Ph.D in Communication and Urban Sustainability

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program in Communication can apply to earn a Ph.D. in Communication with a dual-title in Urban Sustainability. This dual-title degree is designed to prepare researchers and professionals to solve challenging urban problems that require working across disciplines. Students enrolled in this dual title program will take courses in topics and develop specific skills relating to urban sustainability across several departments. Students in the program will also undertake activities such as community service, participate in colloquiums, and prepare a funding proposal related to urban sustainability. The dual-title coursework follows competencies outlined by the Transformative Research in Urban Sustainability Training program.

The multi-disciplinary breadth of the dual-title Ph.D. program positions graduates to complete their doctoral work with the knowledge, network, and practical skills to be successful in the emerging field of urban sustainability. Graduates of the program are positioned to apply for jobs in both academia and industry. They have the theoretical and practical knowledge as well as the analytical tools to work in the fields of crisis communication, environmental communication, health communication, organizational communication, risk communication, which offer employment opportunities in both academic departments and various industry sectors.


Applicants must meet the admissions standards of the Graduate School and the Department of Communication and be first offered admission to the Communication doctoral program.

Program Requirements

Students in the dual-title program must meet all requirements of the doctoral program in Communication. These requirements are described in the Ph.D. Handbook.


Students in the dual-title program obtain sufficient grounding in both communication and urban sustainability through the coursework. Students take 8 required core courses, select at least 3 tools/ methods courses, and choose at least 2 electives from a list of elective courses.

Core Courses

Students take all required core courses, which are distributed across several departments, including Communication. This coursework also fulfills the department outside minor (cognate) requirement.

ANT 5060: Urban Anthropology
BIO 7310: Sustainability of Urban Environmental Systems
CE 5410: Energy, Emissions, Environment Design
COM 7170: Health and Risk Communication
COM 7810: Seminar in Communication Education (can be waived for a COM course)
COM 8000: Introduction to PhD Studies in Communication
GS 0900: Essential Research Practices: Responsible Conduct of Research
UP 6470: Environmental Planning

Methods/ Tools Courses

Students take at least 3 tools/ methods courses. Students also transfer at least 2 methods courses from their master's program to fulfill the 5 methods course Communication requirement.

Elective Courses

Students take at least 2 courses from a set of elective courses distributed across several departments. At least 1 elective course must be from a department other than Communication.

ANT 5565: Urban Archaeology
ANT 6570: Archaeological Laboratory Analysis
BIO 5040: Biometry
BIO 5180: Molecular Aquatic Ecology
BIO 6420: Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment
BIO 7540: Landscape Ecology
CE 6270: Sustainability Assessment and Management
CE 7280: Applied Environmental Microbiology
CE 7995: Special Topics in Civil Engineering: River Assessment & Restoration
COM 6140: Public Relations Theory
COM 6250: Organizational Communication
COM 7160: Crisis Communication
COM 7520: Theories of Media Effects
ECO 6200: Advanced Regulation and Regulated Industries
ECO 6520: Advanced State and Local Public Finance
ECO 6800: Advanced Urban and Regional Economics
FPH 7420: Principles of Environmental Health
GEL 5000: Geological Site Assessment
GEL 5510: Environmental Fate and Transport of Pollutants
GEL 5650: Applied Geological Mapping
GEL 5610: Special Topics in Geology: Global Change & Eco
LEX 7231: Environmental Law
PHC 7410/BIO 7011: Principles of Toxicology
PSC/CE 6910: Pharmaceutical Waste: Environmental Impact and Management
SOC 6750: Sociology of Urban Health
SOC 7200: Advanced Survey of Approaches & Techniques of Social Research
SOC 7350: Urban Poverty and Racial Segregation
SOC 8802: Topics in Urban Sociology
SOC 8805: Sociology of Urban and Labor Studies
UP 5110: Urban Planning Process
UP 5430: Cities and Food
UP 6120: Planning Studies and Methods
UP 6260: Land Use Policy and Planning
UP 6700: Geographic Information System

Other Required Activities

  1. Community service: Participate in two events per year or an equivalent commitment to citizen science, stewardship or outreach projects with community group partners.
  2. Participate in Colloquium: Help develop and attend an annual series of talks given by visiting lecturers across disciplines.
  3. Prepare a proposal to send to an external funding agency.