NCA's Doctoral Program Guide

Northwestern University, Department of Communication Studies

A Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University draws on preeminent scholarship in both the humanities and social sciences traditions. The program is designed for those intending to pursue a teaching and research career in higher education. Both research areas of the department brings students in contact with the innovative, award-winning scholars that make up the faculty of Northwestern’s Communication Studies department. Assumptions will be challenged as students develop solid methodology; insight will deepen as students are supported by academic excellence.

Association of American Universities Member


Carnegie "Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity"


Communication doctorates conferred between 2010-19: 97


Areas of Study

  • Rhetoric & Public Culture
  • Interaction & Social Influence


QS World University Rankings—Communication & Media Studies 

  • #18 of 200 World Universities

URAP University Rankings—Language, Communication & Culture 

  • #24 of 300 World Universities

Admission Requirements 

  • Statement of purpose (may not exceed 5,000 characters).
  • Minimum of two letters of recommendation, submitted online.
  • One scanned copy of your transcript from each university you have attended.
  • Writing Sample (preferably something academic, such as a term paper, honors thesis or something equivalent) limited to 15-20 pages or less.
  • Your official GRE scores sent by ETS to institution code 1565, the NU Graduate School. Exam scores cannot be older than 4 years. Minimum scores are 650 for verbal (or the equivalent score under the new 170 point system), 650 for quantitative (or the equivalent score under the new 170 point system), and 4.5 for analytical writing.
  • If your native language is not English, you must certify your proficiency in the English language.

Graduate Faculty

  • Associate Professor Claudio Benzecry, PH.D., New York University
  • Associate Professor Jeremy Birnholtz, Ph.D., University of Michigan
  • Professor Pablo J. Boczkowski, Ph.D., Cornell University
  • Assistant Professor Larissa Buchholz, Ph.D., Columbia University
  • Assistant Professor Aymar Jean Christian, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
  • Professor Noshir Contractor, Ph.D., University of Southern California
  • Professor Leslie DeChurch, Ph.D., Florida International University
  • Assistant Professor Nicholas Diakopoulos, Ph.D., Georgia Tech
  • Professor Kathleen M. Galvin, Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • Professor Dilip Gaonkar, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • Associate Professor Elizabeth Gerber, Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Professor Darren Gergle, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University
  • Professor Robert Hariman, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
  • Assistant Professor Brent Hecht, Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • Assistant Professor Ágnes Horvát, Ph.D., Heidelberg University, Germany
  • Professor Bruce Lambert, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Associate Professor Maria Mastronardi, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Associate Professor Rick G. Morris, J.D., University of Kansas
  • Professor Barbara O'Keefe, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Professor Daniel O'Keefe, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Assistant Professor Anne Marie Piper, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
  • Professor Janice Radway, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Associate Professor Angela G. Ray, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
  • Professor Madhu Reddy, Ph.D., University of California-Irvine
  • Professor Irving J. Rein, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • Professor Michael Roloff, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Assistant Professor Courtney Scherr, Ph.D., Purdue University
  • Professor James Schwoch, Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • Assistant Professor Aaron Shaw, Ph.D., University of California
  • Professor Michelle Shumate, Ph.D., University of Southern California
  • Professor Ellen Wartella, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
  • Professor James G. Webster, Ph.D., Indiana University

NCA Awards Received by Faculty and Students, 2000-present 

  • Becker Distinguished Service Award, 2015
  • Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education, 2011
  • Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Family Communication, 2000
  • Diamond Anniversary Book Award, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2021
  • Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award, 2015
  • Cushman Memorial Award, 2010
  • Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2002, 2003, 2014
  • Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, 2002, 2004, 2009
  • Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, 2006, 2008
  • Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award, 2004, 2006, 2010
  • Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication, 2011
  • Kibler Memorial Award, 2002