campus, and can be completed over four years of continuous, full-time study. 

The following courses are required.

Communication Theory I and II

Doctoral Colloquium I and II

Researching Communication I and II

Teaching in Higher Education: Communications

The program also requires the completion of preliminary examinations and a doctoral dissertation. Learn more about requirements for the Media and Communication PhD .

Related Graduate Degrees

Communication for Development and Social Change MS

Media Studies and Production MA

Related Graduate Certificates

Cultural Analytics

Disability Studies

Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Teaching in Higher Education

phd communication for development

Tuition & Fees

In keeping with Temple’s commitment to access and affordability, this Doctor of Philosophy offers a competitive level of tuition with multiple opportunities for financial support.

Tuition rates are set annually by the university and are affected by multiple factors, including program degree level (undergraduate or graduate), course load (full- or part-time), in-state or out-of-state residency, and more. These tuition costs apply to the 2023–2024 academic year.

Pennsylvania resident : $1,169.00 per credit Out-of-state : $1,565.00 per credit

Learn more about our tuition and fees .

Faculty advisors can help you navigate your program and discuss research opportunities, teaching assistantships and more.  Learn more about Klein College of Media and Communication faculty .

Contact the following faculty or staff members with questions about the Media and Communication PhD.

Geoff Baym is the program director. Phone : 215-204-4607 Email :  [email protected]

Nicole McKenna is the graduate office director​. Phone : 215-204-1497 Email : [email protected]

Supplement your Media and Communication PhD coursework and enhance your graduate education experience through student clubs and organizations. You’ll meet and network with other like-minded students, gain invaluable knowledge and skills, and become involved with a community that helps you bring your personal and professional goals to fruition.

Students in the Media and Communication PhD program are encouraged to join the Media and Communication Graduate Student Association  (MCGSA), an organization that represents and advocates for the collective interests of students within the Media and Communication Department. The MCGSA also facilitates connections between students and faculty across disciplines, and works to optimize the personal and professional development of graduate students.

Learn more about student clubs and organizations available to Klein students . 

Temple University’s departments and programs are accredited by the  Middle States Commission on Higher Education .

Additional Program Information

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  • Careers & Opportunities
  • Research & Facilities
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PhD in Communication Studies

Our communication studies PhD program prepares you for a successful career in both post-secondary teaching and research. No matter which concentration you choose, this program emphasizes the connections between sub-fields of communication.

Students may apply to the PhD program with a bachelor's degree or a masters. All accepted to the program receive five years of full funding support . We make every attempt to provide all of the support necessary for our students to enroll in a timely fashion, complete their degrees, and gain meaningful academic employment. Transfer credits for equivalent graduate-level work will be accepted.

An Overview of the Five-Year Program 

The integrative five-year plan allows for coordinated and staged development. However, students entering with an MA in communication studies might be able to truncate the program and finish in a total of four years, if they so choose. 

In your first year, you will join your cohort in taking an introductory seminar and all students attend the departmental Research Colloquium (COMM 8000). The First-Year Seminar (COMM 8101) introduces students to the discipline—including central concepts, theory, and debates that cross-tracks—and provides an introduction to essential aspects of graduate-level scholarship. In the first year, you develop the skills for specific milestone-oriented work to come, such as how to write a quality literature review, articulate a research question, and methodological design. 

In your second year, you will continue to take courses in the department and in affiliated departments related to your specific research interests. By the end of the year, you will write a publishable literature review that demonstrates a high level of competence in your field of interest. 

During the third year, you will complete remaining coursework and prepare three “field statements.” These take-home papers serve as written preliminary examinations and demonstrate advanced knowledge in:

  • your major field of study (e.g., critical media studies, rhetoric, interpersonal communication)
  • your chosen subfield (e.g., materialist rhetoric, family communication, environmental communication, etc.)
  • and the final statement is a detailed syllabus that includes your pedagogical philosophy and orientation to teaching in your field or subfield. These are followed by an oral exam after which you are advanced to candidacy to write your dissertation.

After a funded summer producing your dissertation prospectus, your final two years are dedicated to dissertation research and writing. One of several benefits of having two years to complete the dissertation is the ability to apply for grants, fellowships, and jobs without having to do all of that in a single year.  

Critical Media Studies

Critical media studies approaches mediated communication as a cultural phenomenon, emphasizing media that are socially influential, economically powerful, and politically significant. Drawing from multiple fields of inquiry, faculty offer courses where students can explore the dynamics of race and gender in representation, political economy of media, feminist criticism, environmental communication, poitical communication and popular culture. Students are encouraged to pursue studies of a wide range of media phenomena, from historical studies of media controversies to contemporary explorations of social media and other new technologies.

Rhetorical Studies

Rhetorical studies includes rhetorical criticism, rhetorical theory and public address, mass media criticism, and the history of public address. Faculty teach courses with a focus on social movements, crisis rhetoric, public policy and civic organizations, and feminist and critical theories. Students are encouraged to work across disciplines and methods as they pursue their intellectual interests. 

Interpersonal and Organizational Communication

Interpersonal communication focuses on social scientific research in communication studies. In addition to taking courses in communication theory, research methods, and statistics, students focus on relational communication, marriage and family communication, social support, mindfulness, small group communication, as well as power and communication within organizations. Students are expected to have a proclivity toward quantitative reasoning and statistical training upon entering the program and will advance their quantitative skills and statistical knowledge through coursework and directed research.

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College Resources for Graduate Students

Visit CLA’s website for graduate students to learn about collegiate funding opportunities, student support, career services, and more.

