Doctorate in Public Relations & PHD Advertising Programs

Doctorate in Public Relations and Advertising programs are the highest level of degree one could achieve in the parent field of marketing. As a research degree, a PhD in Advertising or Public Relations is often planned-out for the thought leader. PhD students are usually asked to forge new theories, understand global trends, and problem solve in their industry.

written by Rana Waxman

Doctorate in Public Relations and Advertising Programs: Overview

Topics of study in Doctorate in Public Relations and Advertising programs are primarily focused on either public relations or advertising. However, it is common for coursework to also include elements of marketing and communications. Therefore, one’s studies may be both wide and deep as well as interdisciplinary. In the broadest context, Advertising and Public Relations PhD programs might explore the tools and techniques used to sell or promote consumer goods, brands and images. This core coursework is often fused with classes in one or two other fields. This generally serves two purposes: (1) to build expertise and (2) to anchor research interests.
For instance, one could study how audiences receive messages related to specific fields. Majors such as health care, legislation and public policy, education or tourism, for instance, may require particular PR practices, ethics and concepts. Take a look below at how this process could play out through a PhD curriculum.
  • PhD in Advertising students who want to understand the psychological impact of advertising might, for instance, choose to take courses in psychology
  • PhD in Communication students who want more insight into the effects of health communication could take several courses in an area such as public health
  • PhD in Strategic Communication students who want a solid grasp of international markets might study global or international PR and multiculturalism
This process could encourage students to focus their program of study to meet their own particular goals and to develop greater proficiency in specific research areas. In this way, each doctoral student may be able to grow in professionally meaningful ways. Doctorate in Public Relations and Advertising programs are thus highly customizable in many universities. A student may be able to formulate their own research topic as it pertains to advertising and public relations in areas such as public policy, cultural purchasing patterns or economics.

Types of PhD Advertising and Public Relations PhD Programs

There are many variants within Doctorate in Public Relations and Advertising programs. Some programs might put the spotlight on media and communications, others on organizational and strategic leadership. Also, university catalogues may refer to such degrees as PhD in Strategic Communication or PhD in Communication programs, so make sure to assess course lists before you make a decision.

PhD in Strategic Communications

A PhD in Strategic Communication could expand students’ knowledge through exposure to a wide range of courses. A broad course plan generally aims to help students fine tune an original contribution to the academic and professional field of mediated communication and, generally, communication. Graduates may take away the skills to keenly analyze, segment, select and persuade specific groups.
  • Louisiana State University

  • Alliant International University

  • University of Texas at Austin