PhD Program in Communication

The PhD in Communication may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis.

The program encompasses three areas of concentration:

  1. the history of communication
  2. the political economy of communication
  3. the socio-cultural analysis of communication

Students may write their thesis in any of these fields or a closely related area. The thesis is expected to be an important and original contribution to communications scholarship and is examined by two outside examiners (one outside the department, the other outside the university) along with the student’s committee.

Degree Timeline

During their first year in the program, students take a required full course covering the above fields along with four other graduate level seminars (one term each). They then write their first or “breadth” comprehensive examination on the three fields in question. During their second year, students complete their second comprehensive examination by preparing and defending a project related to the field in which they plan to write their thesis. Before beginning their thesis, they also prepare and defend a thesis proposal.

Students prepare both the second comprehensive and thesis proposal with the assistance of a supervisor – any regular member of faculty with whom they would like to work. They also select two other faculty members to serve as members of their thesis committee (one of whom may be outside the department). Completion of the thesis usually takes 2-3 years. The program is thus designed so that full-time students can complete all of the requirements within a 4-5 year period.

Program and Course Descriptions from the Graduate Calendar


The program normally admits 5-7 new students each year. Admission is on a competitive basis and applicants should, by the time they enter the program, have completed an M.A. degree in Communication or a related area of study with a Grade Point Average of at least 10.0 or A- as calculated at Carleton. All full-time students receive financial assistance; part-time students are not eligible for regular funding, but other arrangements are sometimes available.

Of the students who have completed their Ph.D. in our program to date, over three-quarters are currently teaching in Canadian universities with others employed in the cultural policy sector and related areas.

PhD Graduates

The PhD Program in Communication began in September 1997 with five students, four full-time and one part-time. Since then, between five and eight new students have joined the program each year from across Canada and around the world. Since 2003, when the program had its first graduates, the following students have received their doctorates in Communication.


Stanislav Budnitskiy
Thesis:  Digital Nationalism: Identity, Strategic Communication, and Global Internet Governance

Emily Hiltz
Thesis:  The Notorious Woman: Tracing the Production of Alleged Female Killers through Discourse, Image, and Speculation


Ebere Ahanihu
Thesis:  Digitizing Failure: Development and Power in Nigerian e-Schools

Ghadah Alrasheed
Thesis:  Tweeting Towards Utopia: Technological Utopianism and Academic Discourse on Political movements in the Middle East and North Africa

Suzanne Waldman
Thesis:  Taking Risk Seriously: Discourses and Worldviews in a Nuclear Waste Controversy

Sherry Wasilow
Thesis:  Contemporary Canadian Military/Media Relations: Embedded reporting during the Afghanistan War


Christy Mady
Thesis: The Status of Women News Journalists in Lebanese Television: A Field-Gender Approach

Derek Noon
Thesis: Negotiating a Quantum Computation Network: Mechanics, Machines, Mindsets


Reisa Klein
Thesis: Beauty Marks: Counter-hegemonic Power of the Body?


Emily Truman
Thesis: Back to the political future: coping with crisis through radical nostalgia for revolutionary icons


Ezra Winton
Thesis: Good for the Heart and Soul, Good for Business: The Cultural Politics of Documentary at the Hot Docs Film Festival

Vincent Raynauld
Thesis: The perfect political storm? The Tea Party movement, the redefinition of the digital political mediascape, and the birth of online politicking 3.0

William Fox
Thesis: Lazarsfeld, Merton and Markets: Case Studies of Media Effects Theories As Applied to Financial Reporting and Financial Markets

Bernard Gauthier
Thesis: Drawing Professional Boundaries: Professional organizations, Communication and interprofessional collaboration in health care


Michael Lithgow
Thesis: Beautiful & Ambiguous News: An Aesthetic Approach to the Limits of Discursive “Truth”

Rhonda Walker-Sisttie
Thesis: The 2005 Canadian Same-Sex Marriage Debate: A Case Study Examining How the Press Presented the Parliamentary Debate on Bill C-38

Brian Gorman
Thesis: Dialectic of Gloom: How the press survived the great Recession of 2008, after slashing its wrists and writings its own obituary


Wendy Quinlan-Gagnon
Thesis: Communication and the Changing Roles of Public Art Museums: Lessons for Museum Professionals

Irina Mihalache
Thesis: Communicating History: Forgetting Colonalism at the Institut du Monde Arabe

Howard Fremeth
Thesis: Memory, Militarism and Citizenship: Tracking the Dominion Institute in Canada’s Military-Cultural Memory Network


