Ph.D. Program: Curriculum

 

Full-time students take four courses each semester for their first two years in the program, for a total of 48 credit hours that combine core courses and electives. Students may take up to half of their course credit hours outside of the school. In their third year, students enroll in six dissertation credit hours and also complete comprehensive exams.

For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For MJ-school course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Core

  • MEJO 701: Mass Communication Research Methods
  • MEJO 705: Theories of Mass Communication
  • MEJO 890: Pro-Seminar

Electives

  • At least 12 credit hours (4 courses) in research methods
  • At least 15 credit hours (5 courses) in a substantive area of specialization (see below)
  • 9 hours (3 courses) for the development of a secondary area of expertise or exploration of other substantive or methodological areas of the academy

Substantive Areas of Study

Click each area title to expand its description.

Media processes and production

Study of the economic, ethical, historical, sociological and technological influences on media. This includes analysis of decision-making and examination of how new ways of conceptualizing news and journalism are influencing management decisions. Current and recent research topics that fall under this heading include changing news values for changing media, work-culture change in an evolving media landscape, shifting conceptualizations of international, ethnic and alternative media, advertisers’ responses to converged and multimedia operations and the influence of ethical standards on media practice and performance.

Faculty

Deb Aikat

Dr. Aikat theorizes about the evolving roles of media and journalism in the digital age.

Bio

 

Lois Boynton

Dr. Boynton’s research focuses on ethical decision-making by public relations and media practitioners, professionalism and agenda building, particularly related to nonprofits.

Bio

 

Joe Cabosky

Dr. Cabosky's research and creative work focuses on diversifying public relations by better appreciating the differences among publics and how this diversity should lead to better ways to build relationships with publics and stakeholders.

Bio

 

Barbara Friedman

Dr. Friedman's research focuses on media representations of sex trafficking and, more broadly, on constructions and contestations of race, gender and class.

Bio

 

Daniel Kreiss

Dr. Kreiss’ research analyzes the effects of technologies on electoral politics, political thought and American democracy.

Bio

 

Trevy A. McDonald

Dr. McDonald’s creative work and research uses oral history to produce documentaries and books on the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of Black journalists.

Bio

 

Daniel Riffe

Dr. Riffe's research areas include mass communication research methodology, media processes and production, mass communication and environmental risk, international news, the effects on public opinion of political communication and government-press relations.

Bio

 

Charlie Tuggle

Dr. Tuggle studies media coverage of the Olympics, particularly of female athletes who participate in the Games.

Bio

 

Legal and regulatory issues in communication

Study of the law and public policy affecting communication. Current and recent research topics that fall under this heading include First Amendment theory, the intersection of law and ethics, regulation of online media, censorship, intellectual property and government regulation of commercial and corporate speech.

We offer a dual-degree program with the UNC School of Law, enabling students to earn Ph.D. and J.D. degrees in as little as five years.

Faculty

Tori Ekstrand

Dr. Ekstrand uses critical and mixed methods approaches to studying media law and policy – with specific research on conflicts between copyright law and the First Amendment and on web accessibility for people with disabilities.

Bio

 

Michael Hoefges

Dr. Hoefges’ research focuses the intersection between First Amendment law and public policy, particularly within First Amendment commercial and corporate speech doctrines.

Bio

 

Cathy Packer

Dr. Packer is co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. Her research interests are access to government information and reporter’s privilege law.

Bio

 

Media uses and effects

Study of how audiences process media messages and the effects of communication on audiences, often influenced by theoretical frameworks in cognitive, social and developmental psychology. Current and recent research topics that fall under this heading include media impact on health, media and identity, audience uses of media and the effects of news and message design elements on cognitions, affect and behavior.

Faculty

Lucinda Austin

Dr. Austin’s research focuses on the influence of social media on health and crisis communication, and publics’ perspectives in corporate social responsibility and organization-public relationship-building.

Bio

 

Spencer Barnes

Dr. Barnes' research employs cognitive engineering and quantitative research methodologies to study the design and efficacy of dynamic visual communication products such as visual explanations, motion graphics and data visualizations.

Bio

 

Francesca Carpentier

Dr. Dillman Carpentier’s research lies within the broad area of media psychology, focusing on how cues within the media we consume can slip in under our radar and affect our attitudes and judgments without our express awareness.

Bio

 

Nori Comello

Dr. Comello's research focuses on developing and testing messages to promote health and other prosocial issues, guided by theories relating to identity and self-concept.

Bio

 

Rhonda Gibson

Dr. Gibson's most recent research focuses on media portrayals of sexual minorities and the influence of these portrayals on both individual perceptions and public conversations.

Bio

 

Joe Bob Hester

Dr. Hester's research focuses on methodological issues, particularly the use of computational research methods, in areas such as sampling, agenda setting and social media.

Bio

 

Dan Kim

Dr. Kim’s research focuses on increasing the effectiveness of advertising through consumer psychology, consumer-brand relationships and new media effects.

Bio

 

Allison Lazard

Dr. Lazard's research revolves around a core interest in how visual and interactive design influences perception and impact of strategic health and science messages.

