So perhaps you’re starting to wonder why the hell we’re moving 2,000 miles away when there are perfectly good colleges here in the Northwest. Get comfortable.
1) Only two universities in the Northwest U.S. offer a PhD in Communication Studies. Neither of them are considered that prestigious (*nowadays*, that is). And neither of them have an Interpersonal Communication research track.
2) For upper-graduate education, the rule of thumb is to go where the best programs and researchers (i.e., professors) are. Distance does not matter. Experience matters.
3) Another rule of thumb, not so formally recognized, however, is to go out of region. This is especially true for folks who completed their BA and MA at the same institution or within the same state/region. I completed my BA in Washington state and my MA in California. So I’ve only ever taught and studied on the west coast; this is a limitation of my current credentials. Therefore, multiple mentors encouraged me to join a doctoral program in an entirely different region of the U.S.
A) This allows me to teach an entirely different student body. You can imagine how divergent SoCal is from the Midwest in terms of background, race, privilege, language, sexual orientation, etc. The U of Iowa student body is certainly diverse, but the point is that it’s different.
B) This often (although not always) allows a doctoral graduate to be hired outside of that region. The saying “go to school somewhere you don’t want to live” is continually reinforced in academia. More often than not, someone with a PhD stemming from the midwest (for example), would have more interest from prospective employers located on the east coast, the south, and the west coast.
Washington state is a perfect example of this. Where do we hire the majority of job candidates from? Out of state. Seriously. And this is not because WA lacks quality high education.
We are desperately hoping, in 4 years, to return to a mountainous region. It could be Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, or even the southwest – like Flagstaff, AZ or Albuquerque, NM (both of which have beautiful mountains).
But for now, we are ecstatic about living in the heartland! So Iowa, here we come!