NCA's Doctoral Program Guide

Pennsylvania State University, Department of Communication Arts & Sciences

The Department of Communication Arts & Sciences graduate program at Penn State focuses on theories of and research about communication and rhetoric, with particular attention to political deliberation, health communication, interpersonal communication, public address and the rhetoric of public culture, and how communication influences individual development, family dynamics, and social interaction. The department also maintains strong relationships to graduate programs in Sociology, English, History, Women's Studies, Philosophy, and the related fields of Media Studies, Journalism, and Public Relations.

Association of American Universities Member


Carnegie "Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity"


Communication doctorates conferred between 2010-19: 145


Areas of Study 

  • Health Communication
  • Interpersonal and Family Communication
  • Political Communication and Deliberation
  • Public Address
  • Rhetorical Theory & Criticism
  • Social Influence
  • Computer Mediated Communication


QS World University Rankings--Communication & Media Studies 

  • #32 of 200 World Universities (tied for #32)

URAP University Rankings—Language, Communication & Culture 

  • #4 of 300 World Universities


Admission Requirements 

  • Curriculum Vitae.
  • Statement of Purpose.
  • Writing Sample.
  • Three letters of reference.
  • Two (2) official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended. International applicants must submit official or attested university records, with certified translations if the records are not in English. Notarized copies are not sufficient.
  • Official scores from a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the last three years.
  • Official scores from a recent Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination (International Students Only).

Graduate Faculty 

  • Professor Stephen H. Browne, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin 
  • Assistant Professor Shannon Cruz, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Assistant Professor Anne Demo, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
  • Professor James P. Dillard, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Associate Professor Rosa A. Eberly, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
  • Associate Professor Jeremy Engels, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Professor John Gastil, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
  • Associate Professor Andrew High, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
  • Associate Professor Michele Kennerly, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • Assistant Professor Abraham Khan, Ph.D., Florida State University
  • Professor Erina MacGeorge, Ph.D., University of Illinois
  • Assistant Professor Brian Manata, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Professor Jon F. Nussbaum, Ph.D., Purdue University
  • Professor Lijiang Shen, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
  • Professor Rachel A. Smith, Ph.D., Michigan State University 
  • Professor Denise Haunani Solomon, Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • Professor Mary E. Stuckey, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
  • Assistant Professor Pamela VanHaitsma, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • Professor Bradford Vivian, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
  • Associate Professor Kirt H. Wilson, Ph.D., Northwestern University
  • Assistant Professor Timothy Worley, Ph.D., University of Georgia

NCA Awards Received by Faculty and Students, 2000-present 

  • Diamond Anniversary Book Award, 2000
  • Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award, 2008
  • Phillips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship, 2001, 2018
  • Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2015, 2021
  • Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, 2002
  • Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, 2003
  • Wallace Memorial Award, 2002, 2011
  • Woolbert Research Award, 2018
  • Donald Cushman Memorial Award, 2018
  • Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication, 2018
  • Bacon Lifetime Teaching Excellence Award, 2018