Ph.D. programs in public relations are geared toward PR professionals who already have a strong grasp of concepts and practical skills used in the field. Ph.D. students typically spend more time researching and exploring theories that could expand the PR industry than learning new career skills. Students typically complete a dissertation in their area of expertise. All programs require at least a bachelor's degree, and many also require a master's degree in a relevant field. Program specializations include advertising in the digital age, public relations, and government.
Public Relations Ph.D. Program
Courses in a doctoral program in public relations focus strongly on theory and research methods. They might include:
- Public relations research methods
- Communication theory
- Statistical research tools
- Philosophy of science
- Human behavior
- Business science
- Public relations dissertation research
Graduates of this program can obtain career titles such as:
- Postsecondary professor
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment opportunities for postsecondary communications teachers were expected to grow by 10% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Job prospects were forecasted to be especially favorable among for-profit, private colleges and universities. Earnings for college professors can vary greatly. However, the BLS published in May 2015 that the median salary for communications teachers at the postsecondary level, including professors of public relations, was $63,410.
Continuing Education Information
A public relations Ph.D. is a terminal degree, so all continuing education opportunities take place in the professional realm. Doctoral candidates will engage in research, writing, and publications. Ph.D. recipients will often present research during professional forums or academic conferences.
Public relations is a diverse and in-demand field that can lead to careers in the non-profit sector, postsecondary education, and business. Doctoral programs highlight theory, research and behavior, but many offer the chance to select an area of concentration.