graduate admissions at usc annenberg

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  • the annenberg community At USC Annenberg, our degree programs are geared toward the world that you will face beyond graduate school. Taught by renowned scholars, industry leaders and visiting experts in their respective fields, classes are both rigorous and provocative. You will benefit from an interdisciplinary approach that allows you to easily cross traditional academic boundaries and draw from a variety of disciplines and different problem-solving strategies.

    degree programsCommunication, PhDCommunication Management, MCMDigital Social Media, M.S.Global Communication, M.A./MScJournalism, M.S. Public Diplomacy, MPDSpecialized Journalism, M.A.Specialized Journalism (The Arts), M.A.Strategic Public Relations, M.A.

    curious. forward-looking. innovative.


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    learning objectivesPHD

    Demonstrate humanistic and behavioral knowledge of a wide variety of communication phenomena.

    Demonstrate a high level of competence in research methodologies and other scholarly tools within the field of communication.

    Display evidence of experiences in funded research projects and/or publication of original research.


    Make strategic decisions around communication business issues based on knowledge of an organizations strategies, goals and objectives and on applicable communication research.

    Utilize written and oral advocacy skills to articulate communication theories, identify them in practice, use them in business situations, assess and measure effects, and be able to modify your practice based on experience over time.

    Approach communication issues with an understanding of the appropriate data-gathering methodologies and be able to collect, analyze and interpret the data.


    Develop expertise in transitioning a business or product to digital. Demonstrate knowledge of social media and other digital strategies to engage

    audiences in digital products, businesses, sites and apps.

    Demonstrate how to successfully use social media for marketing, public relations and monetizing projects and services in the digital age.

    Demonstrate knowledge of the tools of evaluating products and strategies through digital analytics and research methodology.


    Develop and critically assess existing research as it relates to global communication. Demonstrate understanding of the value of cross-cultural communication and the

    exchange of ideas for the purpose of shaping global communication.

    Produce independent, original scholarly work of publishable or conference quality.PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

    Understand and deploy a range of instruments to advance foreign-policy goals by engaging foreign publics, beginning with listening.

    Approach issues related to foreign public engagement across a variety of times and geographical locations through multiple academic disciplines in order to advance and inform professional practice.

    Communicate persuasively and succinctly in spoken and written forms and in the genres of communication currently in use in professional public diplomacy practice.

    school overviewUSC Annenberg School of Communication provides you with an education grounded in theory with applications across the communication and media spectrum. Rooted in both the social sciences and the liberal arts, the philosophy of academic inquiry focuses on the social, cultural, rhetorical and organizational processes that make up the human experience. Faculty conduct research and engage in professional practice within the broad discipline of communication. The Masters degree programs will prepare you for an evolving business environment that requires the ability to respond, adapt, and think critically with the right combination of knowledge and practical hands-on expertise.

    School of Communication

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    As a PhD candidate, you are at the scholarly forefront of the communication revolution. We believe that social scientific and humanistic approaches to the study of human communication are essential for a complete understanding of communication. Both theory and research methods are amply demonstrated by the four required core courses in the first year of study and also reflected in the substantive concentrations that you can pursue. Our degree program prepares you for a career in academia as well as in other public and private sector endeavors that benefit from research skills and expansive knowledge of communications structures, processes, and institutions.

    program overview

    PhD in Communicationcurriculum snapshotThe program requires completion of 76 semester units and an approved dissertation; most candidates complete the degree program in four to five years.

    1ST YEAR Completion of two core courses each semester and the screening process by the end of the spring semester. The core courses are: COMM 525Humanistic and Social Scientific Approaches to Human Communication I COMM 526Humanistic and Social Scientific Approaches to Human Communication II COMM 550Quantitative Research Methods in Communication COMM 552Qualitative Research Methods in Communication

    2ND YEAR Selection of cognate courses. Setting parameters for working paper and formation of five-member guidance committee. By completing a minimum of three courses (12 units), you choose to specialize in a concentration.

    3RD YEAR Completion of working paper that demonstrates original research on a communication problem by November 1.

    4TH YEAR Arrangement and completion of the qualifying examination. Complete dissertation prospectus, which is defended by the end of the fall semester.

    5TH YEAR Research and completion of the dissertation and preparation for the job market.

    USC Annenberg School offers one of the most intellectually diverse programs in the field of communication. You will have the opportunity to participate in all-expense paid summer institutes. With 17 research centers, all doctoral students are assigned to research assistantships in their second through fifth years. All doctoral students receive full tuition, health and dental benefits, a generous annual stipend paid for five years as doctoral fellows and graduate assistants, financial support for dissertation and research projects and travel expenses to present at research conferences. Our graduates excel as university instructors and communication experts conducting original research and scholarship. Their work advances knowledge in the field, builds practical applications for society and contributes to the success of public and private sector enterprises such as media and entertainment industries as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations.

    program distinctions

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    The Master of Communication Management (MCM) is a professional management degree that balances academic grounding, both research and theory, with the application to real-world issues of businesses, organizations and non-profits. This degree program is also taught online for mid-career professionals unable to attend on-campus classes.

    Our program has a breadth that is unmatched by our competition. Those programs tend to focus more narrowly on public relations, integrated marketing or traditional communication. Our areas of focus enable you to study the industry of interest to you, such as entertainment or non-profit advocacy; the communication function such as marketing communication, corporate communication, change communication, consulting, and strategy; and the use and impact of technologies. Our instructors primarily hold PhD degrees and have a wide range of academic and practical experiences. Our adjuncts are carefully selected for depth of experience and renown.

    Our graduates leave the program with increased skills in critical thinking, conducting and utilizing research, using academic literature to solve business problems, improved skills in writing, strategic analysis and public speaking and the ability to succeed in a world filled with ambiguity, change and opportunity.

    Master of Communication Management curriculum snapshotOur MCM is a two-year program that requires 32 units of course work. The core courses are:

    CMGT 540Uses of Communication Research CMGT 501Communication Pro-Seminar CMGT 597aCommunication Research Practicum or CMGT 597b

    The remaining 20 units (5 courses) may be fulfilled with other CMGT courses in the following areas of focus:

    Marketing Communication Media & Entertainment Management Health & Social Change Communication International & Intercultural Communication Organizational & Strategic Corporate CommunicationOf the 20 units, up to 8 units may be taken outside the School of Communication (500-level courses in Journalism, Business, Cinematic Arts and others).

    program overview

    program distinctions

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    The M.S. in Digital Social Media teaches the practice, theory, research and strategy of online communities and digital social media. We use the entrepreneurial process of digital product development as a laboratory of learning (from conceptualization to launch of apps, sites, campaigns, and projects). Then, we teach the social theory explaining how people come together and engage with each other in the physical and digital worlds; the research, methodology, analytics and other tools of inquiry; and the strategies to be leaders and managers in the digital and social media sector.

    We teach through a systematic course of study, and students create functioning apps and sites. Other programs (of which there are very few) teach an array of unconnected classes (not systematic strategy), or they only use third party platforms (e.g., Facebook marketing). We cover the e


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