Strategic Communication Ph.D. Coming to NSCM

Effectively countering rumor, misinformation, and fear during times of crisis is the focus of a new doctorate program from the Nicholson School of Communication and Media.

The Strategic Communication Ph.D. will provide hands-on instruction in developing potentially life-saving messaging for events from food recalls to mass shootings and natural disasters. It will also focus on theory and research for developing more effective models of crisis communication.

“It runs the whole range of crises,” explained Timothy Sellnow, Ph.D., director of graduate studies at Nicholson. “Students will be ready to respond from the outset of a crisis to the recovery stage.”

The program will emphasize public health safety, both reactionary —like the current recall of E.coli-tainted Romaine lettuce — and more complicated campaigns like vaccination reminders. The latter is an important instructional element of crisis communication that helps people and their families take actions to protect themselves.

The intended audience for the new program includes working professionals who want to teach and consult in strategic communications, along with current first responders. Graduates can go on to careers in agencies like the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

“These are people who are highly interested in building their communication skills and deeply committed to the focus of the program,” Sellnow said. “Our mantra is: ‘The right words at the right time save lives.’”

Enrollment opens in Spring in advance of the Fall ’19 classes. Email Sellnow for more information at:

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