PhD Communications Online

By Shilpee Singh

Updated March 16, 2024

Shilpee Singh

Shilpee Singh is an English Literature graduate and a Linguistics postgraduate from Delhi University. She believes in sustainable living and tries to lead a holistic life. She has a knack for writing and puts together the best facts for the reader’s benefit.


BA. Hons. English Literature // MA in Linguistics // Batchelor in Education (Gold Medalist)

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The study of human communication is at the core of the discipline of communication. As technology evolves, so does the process of creating a product such as social media or the internet. People’s interactions with one another, as well as the many messages they receive from various media, have been profoundly altered because of this transition. Communications is a multidisciplinary subject of study. It tries to comprehend the human communication process and its relationship to social, cultural, economic, and political institutions. Graduates of the PhD Communications Online programs are taught research methodology and communication theory so that they can better understand how these institutions interact with one another. Doctorate in communication graduates are well-equipped to pursue academic jobs as professors and researchers, as well as positions of leadership in a variety of sectors, including the media industry, public relations, journalism, advertising, marketing, education, branding, and corporate communications, among other fields. A Ph.D. in communications graduate can expect good pay packets and career prospects across different positions. For example, Public Relations Managers take home a median annual wage of $118,430 and can expect jobs to grow by 10% to 15% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. This article closely examines the Ph.D. in communications online degree and all relevant aspects, including the best colleges to pursue this degree, how to fund the degree, career options, information on accreditation, and more.


Best Online Ph.D. in Communications

Many factors go into picking the finest online Ph.D. in communications programs. There are several factors to consider, such as the college’s infrastructure, the quality and expertise of its faculty and staff, the availability of student support services, career counseling, the areas of specializations available, program structure and flexibility, affordability, and accreditation, among others. When searching for the best communications colleges for a Ph.D. degree, these and other aspects must be considered and weighted in order to make informed decisions and choose a college or program that aligns with one’s needs. FBD has studied all these factors and more and prepared a list of the best communication Ph.D. programs based on them. Here are the best Ph.D. programs in communication: *

Clemson was founded in 1889. Clemson University is one of the most productive public research universities in the nation, Clemson attracts and unites students and faculty whose greatest desire is to make a difference in the lives of others. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 20,868 (fall 2020), its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 17,000 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. The tuition and graduation rate are as below:
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Clemson University 201 Sikes Hall, Clemson, South Carolina 29634 $10,600 85%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to expect from the Online
Doctorate in Communication?

Online Ph.D. programs in communications are designed to prepare students for academic and other careers. This program provides theoretical underpinnings in addition to extensive research. Students gain a foundation for developing new skills that will help them start their careers and keep current with the newest developments in the industry. They will work with professors to create a study plan specific to their interests. The program normally includes advanced quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, emphasis areas, specialized electives, independent study credits, and more.

A Ph.D. in Communication curriculum is centered around a specific, one-of-a-kind program of study. The core curriculum introduces students to basic communication theories, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, and strategic communication approaches utilized by academicians in the field. Armed with key theories and concepts, students will learn how to read and evaluate academic literature, construct research design approaches, and write at the Ph.D.-level.

The online Ph.D. degree in marketing can be broken down into 5 sections that span about 65 credits (varies by program and college), requiring about 4 to 7 years. These sections are:

Foundation Courses

Students get a comprehensive picture of the marketing field based on recent research and developments. 

Core Courses

Students deepen their understanding of several crucial facets of marketing.

Specialization Courses

Students intensively research one or more specific issues in marketing.

Courses on Research Methods

Students learn the fundamental principles required for performing Ph.D. research.

Courses for Capstone/Thesis Preparation

Students define, investigate, and write a capstone topic/thesis, which must be defended at the end of the program.

