M&C Policies and Procedures

Revised December 30, 2009

Table of Contents / Quicklinks

1 Introduction

1.1 Grandparenting of previous policies and procedures

2 Program administration

2.1 The structure of the program
2.2 Who creates and implements administrative policies
2.3 Who to contact for more information
2.4 Official forms

3 Admission

3.1 Criteria for admission
3.2 Our commitment to admitted students

4 Academic advisors

4.1 What the advisor does
4.2 Changing advisors

5 Time limits

6 Student conduct

6.1 Temple’s Code of Conduct, including academic honesty

7 Requirements for the degree

7.1 Residency and continuous enrollment
7.2 Course and credit requirements
7.3 Academic progress and dismissal from the program
7.4 The M&C Program Proposal
7.5 Public presentation of dissertation proposal project
7.6 Participation in the M&C community
7.7 Preliminary examinations, dissertation proposal and the dissertation

7.7.5 Step-by-step procedures for preliminary examinations, dissertation proposal and dissertation

Preliminary examinations
The dissertation abstract
Public presentation of dissertation project
The dissertation proposal and defense
Human Subjects approval for dissertation project
Selection of the outside member of the dissertation examination committees
Completion and defense of the dissertation
Revisions and final submission of dissertation

8 A Typical M&C Student’s Schedule of Activities from Admission to Graduation

9 Appeals

10 Financial support

10.1 Research/teaching assistantships
10.2 Research mini-grants
10.3 Conference travel grants
10.4 Tuition assistance
10.5 Dissertation assistance


 

1 Introduction

This document describes most of the policies and procedures that apply to students in the Mass Media & Communication (M&C) doctoral program in the School of Media and Communication (SMC) at Temple University. Additional information can be found on the web sites of M&C, SMC, the Graduate School of Temple University.

This document supersedes all earlier versions of program documents titled Ph.D. Manual and The Mass Media and Communication Doctoral Program: Policies and Procedures; questions about grand parenting of provisions in those documents should be addressed to the M&C director.

Note that all links on this page open a new browser window.

1.1 Grandparenting of previous policies and procedures
This document is updated whenever a policy or procedure of the M&C program is created or changed. Under normal circumstances students will be expected to follow the new policy or procedure, but all such changes will be grandparented; that is, unless explicitly prohibited in the changed policy/procedure, students may choose to follow the previous version of the policy/procedure. A copy of this document as it exists at the beginning of each academic year is saved for future reference; to review a previous version students should contact the M&C director.

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2 Program administration

2.1 The structure of the program
M&C is the only doctoral program of the School of Media and Communication. It is an interdepartmental program, administered by faculty who also hold positions in one of the departments in the School. One of the program faculty members, elected or re-elected every two years, serves as program director (the term “chair” is reserved for administrators of departments). All M&C faculty are dedicated to scholarly research and committed to graduate education. Initial and continuing faculty membership is based on an annual review of each member’s scholarly productivity.

2.2 Who creates and implements administrative policies
Decisions regarding all M&C policies and procedures are made by the program’s faculty and, when so delegated, by the M&C director. Current policies and procedures for students are documented here while those related to faculty administration of the program are documented in the program’s Bylaws. Where they conflict, all M&C policies and procedures are superseded by those of the School of Media and Communication, the Graduate School, and Temple University.

2.3 Who to contact for more information
For all assistance with administrative and procedural issues, M&C students should first contact the School of Media and Communication Graduate Office (Annenberg Hall Room 344; 215-204-8409). In some cases students will be directed to the Graduate School (Carnell Hall Room 501; 215-204-1380).

2.4 Official forms
To fulfill many of the policy requirements for the M&C degree, M&C students need to complete and submit official forms. Most of these forms are available on the Forms and templates page of the M&C web site. The others are available in the SMC Graduate Office or on the web site of the Graduate School.

The M&C faculty meets at least once each month during the academic year. Forms that request faculty response or action should be submitted early enough to be placed on the next meeting’s agenda, typically at least one week prior to an M&C meeting date. Forms submitted during the summer, between April 30 and August 31, may not be acted upon until the following fall semester. Students should bring emergencies to the attention of the M&C director.