Student Services      Career Services     Funding & Support

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Doctorate in Communication

With one of the nation's premier doctoral programs in Communication, the Annenberg School is a tight-knit, supportive community of scholars committed to advancing knowledge of our media environment.

Founded through the generosity and vision of publisher, diplomat, and philanthropist Walter Annenberg, the Annenberg School for Communication is devoted to furthering our understanding of the role of communication in public life through research, education, and service. Our five-year doctoral program has a strong reputation as one of the best in Communication, based on Annenberg’s unparalleled combination of world-class faculty , students , and alumni , as well as access to the larger intellectual and cultural resources of the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia .

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In an inherently interdisciplinary field, Annenberg researchers are engaged with a spectrum of topics related to health, politics, media systems, networks and digital culture, journalism, race and gender, and more, using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Three students posing in their graduation gowns

Our Ph.D. program allows students to tailor a curriculum to suit their specific interests, and provides them the financial resources to launch their academic career. 

In addition to a full tuition waiver, our students currently receive an annual stipend as well as a budget for research and travel and health insurance for all five years.

Annenberg is the smallest of the 12 schools at Penn, and it functions as close-knit community of scholars whose doors are always open to one another. Our students also appreciate our staff , who routinely go above and beyond to support them.

Please note that we do not have a standalone master’s degree program at this time. All students are admitted directly into the doctoral program.

Request for More Information

Our Students By the Numbers

Here are some fast facts about our students and the admissions process . Get to know Annenberg!

Students currently in the program

Different nationalities represented by our students, applicants each year, students accepted each year, average undergraduate gpa of applicants, average toefl of admitted candidates, of students came from a previous graduate degree program, of students worked in a career before joining annenberg, of students came straight to annenberg from an undergraduate degree.

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Our Faculty

Our graduate faculty is at the heart of the school. Their innovative work, often in collaboration with students, pushes the field of Communication forward.

Students on Video

Hear from some of the Annenberg School's doctoral students as they talk about their work and what brought them to Annenberg.

A woman smiling at the camera as she's being interviewed outdoors

What is it like to be a doctoral student at the International Communication Association annual conference? We followed four students to find out.

Kelly Diaz Speaking Outdoors

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctoral candidate Kelly Diaz used her phone to document the many signs displayed in yards and windows around her West Philadelphia home. She has now collected that body of work into a  photo essay .

Roopa Vasudevan

Doctoral Candidate and artist Roopa Vasudevan studies the ways that the everyday technologies shape our daily lives.

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What is it like to be a Ph.D. student? We followed five of our students through their daily activities.

Prateekshit Pandey laughing

Prateekshit Pandey works with the Communication Neuroscience Lab to study how the brain reacts to humor. 

Maria Celeste Wagner

Buenos Aires-native María Celeste Wagner looks at how gender influences credibility in news. 

Jennifer Henrichsen seated with shelves of library books behind her

Jennifer Henrichsen studies the way that journalists adopt information security technologies to protect themselves and their sources.

Our Students

Annenberg's doctoral students represent a broad spectrum of interests, methodologies, and backgrounds. Here are just a few of our incredible students.

Arlene Fernandez

Arlene C. Fernández

Azsaneé Truss

Azsaneé Truss

Antoine Haywood

Antoine Haywood

Danielle Clark

Danielle Clark

Neil Fasching

Neil Fasching

Tom Etienne Headshot

Tom W. Etienne

Philly skyline view from Penn's campus; Photo by University of Pennsylvania

Kallahan Brown Named 2023 Presidential Ph.D. Fellow

Annenberg School doctoral student Kallahan Brown is a recipient of the Penn Presidential Ph.D. Fellowship, which includes three years of funding.

Person standing by a chalkboard filled with words. In the classroom, we see the back of a person's head

Doctoral Students Collaborate With Philadelphia High School Students on Health Communication Research

The 2023 doctoral cohort stands in the Annenberg Plaza with Dean Sarah Banet-Weiser

The Annenberg School Welcomes Eight New Ph.D. Students in Its 2023 Cohort

Mary Andrews' great aunt Helen holds a toddler-aged Mary on her lap.

Exploring Inequalities in Health Through Cognitive Science and Family Conversation

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Brendan Mahoney Wants To Know How the Internet Affects Us

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Explore the Program

Learn more about life in the Annenberg Ph.D. program.

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Financial Support

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Curriculum & Milestones

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Student Life

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Applications for 2024-25 are now open

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communication phd student presenting research

Communication Ph.D.

Study the different ways people communicate, so you can prepare for leadership roles across the globe.

Communication plays a fundamental role in our global society and it is imperative for us to recognize and appreciate the international and intercultural contexts in which it occurs. With a Ph.D. in Communication from UND, you'll learn about human communication across diverse cultures and through multiple systems.

Why earn a Ph.D. in communication?

*Priority deadline

If you're an international student, refer to the international application process for deadlines.

Understanding the different ways people communicate around the world will help you address socially and globally pressing communication challenges. The Communication Ph.D. at UND is a competitive program that provides you with knowledge and skills that will set you apart as a leader in international and intercultural communication.

Intensive Communication Research Ph.D. Program

Through both the on-campus and 100% online program tracks, you'll work hand-in-hand with research faculty recognized for their work in:

  • Interpersonal and persuasive communication
  • Risk and crisis communication
  • New media and cyberculture
  • Strategic communication in digital and social media environments

Online students must be enrolled full-time; on-campus students have the option of enrolling full-time or part time. This is to ensure adequate support for research initiatives.

Due to the research intensive nature of the program we encourage you to review our program's faculty profiles to learn more about individual faculty research interests and expertise. All students will be assigned a faculty advisor directly when conducting research.

