University Catalog 2023-2024

Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

The Ph.D. Program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media prepares doctoral students to analyze the social, cultural, rhetorical, philosophical, and political dimensions of information technologies, new communication media, and digital texts, and to actively engage digital media through research, criticism, production, and practice.

Students work with program faculty from the departments of Communication and English and with affiliated faculty from departments across the university and the broader UNC system to study oral, written, visual, computational, and multimodal forms of communication and rhetoric; to examine the transformation of communication in the context of converging digital media and communication networks; and to address the theoretical and practical challenges of innovative, interdisciplinary research.

Students can create programs of study in areas such as Social Media, Interpersonal Communication, Environmental Communication, Critical Making, Emerging Digital Genres, Multimedia Research in Digital Media, Composition Studies, Digital Humanities, Rhetoric Theory, Digital Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric, Digital Media Production, Science and Technology Studies, Risk Communication, Organizational Communication, Mobile Communication, Technology and Pedagogy, Game Studies, Online Information Design, Public Relations, Technical and Professional Communication, Digital Literacies, Transcultural Communication, Visual Communication, and Cultural Studies.

Faculty guide students in their work by using a broad range of social scientific and humanistic methods in which they specialize. The program offers comprehensive mentoring for professional development, diverse opportunities for teaching experience, and research assistantships associated with grant-funded faculty projects. CRDM faculty and students collaborate with colleagues in science and technology fields across the university and the Research Triangle.

Our graduates have been very successful finding employment in a variety of positions in academia (both at research-intensive universities and at teaching-oriented liberal arts colleges), government and corporate organizations, where there is a growing demand for the interdisciplinary skill sets developed in CRDM.

Admission Requirements

Master’s degree in Communication, English, Rhetoric, or other relevant field with GPA of 3.0 or better. Master’s level work should include one quantitative or qualitative methods course, as well as three courses in an approved disciplinary area. These hours do not count toward the doctoral degree. Disciplinary areas include: composition studies, including writing across the curriculum, interpersonal/group communication, media studies, organizational communication or public relations, rhetorical studies, and technical communication.

Applicants who are otherwise well qualified may make up these courses after admission. Three reference letters, a statement of goals and interests, a resume of work experience, and a writing sample are also required for application to the program. GRE is not required. The application deadline is January 15th.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

A minimum of 56 hours beyond the Master's degree are required to complete the Ph.D. program: 15 credit hours of core courses, 3 hours of research methods, 6 hours of professional preparation, 12 hours in an elective focus area, and 20 hours of research and dissertation.

Student Financial Support

The CRDM program offers a limited number of Teaching Assistantships, with a stipend, health insurance, and tuition (excluding fees). Teaching Assistants will be assigned according to their interests and qualifications, as well as departmental needs, to either the Communication or the English Department with the possibility of teaching in both departments during their course of study. Those who do not have sufficient qualifications to teach in the first semester will participate in a training program. Some Research Assistantships may also be available.


  • Christopher M. Anson
  • Kalyca Becktel
  • David Berube
  • Sumita Chakraborty
  • Deanna P. Dannels
  • Huiling Ding
  • Tugce Ertem Eray
  • WJ Miller
  • Adriana Araujo de Souza e Silva
  • Victoria J. Gallagher
  • Jean Elizabeth Goodwin
  • Marsha Gabrielle Gordon
  • Jessica Katz Jameson
  • Jason Swarts
  • Kenneth S. Zagacki
  • Andrew Ray Binder
  • Grant David Bollmer
  • Helen Jane Burgess
  • Fernanda da Costa Portugal Duarte
  • Casie J. Fedukovich
  • Paul Camm Fyfe
  • Andrew Robert Johnston
  • Kami A. Kosenko
  • Stacey L. Pigg
  • David Maurice Rieder
  • Timothy Linwood Stinson
  • Nicholas Thiel Taylor
  • Douglas M. Walls
  • Rebecca Ann Walsh
  • Stephen B. Wiley
  • Ronisha Witlee Browdy
  • Franklin D. Cason
  • Yang Cheng
  • Fernanda Duarte
  • Veljko Dubljevic
  • Noura Howell
  • William J. Jordan
  • Susan M. Katz
  • Carolyn Rae Miller