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3 Admission

3.1 Criteria for admission
The M&C faculty carefully evaluate applications for admission to the program each spring for the following fall. The decision to admit an applicant is based on several criteria, including the applicant’s previous degrees and grade point averages; performance on the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs) and for applicants whose native language is not English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); letters of recommendation; honors and scholarly achievements; and, very importantly, the convergence of the applicant’s abilities and research interests with those of available faculty mentors.

3.2 Our commitment to admitted students
Students admitted to the program are judged to have the background and skills required to complete doctoral level scholarship, and the M&C faculty are dedicated to insuring that students receive the academic training and advising necessary to obtain the doctoral degree.

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4 Academic advisors

4.1 What the advisor does
Each student in the M&C program works with an M&C faculty member who serves as the student’s academic advisor. While the student should contact the SMC Graduate Office regarding administrative matters, the academic advisor serves as a mentor, tutor and consultant regarding all other aspects of the M&C program and the student’s progress toward their degree. The student is expected to discuss with her or his advisor all substantial academic decisions, including the determination of which courses to take each semester, and most official forms require the advisor’s signature to indicate that person’s approval. Ultimately, the academic advisor serves as the chair of the student’s preliminary examination and dissertation committees.

4.2 Changing advisors
When the student is admitted to the M&C program she or he is assigned an M&C faculty member who serves as the student’s initial advisor. This assignment is normally based on the convergence of the faculty member’s and student’s research interests. All students must have an academic advisor while they are in the program, but the initially assigned advisor may or may not end up being the most appropriate person for the student’s needs and interests, which are expected to evolve. When either the student or the assigned advisor believes a change in advisor is necessary, either can and should request such a change. In that event, following consultation among all parties involved, the new advisor need only inform the SMC Graduate Office of the change.

Students are strongly encouraged to identify the faculty member most appropriate to serve as their advisor as early in the program as possible so that that person can provide mentoring to best serve the student’s scholarly and professional needs. Students can learn about all of the M&C faculty via the program web site, the courses they take, program colloquia, faculty members’ publications, earlier M&C dissertations, and so forth; and the student should talk with appropriate faculty members even before she or he may be able to take courses with them.

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5 Time limits

Following Graduate School regulations, M&C students must complete the requirements for the degree within seven years of entering the program. Students may request a leave of absence for one or more semesters (via the Request for a Leave of Absence form available on the Forms page of the web site of the Graduate School), but these leaves do not extend the seven year time limit.
Under special circumstances, the student may be granted an extension of time to complete the degree. Such extensions are available only to Ph.D. candidates, i.e., those students who have completed all degree requirements except the defense of the dissertation. The time-to-degree can be extended by M&C and SMC for a maximum of three years. Requests for all extensions must be made via the Request for Extension of Time form available on the Forms page of the web site of the Graduate School. Requests for extensions beyond three years must be forwarded to the Graduate Board of the Graduate School and must be endorsed by the student’s advisor, the M&C director, and the SMC dean.

6 Student conduct

6.1 Temple’s Code of Conduct, including academic honesty
The M&C faculty is committed to strict adherence to and enforcement of Temple University’s Code of Student Conduct and in particular its policy on academic honesty. We expect every M&C student to understand and follow both the letter and spirit of all of the components of this code. This includes the strict adherence to commonly recognized academic standards regarding the proper citation of and reference to other scholars’ work. Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are serious breaches of academic integrity and grounds for dismissal from the program and from Temple University.

6.2 Research ethics and institutional review of research
All students are expected to follow the highest standards of ethics as they conduct original research. Students who conduct research projects that involve human participants are responsible for applying for and being granted approval from the Temple University Institutional Review Board (IRB) (detailed information about this process is available at the IRB web site).

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7 Requirements for the degree

7.1 Residency and continuous enrollment
The Graduate School requires all Temple Ph.D. students to be “in residence” (registered for at least nine credits, also known as “semester hours”) for the two consecutive semesters (excluding summer sessions) of their first year of study.

After the first year of matriculation, the student must be enrolled for at least one credit every fall and spring semester until graduation. Of course, each student is expected to make satisfactory progress toward the degree, and this minimum of one credit per semester may not constitute satisfactory progress. In the rare case where the student must take a leave of absence, the continuous enrollment requirement is waived.