Undergraduate to Ph.D. in Communication

Unique to our program, undergraduate students are allowed to apply directly to this Ph.D. program. If you have a bachelor's in Communication , our curriculum allows you to earn your master's in Communication at the same time you are working on a Ph.D.

UND's Communication Ph.D.

Learn from recognized leaders in the field of international and intercultural communication.

Develop your research interest in strategic communication, health communication, interpersonal and organizational communication, and much more.

Take part in graduate teaching assistantships. Positions available for students in both on-campus and 100% online tracks.

Earn a non-thesis master's degree on your way to completing your doctorate in our program.

S tudy closely with faculty across the broad range of communication areas to prepare for both careers and citizenship.

Understand how information processes and communication technologies affect and benefit diverse local and global communities.

Communication Ph.D. Careers

Projected growth for employment of post-secondary teachers from 2022 to 2032

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Median annual salary for post-secondary teachers

Upon completion of your Communication doctoral program, you'll emerge as a proficient communication specialist, equipped to excel in academia or thrive in media-related field.

Graduates of the University of North Dakota's Communications Ph.D. program have embarked on leadership roles in global and cross-cultural communication. The have job titles such as:

  • Director of Communications: Spearheading communication strategies, our alumni often assume pivotal roles directing and shaping organizational messaging.
  • Researcher: Equipped with advanced research skills, our graduates contribute valuable insights to the dynamic field of communication studies.
  • Consultant: Our alumni serve as consultants, offering strategic guidance to organizations seeking to enhance their communication effectiveness.
  • Policymaker: Some of our graduates leverage their communication acumen to influence policies. They participate in shaping regulations and standards on a local and global scale.

A substantial number of our graduates choose to contribute to higher education through teaching and advanced research. These paths have led them to roles such as:

  • Department Head: Our alumni guide the direction of communication studies by taking on leadership positions within academic departments.
  • Professorship: Achieving the pinnacle of academic success, our graduates secure professorships, where they shape the next generation of communication professionals.
  • Associate Professorship: In roles as associate professors, our alumni engage in both teaching and research endeavors.
  • Lecturer: Our graduates bring their practical experience and academic insights to the classroom.

Communication Ph.D. Courses

COMM 530. Communication, Society, & Diversity. 3 Credits.

An examination of how people from similar and different cultural, ethnic, national, racial, religious, and/or sexual backgrounds interact with each other, institutions, and society. The course covers issues of representation, identity, and difference. On demand.

COMM 525. Interpersonal Relations and Communication. 3 Credits.

Face-to-face and mediated transactions between two people or people in small groups in diverse settings. Deals with inquiry, conflict management, interpersonal sensitivity, individuality, and conformity.

COMM 535. Intercultural Communication. 3 Credits.

This course incorporates critical conceptualizations of identity, "the Other", and multiculturalism. It explores theoretical reflections of the symbolic systems of unfamiliar cultures, and the emergence of mutual understanding.

COMM 540. Communication and Organizations. 3 Credits.

Examines the general communication processes and dynamics within and among organizations and explores the dynamics in network organizations, with a particular focus on communication in interpersonal groups and inter-organizational working teams. Theories of power and politics in and among organizations, as well as of decision-making, conflict management, and strategic communication are explored.

COMM 550. International and Global Communication. 3 Credits.

An analysis of international media, comparative telecommunications systems and globalization. Covers issues such as transnational communication, global journalism, satellite broadcasting and communication in diplomacy and international affairs.

COMM 523. Social Network Analysis & Visualization. 3 Credits.

This course is designed to introduce you to the theory, methods, and procedures of network analysis with emphasis on applications to communication and social behavior. The goal of the course is to provide a working knowledge of the concepts and methods used to describe and analyze social networks so that you can apply it to important questions in your profession. S.

Communications Ph.D. UND

Best Ph.D. in Communications

UND's Communications Ph.D. ranks among the best for educational quality, affordability, and career outcomes.


Online Communication Ph.D.

best online university in the nation

best online graduate programs

The entire degree program is fully online. You are never required to come to campus.

Online Communication Ph.D. students are highly encouraged to attend live, synchronous online courses in order to get the most out of class participation. However, online courses are recorded and can be viewed at another time, to fit your schedule.

Top-Tier Online Communication Ph.D. Program

No matter how you customize your online experience, you’ll get the same top-quality education as any other on-campus student.

  • Same degree. All online programs are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) . Your transcript and diploma are exactly the same as our on-campus students.
  • Same classes. You’ll take courses from UND professors, start and end the semesters at the same time and take the same classes as a student on campus.
  • Real interaction. You can ask questions, get feedback and regularly connect with your professors, peers and professionals in the field.
  • Your own academic advisor. As an invaluable go-to, they’re focused on you, your personal success and your future career.
  • Free online tutoring. We're here to help you one-on-one at no cost. Plus, get access to a variety of self-help online study resources.
  • Unlimited academic coaching. Need support to achieve your academic goals or feeling stumped by a tough course? We'll help with everything from stress and time management to improving your memory to achieve higher test scores.
  • Full online access. Dig into virtual research from the Chester Fritz Library. Improve your writing skills with online help from the UND Writing Center. Get online access to career services, veteran and military services, financial services and more.
  • 24/7 technical support. UND provides free computer, email and other technical support for all online students.

Best Online College

Reportedly high alumni salaries and job placement rates, coupled with affordable online tuition rates make UND a best-value university for online education. UND's breadth of online programs rivals all other non-profit universities in the upper Midwest making UND one of the best online schools in the region.