Ning Du
Thesis: Shadows of Traditions: Discourse Shifts on the Rule of Law and China’s Modernity

Georgina Grosenick
Thesis: Strategic Outcomes and Public Understanding: the Goals, Contexts, and Strategies of Non-Profit Advocacy Surrounding Issues of Homelessness in Four Canadian Cities


Claire Harrison
Thesis: Dipping into the Social Imaginary:The Role of Narrative Reference in Public Debate

Sara Bannerman
Thesis: Canada and the Berne Convention 1886-1971

John Shiga
Thesis: Reproductive Anxiety: Reconfiguring the Human in Virtual Culture

Jason Hannan
Thesis: Moral Discourse in a World After Virtue Communication and Dialogue in the Thought of Alasdair MacIntyre


Carrie Buchanan
Thesis: A Changing Sense of Place in Canadian Daily Newspapers: 1894-2005

Marc-André Piegon
Thesis: The Depoliticization of Canada’s Economic Discourse

Joseph K. Ngare
Thesis: Neoliberal Global Governance: How International Development Organizations Transform East African Mediascapes

Aliaa Ibrahim Dakroury
Thesis: PRESENT AT THE CREATION: The Telecommission Studies and the Intellectual Origins of the Right to Communicate in Canada (1969-71)

Christopher Bodnar
Thesis: Taking It To The Streets: Space, Labour and Resistance in the Vancouver and Paris Film Industries from 1970 to 2005

Jaffer Sheyholislami
Thesis: Identity, Discourse, and the Media: the Case of the Kurds


Faiza Hirji Kassam
Thesis: Resistance is Futile: Indian Cinema and Identity Construction Among Young South Asian Canadians of Muslim and Other Backgrounds

Paula Romanow
Thesis: The Costal Communities Network: Community Development, the Internet, and Cultural Change in Rural Nova Scotia


Ian Nagy
Thesis: Conspiracy and the Logic of Capital


Valerie Steeves
Thesis: Beyond Data Protection: Applying Mead’s Symbolic Interactionalism and Habermas’s Communicative Action to Westin’s Theory of Privacy

Anne-Marie Kinahan
Thesis: “A Splendid Army of Organized Womanhood” Gender, Communication and the National Council of Women of Canada, 1893-1918


Jason Bristow
Thesis: Canada and the Cultural Trade Quandary: Rethinking National Identity, Economic Liberalization, and Policy Capacity

Sandra Smeltzer
Thesis: Myths of ITCs and Progress in Malaysia

Derek Foster
Thesis: Squeegee kids: A study of successful scapegoating, 1995-2001

Mahmoud Eid
Thesis: Interweavement — Building a Crisis Decision-Making Model for Rational Responsibility in the Media: International Communication, Political Crisis Management, and the Use of Mathematics


Peter Hodgins
Thesis: The Canadian Dream-Work: History, Myth and Nostalgia in the Heritage Minutes

Kirsten Kozolanka
Thesis: Political Communication and Construction of the Neo-Liberal Hegemonic Project: Ontario in Transition, 1995-1997

Pat Mazepa
Thesis: Battles on the Cultural Front: The (De)Labouring of Culture in Canada, 1914-1944

Charlene Elliott
Thesis: Colour Codification: Law, Culture and the Hue of Communication

Deadlines and Admissions Process

The deadline for applying for admission to the PhD Program is February 1. Applications received after that date may still be considered, but only if places remain in the programs after the first round of admissions has been completed. Applicants who submit their applications by late January will be eligible for early offers of admission.

The decisions on admission are made by the department’s Admissions Committee comprised of 3-4 faculty members and chaired by the Graduate Supervisor. First-round decisions are made in early March and applicants are notified by the program administrator of their status by e-mail shortly afterwards. Applicants who are offered admission will also be informed of the funding package being recommended to Graduate Studies. The applications of unsuccessful applicants cannot be held until the following year. In a few cases, applicants may be placed on a short waiting list.

Formal offers of admission and funding are sent electronically to successful applicants by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The offer of admission is normally sent first. Once it has been accepted, the formal offer of funding outlined by the department will then follow. Applicants are encouraged to keep the Graduate Supervisor advised as to the progress of these offers from Graduate Studies.

Apply to the PhD Program in Communication →

What Can I Do With a Graduate Degree in Communication?

Funding and Scholarships

Students entering and pursuing the PhD Program in Communication have been very successful at obtaining funding through Canada Graduate Scholarships, Ontario Graduate Scholarships valued at $15,000, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) doctoral fellowships. View our Funding and Scholarships page to see some of our past winners.