7.2 Course and credit requirements
M&C students must complete 72 credits of coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree and an additional 6 credits of dissertation research (i.e., MMC 9999). The following policies apply to the distribution of these credits.

7.2.1 Transfer credits
Students may receive approval from the M&C faculty to count up to 30 credits of their graduate coursework prior to entering the M&C program toward the 72 credits required for the doctoral degree. To receive this approval the student must complete a Petition for Transfer Credit (.pdf) and submit it along with supporting documentation (described on the Petition) to the SMC Graduate Office. If a student intends to petition for transfer credit, then she or he must submit this completed form as part of her or his Program Proposal (see 7.4 below) during the first year in the program. Transfer courses will be accepted only if they fit in the student’s overall program of study.

Prior coursework can be transferred, based on the evaluation of the M&C faculty, as non-M&C elective courses. All of the policies regarding credit distribution and restrictions below apply to transfer credits as well.

7.2.2 Time limitations for course credits
Graduate credits taken toward the Ph.D. are considered valid for up to seven years. Credits older than seven years may be counted toward the degree only after the student submits a Petition for Policy or Procedure Waiver (.pdf) and secures approval from the M&C faculty. If the credits in question involve courses to be transferred into the program, the matter of credit age is considered in the faculty’s evaluation of the student’s Petition for Transfer Credit (see 7.2.1 above).

7.2.3 Required courses
All M&C students are required to successfully complete the following courses (descriptions for all M&C courses can be found here; descriptions of all Temple graduate courses can be found via the quicklink on the web site of the Graduate School):

  • MMC 9001 Communication Theory I (during first semester)
  • MMC 9002 Researching Communication I (during first semester)
  • At least one semester of MMC 9003 Doctoral Colloquium (during first semester)
  • MMC 9101 Communication Theory II (during second semester)
  • MMC 9102 Researching Communication II (during second semester)
  • MMC 8985 Teaching Communication
  • One additional advanced research methods course: This may be in M&C or another program or department. If an appropriate course topic is offered in M&C, that should be the student’s first choice
  • Examinations/Dissertation credits. Students must register for at least six total credits of MMC 9994 (Exam preparation), MMC 9998 (Predissertation research) and MMC 9999 (Dissertation research). The six credits must include at least two credits of MMC 9999, which requires an approved dissertation proposal. None of the six credits can be applied toward the 72 credits of coursework required for the degree.

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7.2.4 Credit distributions and restrictions

7.2.4.1 Required M&C credits
Students must take at least 30 credits of M&C coursework; credits transferred into the program may not be applied toward these 30 credits.

7.2.4.2 Independent study
Independent study, directed reading, directed project and master’s thesis coursework may not (together) constitute more than eight credits toward the degree without approval from the M&C faculty (via the Petition for Policy or Procedure Waiver (.pdf)). Students must also obtain approval from their advisor and the M&C faculty before registering for any independent study coursework in programs or departments other than M&C.

7.2.4.3 Applied coursework
No more then eight credits of applied courses (e.g., news writing, film making, advertising layout, broadcast production, etc.) may be applied toward the degree without approval of the M&C faculty (via the Petition for Policy or Procedure Waiver (.pdf)).

7.2.4.4 Prerequisites
M&C students may register only for those courses for which they have completed the appropriate prerequisites. Students may occasionally register for courses out of sequence only after they have secured the approval of both the course instructor and the M&C director.

7.2.4.5 Courses with undergraduates
M&C students will not receive course credit toward their degree requirements for any graduate course that is cross-numbered or cross-listed with a course section designated for undergraduate students.

7.2.5 Grades and standards of scholarship

7.2.5.1 The meaning of specific grades
Grading standards vary across universities, programs, and faculty members, but in general, a grade of A represents outstanding or exceptional work; a B indicates competent, satisfactory work in the course. A B- in a graduate level course suggests that the student’s work is lacking in some important way. A grade of C represents seriously flawed work. In most classes that would mean doing the assignments but misunderstanding fundamental concepts or presenting them in an unacceptable form, and/or a total lack of constructive participation in class discussions. A grade of D or F represents failure and would be given only if assignments were extremely poorly executed or in the case of plagiarism or other failure to adhere to norms of appropriate student conduct (see 6 above).