UND ranks among the best online colleges in the nation for:

  • Affordability
  • Student satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Academic quality (4-year graduate rate)
  • Student outcomes (20-year return on investment per

Leaders that Do

Students at UND take chances, seek challenges and become leaders in the community.

Check out the faculty you'll work with at UND or discover additional education opportunities.

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Ph.D. in Communication

phd communication for development

Founded in 1961, the Doctorate in Communication at Michigan State University has consistently been the most prestigious communication degree in the world. The focus of MSU’s Ph.D. in Communication is the scholarly analysis of social processes, with an emphasis on the characteristics of the messages and channels. This fully funded four-year program is organized around a set of experiences intended to maximize creative growth and development, and to provide students with the skills needed to succeed and thrive in an intellectual community.

Program specializations include social network analysis, social media, communication analytics, mass communication, persuasion and social influence, health and risk communication, interpersonal and group communication, diffusion of innovations, organizational communication and quantitative research methods.

Program Accolades

Michigan State University is ranked #3 in the world by ShanghaiRanking for Communication, and QS World University rankings place MSU 9th in the world and 6th in the U.S. in Communication and Media Studies. 

  • Productive World Class PhD Faculty
  • Recent Graduate Placements
  • Doctoral Program Reputation Survey

COM researchers rank first in latest research productivity study published in the Journal of Communication , which analyzed authorship of articles published between 1999-2004 in eight leading journals sponsored by NCA and ICA. MSU was number one in publications by current faculty and students and #1 in publications by doctoral alumni.

COM placed 11 faculty and doctoral alumni among the top 50 most productive researchers in two dozen communication journals from 1996-2001, according to a study published in Communication Research Reports.

Our alumni network is one of the most closely integrated in the field, and our graduates are highly sought after in academic and industry positions, such as these recent placements:  The Ohio State University; Albion College; University at Buffalo; University of North Carolina; Montana State University; University of Georgia; Bethany Lutheran College; Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; California State Long Beach; Georgia State University; Sam Houston State University; The MITRE Corporation; Guangming School, China University; University of Hawai'i at Manoa; StoryFit; University of Arkansas; Haworth Inc.; University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of Alabama at Birmingham

The Michigan State Department of Communication has been directly associated with the careers of more ICA Fellows than any other university , including current faculty members Monique Turner, Ron Tamborini, and Jim Dearing, and former faculty members Patrice Buzzanell, Sandi Smith, Everett Rogers, Steve Wilson, Charles Berger, Michael Burgoon, Joe Cappella, Akiba Cohen, Brenda Dervin, Randy Harrison, Judee Burgoon, Peter Monge, Byron Reeves, Joe Walther, Frank Boster, William Donohue, Marshall Scott Poole, Jim McCroskey, Brad Greenberg, GR Miller, James Dillard, Edward L. Fink, Robert Craig and Mike Roloff.

Current and former COM faculty have won one-third of ICA mentor awards for doctoral advising, more than any other university:  GR Miller, Brad Greenberg, Frank Boster, Judee Burgoon, Edward L. Fink and Peter Monge.

With a longstanding combination of renowned faculty, productive scholars and successful alumni, our doctoral program continues to receive key awards and consistently ranks at the top in terms of reputation and journal productivity. In the 2004 NCA reputation survey of "effectiveness of Ph.D. program", MSU ranked #1 in health communication, #1 in communication and technology, #2 in mass communication, #4 in interpersonal and small group communication, and #4 in international and intercultural communication. MSU had the top average rating score among the subset of comprehensive doctoral programs with at least five specialties.

During their four years in the program, students work closely with faculty members and other graduate students on ongoing collaborative research projects where they gain skills in collaborating with others, experience working with a research team and securing funding for new research. Students learn how to generate independent hypotheses and research designs, the critical importance of real-world relevancy in keeping with the land-grant tradition and the art of working together with others in teams for common objectives.

Learn more about the collaborative labs and learning spaces in our department

Meet our current students.

phd communication for development

Some of the sharpest minds in the world are currently pursuing their doctorate in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University.

Learn more about them

Information for Current Students

Featured news from the department, navigating the 2023 holiday season.

ComArtSci researchers comment on family communication and the risks associated with buying counterfeit products, specifically online.

phd communication for development

Elevating Discourse: Key Takeaways From 2023 HRCC Day of Innovation

phd communication for development

Ensure Policymakers Hear Your Voice

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ComArtSci Celebrates New Faculty Promotions

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MSU's Summer Research Opportunities Program is creating a way toward graduate studies

Additional information about the Ph.D. program in Communication may be obtained from:

phd communication for development

Lisabeth Bylina Academic Programs [email protected] 517-355-3471

472 ComArtSci Building 404 Wilson Rd. East Lansing, MI 48824

Program Information

  • Learning Objectives
  • Research and Teaching

Areas of Study

  • Current Doctoral Students
  • Tuition and Financial Aid
  • Class Profile

Students specialize in one of seven tracks by completing a minimum of three courses (12 units) in one of the following:

Rhetoric, Politics and Publics

  • COMM 509 Classical Rhetorical Theory
  • COMM 511 Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
  • COMM 512 Rhetorical Criticism
  • COMM 513 Neoclassical Rhetorical Theory
  • COMM 514 Social Movements as Rhetorical Form
  • COMM 515 Postmodern Rhetorical Theory
  • COMM 517 Rhetorical Theory and Culture
  • COMM 518 American Public Address
  • COMM 520 The Rhetoric of the Presidential Campaign Trail
  • COMM 521 Argumentation
  • COMM 522 Kenneth Burke's Dramatistic Theory
  • COMM 573 Networked Publics: Theories and Encounters
  • COMM 576 Civic Media and Participatory Politics
  • COMM 580 Media and Politics