Students will take seminars, begin to create potential research subjects, gain essential research skills, complete a series of tests, and interact with lecturers and fellow students during the early stages of a Ph.D. in communications. From then on, they will have to work closely with their academic advisors, often directly on existing research projects. A typical doctorate in communication program’s curriculum is entirely devoted to learning how to plan and perform empirical research. Students can expect to take the following courses in a Ph.D. communications online program:

  • Advertising and the Digital Age
  • Introduction to Networks
  • Gendered Media Economies
  • Describing Your Data
  • Crisis Communications
  • Communication and Cultural Studies
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Introduction to Political Communication
  • Rhetorical Criticism
  • Media Criticism and the Future of Journalism
  • Experimental Design and Issues in Causality
  • Digital News and the Consumption of Information Online
  • Advanced Seminar in Collective Memory Studies
  • Popular Culture and Politics
  • Labor, Communication, and Technology
  • Research Seminar on Computational Social Science
  • Narrative Journalism
  • Collective Memory & Journalism
  • Networked Journalism
  • Public Health Communication
  • Social-Scientific Approaches to Communication Research
  • Social Psychology of Communication
  • Introduction to Media Policy
  • Message Effects
  • Digital Media and Social Theory
  • Content Analysis
  • Advanced Qualitative Research
  • Organizational Communication
  • History of Media Research, 1890-1990
  • Ethnography and the Internet
  • Dark Sides of Digital Media
  • Media Effects Research Design
  • Health Psychology Seminar
  • Social Approaches to Interpersonal Communication
  • Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Media
  • Health Communication Inequalities in the Digital Age
  • Public Relations and Society
  • Media and Social Movements
  • Reporting Global Issues
  • Qualitative Communication Research Methods
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Data Reporting
  • Journalism and Literature
  • Media Ethnography: Theory and Practice
  • Qualitative Ways of Knowing
  • Research Seminar on Internet Experiments
  • Discursive Constructions of Realities
  • Attitude & Behavior Prediction
  • Communication Technology and Politics
  • Political Communication
  • Public Opinion
  • Introduction to Communication Research
  • Analysis Election Data
  • Data Visualization for Research
  • Introduction to the Political Economy of Media
  • Neurobiology Social Influence
  • Digital Inequalities
  • Theories and Methods in Qualitative Research

When students tailor-make their Ph.D. programs, they will have an option of focusing on one or more areas of study. Some examples of areas of study include:

  • Journalism Studies
  • Political Communication
  • Communication and Difference
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Rhetoric
  • Communication Technology and Society
  • Organizing And Structures

Areas of Specialization for Online
Ph.D. in Communications

Many schools now offer students the opportunity to specialize in a specific communication discipline or field of practice through clearly defined specialty options. Students can tailor their Ph.D. program to their professional and career goals by pursuing specializations, which are sometimes known as concentrations or areas of study. The following are some of the most common specializations offered as part of Ph.D. in communication programs:

Organizational Communication Ph.D.

This specialization provides students with both basic and advanced training in all elements of organizational internal and external communication, as well as the research methods that should underpin communication strategy formulation. Students are typically provided with practical skills in areas such as corporate reputation management, interpersonal and organizational leadership, public and media relations management, conflict mediation, marketing and advertising, and crisis communication, with the goal of preparing professionals to manage and optimize internal and external communications within organizations.

Global and International Communication Ph.D.

This specialization equips students to work on a variety of international and multicultural communications projects, ranging from global marketing initiatives and public relations announcements to international news. Students who complete the global communication specialization can work in a range of corporate, government, and nonprofit settings. Their responsibilities could include creating international media and marketing campaigns, collaborating with global nonprofit groups on philanthropic efforts, or utilizing new media technologies to communicate vital ideas to a global audience.

Political Communication Ph.D.

This specialization enables students to develop, assess, and curate many types of political communication, such as public policy research and writing, political news, campaign speeches and media, and advocacy for various social and political concerns, among other things. The political communication specialization is designed for people who want to work as academics in the field, conducting research on topics like the science and theory of persuasion in political contexts, community mobilization, political discourse and the effects of political communication on political systems, and more. Students are prepared for advanced positions in campaigning, public policy, policy development, public affairs, research and pedagogical positions at universities and research centers, and government operations, to name a few.

Strategic Communication Ph.D.