7.2.5.2 Minimum grade requirements
All M&C students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on the A to F 4-point scale). Students who hold graduate teaching and research assistantships are required to maintain a grade point average of 3.5.

M&C students must earn a grade of B- or higher in all required M&C courses; the Graduate School requires that Temple graduate students not receive a grade of B- in more than two courses or a grade of F in more than one course.

7.2.5.3 Incompletes
In the rare circumstances in which a student cannot complete the requirements for a course during the semester in which the course is offered, she or he and the instructor can complete a Contract for Completion of Coursework (available on the Forms page of the web site of the Graduate School). If the work has not been completed after a calendar year the grade becomes a Permanent Incomplete (PI). Students may have no more than one Incomplete (I) for a course on their transcript at a time. At the time of graduation, they must not have any.

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7.3 Academic progress and dismissal from the program

7.3.1 Grounds for dismissal
M&C makes every effort to admit individuals who are likely to succeed in and benefit from the training the program provides. Dismissal from the program is a measure of last resort and is rare. However, the following indications of lack of academic progress and other problems may be considered grounds for dismissal from M&C:

  • Failure to meet any of the minimum grade requirements and requirements regarding incompletes listed above
  • Failure to complete the core M&C courses within four semesters of admission to the program
  • Failure to complete the preliminary examinations within three years of admission to the program
  • An exceptionally poor performance resulting in failure on the first preliminary examinations
  • Failure to pass the preliminary examinations after two attempts
  • Failure to complete the dissertation within three years of taking the preliminary examinations
  • Serious violations of Temple University’s Code of Student Conduct (see 6 above)

7.3.2 Procedures regarding academic progress and dismissal

7.3.2.1 Identifying lack of progress
All M&C faculty members are responsible for monitoring the academic progress of M&C students. If a problem is indicated (e.g., by a student’s performance in a course or as a teaching or research assistant, lack of progress on the dissertation proposal or dissertation, etc.) the faculty member notifies the student’s advisor and the program director. Each student’s progress toward the degree is also reported every year in the student’s Program Proposal (see 7.4 below) and evaluated by her or his advisor, who presents any problems to the entire M&C faculty.

7.3.2.2 Developing a solution
When a problem is reported, at the director’s discretion either the advisor alone or both the director and the advisor meet with the student to 1) express support, 2) discuss the reasons for the lack of progress, and 3) establish specific steps that the student and the program will take to insure that the problem is resolved, and a schedule for this resolution. A written summary of the meeting is distributed to the faculty and put in the student’s academic file. The student’s advisor and the program director are responsible for monitoring the resolution of the problem.

7.3.2.3 Considering withdrawal and dismissal
If the student is not able to renew adequate academic progress as agreed at the first meeting, the advisor and program director meet with the student and consider other solutions but also establish a date by which the student should conclude that withdrawal from the program is appropriate. If the lack of progress continues at that date and the student does not choose to withdraw, the M&C faculty meets to determine whether to pursue formal dismissal of the student from the program. The student can make a written or oral presentation to the faculty prior to this discussion if he or she wishes.

7.3.2.4 Appeals
Appeals of the decision to dismiss the student from the program can be brought to the SMC Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and the Dean. SMC decisions can be appealed to the Provost.
The Graduate Board of the Graduate School hears appeals for reinstatement after dismissal for poor academic performance or failure of preliminary examinations.
The policies page of the web site of the Graduate School contains additional information concerning appeals and grievance procedures.

7.4 The M&C Program Proposal
All M&C students are required to create, and then annually update, a Program Proposal, a document that outlines the student’s previous, current, and planned professional activities.

7.4.1 Purpose of the Program Proposal
The Program Proposal is designed to assist the student in planning for and completing a cohesive and appropriate set of courses, participating in appropriate research and related scholarly projects, preparing for and completing the dissertation, and planning for and achieving post-degree career goals. It accomplishes this by 1) encouraging thoughtful planning by the student at regular intervals, and 2) providing the opportunity for the M&C faculty to be regularly informed about the student’s plans and progress and to make suggestions and decisions that will help the student reach her program and career goals. The Program Proposal is a planning document. It is understood and expected that successive versions of a student’s Program Proposal will reflect changes in their interests and plans as they move through the M&C Program.

