Ph.D. program dean’s first consideration

In response to calls for a communication-studies doctoral program throughout North Texas, the College of Communication is working to create a proposal for a program of its own.

Chris Sawyer, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Communication Studies, said there is a large number of people asking for a Ph.D. program in North Texas.

Sawyer said most people who want a doctorate already have jobs and families in the area and would have to relocate to where a communication-studies doctoral program is offered because there is not one in the area.

Two universities in Texas offer doctorates in communication: University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, according to the National Communication Association Web site.

Sawyer said administrators wanted to wait until the new dean of the College of Communication was selected before proceeding too far into the planning process.

David Whillock, associate dean of the College of Communication, will be the new dean. He said the doctoral program is just a concept and idea for now and the college is not far along in the process.

Whillock said the department is talking to administrators and master’s students to make sure the program is something they would utilize.

“We have to make sure we are being successful and accountable in our programs so we can build upon that,” he said.

Whillock said the biggest challenge is finding the funds to integrate the program.

“These programs take time, and they aren’t cheap either,” he said.

Bonnie Melhart, associate provost for Academic Affairs, said there are many different ways to get funding for doctoral programs. Other Ph.D. programs at TCU get funding from external financial supporters, such as grants, scholarships and fundraisers, she said.

Sawyer said communications studies would form a committee to determine what fundamental and specialized courses to offer.

Whillock said people working toward their doctorates would be able to do more scholarly research than with their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The doctorate students would also help teach with faculty in the classroom, he said.

“We want to have a world-class program at TCU with our teaching and research programs,” he said.

When accepting people into the program the college would look for people with instructional skills, interpersonal skills and social cognition, Sawyer said.

Most full-time Ph.D. programs include 60 hours or more beyond the master’s degree, Sawyer said. A full-time load is nine hours for a Ph.D., she said.

Sawyer said TCU would have to hire an unknown number of faculty members in special areas but said he believes most of the current faculty members are qualified to teach for a Ph.D.

The university currently offers doctorates in English, history, psychology, chemistry, physics-astronomy and educational science, Melhart said.