Financing Doctoral Studies in COMS

There are two kinds of funding sources that can help you to afford a PhD in Communication Studies. Our School offers graduate assistantships that include a tuition waiver to most of our PhD students. All PhD students are also encouraged to apply for special funding opportunities for travel, research, and if they are from an international or underrepresented group.

Graduate Assistantships Opportunities

We offer graduate assistantships to approximately 32 students in our program, or between 7 and 10 new students each year. Our assistantships provide a full tuition waiver and a stipend of approximately $14,100 per academic year. With the tuition scholarship, stipend, and other resources provided by the school, our financial package approaches $30,000 per year.

Our assistantships are flexible in the duties and work required. Our philosophy is that the graduate assistantships should prepare graduate students to assume the role of a junior, tenure-track faculty member. As such, we offer a variety of opportunities for you to grow as a teacher, scholar, and young professional in the discipline. Each assistant is responsible for two units of work each semester—a “unit” could be teaching a class and/or one of the other opportunities described below.

  • Teaching Experiences: Most of our graduate assistants teach two courses per term. To help you grow as a teacher we try to provide a variety of teaching experiences ranging from stand-alone courses like public speaking, interpersonal communication, small group communication, and persuasion, to team teaching (with a faculty member) opportunities in courses like Communication Between Cultures and Research Methods. Students in our program typically graduate with four or five courses on their resume (although we do not require that number–some student opt to teach fewer preps). All graduate students are eligible for summer teaching which serves as additional financial support.
  • Administration Experiences: Various graduate students are reassigned from teaching to perform administrative tasks like helping with the basic course, assisting one of our journal editors, and assisting the graduate director with recruiting and managing the graduate program. These experiences are valuable for those who may want to enter into administration at some point. Students who work in administrative roles typically teach one class and do administrative work for the other half of their assistantship duties.
  • Research Experiences: Our students engage in a variety of formal (through their assistantship) and informal team research experiences. Several students each year are reassigned from teaching to work as a research assistant for a faculty member. Such experiences often result in collaborative projects that culminate in publications.

Assistantships are available on a merit basis and are awarded competitively by the graduate committee. Only students who are admitted unconditionally are eligible for a graduate assistantship. Students in our program are normally granted aid for 8 semesters or four years assuming adequate progress toward the degree. Depending on the unique situation, a limited amount of adjunct funding may be available for students who seek additional funding beyond the normal 8 semesters. For additional information please see the section on “applying to the program.”

Special Funding Opportunities

The School of Communication Studies provides a variety of funding options available for students ranging from travel support to internal grants and scholarships to support research and creative activity. Although the availability of these resources is dependent on yearly budget cycles and therefore could fluctuate from year to year, the faculty are committed to providing meaningful and robust support for students.

Travel Support

The School and the Scripps College of Communication offers significant opportunities for travel funding to conferences where students present “competitive” papers. The School and College work to maintain a budget sufficient for graduate students who present competitive papers at conferences. Of course, the exact award amount is dependent on annual funding approvals. Although the Graduate Director will announce specific deadlines for applying for travel funding, you can apply for travel support at any time.

The Ohio University Graduate Student Senate also offers travel support funding on a competitive basis to students. Our students have historically been very successful in obtaining such funding. There are other funding sources available on campus that offers similar competitive opportunities.

Research Support

For the past several years the School has offered research support to graduate students. All students are eligible to apply for research support funds—the process is modeled after a formal Call for Proposals. Awards are typically $2000 or less and are used to support research-related travel, some equipment costs, and other expenses related to projects that are likely to result in significant publications. The Ohio University Graduate Student Senate, as well as other organizations across campus, offer competitive funds for new and in-progress projects as well.

Fellowships and Scholarships

Advanced students are eligible to apply for the Kantner fellowship. The university awards five fellowships each year and students from COMS have been awarded a Kantner fellowship for all but two years since 1995, and 25 times since 1973. The Kantner fellowship provides a complete tuition waiver and stipend and a complete release from all teaching and service responsibilities.
The School offers six different scholarships that have been made possible through the generous support of former faculty and students. Those awards range in size and are given as cash scholarships to support research and conference travel.

  • Paul H. Boase Family Rhetorical Scholarship Award: This award is given in honor of Dr. Paul Boase, first director of the school, 1968-1990. Awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student specializing in the study of rhetoric.
  • Everett M. Rogers Scholar Award: This award is used to support a second year graduate student in COMS who demonstrates interest and promise in the area of communication and social justice and a passion for issues of equality and social justice.
  • Judy C. Pearson Graduate Award: Established by former faculty member Judy Pearson to support a graduate student or students who does outstanding research in gender or family communication.
  • Dorothy and Larry Schey Endowed Scholarship: Given to graduate students demonstrating leadership and service to the community.
  • Karen and Roger Deardorff Graduate Travel Fund Award: Established by current graduate student Karen Deardorff and her husband Roger. It is awarded to support an MA or Phd student who is presenting a paper or panel at a conference.
  • Terry Conry and Lynn John Student Conference Award: Awarded to offset partial expenses incurred for attending a conference where the awardee’s paper has been accepted for presentation. Level of conference activity and GPA are used as criteria.

Students from China (including the PRC, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Tibet Autonomous Region, and Taiwan) who have lived in the US are also considered for the Enlight Fellowhip. The Enlight Fellowship includes a $12,000 stipend plus a full tuition waiver for fall and spring semesters; summer tuition waivers may also be available. Enlight Fellows may also apply for up to $3,000 additional support for research and instructional expenses after enrolling. Enlight Fellows have no work responsibilities within the School associated with the Enlight Fellowship, but may also receive up to $2,100 in additional support for assuming minor duties in the School.

Students from underrepresented groups in the United States who show evidence of being or becoming outstanding instructors may be considered for the Scripps College Teaching Enhancement Fellowship. The Teaching Enhancement Fellowship includes a $2,500 stipend increase and the opportunity to work with teaching mentors. Teaching Enhancement Fellows may also receive up to $2,000 in additional support for professional development activities upon application and acceptance by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the Scripps College of Communication.

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Honors & Awards

Carson S. Kay
2019 Outstanding Doctoral Student. School of Communication Studies, Ohio University.

Elizabeth M. Jenkins
2019 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Associate. School of Communication Studies, Ohio University.

Courtney Hook
2019 Outstanding Researcher. School of Communication Studies, Ohio University.


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