7.4.2 Procedures for the Program Proposal
All M&C students must submit a complete (new or updated) Program Proposal document to their advisor by the end of the second week of classes of the spring semester each year until they either graduate or leave the program. The advisor may then require a discussion about and/or revisions of the document. By the first Monday in March, the student and advisor must both sign the Program Proposal form. The advisor then retains the Program Proposal for discussion and review by the M&C faculty. After this review, the advisor will inform the student of any suggested revisions. The signed copy of the Program Proposal is then kept in the student’s file in the SMC Graduate Office.

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7.4.3 Components of the Program Proposal
The Program Proposal consists of several separate components, as listed and then described below.

  1. Program Proposal Form (.pdf)
  2. Statement of research interests
  3. Statement of career plans
  4. List of current and planned research projects
  5. Participation in M&C research activities
  6. Chronological listing of assistantship assignments
  7. Comprehensive examination committee members
  8. Dissertation advisory and examination committee members
  9. Dissertation topic
  10. Timeline for completion of the degree
  11. Chronological listing of coursework (entering students: Petition for Transfer Credit)
  12. Transcript and grade report (printed from Self Service Banner)
  13. Listing of coursework sorted by topic areas
  14. Curriculum Vitae

More information about each of these components follows:

1. Program Proposal Form

The Program Proposal Form (.pdf) identifies the student and advisor and provides spaces for their signatures. It’s available on the Forms and templates page of this web site.

2. Statement of research interests

3. Statement of career plans

4. List of current and planned research projectsThese three components can contain lists or brief

These text descriptions; the contents are expected to evolve as the student proceeds through the program.

5. Chronological listing of assistantship assignments

If the student has been awarded a graduate assistantship at Temple, a chronological list of the semesters of the award and the research and/or teaching assignments and activities the student completed should be included here.

6. Comprehensive examination committee members

This is a list of actual (if the committee has been approved) or potential members of this committee.

7. Dissertation advisory and examination committee members

This is a list of actual (if the committees have been approved) or potential committee members. Note that the only difference between the dissertation advisory committee and the dissertation examination committee is the addition in the latter of an outside member (see 7.7.5.14 below).

8. Dissertation topic

This is a brief description of the student’s actual dissertation project or likely potential project.

9. Timeline for completion of the degree

This is a short list of the dates by which the student expects to complete each requirement for the doctoral degree, including finishing coursework, taking preliminary examinations and defending the dissertation proposal, and defending the dissertation.

10. Chronological listing of coursework (entering students: Petition for Transfer Credit)

This includes all courses taken during graduate work at other universities (with notations indicating which courses have been approved for transfer credit by M&C) and all courses taken as a nonmatriculated or matriculated graduate student at Temple University. The listing should also include all courses the student plans to take in the future as an M&C student, and a brief rationale for taking each of these courses (it is understood that this planning is subject to course availability and the evolution of the student’s interests). For each course in the chronological listing the following information must be included: the university (if not Temple), the department or program and number of the course, the course name, the number of credits received, the grade earned, and the instructor’s name. Students who entered M&C within the previous year must include a completed Petition for Transfer Credit (.pdf) here; see 7.2.1 above for details.

11. Transcript and grade report (printed from Self Service Banner)

Click here for details on how to obtain this printed report from the Temple University online Self Service Banner system.

12. Listing of coursework sorted by topic areas

This list contains the same information as the one described above but is organized not by chronology but by topic areas. Standard topic areas include, but are not limited to: Communication Theory, Research Methods, and Statistics. Additional areas will represent the student’s areas of specialty within communication (e.g., Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, etc.).

13. Curriculum Vitae

This document should contain current information about the student’s scholarly activities and follow generally accepted standards regarding content and form for an academic job search.

7.4.4 Sample Program Proposal
A sample program proposal for a hypothetical student is available here, on the Forms and templates page of this web site. Students are encouraged to download this document, which is in MS Word format, and use it to create their individualized Program Proposal.

