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Mass Communications–Life Sciences Communication

Administrative Unit:Life Sciences Communication
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Admitting Plans:Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:Ph.D.


The Ph.D. in mass communications provides training for independent and original research. Programs are related to specific interests and are arranged to draw freely from appropriate departments within the university. Early in the program, the student specifies the nature of the proposed research. Then, in consultation with the major professor and the committee, the student develops an individual plan of courses and seminars. Candidates for this program are expected to have demonstrated an interest and background in communication research by having earned an M.S. degree in communication or other relevant disciplines. The admissions committee, however, may accept other evidence of suitable preparation.

Some areas emphasized by Ph.D. students in the past have included risk and health communication; public opinion on emerging technologies; the uses and impacts of new communication technologies; strategic and political communication; international communication; history of mass communication; and the social and psychological factors affecting communication, more generally.

The Department of Life Sciences Communication also offers a 10-credit Ph.D. minor (Option A) for students enrolled in other Ph.D. programs who would like to supplement their existing Ph.D. course work with a minor in science communication.  It is particularly valuable for graduate students in the natural and physical sciences or engineering who are interested in the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of emerging technologies, or in communication and public attitudes about sciences and technology. 


Students must meet the minimum requirements for admission set by the Graduate School. Applicants must submit an online application, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, official transcripts of grades, a CV, and three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should come from people who can speak to the scholarly abilities of the applicant. International applicants are required to take and attain a satisfactory score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Applications are typically reviewed once a month.  In order to be eligible for various fellowships and TA-ships, early application is recommended. For admissions information and requirements, see Graduate Studies on the department website.

For more information: Kristin Haakenson, Student Services Coordinator, Department of Life Sciences Communication, Hiram Smith Hall, 1545 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1563, 608-262-1241, fax 608/265-3042; kahaakenson@wisc.edu; lsc.wisc.edu/programs/graduate-studies/.