This specialization prepares students to communicate in a variety of ways, including written, oral, visual, and interactive. Students generally take up courses in human psychology and behavior, interpersonal communication, public relations in corporate and nonprofit settings, strategic communication theory and principles, advertising and marketing, community education, brand and trust-building, social advocacy, and so on. Because strategic communication is such a large area that encompasses everything from interpersonal communication to mass communication, graduate programs in this field can differ even though their titles are similar. Furthermore, some programs provide students with a wide range of elective courses, allowing them to specialize in a specific area of strategic communication, such as corporate or organizational communication, marketing and advertising, advocacy and social impact, or public relations.

Marketing Communication and Public Relations Ph.D.

This specialization prepares students to plan and implement a wide range of marketing and public relations campaigns. This specialization’s focus areas include client experience assessment and management, consumer research, public relations writing, advertising campaigns, marketing content production and analytics, and additional approaches to enhancing the relationship between a company’s brand and its customers. Students learn how to plan marketing and public relations initiatives, how to implement marketing and public relations campaigns, and how to incorporate the latest marketing and customer experience management insights and technical innovations into these efforts. They also learn how to evaluate consumer responses to their companies’ outreach initiatives and provide product and service positioning advice to other divisions within the organization.

Health Communication Ph.D.

This specialization covers a wide range of communication topics, such as healthcare interventions, health promotion, the use of health communication technologies, and patient-caregiver interactions. Students in this specialization are taught how to manage health-related communication in both the public and private sectors, as well as how to promote social change by creating and disseminating information that educates people about public health issues. Graduates of master’s programs in health communication may work in hospitals, biotechnology firms, government health departments, health technology companies, and nonprofit organizations, among other places.

Some of the other available specializations in communications are:

  • Ph.D. in Rhetorical Communication
  • Ph.D. in Health Communication
  • Ph.D. in Performance Studies
  • Ph.D. in Communication Technology
  • Ph.D. in Health, Environment, Risk, and Science Communication 
  • Ph.D. Interpersonal Communication
  • Ph.D. Media Communication and Society
  • Ph.D. Human-Computer Interaction
  • Ph.D. Cultural studies
  • Ph.D. Feminist studies
  • Ph.D. Film studies
  • Ph.D. Media effects
  • Ph.D. Popular Culture
  • Ph.D. in Digital Communication
  • Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication
  • Online Ph.D. in Communication Studies
  • Online Ph.D. Technical Communication
  • Online Ph.D. in Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Online Ph.D. in Language and Communication
  • Online Ph.D. in Language and Social Interaction
  • Online Ph.D. in Social Psychology Communication
  • Online Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication

Why should I do Online Ph.D.
in Communications?

The Ph.D. in communications program has traditionally been focused on graduating students with the research skills and knowledge needed to conduct an independent academic inquiry in the field of communication at the doctoral level. Aside from academic careers, the Ph.D. program can prepare students for leadership positions in the communications industry, including journalism, advertising and marketing, corporate communications, government, charitable organizations, and more.

A doctorate in communication training can help an individual comprehend people from other cultures, which is particularly useful in the workplace. With so many companies offering remote work, communications professionals can find themselves working with people from all over the world. It is critical that they all understand acceptable communication methods to operate cooperatively. Mastering communications is also a useful ability for networking, presenting, public speaking, and providing outstanding customer service. Courses in a Ph.D. communications online program can benefit students in every aspect of their lives. The curriculum focuses on communication and technology, and students gain a complete understanding of the discipline, as well as proficiency in its theories, research skills, and experience teaching in a university setting. They also choose a specialty from among those recognized by scholarly societies and reflected in department faculty research priorities.

With many career paths to choose from, a Ph.D. in communications is a viable choice for students at the crossroads of deciding what to do with their lives. Communication is one of those few fields that is necessary and used in also all sectors of commerce and industry – from education and hospitals to nonprofits and businesses. No wonder the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that communication occupations are projected to grow 14% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations in the U.S.

When students tailor-make their Ph.D. programs, they will have an option of focusing on one or more areas of study. Some examples of areas of study include:

Upon graduating from a Ph.D. in communications online program, students should be able to:

  • explain, synthesize, and evaluate the most important theories, concepts, and principles in the field of communication studies;
  • use a programmatic approach to communication-based research, initiatives, and projects;
  • communicate in-depth expertise in both core and secondary fields of study in terms of communication theories, viewpoints, ideas, and concepts;
  • communicate effectively in a variety of teaching and training contexts by selecting appropriate instructional communicative behaviors;
  • independently design, conduct, and interpret novel quantitative research in the field of communication; 
  • participate in professional organizations and volunteer for the department, university, and the community to show commitment to the communication profession; and
  • write clearly and persuasively in order to be successful in the discipline of communication studies.

How to get into the Online Ph.D.
in Communications Program?

A rigorous selection process makes sense, given the Ph.D. program’s high standards and extensive requirements. Admissions officials or committee members evaluate whether or not an applicant has the necessary qualifications to pursue the program and is willing to put in the effort required to complete the program effectively and quickly during the enrollment process. Colleges are on the lookout for skilled individuals with prior experience in their profession, solid academic credentials, and a passion for both research and teaching equal to or greater than average. Apart from the standard admissions requirements, there are times when an interview with a member of the admissions committee is required, as are other specific prerequisites. All institutions have unique admissions procedures and requirements, which should be taken into consideration. As a general rule, students getting a Ph.D. in communications must have met the following basic requirements:

  • Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Official Academic Transcripts
  • An Undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
  • Acceptable undergraduate coursework and Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • A Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in any discipline, preferably in communications or a closely related field from an accredited institution. (Preference is generally given to applicants with a master’s in communications)
  • A Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 in graduate-level studies
  • Acceptable Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score (no more than five years old)
  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
  • Professional Resume
  • At least 3 to 4 Letters of Recommendation

Admission Essays or Scholarly Writing Samples may also be required of individuals who do not have communications experience. Those coming from a background other than communications may be required to take additional prerequisite courses such as math and statistics or public relations or courses in languages.

Note: Admissions requirements can vary by college and program. Students are advised to read the college prospectus, contact the school’s admissions office, or speak to the department of communications at the choice of school, to understand exact requirements.

How long is a Ph.D. in

After graduating from high school and getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited college or university, it typically takes 4 to 7 years (or longer) to complete a Ph.D. program in communications. Because coursework accounts for the vast majority of the Ph.D. requirements, practically the whole program can be completed online (with some limitations). However, it is much more typical for Ph.D. students to complete their dissertation/thesis through traditional coursework rather than primarily over the internet.

In most Ph.D. in communications programs, for the most part, coursework is completed in the first two years or four semesters of the program, with the remaining years being devoted to research, for writing and defending a thesis or dissertation, or completing other similar assignments/requirements during the last two years or four semesters. Additionally, seminars and extensive tests are incorporated into the 55-65 credit program, spread across several semesters.

Although some Ph.D. communications online programs allow students to work at their own pace and complete lectures and examinations on their own time, others adhere to a strict class schedule and enroll students in a cohort for the duration of their course. The length of a doctorate in communication may vary as a result of this and other factors such as the coursework load, chosen specialization, topic of dissertation/thesis, etc.

Accreditation for Online Doctorate
in Communication

The credibility of an institution is built on the foundation of accreditation, which demonstrates the quality of the organization it certifies. Students and employers can rest easy knowing that their chosen college or program has been evaluated and found to be up to and beyond the standard in areas such as administrative support and policies, instructor selection and evaluation, program quality, infrastructure, and curriculum requirements, all of which are part of the accreditation process. There are six major regional accreditation agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), which ensures that credentials and credits earned at an institution are accepted by other institutions and can be used for future employment. The six regional accrediting organizations are as follows:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

The accreditation status of a school or program can be checked online on the official U.S Department of Education website or using a credible source like the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Although accredited online Ph.D. programs in communication studies can be pursued at a college that is regionally accredited, as an alternative, the Ph.D. program might also be programmatically accredited by a specialized accrediting agency. Programmatic accreditation in communications reflects a school’s compliance with the exacting standards for certification in this field. An example of such programmatic accreditation is the professional journalism and mass communication programs, which are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

Find out all about accreditation in the detailed Accreditation Guide.

Online Ph.D. in Communication
no GRE Programs

Admission to online Ph.D. programs in communications has traditionally required either Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores. However, some colleges do not have this requirement and have waived this requirement due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. Examples of online Ph.D. in communications programs that do not require the GRE or GMAT include the following:

The University of North Carolina (UNC)

The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, offers a Ph.D. in Media and Communication that does not require GRE scores to be submitted for enrollment.

Ohio University

The Ohio University, Scripps College of Communication, offers a Ph.D. in Mass Communication program for which the submission of GRE scores is optional (but encouraged).

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication, has a Ph.D. program in communication for which the submission of GRE scores is optional for the coming application cycle (2022) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cornell University

Cornell University Graduate School, an ivy league school, offers a Ph.D. in Communication program that has waived the GRE requirement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The scores are also not required due to “broader concerns about the inequities inherent in this standardized test”.

Accelerated Online Ph.D. in
Communications Programs

Ph.D. programs are usually designed to be rigorous, involving a lot of work and requiring a lot of commitment. The fact that these programs need a large amount of time and effort on a daily basis should not be underestimated by students. Students who wish to complete their doctorate in a shorter amount of time must take three courses per term rather than two. They must work on their dissertation throughout the program rather than putting everything together at the end. Given the program’s requirements and depth, it is extremely rare for colleges to offer accelerated online Ph.D. in communications programs that can be completed in the fewer than 4 to 7 years one would normally need. However, with additional work and dedication, some students can successfully go on to complete their Ph.D. in communication doctoral studies in 3 to 4 years. Here is an example of an accelerated Ph.D. program in communications:

American University

The American University offers a Ph.D. in Communication in which, in contrast to the traditional 9-month-per-year schedule, the annual course of study takes place over 11 months, including faculty supervision and mentoring via formal course work, organized research group meetings, and online collaboration. This accelerated structure of the Ph.D. program allows students to complete their degrees in three years.

How to Pay for Online Doctorate
in Communication Programs?

Despite the lower cost of Ph.D. communications online programs compared to traditional in-state or out-of-state programs, the overall cost of the Ph.D. can go into the tens of thousands of dollars. Because working professionals make up the bulk of Ph.D. students, they try their best to cover the costs of their education entirely out of pocket. Unfortunately, this may not always be possible due to family, professional, medical, and lifestyle demands. Therefore, looking into alternative funding options for one’s doctorate in communication may be a good idea. As an online Ph.D. in communications student, here are a few options for financial aid:

Scholarships are by far the most frequent type of aid for the vast majority of students seeking financial assistance. Individual contributors, private groups, alumnae associations, cultural, religious, and commercial organizations all contribute to the establishment of scholarships for advanced education students. The academic performance and achievements of applicants are taken into account first and foremost when deciding whether or not to award a scholarship. Scholarships are awarded to students who, in addition to academic achievement, have demonstrated leadership in their communities, come from a certain cultural background, or belong to a particular faith, to name a few other considerations. (Note: Read about Scholarship Scams to avoid being scammed.)


Ph.D. Fellowships (also known as Predoctoral Fellowships) are stipends awarded to doctoral students who are nearing completion of their degrees. Some Ph.D. fellowships provide financing for specific causes to students who meet certain criteria, while others require students to complete a future assignment in exchange for the funds. Fellowships are also awarded for exceptional performance, and some are intended to attract and retain highly valued students. Departments, colleges, people, government agencies, and companies are among the institutions that award fellowships.

Compared to their academically strong peers, students who are academically gifted yet come from low-income families are more likely to receive grants. Grants, as opposed to scholarships, are not awarded solely because of merit but rather on the basis of financial need, frequently determined by the financial position of the family. Grant money can either pay for tuition or cover other educational expenses such as transportation, accommodation, food, educational supplies, etc.

Although usually reserved for graduate students, Ph.D. students who wish to work in a classroom, assist professors with lessons, work in a lab or workshop, or teach and demonstrate to undergraduates have the option of applying for a Teaching Assistantship. For their efforts, students will be compensated in some way, usually in the form of a fee waiver or stipend. A Research Assistantship is another option for students who prefer to assist professors in their research rather than teach.

Employer Sponsorship

A growing number of firms allow their employees to pursue further education while they are on the clock. Students should inquire about the terms, conditions, and circumstances of any sponsorship that a potential doctorate student’s firm may make available. A long-term commitment from the company’s personnel is usually required for the company’s support and sponsorship of Ph.D. programs.

Student Loans

Doctoral students and working professionals who are seeking a Ph.D. may want to explore taking out loans from the government, banks, or other private lenders that include interest payments. It is noteworthy that if students fail to pay back their loans on time, they are likely going to end up with more student debt because of accruing interest and penalties.

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form students can fill in and submit to check their eligibility for financial aid against various criteria. Financial aid may include scholarships, grants, work-study programs, etc. More FAFSA-related information is available here.

Read the best Financial Guide to know more about various types of financial aid to fund a Ph.D. in communications program.

Fully Funded Online Communication
Ph.D. Programs

Many universities offering doctoral communications programs are either fully or partially funded. To be eligible for funding, students will have to meet several criteria and sometimes show financial need as well. Apart from universities, private organizations and for-profit research businesses also offer financial aid in certain instances. Here are a few universities that provide fully-funded Ph.D. in communications:

University/College Description
Northwestern UniversityNorthwestern University offers a Ph.D. in Communication Studies, for which students receive five years of university funding. Nine months of funding is through a graduate assistantship, and during the summer months, funding is through a fellowship. Both include a stipend and tuition waiver.
The University of Pennsylvania – Annenberg School for CommunicationThe Annenberg School for Communication offers a Ph.D. in Communication that is fully funded for up to five years. Funding includes tuition and fees, health care, teaching and research fellowships, and dissertation research fellowships.
University of OregonThe University of Oregon, School of Journalism and Communication provides four years of graduate employment funding that covers a doctoral student’s entire tuition, health insurance, and a monthly stipend to offset living costs. The program available is the Communication and Media Studies Doctoral Program.
New York UniversityThe New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, has a Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication with several funding options. The basic full-time Ph.D. funding package includes an annual stipend, tuition remission for required course work, and student health insurance for up to five years.
The Ohio State University – PhD in Communication
University of Pennsylvania – PhD in Communication

Free Courses for Online Ph.D.
in Communications

In many instances, communication specialists and colleges offer free courses in the discipline of communications. Although students will seldom come by Ph.D.-level courses for free, some of the available courses can nonetheless prove to be beneficial for Ph.D. students. They can help students improve their communication skills, interpersonal talents, and self-confidence, as well as add value to their efforts in research and preparation for their thesis or dissertation. A few online learning portals offer free courses and depending on the course or learning path, a certificate of completion can be earned. Here are some free resources for students who are pursuing a Ph.D. degree in communications online:

Course Description Offered by
Topics on CommunicationsUdemy offers some 90+ free courses across beginner, intermediate, and expert levels in various areas of communication. Topics include How to Facilitate Effective Communication and Engagement, A World of Difference: Exploring Intercultural Communication, Public Speaking Essentials: How to Craft Your Personal Story, Social Media Ethics, and more.Udemy
Topics on CommunicationsCoursera shows some 1,800+ search results against the word “communications”, which include courses, specializations, professional certificates, guided projects, and more. Material is available for beginner, intermediate, mixed, and advanced levels of learning in topics such as Designing Effective Science Communication, Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling, Engaging in Persuasive and Credible Communication, Negotiation Skills and Effective Communication, etc.Coursera
Topics on CommunicationsAlison offers several free courses in various topics of communications, including Communication Skills – Perception and Non-Verbal Communication, English for Business and Entrepreneurship, The Art of Persuasion, Pillars of Neuro-linguistic Programming, and more.Alison

FAQs about Online Doctorate
in Communication Programs

What is a doctorate in communication?

In most fields, doctorate degrees are referred to as “terminal degrees” since they represent the pinnacle of academic achievement. Students who choose to pursue these types of degrees in communications are serious about learning in-depth about the discipline and enhancing their research skills. There are two types of doctoral degrees: those that focus on academic research and subject matter expertise – called the Ph.D. and those that educate students for action-based research and work in an applied setting – such as the DNP, Pharm.D., Ed.D., DrPH, etc.

How to get a doctorate in communications?

What are the best communication Ph.D. programs?

What can you do with a Ph.D. in communications?

What is the average fee charged by the colleges?

Can I do a Ph.D. communications online?

How long is Ph.D. communication?

Can I do a Ph.D. in communications without a masters?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after
Online Ph.D. in Communications

A Ph.D. in communications opens the door to senior positions in education and academia. However, it is not uncommon for graduates to enter research settings or work in other sectors such as healthcare, media, sport and entertainment, television, business, social media, the government, law enforcement, etc., usually in upper-level and responsible roles. Communications Ph.D. holders can also enter fields such as:

Data Analytics and Emerging Technologies (such as Immersive and Social Media)

Legal and Historical Studies

Media in Healthcare Contexts

Visual Communication

Critical Media Studies

Strategic Communication and Mass Media Persuasion

International Media

Of course, Ph.D. in communications can also open careers in:

  • Human Resources
  • Broadcasting
  • Sports Reporting
  • Social Media
  • Advertising
  • Television
  • Intercultural Relations
  • Health Care Management
  • Music Production
  • Sales
  • Counseling
  • Public Relations
  • Human Resource Management
  • Law
  • Web Design
  • Event Planning
  • Entrepreneurism
  • Social work
  • Campaign Management
  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Visual Communications
  • Education
  • Film

What can you do with a Ph.D. in communications? There are several roles Ph.D. degree holders in communications can consider. Some of the common job titles and positions include but are not limited to

  • Digital Strategy Director
  • Director of Creative Services
  • Social Media Manager
  • Creative Services Director
  • Public Relations Director
  • Corporate Communications Director
  • Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager or Director
  • Director of Communications and Digital Strategy
  • Director of Digital Marketing
  • Marketing Communications Manager
  • Digital Product Manager
  • Communications Consultant
  • SEO or SEM Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Editor in Chief
  • Professor of Communications
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Campaign Manager
  • Broadcasting Director
  • Writer or Author
  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Donor Relations Manager

Ph.D. communications graduates earn substantially more than their bachelor’s or masters counterparts. Of course, added experience, certifications, and education can further increase pay and make career advancements easier. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, communication occupations are projected to grow 14% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations in the U.S. PayScale reports that the average median Corporate Communications Director salary is $127,801, with 90% earning over $175,000 per year.

Below is a list of a few roles in the communications sector and what Ph.D. holders in communications can come to expect by way of salary and job growth, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It is noteworthy that the salaries mentioned are for junior to mid-level positions. Ph.D. holders will almost certainly earn more.

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)
Director of Digital MarketingA Digital Marketing Director is in charge of the whole digital marketing strategy’s planning, development, implementation, and management. They are also in charge of supervising, guiding, and training the team’s digital marketers and other marketing positions.Lead generation, social media optimization, strategic marketing, team leadership, analytical skills, strategic planning, interpersonal skills, organizational skills$98,975NA
Corporate Communications DirectorA Corporate Communications Director is in charge of all official communications for the company, including press releases, emails, responses to media queries, and other forms of communication. The director, who is a top-level manager, may supervise middle managers and collaborate with a communications team to ensure that all communications are consistent and reflect the company’s philosophy and branding.Social media optimization, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, strategy development, organizational skills, employee relations, change management skills$127,801NA
Creative Services DirectorA Creative Services Director oversees the design, marketing, promotion, and implementation of marketing plans to support all brands under company management. They are also in charge of directing their marketing teams’ daily activities, which necessitates managing workflow not only between these teams but also between other departments of the firm and potential outside stakeholders.Strategic marketing, analytical reasoning, advertising, vendor management, organizational skills, critical thinking skills, leadership skills$86,506NA
Public Relations ManagerA Public Relations Manager prepares and directs the creation of material that will improve their employer’s or client’s public image. They help clients communicate effectively with the public, develop their organization’s or client’s corporate image and identity, and aid and inform an organization’s executives and spokespeople.Speaking skills, organizational skills, writing skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills$118,43013% (faster than average)
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing ManagerAn Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager devises strategies for generating interest in products or services. They develop pricing strategies for items or services marketed to target clients, conduct market research studies, and analyze the results to better understand customers and market potential for businesses.Creativity, organizational skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, decision-making skills, analytical skills$141,49010% or higher (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online
Ph.D. in Communications

Students who earn a Ph.D. communications online and then go on to earn a professional certification can show off their skills and abilities while also establishing their credentials. Certifications enable individuals to participate in a lifelong learning process that boosts their professional development and provides a framework for keeping their skills current and relevant. A doctorate in communication can also lead to specific senior positions and enhanced employability, which in turn can lead to promotions, advancements, and a better salary. The following certifications are available to students pursuing a Ph.D. in communications:

Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) Credential

The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) demonstrates professional competence, high standards of current public relations techniques, and communicates professional skill with personal and professional dedication and ideals in the field of public relations. The APR credential is offered in two variants by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – APR: Accredited in Public Relations, and the APR+M: Accredited in Public Relations and Military Communication.

Communication Management Professional (CMP)

The Communication Management Professional (CMP) certification is for communication professionals who are in the generalist or specialized stage of their careers. The certification is apt for those with 6 to 8 years of work experience in the communications field. The CMP has been developed by the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), a team of communication professionals assembled by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)’s international executive board.

Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP)

The Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) credential is for communication professionals who are at the senior level in their careers. The certification is apt for those with 8 to 11 years of work experience in the communications field. The SCMP has also been developed by the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), a team of communication professionals assembled by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)’s international executive board.

Certified Resume Specialist (CRS+X) Credential

The Career Directors International (CDI) Certified Industry Resume Specialist offers the Certified Resume Specialist (CRS+X) designation and is available in 20 areas of competence that are regarded to be the most sought after in the resume industry. A Certified IT Resume Specialist (CRS+IT), for example, can indicate one’s ability to lead in the field of IT resumes. Certifications include Public Relations and Marketing Communications – (CRS+PR), Sales and Business Development – (CRS+BD), Administration and Clerical – (CRS+AC), and other certifications are available.

Additional Resources for Online Ph.D.
in Communications Degree

In order to fully comprehend and analyze the many varied forms, effects, and uses of communication, a thorough examination and analysis of the discipline are required. Having the opportunity to network with communications specialists from all around the world would be beneficial for students, as it would allow them to get a more in-depth grasp of the field, as well as new insights and skills that would help them develop in their careers. These resources for communications Ph.D. students can help them in their studies as well as in their future employment as communications professionals. They include:

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the nation’s largest professional communications group. PRSA is the industry’s foremost advocate for excellence and ethical conduct, offering members lifelong learning opportunities and cutting-edge resources to help them build professional networks and provide support at every stage of their careers. PRSA has almost 30,000 members and is represented on nearly 375 college and university campuses through 110 Chapters and 14 Professional Interest Sections, as well as the Public Relations Student Society of America, its student affiliate (PRSSA).

EBSCO – Communication Source

EBSCO provides libraries, health care and medical institutions, corporations, and government agencies with access to content and resources to meet the information and workflow needs of their users and organizations, ranging from research, acquisition management, subscription services, and discovery to clinical decision support and patient care, learning, and research and development.

National Communication Association (NCA)

The National Communication Association (NCA) encourages and promotes communication as a field that explores all modes, forms, media, and ramifications of communication through social scientific, humanistic, and artistic study. The NCA facilitates and supports the professional interests of students, teachers, and practitioners in the areas of teaching, learning, and research. The organization publishes 11 academic journals, holds an annual convention, runs a career center, provides teaching and learning tools, and engages in public policy advocacy.

Association for Women in Communications (AWC)

The Association for Women in Communications (AWC) is the leading organization in the industry dedicated to providing women with the confidence, support, and resources they need to advance their careers and make a difference. The AWC is a professional association that fosters leadership, recognizes excellence, and places members at the forefront of the changing communications landscape.

Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP)

The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) encourages and supports nonprofit and public-service marketing and communication professionals. The AMCP honors excellent achievement and dedication to the communication profession through national and international competitions.

Author Bio:

Shilpee Singh

Shilpee Singh is an English Literature graduate and a Linguistics postgraduate from Delhi University. She believes in sustainable living and tries to lead a holistic life. She has a knack for writing and puts together the best facts for the reader’s benefit.


BA. Hons. English Literature // MA in Linguistics // Batchelor in Education (Gold Medalist)

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

I have been in the domain for about a decade


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