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7.5 Public presentation of dissertation proposal project
Every M&C student must present her or his proposed dissertation project in a public forum, the SMC Theory and Research Seminar Series (STARSS). Students should contact the STARSS coordinator to schedule a presentation. Not only does this provide a valuable opportunity for other members of the M&C community to learn about the student’s work, it provides the student important feedback as she or he develops the proposed study.


7.6 Participation in the M&C community
Every M&C student is expected to participate in some of the professional activities of the program, including the annual SMC Graduate Student Competitive Research Forum, M&C Poster Sessions, and the SMC Theory and Research Seminar Series (STARSS), as well as professional activities such as attending and participating in academic conferences and submitting work to be published in academic journals. Participation in M&C social activities, such as M&C semester parties, is also strongly encouraged.

7.7 Preliminary examinations, the dissertation proposal and the dissertation

7.7.1 Overview
After the student completes the coursework requirements of the program, she or he works with the academic advisor and one or more faculty committees that provide guidance as the student takes preliminary examinations and proposes and conducts an original research project, the doctoral dissertation.

The M&C faculty first approve the membership of the preliminary examination committee and the student takes the three exams within a 14 day period.

The student then creates a short abstract of the proposed dissertation project, the M&C faculty approve the project and the membership of the dissertation advisory committee, and the student prepares a detailed project proposal for the dissertation. When the dissertation proposal is judged defendable by the student’s dissertation advisory committee, the student and the committee meet for an oral defense of the proposal. This meeting must take place within 120 days of the preliminary examinations (only in cases of extreme need that establish clear and compelling reasons why a student has not yet defended the dissertation proposal can she or he petition the M&C faculty for a waiver of this 120-day limit; otherwise the student is considered to not be making satisfactory progress toward the degree and is ineligible for assistantship support or a Dissertation Completion grant; if the proposal is not defended within one year after the student passes the preliminary examinations, she or he must retake the examinations). When the student’s proposal is successfully defended, she or he becomes a Ph.D. candidate (also known as “being ABD” or having “All But Dissertation” status).

When the dissertation study and written report are complete, the dissertation is formally approved at another meeting of the student and the dissertation examination committee (the advisory committee and an outside member previously unfamiliar with the project). The student then makes any requested revisions and submits a final copy of the dissertation report to the Graduate School of the University and is officially awarded the doctoral degree in a traditional hooding ceremony at the School’s commencement program.

Detailed explanations of the format, content and evaluation of the preliminary examinations, the dissertation proposal and the completed dissertation, and then the step-by-step process involved in
completing these requirements for the M&C degree, follow.

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7.7.2 Preliminary examinations

7.7.2.1 Overview

The preliminary examinations require the student to produce detailed written responses to a set of three questions, one from each of three members of the student’s examination committee.

7.7.2.2 Format for the written examinations
The format for the administration and responses of the three preliminary examinations can vary in several respects based on the preferences of the student and examiner. Each examination question may be taken either on campus (in an office or classroom) or off campus (at the student’s home or another convenient location). The student may have notes and/or books available as she or he works or these may be prohibited. The amount of time for the exam can vary from a few hours to several days (on campus examinations can not take more than four hours, not including typing of handwritten responses). All of the written responses must be completed within a 14-day period.

7.7.2.3 Content of examination questions
The examinations are intended to assess the student’s overall knowledge in the field rather than knowledge in narrow topic areas. The topics may include any aspects of the discipline of mass media and communication and are not limited to material covered in coursework taken by a given student. Moreover, the preliminary examinations are not designed merely as adjuncts to, or research support for, the dissertation – the examinations and the dissertation are independent.

The student is examined in three areas, each represented by the question(s) of one committee member. The questioner in each examination area is considered the lead or main reader for that portion of the exam. The three areas are:

  • Communication theory: Major conceptual perspectives on the process of interpersonal and/or mass communication.
  • Communication research methodology: Conceptual perspectives and/or operational details related to planning, conducting, and interpreting research in communication.
  • Other: Issues related to any of the following:
  • Communication history: World history as related to the organization and transmission of social information, including both technological and non-technological issues.
  • Communication institutions: Economics, law, and policy as they relate to the dissemination of information.
  • Communication message systems: Formal and content characteristics of information “packaging,” with particular emphasis on mass-mediated or technologically-recorded transmissions.
  • Communication behavior: Behavior as it relates to information and its transmission and processing. Although this may include interpersonal processes (e.g., language and the social-psychological literature of person perception, small group interaction, etc.), mass media processes and effects are emphasized.
  • Optional area: The student may nominate an area which is not significantly covered in any of the areas above but is related to the student’s research and/or professional interests.

