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Digital Media PhD: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Doctoral programs in digital media offer advanced education in technology-based forms of media and the opportunity to pursue digital media research or academia careers. Read on to learn more about Ph.D. programs in digital media, admissions information, classes you'll take and career options for those who complete the degree.

What Is a Digital Media Ph.D. Program?

Ph.D. programs in digital media, such as the Ph.D. in Film and Digital Media or Ph.D. in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, are designed to provide you with research and critical thinking skills through study in areas like online information dissemination, Internet literacy or emerging digital media forms. Currently, only campus-based programs are available in this area.

The purpose of digital media Ph.D. programs is to help you develop expertise in the field, so that you are capable of teaching, writing or speaking about issues in digital media. You will broaden your knowledge of various forms of digital media through seminars and independent research, as well as your thesis development.

Degree OptionsTraditional, campus-based doctoral programs available
Program PrerequisitesHighly selective programs, prior degree required, portfolio or writing sample often required
Common CoursesTheories of networked communication, Internet-based media, interactive storytelling, intellectual property law
Career OptionsWork as a specialist writing for a journal, teach in postsecondary education, offer consulting services
Median Salary (2018)* $78,470 (for postsecondary teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*15% growth (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Required For Admissions?

Admissions to digital media Ph.D. programs can be highly selective. You are required to possess a bachelor's or master's degree. While a prior degree in a media studies field is not required, it may be helpful for admissions. You may also be asked to demonstrate your critical thinking, writing or scholarship skills through the submission of a writing sample or portfolio. You are typically required to submit your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as well.

What Courses Will I Take?

Though much of your coursework is dependent upon your area of focus, in most digital media Ph.D. programs, you will take a series of lecture-based and research-driven courses. Often, the research you perform can be done off-campus, but will also necessitate hands-on exploration of the digital media forms. Common topics include the following:

  • Internet-based media
  • Theories of networked communication
  • Video game theory and analysis
  • Interactive storytelling
  • Intellectual property law in digital media
  • Emerging digital media forms
  • History of media

What Can I Do With This Degree?

In many cases, if you complete a Ph.D. in Digital Media, you are prepared for a career in postsecondary education or research. You may also work as a writer or as a specialist, which includes writing for journals, giving speeches and making television appearances. You may also be employed as a consultant with digital media firms.