Graduate students may choose to add an interdisciplinary focus to their work in Communication. Seven emphases currently exist on campus: Black Studies; Cognitive Science; Feminist Studies; Global Studies; Language, Interaction, and Social Organization; Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences (QMSS), and Information Technology and Society. All are formally recognized by UCSB as interdisciplinary emphases that can be added to the Ph.D. in Communication. The programs offer students the opportunity to obtain cross-training in the theories and methods of other disciplines that approach the same area of study, but from different perspectives. Doctoral students in Communication can use these programs to fulfill the department’s cognate requirement. M.A. students are welcome to join these programs in preparation for doctoral work, though no cognate is required at the M.A. level.

Black Studies

As can be found on their website, "The Black Studies Department at the University of California at Santa Barbara has launched the Black Studies Emphasis (BSE) for students enrolled in doctoral programs in the departments of Communication, History, Feminist Studies, Political Science, Sociology, and Chicana and Chicano Studies (in the College of Letters and Science), and the department of Education (in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education). Faculties in these units routinely work together exchanging scholarly perspectives, launching interdisciplinary projects, and training graduate students. The BSE builds on our university’s great strengths in Race Studies, Comparative Ethnicity, and the Black experience, and positions UCSB as a leader in Black Studies and Social Justice research and pedagogy."

Cognitive Science

The interdisciplinary program in Cognitive Science involves faculty from the Ph.D. programs in Anthropology, Communication, Computer Science, Education, Electrical and Computer Engineering, English, Geography, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. Its goal is to give students an appreciation of the interdisciplinary study of thinking, perception, and intelligent behavior, as determined jointly by the nature of the environment and by the internal architecture of the intelligent agent, whether human, animal, or machine. The program features a structured set of courses that are taught individually and collaboratively by faculty from a variety of disciplines.

Feminist Studies

In the Feminist Studies doctoral emphasis students are required to complete successfully four seminars designed to develop critical and analytic understanding of feminist theory and pedagogy as well as the study of women, gender, and sexuality. Feminist Studies as an inter-departmental set of conversations and intellectual questions also supports a multifaceted undergraduate curriculum at UCSB; doctoral emphasis students are encouraged to apply to teach Feminist Studies courses as teaching assistants and associates as part of their training.

Global Studies

The global studies program serves as model for interdisciplinary work and scholarly collaboration at UCSB. The global Ph.D. emphasis requires students to be admitted to a Ph.D. program in a participating department, successfully complete three graduate-level seminars and one proseminar in the areas of global issues and theory, and include a global focus in the final dissertation. By “global” we refer to transnational economic, political, environmental, social, and cultural interactions and flows that operate at a global (i.e., trans-continental) scale. “Global studies” views the world as comprised of increasingly interdependent processes, rather than as shaped exclusively or even primarily by the interplay of discrete nation-states.

Language, Interaction, and Social Organization

LISO faculty and graduate students conduct research on language use and other communicative action in their naturally occurring contexts, with a special appreciation for the importance of those immediate contexts for understanding human interactional conduct. Examples of areas of study include informal conversational interaction within institutional contexts, such as classrooms and 911-emergency calls; child language acquisition and socialization; the connection between grammar and interaction; and the connection between language and culture. The LISO Ph.D. Emphasis has formal participation from the Departments of Communication, Education, Linguistics, and Sociology.  In addition to the emphasis requirements, students must satisfy the requirements for the Ph.D. in their home department. Work in satisfaction of departmental Ph.D. requirements may be used to satisfy emphasis requirements.  A full schedule of LISO-related graduate courses is offered each year.  In addition, throughout the year, LISO hosts a range of activities, including scholarly talks, data analysis sessions, and discussions of scholarly papers. Further, LISO (along with its UCLA counterpart) organizes an annual Conference on Language, Interaction, and Culture at the University of California.

Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences

The QMSS emphasis helps students to attain the competencies needed to conduct quantitative social science research through core design and analysis classes, courses in advanced and specialized methodologies, and participation in interdisciplinary colloquia and research projects. Conducting quantitative social science research requires competence in certain core design and analysis methods that are common across social science disciplines. In addition, some specialized methodologies have emerged from research applications that are unique to social science fields. At most universities, social science instruction and research takes place in many separate units spread throughout the campus, which discourages the sharing of resources and ideas. The overarching purpose of the QMSS emphasis is to overcome these barriers by creating a unifying administrative structure that capitalizes on UCSB's strengths to create a unique interdisciplinary program.

Information Technology and Society

The Ph.D. emphasis in Information Technology & Society at UCSB brings together doctoral students in engineering, science, social science, and the humanities to engage in multidisciplinary coursework and research into the cultural and societal changes resulting from the introduction and use of information technologies. The program provides training for graduate students planning dissertations dealing with the societal implications of information technology.  Specifically, doctoral students have a short curriculum of courses outside their home departments, and a colloquium series in which they can meet other students and faculty with similar interests. The Ph.D. emphasis was born from the recognition that the study of technology and society is inherently multidisciplinary. Most scholars working in this area ground their investigations in a home discipline and methodology, but find it necessary to explore literatures and paradigms from other disciplines as well. In some cases, the tools necessary for understanding problems fully are spread across disciplines, and in others scholars have arrived at an examination of the same phenomenon from different directions.