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7.7.2.4 Evaluation of the examinations
The written responses to the preliminary examination questions are evaluated by the student’s preliminary examination committee in two interrelated ways. First, the response to each question is graded separately on a pass/fail basis. To pass a given question, the majority of committee members (which may include no fewer than two and must include the examiner/lead reader) must accept the answer. Second, the complete set of written responses are evaluated; again, the majority of committee members (which must include the committee chair) must determine that the overall performance is adequate.
If the student’s performance on all three questions is deemed acceptable, the student will have passed the examinations. If the student’s performance on any of the three questions is deemed unacceptable by the committee, the student is required to have an oral defense of the examinations, a round-table discussion at which the preliminary examination committee members request further discussion or elaboration of any or all of the student’s written responses. After this oral defense the members of the committee determine whether the student has passed the examinations.

If the student fails the examinations, she or he can petition to re-take them. In re-taking the examinations, the student may also petition to retain or to change her or his committee. The examinations may be taken only twice (failure on two sets of examinations leads to dismissal from the program).

7.7.3 Dissertation proposal

7.7.3.1 Overview

The dissertation proposal is a detailed written document that describes an original research project the student proposes to conduct under the supervision of her or his advisor and the other members of the dissertation advisory committee to fulfill the dissertation requirement for the M&C doctorate. The student produces the dissertation proposal with the guidance of her or his dissertation advisory committee, and defends and discusses it at a meeting (an oral defense) with the committee.

7.7.3.2 Form of the dissertation proposal

Different dissertation advisory committees may require different amounts of detail in the dissertation proposal. However, the student should consider that the more specific and thorough the proposal, the more specific direction she or he will have in conducting the research and writing the dissertation, and the more agreement will exist among all parties regarding what is and is not to be done as the research proceeds.

The Graduate School has specific formatting requirements for dissertations, and students are strongly encouraged to follow these requirements in the dissertation proposal. The requirements are presented in the Graduate School’s Dissertation Handbook.

M&C dissertations must also follow the style guidelines of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual or the Chicago Manual of Style.

7.7.3.3 Content of the dissertation proposal

The doctoral dissertation for M&C is a scholarly research endeavor culminating in a written work. The completed dissertation must represent original research and scholarship that contribute to the communication discipline. The research must be conducted by the candidate, and only the candidate, while she or he is an M&C student, and it must not have been used to meet the requirements for another degree. As stipulated by the Graduate School, research that fits these requirements but has been previously published can be included if it is “logically connected with and integrated into the dissertation” and its inclusion “does not violate any existing copyright or contractual agreement”; see the policies page of the web site of the Graduate School for details).

The dissertation proposal is a preliminary version of the eventual dissertation document and justifies and outlines the proposed research project. Each faculty member may have somewhat different views about how the proposed research project should be presented. The student should take direction from her or his advisor and dissertation advisory committee members on how to construct the proposal. Generally speaking, nearly all proposals should do the following:

  • Introduce the research by briefly describing what is to be studied and how that study is to be conducted.
  • Discuss the scholarly (theoretical) and social (practical) significance of the proposed study.
  • Provide a comprehensive review of all scholarship pertinent to the study.
  • Describe any or all general procedures and techniques for conducting the proposed research.
  • Offer a detailed budget, if applicable, for undertaking the proposed research.
  • Offer a timetable for completion of the various stages of the dissertation.