  • Kirsti Cole
  • Roy Jay Schwartzman

Assistant Professors

  • Jennifer Hessler
  • Ariel Seay-Howard
  • Cordarrell Self
  • John Stadler
  • Anu Thapa

Teaching Assistant Professors

  • Cynthia Porter Rosenfeld
  • Joshua Joseph Smicker


CRD 701  History and Theory of Media Technologies  (3 credit hours)  

Foundational study of media and technology through examination of historical perspectives on technological change. Discussion of media theory, media archaeology, feminist theory, political economy, cultural studies, and functionalist perspectives on technology. Examination of media and power, social movements, alternative media, technology and development, participatory communication, technological diffusion. Research paper and seminar presentation.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall only

CRD 702  Rhetoric and Digital Media  (3 credit hours)  

Critical study and evaluation of the conceptual vocabulary of rhetoric and its relationship to digital communication and digital media.

Prerequisite: COM/ENG 514 or 516 or ENG 515, Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall only

CRD 703  Communication Networks  (3 credit hours)  

Intensive study of theories, histories, and practices of networked communication. Emergence, development, acceptance, and dissolution of a variety of networks organized around information and communication technologies. Survey of network theory and methods for studying networks, networked communication practices, and their effects on issues such as identity, labor, organization, power, etc. Research/applications project developed in consultation with the instructor.

Restriction: CRDM students only

Typically offered in Spring only

CRD 704  Communication, Technologies, and Pedagogy  (3 credit hours)  

History, theory, research, and practice of integrating technology in higher education. Design, implementation, and critique of instructional strategies; ethical and professional issues; effects on the practices of teaching and learning and the development of communication abilities.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall only

CRD 790  Scholarly and Professional Paths in Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Research  (3 credit hours)  

This seminar aims to 1) foster discussion about disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, particularly in fields relevant to research in communication, rhetoric and digital media; and 2) develop and sharpen participants' theoretical and methodological positionings as they prepare to pursue their professional goals.

Prerequisite: CRD 701, 702, 703, 704, Doctoral student

Typically offered in Spring only

CRD 791  Special Topics in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media  (3-6 credit hours)  

An intensive seminar examining a particular topic or issue in the communication and rhetoric of digital media.

Prerequisite: CRD 701

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

CRD 809  Colloquium in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media  (1 credit hours)  

Professional development, ethical inquiry, and discussion and evaluation of interdisciplinary research in a colloquium setting. In successive fall semesters, students participate in three one-credit colloquia that include faculty and students from across the program.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall only

CRD 885  Doctoral Supervised Teaching  (1-3 credit hours)  

Teaching experience under the mentorship of faculty who assist the student in planning for the teaching assignment, observe and provide feedback to the student during the teaching assignment, and evaluate the student upon completion of the assignment

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

CRD 890  Doctoral Preliminary Exam  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students who are preparing for and taking written and/or oral preliminary exams.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall and Spring

CRD 893  Doctoral Supervised Research  (1-9 credit hours)  

Instruction in research and research under the mentorship of a member of the Graduate Faculty.

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

CRD 895  Doctoral Dissertation Research  (1-9 credit hours)  

Dissertation research.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer

CRD 896  Summer Dissertation Research  (1 credit hours)  

For graduate students whose programs of work specify no formal course work during a summer session and who will be devoting full time to thesis research.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Summer only

CRD 899  Doctoral Dissertation Preparation  (1-9 credit hours)  

For students who have completed all credit hour, full-time enrollment, preliminary examination, and residency requirements for the doctoral degree, and are writing and defending their dissertations.

Prerequisite: Doctoral student

Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer