PhD in Communication Studies: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Communication studies Ph.D. programs are typically offered at a school campus, though some components may be completed online. Find out more about how programs work and career prospects for postsecondary communications professors by reading on. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Coursework Should I Expect In a Ph.D. In Communication Studies Program?

A Ph.D. in communications studies is a graduate program designed to prepare you for teaching and researching positions in higher education. Like many Ph.D. programs, there is not a set plan of study. You will customize your program by deciding a specialization within communication studies. Sample specializations may include:

  • Media studies
  • Rhetoric studies
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Instructional communication
  • Interaction and social influence

In addition to completing doctorate coursework, you will be expected to complete independent research, teaching hours, exams and a dissertation. Upon completion of preliminary written exams, you will propose and defend a dissertation prospectus to a board-appointed committee. The dissertation must consist of original research in your field of expertise.

Common CoursesMedia studies, interpersonal communication, interaction and social influence, rhetoric studies
Admissions RequirementsBachelor's or master's degree, essays, letters of recommendation, graduate test scores
Program FormatOnline, on campus, or hybrid
Median Salary*$70,790 for postsecondary teachers in 2014

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are The Prerequisites?

The Ph.D. in communications studies can be entered into with either a bachelor's or master's in the field, depending on the institution. Bachelor's degree-holders must complete a master's and Ph.D. split program; you must complete an exam showing master's level competence prior to receiving your Ph.D. candidacy. In addition to providing a master's degree and thesis credits, you must submit supplementary documents, such as essays, letters of recommendation and graduate test scores.

How Do Online Programs Differ?

Online Ph.D. programs in communication studies that are offered completely online are rare. Typically, you'll find hybrid programs offering online classes in addition to on-campus courses and teaching internships. Online classes only differ from on-campus classes in the delivery method.

Online programs feature the same faculty-led curriculum; however, you must have high-speed Internet and a computer to access the online course management system. Web-based communication technology is utilized for professor and student interaction.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

A Ph.D. is typically the minimum degree required to gain tenure-track teaching and research positions in higher education institutions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a faster than average growth of 13% for postsecondary teachers from 2014-2024 ( The strong growth may make it easier to find a position; however, competition is greater for tenured positions. The median annual wages for postsecondary communications teachers were $70,790 in colleges, universities and professional schools in May of 2014, according to the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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