7.7.3.4 Evaluation of the dissertation proposal

The dissertation proposal is evaluated by the dissertation advisory committee. The committee members evaluate both the written document and the student’s responses to questions during a meeting (an oral defense). The dissertation proposal must be approved by the majority of the members of the committee. Several outcomes of the evaluation are possible, including:

  • The dissertation proposal is approved substantially as is.
  • The dissertation proposal is approved with minor revisions which will be evaluated only by the committee chairperson.
  • The dissertation proposal is approved with revisions which will be evaluated by one or more committee members who will inform the chairperson if and when all changes have been successfully accomplished.
  • The approval of the dissertation proposal is deferred pending modifications that will subsequently be evaluated by one ore more committee members who will then report back to the chairperson on the matter of final approval.
  • The approval of the dissertation proposal is deferred pending redistribution of a modified proposal to all committee members. In this case, the advisory committee also determines at the defense whether the assessment of these modifications may be reported directly to the chairperson or whether a second hearing needs to be scheduled (in which case the defense is officially suspended and a new official announcement must be made for the second meeting; see 7.7.5.7 below for details).
  • Failure.

Technically, formal approval of the proposal requires votes of at least two of the M&C members on the dissertation advisory committee, one of whom must be the chairperson. However, it could be very detrimental to the student and her or his research for any of the committee members to have strong objections to substantial aspects of the proposed project.It is therefore strongly recommended that any dissertation project not proceed unless it is approved be all members of the committee.

7.7.4 The dissertation

7.7.4.1 Overview

The dissertation is an expanded and completed version of the dissertation proposal. The student produces this document under the guidance of her or his dissertation advisory committee, and defends and discusses it at a meeting (an oral defense) with her or his dissertation examination committee (the advisory committee and a new, outside member previously unfamiliar with the project).

7.7.4.2 Form of the dissertation

The dissertation is a complete and detailed description of the background, purpose, method, results, and implications of a research project. It includes an abstract, a variable number of chapters, references to scholarly works, and supplementary materials. The length of complete dissertations in the field of Communication varies considerably, from as short as 100 pages to as long as 300.

All dissertations at Temple University must follow the formatting requirements presented in the Graduate School’s Dissertation Handbook.

M&C dissertations must also follow the style guidelines of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual or the Chicago Manual of Style.

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7.7.4.3 Content of the dissertation

As noted above, the doctoral dissertation for M&C is a scholarly research endeavor culminating in a written work. The completed dissertation must represent original research and scholarship that contribute to the communication discipline. The research must be conducted by the candidate, and only the candidate, while she or he is an M&C student. As stipulated by the Graduate School, research that fits these requirements but has been previously published can be included if it is “logically connected with and integrated into the dissertation” and its inclusion “does not violate any existing copyright or contractual agreement”; see the policies page of the web site of the Graduate School for details).

As with the dissertation proposal, the particular requirements for an approvable dissertation vary with respect to the dissertation topic and the supervising committee. In general, all dissertations are well-written and organized presentations that identify a research problem, discuss its significance, provide a complete review of the relevant background and scholarship, describe in depth all methods and techniques of analysis used in the study, present and discuss all relevant research discoveries and findings, and draw conclusions concerning what we now know as a result of undertaking the research and what important questions still remain.

7.7.4.4 Evaluation of the dissertation

The dissertation is evaluated by the dissertation examining committee, which includes the members of the dissertation advisory committee as well as a new, outside member who is not involved with the planning or conducting of the research project prior to its conclusion (see 7.7.5.14 below). The committee members evaluate both the written document and the student’s responses to questions during a meeting (an oral defense of the dissertation). The dissertation must be approved by the majority of the members of the examining committee. Several outcomes of the evaluation are possible, including:

  • The dissertation is approved substantially as is.
  • The dissertation is approved with minor revisions which will be evaluated only by the committee chairperson.
  • The dissertation is approved with revisions which will be evaluated by one or more committee members who will inform the chairperson if and when all changes have been successfully accomplished.
  • The approval of the dissertation is deferred pending modifications that will subsequently be evaluated by one or more committee members who will then report back to the chairperson on the matter of final approval.
  • The approval of the dissertation is deferred pending redistribution of a modified dissertation to all committee members. In this case, the examining committee also determines at the defense whether the assessment of these modifications may be reported directly to the chairperson or whether a second hearing needs to be scheduled (in which case the defense is officially suspended and a new official announcement must be made for the second meeting; see 7.7.5.17 below for details).
  • Failure.

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