Media, Culture and Community

  • COMM 516 Feminist Theory and Community
  • COMM 519 Cultural Studies in Communication
  • COMM 564 Communication, Culture and Capitalism
  • COMM 574 Science and Technology Studies for Communication and Media
  • COMM 575 Advocacy and Social Change in Entertainment and the Media
  • COMM 605 Advanced Macro Theories of Communication
  • COMM 618 Mass Media Effects
  • COMM 629 Global Culture
  • COMM 653 Research, Practice and Social Change
  • COMM 654 Art, Artists and Society
  • COMM 655 Studies in Sound, Music and Communication
  • COMM 656 Theorizing Race, Culture, Cross-Cultural Exchange
  • COMM 662 Video Games Research
  • COMM 672 Experiments in Critical Writing
  • CMGT 587 Audience Analysis

Health Communication and Social Dynamics

  • COMM 554 Regression and Multivariate Communication Research
  • COMM 602 Seminar in Persuasion
  • COMM 611 Communication Technology and Healthcare
  • COMM 612 Designing Health Communication Interventions
  • COMM 613 Grant Writing in Communication
  • COMM 614 Computational Approaches in Health Communication
  • COMM 615 Health Communication
  • COMM 616 Health Communication for Prevention
  • COMM 650 Survey Construction and Validation
  • COMM 651 Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs
  • CMGT 581 Media in Social Services: Design and Evaluation of Campaigns
  • CMGT 583 Social Marketing and Entertainment Education
  • CMGT 588 Global Storytelling: The Power of Narrative

Groups, Organizations and Networks

  • COMM 508 Power, Politics and Conflict in Communication
  • COMM 524 Small Group Process
  • COMM 585 Organizational Communication
  • COMM 635 Economics of Information
  • COMM 636 Interpretive and Cultural Approaches in Organizational Communication
  • COMM 637 Current Readings in Organizational Communication
  • COMM 638 Global, International and Intercultural Communication in Organizations
  • COMM 640 Communication and Organizational Change
  • COMM 641 Organizations and Communication Technologies
  • COMM 645 Communication Networks
  • COMM 648 Online Communities and Networks
  • COMM 652 Ethnographic Field Research in Communication

Information, Political Economy and Entertainment

  • COMM 516 Feminist Theory and Communication
  • COMM 559 Globalization, Communication and Society
  • COMM 560 Global Media and Communication in China and Asia
  • COMM 563 Black Popular Culture: Theory and Central Debates
  • COMM 566 Using Theory to Craft Policies to Affect Change
  • COMM 570 Economics of the Communication Industries
  • COMM 630 Communication Technology and Social Change
  • COMM 647 Network Society
  • COMM 660 Entertainment and Games
  • COMM 670 Economic Cultures
  • CMGT 582 International Communication: National Development

Political Economy of Global Communication

  • COMM 546 The Political Economy of Innovation
  • COMM 553 Global Internet Governance
  • COMM 561 Leading and Communicating Change in Global Organizations
  • COMM 567 The Political Economy of Privacy and Cybersecurity
  • COMM 582 Information and Communication Technology for Development
  • PUBD 504 Global Issues and Public Diplomacy
  • PUBD 510 Technologies and Public Diplomacy
  • PUBD 515 Transnational Diplomacy and Global Security
  • PUBD 516 International Broadcasting
  • PUBD 522 Hard Power, Soft Power and Smart Power

New Media and Technology

  • COMM 572 Theories of Computer Mediated Communication
  • COMM 577 Fandom, Participatory Culture and Web 2.0
  • COMM 578 New Media Literacies
  • CMGT 530 Social Dynamics of Communication Technologies
  • CMGT 531 Communication and the International Economy
  • CMGT 537 The Industry, Science and Culture of Video Games

PhD in Communication

We are an international, interdisciplinary, boundary-spanning graduate program with a vision of social justice.

The emergence of communication as a multifaceted social science discipline is connected to both the search for new perspectives on contemporary problems and the profusion of technologies of communication. Our graduate program approaches communication as the primary social process through which social realities are constituted, maintained, and changed. Those varied processes and contexts constitute the core of our work, with opportunities to pursue communication theory and research in the following areas:

  • Film studies
  • Media effects and popular culture
  • Media, technology, and society
  • Rhetoric and performance studies
  • Social interaction and culture

Our doctoral program is known for its:

  • R1-level research productivity
  • Interdisciplinary, boundary-spanning scholarship
  • Social justice perspective 
  • Comparative and international focus

Application information & deadlines

January 2, 2024, communication.

Treat communication as a primary social process and gain knowledge of communication theory, philosophy, methodology, and research.

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find your perfect postgrad program Search our Database of 30,000 Courses

University of reading: communication for development, full-time, 12 months starts sep 2024.

Develop the knowledge and skills to support positive change through communication with our MSc Communication for Development master’s degree.

Rapid changes in the global communication landscape – changing technologies, communication processes and communication opportunities – offer new ways to understand and improve how we can use communication to address livelihoods, reduce poverty, and develop communities. Through this programme, you’ll develop your understanding of how communication can support individual and social change and lead to more effective and dynamic development policy and programmes.

For more information, please visit the programme page:

Part-Time, 24 months starts Sep 2024

Full-time, 12 months started sep 2023.

Learn how to use communication to promote social and behavioural change in development. You will gain practical skills in communication planning and implementation, and develop research skills for communication activities in development. You’ll receive specialised mentoring in a multidisciplinary, applied learning environment.

