Journalism PhD Program Information

Read ahead to get a feel for the type of studies addressed in a journalism Ph.D. program. See what types of careers a doctoral degree in this field can lead to and common requirements for admission.

Essential Information

Most students enter Ph.D. in Journalism programs with prior practical experience in news and broadcasting, along with an undergraduate degree. Much of doctoral students' time is devoted to theory and research methodology. Students also interact with professionals in the field, enriching their own experience and knowledge. Some programs expect students to complete additional coursework toward a second language proficiency.

Students often concentrate their studies in a particular area of interest, such as First Amendment law or gender issues in journalism. In fact, many programs allow students to develop their own plans of study and concentrations that would best relate to a student's professional goals. Programs commonly culminate with the student performing extensive research and writing a dissertation. On average, a Ph.D. in Journalism will take five years to finish. These programs prepare students for education, research and consulting careers.

Educational Prerequisites

Journalism Ph.D. programs require applicants to possess bachelor's degrees. Additionally, many programs require master's degrees, though this may be waived, due to significant professional journalism or media experience. Most programs also require the submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Some programs may request that applicants submit writing samples or statements of purpose.

Program Coursework

Journalism Ph.D. programs primarily consist of theory courses and offer a more in-depth look at topics introduced in undergraduate programs. Common course topics include the following:

  • Mass communication history
  • Media and culture theory
  • Ethical issues in journalism
  • Telecommunication law
  • Advertising theory
  • Contemporary issues in journalism
  • Teaching media communication
  • Teaching mass communications in college
  • Mass media research
  • Freedom of expression theory

Popular Career Options

Graduates of journalism Ph.D. programs most commonly pursue careers in education, though some may pursue careers in research or consulting. Popular careers include journalism professors at the postsecondary level, media analysts, research consultants, advertising specialists or journalism education program administrators. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the 2010 average annual wage for individuals in advertising was $98,720 (

Continuing Education Information

A Ph.D. in Journalism is considered to be the terminal degree in the field. Some graduates may pursue degrees in other fields to complement their areas of interest. For example, a degree in law would benefit an individual involved in political reporting. Some schools offer joint programs in journalism and related fields.

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