Online and Distance Degrees > Degree Programs > PhD in Communication & Information Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in
Communication & Information Sciences


Program Overview

The online PhD in Communication & Information Sciences (C&IS) prepares students for academic and professional opportunities in a variety of library, archive, and information science environments. Through original research as well as synchronous and asynchronous online coursework taught by UA’s graduate faculty, students can set themselves apart as experts in the field.

  • Program Format

  • Credit Hours

  • Tuition Per Hour


Take Your Knowledge to the Highest Level

Coordinating student and faculty interests, this program empowers students with the research skills to critically examine various issues related to information in overall society as well as specific academic, community, corporate, governmental, and nonprofit settings. Students are expected to complete approved coursework and perform original research documented in a written dissertation that illustrates a synthesis of theory and application of research method(s) in a chosen area of study.

Classes are predominately delivered through synchronous online meetings via classrooms specifically for distance students or hybrid environments where students participate alongside their on campus peers. Distance students can join classmates and professors from anywhere with an internet connection, and coursework may be completed through part-time or full-time study.

  • Application Priority DeadlineFebruary 15


Online PhD students in Communication & Information Sciences are not eligible to complete a formal concentration in the program and may only pursue a focused area of study in library and information studies in either school library media or social justice. For the online degree, courses may be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous courses from CIS as well as the College of Education.

The online C&IS PhD requires 48 credit hours of coursework and 18 credit hours of dissertation research. Students may transfer up to 12 hours of graduate coursework applicable to the doctoral program in communication and information sciences. Transfer credit evaluations are made on an individual basis after admission. Most of the online courses hold virtual sessions, usually one afternoon or night per week for two and a half hours, with common course starting times of 2, 5, or 6pm CST.

Foundations (3 hours)

  • CIS 610 Foundations of Doctoral Study

Theory (6 hours)

Requirement can be fulfilled by the courses below or any theory course approved by adviser:

  • CIS 604 Mass Communication Theory
  • CIS 605 Cultural and Critical Theory
  • CIS 606 Knowledge and Information Theory
  • CIS 607 Theory Construction Epistemology

Research Methods (6 hours)

Requirement can be fulfilled by the courses below or any methods course approved by adviser:

  • CIS 603 Quantitative Research Methods
  • CIS 608 Qualitative Research Methods
  • CIS 609 Humanistic Research Methods

Focused Area of Study (12–18 hours)

Requirement fulfilled by approved plan of study with adviser.

Cognate (9 hours)

Courses outside primary focused area of study as approved by adviser.

Electives (6–12 hours)

Courses selected by the student to advance their interests.

Dissertation Research (18 hours)

  • CIS 699 Dissertation Research

For program specific policies and more information, visit the graduate catalog.


Fall Semester – February 15 (priority deadline)

Applications to the online PhD in Communication & Information Sciences are limited to students who intend to pursue a focused area of study related to library and information studies. Students who wish to be considered for admission must specify their disciplinary interest in library and information studies and elaborate regarding their research interests in library and information studies in their statement of purpose.

Applicants may be considered for regular admission if they have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 overall, 3.0 for the last 60 semester hours in a degree program or 3.0 for a completed graduate degree program. Applicants may be considered for admission on a permission-to-continue basis if they do not meet the GPA criterion for regular admission.

Applicants must have completed a master’s degree to be considered.

A completed application package includes the following:

  • Transcripts from all institutions at which you have completed 15 or more credit hours (unofficial transcript accepted).
  • Statement of purpose (please refer to these program specific guidelines in submitting your statement).
  • Writing sample (please refer to these specific guidelines)
  • Three academic references. Provide names and contact information, including an email address and phone number, in the “Other Documents” section (and not in the “Letters of Recommendation” section). Actual letters of recommendation are not required. Please note that if you put names in the “Letters of Recommendation” section, those references will receive an automatic request to provide a letter in your behalf.
  • Resume/CV.
  • English Language Proficiency Test scores (for non-native speakers of English).
  • Graduate School application.
  • Application fee.

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College of Communication & Information Sciences

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