For more information, please visit the programme page:

Part-Time, 24 months started Sep 2023

Full-time, 12 months started sep 2022.

Learn how to use communication to promote social and individual change in development. You will gain practical skills in communication strategy design and develop research skills for communication activities in development. You’ll receive specialised professional mentoring in a multidisciplinary, applied learning environment.

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Part-Time, 24 months started Sep 2022

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Engaged Communication for PhD Students

Engaged Communication for PhD Students

Teaching is an act of scholarly communication, and developing communication skills is an important component of professional development. We offer programs in teaching and scholarly communication for PhD students at every stage, from newly matriculated students who want to develop strategies to more easily explain their work, to dissertation-stage students preparing to share short versions of their research on the Sanders Theatre stage. This year we focused on communicating in person (both with masks and without) after more than a year of being confined to a small square on Zoom, and getting used to a hybrid academic world where it is important to be a compelling teacher and communicator both in person and on Zoom. Our programs prompt students to consider how to set goals, structure their content, and use their voice to keep their audiences engaged. We are excited to share that we have compiled our key communication resources into a new module, Engaged Communication , on our Hit the Ground Running site.

Much of our expertise in communication is built on our familiarity with foreign language pedagogy, and specifically the components of oral English language proficiency that we teach through the Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars . In Sarah Emory’s fall seminar, Enhancing Fluency: Speaking and Listening for International TFs , it was especially apparent how things like eye contact and getting comfortable interacting in person again are as crucial to successful communication as are clear speaking skills. After a year of living remotely, students have been more grateful than ever for the opportunity to learn, practice, and get feedback on their speaking skills in person. As one student noted, “Learning the strategies for general organizing structures and having chances to meet and talk with other students across the campus in English helped me improve!”

phd communication for development

Last fall we invited our colleague Erika Bailey, Head of Voice and Speech at the American Repertory Theater and Lecturer on Theater, Dance and Media, to speak at the Fall Teaching Conference on Teaching with Presence, as we all wondered what it would be like to use our voices and bodies in person again, especially as we got used to teaching while masked. We continued this exploration in Pamela Pollock’s Bok Seminar, Engaging Audiences in our Professional Stories , where we practiced communicating our research and giving talks in person, but also on Zoom, to compare how our strategies change and what adjustments we need to make based on our communication medium. As one student noted, “It was great that we were able to reflect as a group on our communication and other scholarly practices!”

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Finally, we have been working hard this spring to prepare the 2022 Harvard Horizons Scholars to present their research on the Sanders Theatre stage on April 12 . The Bok Center has supported the Harvard Horizons program since it launched in 2013. Building on all the skills we teach in our seminars and workshops across the Center, we work with the scholars intensively as they grapple with important questions in their research, decide what story to tell, develop compelling visuals, and engage their voice and body in the crafting and delivery of short talks about their dissertation research.

We hope to see you in Sanders on April 12! If you would like to learn more about any of our programs for PhD students, please contact Pamela Pollock , Director of Professional Development.

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Understanding Oldest Child Syndrome and How It Shapes Childhood Development

They're more likely to be ambitious, perfectionists, and leaders

Wendy Wisner is a health and parenting writer, lactation consultant (IBCLC), and mom to two awesome sons.

phd communication for development

Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities.

phd communication for development

Characteristics of Oldest Children

Impact of oldest child syndrome on development, how being the oldest child affects personality, practical strategies for managing oldest child syndrome, where to go from here.

Oldest child syndrome, sometimes called firstborn syndrome, refers to how being the first-born child in a family can shape a person’s identity. Birth order has long been thought of as one of the primary factors that influence our personality and development.

In particular, firstborn children are usually characterized as responsible, Type A personalities who are often drawn to leadership-type roles in the family and in their lives.

Being the oldest sibling may have its perks, but it also can feel like a burden at times. “I would define ‘oldest child syndrome’ as the pressure the oldest sibling feels to meet the high expectations placed on them as well as the stress to feel like they must be the perfect role model for the rest of their siblings,” says Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S, licensed professional clinical counselor and therapist at LifeStance Health .

At a Glance

If you're the oldest child in your family, it can be helpful to understand oldest child syndrome because a lot of your behavioral patterns will probably start to make a lot more sense. We’ll take a closer look at how being the oldest child affects personality and development, as well as ways that parents and oldest children themselves can manage any challenges that arise.

There are no hard and fast rules about what oldest children are like, and researchers haven’t come to any clear conclusions about what characterizes oldest children, besides that they perform slightly better on intelligence tests than their younger siblings.

According to Brandy Smith, PhD, licensed psychologist with Thriveworks in Birmingham, AL, some of the characteristics commonly associated with oldest children include:

  • Having an ingrained sense of responsibility—sometimes limited to siblings and family, and often extended to others or other situations
  • Regularly striving for perfection
  • Feeling compelled to meet people’s expectations, particularly parents’ expectations
  • Frequently drawn to leadership-type roles
  • Usually described as a rule follower and well-behaved
  • An ambitious, high achiever
  • Often displays Type A personality traits , which includes competitiveness and impatience

While traits like a tendency to be perfectionistic, ambitious, and stubborn are often ascribed to oldest children, these traits don’t always accurately describe them, says Leanza. Moreover, many firstborns struggle under the weight of the expectations put upon them.

Many theories about oldest children’s development are based on the idea that these children are usually given their parents’ undivided attention early on, which may make it more likely for them to reach developmental milestones early, especially ones centered around intelligence and academic achievements.

