Second semester of PhD looms on horizon

In a week, classes resume, and that means my journey toward my doctoral degree continues. 

Amid a pandemic, social unrest, and political upheaval, my attention will once again need to be focused on learning, teaching, and family.

I’m confident the three courses, amounting to nine credit hours, will go well. After all, the fall semester proved to be a good one.

Though it was challenging, I feel I learned a lot from the courses I took. I learned about research techniques and theories I was not well acquainted with. Granted, sometimes they sounded familiar, as though I had heard about them previously. However, perspective matters, so going into this degree program allowed me to look at subjects in a different light and through a new lens. 

Over the course of the fall semester, I did a lot of writing. I produced two research proposals I would like to continue pursuing. Perhaps one of them could become the focus of my dissertation, or perhaps I could conduct the research and produce a journal article that could be published.

Even so, the most impactful concept I came away with was the research technique of discourse analysis. It is a qualitative methodology and allows a researcher to consider what written words or spoken language means beyond the surface level definitions of the words themselves. 

I became infatuated with the concept. Both of my aforementioned research proposals utilized the technique. As a qualitative researcher, I felt it was a perfect fit within my arsenal of research tools. Discourse analysis stands alone wonderfully as it allows the investigation of artifacts. However, if one were to combine it with other qualitative methods, such as depth interviews and observations, the depth of information that can be gathered is exciting.

Having a background in journalism and feeling most comfortable with interviews and observations is what drew me to qualitative research in the first place, so being able to add discourse analysis to my list of methods was wonderful. 

It makes me excited to continue my pursuit of my PhD, conduct research, and get published.

That pursuit should culminate in earning my degree in the spring of 2023.

One of my fall courses required the creation of a program of study that planned out what courses I would take and when. If I can continue to take three courses, or nine hours, each semester along with a course or two during the summer semesters, I will be a doctor in just a few years. Assuming there aren’t any scheduling or other hiccups. 

Throughout this journey, I’m putting a heavy emphasis on qualitative research courses, and I still plan to pursue a journalism-orientated research agenda. This should set me up nicely to continue my career as a journalism professor in higher education. 

Of course, for that to be successful, it will be crucial that I find an adviser with a journalism background. That will be a subplot of this semester. Besides taking my courses and striving to earn high marks, I also need to build relationships and find a professor that will take me on as an advisee. 

Overall, the next semester will be strenuous, but I’m ready for the challenge. I just hope 2021 treats the world better than 2020 did.

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About toddvogts 830 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at