Bio

 

Seth Noar

Dr. Noar's research is focused on the use ofcommunication strategiesfor health behavior change, especially in a cancer prevention context.

Bio

 

Health communication

Study of mediated communication and how it affects health-related attitudes, behaviors and health status. This includes the theory-based study of health messages, campaigns and social marketing, as well as the Internet and emerging communication technologies. Current and recent projects have focused on improving healthy diet, reducing tobacco use, preventing skin cancer, promoting HPV vaccination and increasing safer sexual behavior.

We offer a graduate certificate in interdisciplinary health communication, in conjunction with the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the School of Information and Library Science and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

Faculty

Lucinda Austin

Dr. Austin’s research focuses on the influence of social media on health and crisis communication, and publics’ perspectives in corporate social responsibility and organization-public relationship-building.

Bio

 

Spencer Barnes

Dr. Barnes' research employs cognitive engineering and quantitative research methodologies to study the design and efficacy of dynamic visual communication products such as visual explanations, motion graphics and data visualizations.

Bio

 

Francesca Carpentier

Dr. Dillman Carpentier’s research lies within the broad area of media psychology, focusing on how cues within the media we consume can slip in under our radar and affect our attitudes and judgments without our express awareness.

Bio

 

Joan Cates

Dr. Cates uses social marketing, media campaigns and message framing in interventions to persuade healthy choices, such as vaccinations to prevent disease.

Bio

 

Nori Comello

Dr. Comello's research focuses on developing and testing messages to promote health and other prosocial issues, guided by theories relating to identity and self-concept.

Bio

 

Heidi Hennink-Kaminski

Dr. Hennink-Kaminski’s research uses the social marketing approach to develop interventions and campaigns to drive behavior change in areas such as childhood obesity and clinical trial participation.

Bio

 

Allison Lazard

Dr. Lazard's research revolves around a core interest in how visual and interactive design influences perception and impact of strategic health and science messages.

Bio

 

Seth Noar

Dr. Noar's research is focused on the use of communication strategies for health behavior change, especially in a cancer prevention context.

Bio

 

Political, social and strategic communication

Study of the ways in which organizations, governments and members of social and political groups create and disseminate messages designed to persuade and inform. Current and recent research topics that fall under this heading include the impact of media on the political process and public opinion, the role of media in sociocultural identities, advertising effectiveness and brand communication, crisis communication, ethical transparency in strategic communication, the role of networks in public relations and advocacy, and social media and network analytics.

Faculty

Deb Aikat

Dr. Aikat theorizes about the evolving roles of media and journalism in the digital age.

Bio

 

Lucinda Austin

Dr. Austin’s research focuses on the influence of social media on health and crisis communication, and publics’ perspectives in corporate social responsibility and organization-public relationship-building.

Bio

 

Lois Boynton

Dr. Boynton’s research focuses on ethical decision-making by public relations and media practitioners, professionalism and agenda building, particularly related to nonprofits.

Bio

 

Joe Cabosky

Dr. Cabosky's research and creative work focuses on diversifying public relations by better appreciating the differences amongpublics and how this diversity should lead to better ways to build relationships with publics and stakeholders.

Bio

 

Nori Comello

Dr. Comello's research focuses on developing and testing messages to promote health and other prosocial issues, guided by theories relating to identity and self-concept.

Bio

 

Deen Freelon

Dr. Freelon’s primary areas of expertise are political expression through digital media and the use of computer programming and computational methods to extract, preprocess, analyze and visualize large digital datasets.

 

Barbara Friedman

Dr. Friedman's research focuses on media representations of sex trafficking and, more broadly, on constructions and contestations of race, gender and class.

Bio

 

Heidi Hennink-Kaminski

Dr. Hennink-Kaminski’s research uses the social marketing approach to develop interventions and campaigns to drive behavior change in areas such as childhood obesity and clinical trial participation.

Bio

 

Joe Bob Hester

Dr. Hester's research focuses on methodological issues, particularly the use of computational research methods, in areas such as sampling, agenda setting and social media.

Bio

 

Michael Hoefges

Dr. Hoefges’ research focuses the intersection between First Amendment law and public policy, particularly within First Amendment commercial and corporate speech doctrines.

Bio

 

Anne Johnston

Dr. Johnston's research focuses on media coverage of sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence.

Bio

 

Dan Kim

Dr. Kim’s research focuses on increasing the effectiveness of advertising through consumer psychology, consumer-brand relationships and new media effects.

Bio

 

Daniel Kreiss

Dr. Kreiss’ research analyzes the effects of technologies on electoral politics, political thought and American democracy.

Bio

 

Trevy A. McDonald

Dr. McDonald’s creative work and research uses oral history to produce documentaries and books on the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of Black journalists.

Bio

 

Daniel Riffe

Dr. Riffe's research areas include mass communication research methodology, media processes and production, mass communication and environmental risk, international news, the effects on public opinion of political communication and government-press relations.

Bio

 

Adam Saffer

Dr. Saffer’s research takes a network perspective to study the relationships and social capital among individuals, groups and organizations, particularly in the areas of public relations and strategic communication.

Bio