Here’s what research has found:

  • Studies have shown that firstborn children have an advantage when it comes to cognitive development around the age of four, including verbal development, perceptual-performance development, and quantitative skills (manipulating numbers)
  • There is some evidence that firstborn children also have a small advantage when it comes to early reading and literacy skills
  • There is limited evidence that oldest children have an advantage when it comes to mathematics skills, especially during the preschool years

Being the oldest sibling can also impact a child’s emotional development and their sense of self, Leanza says. “For example, they may mature faster due to having to take on more responsibility within the household or they may become parentified because of having to take care of their younger siblings, especially if there is only one parental figure or if both parents work,” she describes.

This pressure can lead to an oldest child struggling to find their identity outside of their role in their family, Leanza explains. One important aspect of healthy development is being able to individuate outside of your family, and children who are “parentified” (i.e., take on the role of parent in their family) often have a hard time achieving this, which can stifle normal development.

The evidence is less clear and conclusive when it comes to how birth order affects a child’s personality.

Australian doctor and psychoanalyst Alfred Adler is usually credited with the origin of the theory of how birth order affects personality. Adler’s theory was that both firstborn and youngest children experience neuroses based on their need for success and dominance in the family, whereas middle birth children have more easy-going personalities, and also tend to be more rebellious.

These days, most psychologists are aligned with the theory that firstborn children usually try to please their parents and are looking to play a more dominant role in the family. As a result, their personalities are marked by conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism, and a more developed intellect. On the other hand, younger siblings are usually more flexible, free-thinking, social, and rebellious.

Again, though, the evidence to back up these claims are scant and not always consistent. For example, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that oldest siblings tended to be more conscientious, outgoing, and generally agreeable than younger children. But the difference in personality traits between oldest and younger siblings were "infinitesimally small," according to study researchers.

Being an oldest child can impact mental health

According to Smith, in addition to personality, being an oldest child can impact a person’s mental health. “If too much responsibility is placed on the oldest sibling, then the child may feel like they did not have enough of a childhood because of what they were asked to do as an oldest sibling,” she explains. If the family lacks healthy boundaries , this can lead to mental health struggles like anxiety and depression in the older sibling, Smith says.

These potentially unhealthy boundaries can also impact relationships. This is especially true in families where the oldest sibling is significantly older than the younger sibling, and takes on huge responsibilities within the family—essentially taking on a parental or authoritative role.

The child may continue to view relationships as areas where they are an authority figure, which may create conflicts in future relationships during adulthood. “In healthy experiences, relationships with others can be caring and nurturing, but sometimes the tendency to need to be in control can manifest and lead the oldest child to be problematically rigid and not collaborative enough,” Smith describes.

Parenting an oldest child, or being one yourself, can come with challenges. But simply being aware of these potential difficulties means that you are willing to face them. It also shows that you are mindful of the impact that birth order can potentially have.

Our experts shared their best advice for how to navigate oldest child syndrome—for both parents and oldest children themselves.

For Parents

The good news is that parents can have a positive impact on the development and mental health of their oldest children. This can be accomplished by being intentional about what expectations and responsibilities you place on your oldest child, says Smith. “Ideally, the oldest child would be asked to be a role model as a sibling but not a caretaker in the sense of a parent/guardian,” she says.

Still, sometimes life circumstances necessitate an older sibling having to step in and fulfill more parent-like roles. “There is no inevitability that this has to be a ‘bad’ or ‘problematic’ arrangement,” Smith says. “It’s more about how it’s structured and working to show similar value for each family member.”

Brandy Smith, PhD

Ideally, the oldest child would be asked to be a role model as a sibling but not a caretaker in the sense of a parent/guardian

Leanza says that parents should generally be aware of the inadvertent messages that they are sending to their oldest children. “You may be pushing them so hard that your child may feel you only love them when they are 'being perfect,’” she says. Her advice is to strive for balance in your parenting and understand that each child is unique and has different needs.

“'One size fits all' doesn’t always translate to good parenting, so make sure to adjust your parenting style to fit your child’s personality and temperament,” Smith advises.

For Oldest Children

If you are currently an oldest child who is struggling, Smith suggests that you remind yourself that you are simply a sibling, not a parent, and you don’t have to be responsible for everything having to do with your younger siblings. “Remember that your younger siblings are their own people and will not always do what you think is best,” she says.

If you are an oldest child who is now a teen or adult, it can be helpful to reflect on how your family dynamics growing up may have affected your identity, Leanza suggests. You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Why do I feel the need to push myself to be perfect?
  • Why am I such a people pleaser ?
  • What do I feel a need to control people or situations?
  • Why am I so competitive?

“Once you can understand the possible reasons why you do what you do, then you’ll be more aware that you are doing them and can work on changing those behaviors,” Leanza says.

Being an oldest child can certainly have its challenges, and if your role in your family made you feel intense pressure or an unhealthy drive toward perfection, you may experience mental health issues. Many of the difficulties that oldest children face are an inability to set healthy boundaries with others, says Smith. This is something that therapy can help with.  

“Sometimes a person may think they know what healthy boundaries are but do not, so talking it out with respected others in one’s personal life and/or connecting with a mental health provider can allow both parents/caregivers and an oldest child to determine what may be possible and better,” Smith says.

Depending on your age and circumstances, this might look like individual therapy or family counseling. Either way, anyone who is struggling with oldest child syndrome shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for professional mental health help.

Damian RI, Roberts BW. Settling the debate on birth order and personality . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2015;112(46):14119-14120. doi:10.1073/pnas.1519064112

Rohrer JM, Egloff B, Schmukle SC. Examining the effects of birth order on personality . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2015;112(46):14224–14229. doi:10.1073/pnas.1506451112

Luo R, Song L, Chiu I. A Closer Look at the Birth Order Effect on Early Cognitive and School Readiness Development in Diverse Contexts . Frontiers in Psychology. 2022;13. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2022.871837

Damian RI, Roberts BW. The associations of birth order with personality and intelligence in a representative sample of U.S. high school students . Journal of Research in Personality. 2015;58:96-105. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2015.05.005

Yates D. Massive study: Birth order has no meaningful effect on personality or IQ . University of Illinois News Bureau.

By Wendy Wisner Wendy Wisner is a health and parenting writer, lactation consultant (IBCLC), and mom to two awesome sons.

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Webinar: How Thinking Like a Designer Can Foster Intentionally Inclusive SciComm

Hosted by the Alda Center and featuring Dr. Shawntel Okonkwo , this webinar will give you hands-on tools for using empathy to deconstruct audience monoliths and be intentionally inclusive in your science communication.  

With creativity and empathy as a guidepost, Dr. Okonkwo is an insatiably curious PhD Molecular Biologist, dynamic TEDx speaker, international scientific consultant and seasoned science communicator and coach with 10+ years impact across the STEAM, media/entertainment, social impact and education industries.

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The Best of 2023

  • Posted December 12, 2023
  • By Lory Hough
  • Climate Change and Education
  • College Access and Success
  • History of Education
  • K-12 School Leadership
  • Learning Design and Instruction
  • Technology and Media

2023 Year in Review stock image

With the final days of 2023 approaching, the editorial staff in the Communications and Marketing Office looked back at some of our most inspiring stories, videos, conversations, and social posts during this calendar year. In this list, you’ll find content that drew many readers or got a lot of likes, while others are pieces we simply loved writing and producing. As you read through the list, we hope you find a few mentions that get you thinking — and maybe even wanting more.  

The story you missed that you should go back to

In December, history teacher and author Wade Morris sat down with the Harvard EdCast to talk about a subject not often talked about: the history of report cards . As EdCast producer Jill Anderson says of the episode, “There’s something really fun and interesting about how looking into the history of education tells us so much about where we are now. This episode gave me so much more insight into the origin of report cards and how that has truly shaped the education system and in a way holds us captive.”

That time we created a Spotify playlist to celebrate the new incoming class

Formal letters and emails with exploding confetti are nice, but what better way to say “congratulations, you got in!” to our newest class of admits than giving them the gift of amazing music ?

The quote that made us feel hopeful 

From Azucena “Zuzu” Qadeer, a student at Beacon High School in New York City and an Education Now webinar guest speaker, on how to help young people see that they can make a difference when it comes to climate change : “I was hopeless for a really long time, and it was all kinds of depressing but starting small was helpful for me. I started … focusing on what I could do in my community to benefit the Earth. In terms of empowering young people, you need to show them they are part of a community, and they can make a change in their community, because oftentimes you don’t see change in the big earth.”

The story that left us surprised but not surprised

Our coverage of a fall Askwith event focused on the impact wealth has on college admissions at highly selective private colleges , and while not completely new news, the data shared left us shaking our heads. It also left us more determined than ever to write about inequity and gaps in education.

This video interview made math sound almost fun

This summer, our video team followed alum Grace Kossia, Ed.M.’17 , around New York City, where she works for the playfully named nonprofit called Almost Fun. Last year, Almost Fun helped 1.5 million middle and high school students with free, online math lessons that use non-math concepts students are familiar with, like explaining “slope” using an illustration of a roller coaster.

The winner of this year’s best headline

Writing headlines isn’t always easy, but this one from a story in the fall/winter 2023 issue of Harvard Ed. magazine about how a winning high school football team and determined principal helped keep their tiny school from closing almost wrote itself: “ Saved by the Ball .”

2023 was the year of the AI takeover

Stories on AI intelligence dominated in 2023, both in the volume produced in our office and in reader interest, including a Usable Knowledge piece about how educators need to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom . “You have to stop thinking that you can teach exactly the way you used to teach when the basic medium has changed,” said Lecturer Houman Harouni. “Where we want to get to” with AI “is a place where you’re dancing with it, dancing with robots.”

Speaking of AI, MIT’s Anant Argawal reminded us of our fear of calculators

In September, Anant Argawal, founder of edX, calmed our nerves when he talked on the Harvard EdCast about AI . “This is not scary,” he said. “I think the fear has come from not knowing about the unknown. When calculators first came out, people were concerned. Oh my God, what's this thing? I remember my dad, he would complain. He was a professor of pathology in a medical college. And he said, "I don’t know what this is, what is this thing, you have to punch these numbers. Just give me paper and a pencil.” But once he overcame his fear, he was able to use calculators. I think using AI is as easy as using a calculator. In fact, it’s easier, because you can talk to it like a human being. You don’t have to use a finger to hunt and peck.” 

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    Communication for Development starts with new students every autumn semester. In the first year, students receive a comprehensive overview of globalisation and a systematic inventory of the entire field. In the second year, students follow specialised courses which end with an independent project concentrated on one of the field's sub-areas.


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  26. How Oldest Child Syndrome Shapes Childhood Development

    Oldest child syndrome, sometimes called firstborn syndrome, refers to how being the first-born child in a family can shape a person's identity. Birth order has long been thought of as one of the primary factors that influence our personality and development. In particular, firstborn children are usually characterized as responsible, Type A ...

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  29. The Best of 2023

    2023 was the year of the AI takeover. Stories on AI intelligence dominated in 2023, both in the volume produced in our office and in reader interest, including a Usable Knowledge piece about how educators need to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom. "You have to stop thinking that you can teach exactly the way you used to ...