2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    Jun 14, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Strategic Communication PhD

College: Sciences Degree: PhD
Department: Nicholson School of Communication and Media Option: Dissertation
Program Website: https://communication.ucf.edu/degree/strategic-communication-ph-d/
Graduate Program Handbook

Program Description

The PhD in Strategic Communication offers advanced instruction in health communication, instructional emergency risk communication, and crisis communication; it prepares students with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a successful, advanced career in communication and related fields in both academic and applied settings.

Strategic communication, one of the fastest-growing areas situated within the broader field of communication, is an innovative and unique subfield. It is distinct from other communication subfields in that it is intentionally goal-driven communication wherein communication scholars work in partnership with professionals in the public and private sectors to solve real-world problems.

The Nicholson School of Communication and Media’s communication and digital media programs joined the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) at UCF Downtown, a 21st-century campus with access to arts, culture, nightlife, and business.


The Strategic Communication PhD requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree. The zero-hour Doctoral Colloquium will be required in the fall semesters of the first and second year. This course will introduce students to professional standards and practices associated with doctoral-level training in the field of Strategic Communication.

Total Credit Hours Required: 60 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master’s Degree

Students must earn a grade of “B” (3.0) or better in the program’s required courses. Courses may be retaken one time to achieve a better grade; however, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their plan of study.

Required Courses—24 Credit Hours

Colloquium—0 Credit Hours

Community Engagement Requirement—3 Credit Hours

Restricted Elective Courses—6 Credit Hours

Choose one area of concentration.

Concentration in Risk and Crisis Communication


Concentration in Health Communication

Unrestricted Electives—15 Credit Hours

Upon consultation with, and approval of the student’s advisor, a student may complete up to 6 hours of elective courses from outside the NSCM (e.g., Emergency Management, Public Affairs). Note: Non-NSCM courses might not be offered on the Downtown campus and will require students to attend the course at the UCF Main campus.

Choose from Nicholson School of Communication and Media graduate courses below.

Dissertation—15 Credit Hours

  • COM 7980 Dissertation Research 15 credit hours

Independent Learning

As with all graduate programs, independent learning is an important component of the Strategic Communication doctoral program. Students will demonstrate independent learning through research seminars, directed research and the dissertation.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions  section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

Applicants should adhere to the application requirements outlined below. An application will not be reviewed for admission until it is verified as complete by the UCF College of Graduate Studies.

Meeting minimum UCF admission criteria does not guarantee program admission. Final admission is based on an evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match of this program and faculty expertise to the applicant’s career/academic goals, and the applicant’s potential for completing the degree.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements , applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended.
  • An earned master’s degree or its equivalent in Communication or a related field. The Director of Graduate Studies will evaluate the suitability and applicability of M.A. or M.S. degrees in other related disciplines for admission purposes. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all graduate work and must also have a cumulative 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate degree.
  • A competitive score on each of the quantitative and verbal sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within five years prior to admission to the program.
    • NOTE: The GRE has been removed as an admission requirement for this graduate program for applicants applying Spring 2021 through the Fall 2021 term. This is a temporary measure in response to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Three letters of reference that evaluate the applicant’s academic performance and their suitability and potential for undertaking doctoral study, at least one of which must be written by a faculty member at the institution where the master’s degree was earned, preferably the thesis advisor or Graduate Program Director.
  • A personal statement of 500 words identifying areas of research interest in strategic communication, faculty with whom they would like to work, and describing the applicant’s academic and professional experiences and future career goals. 
  • Video Essay (optional)
  • A writing sample of the applicant’s work that is at least 2500 words long and demonstrates the ability to complete graduate-level research.
  • Résumé.
  • Applicants to this program, except those that have earned or will earn a Masters or Doctoral degree from an accredited U.S. institution recognized by UCF, who have attended a college/university outside the United States must provide a course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation. Credential evaluations are accepted from World Education Services (WES) or Josef Silny and Associates, Inc. only.

International applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) unless they hold a degree from a U.S. accredited institution. The TOEFL is strongly preferred. The minimum TOEFL score for full admissions consideration is 90 on the Internet-based test (IBT) and must take the speaking portion of the TOEFL and score a 26 or higher, 232 on the computer-based test, or 575 on the paper-based test. The minimum IELTS score is 7.0. Applicants should plan to take the appropriate test no later than December to ensure consideration of their applications by the January 15 deadline. Applicants’ records will be reviewed on an individual basis for academic deficiencies and evaluated to assess their potential for success in the program. Supplemental course work may be recommended. Consult the graduate program director whenever questions arise. Meeting minimum UCF admissions criteria does not guarantee program admission. Final admission is also based on an evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match of this program to the applicant’s career/academic goals, applicant’s potential for completing the degree, and the interview. 

Selection committee: Applicants for admission into the doctoral program will be reviewed and recommended for acceptance by the NSCM Doctoral Committee. The Doctoral Committee will be chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies and comprised of five additional representatives from the graduate faculty in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media.

Application Deadlines

Strategic Communication PhD *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 1 Jan 1    
International Applicants Jan 1 Jan 1    
*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information  section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship. 

Contact Info

Graduate Program

Timothy Sellnow, PhD
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Telephone: 407-823-3143
CMB 203 

Kelsey Loftus
NSCM Graduate Admissions Specialist
Telephone: 407-823-5595
NSCM 238/CMB 203

Graduate Admissions

Anthony Tufano
Telephone: 407-823-2766
Millican Hall 230   
Online Application
Graduate Admissions

Mailing Address

UCF College of Graduate Studies
Millican Hall 230
PO Box 160112
Orlando, FL  32816-0112

Institution Codes

GRE: 5233
TOEFL: 5233
ETS PPI: 5233

Graduate Fellowships

Grad Fellowships
Telephone: 407-823-0127

Graduate Financial Aid

UCF Student Financial Assistance
Millican Hall 120
Telephone: 407-823-2827
Appointment Line: 407-823-5285
Fax: 407-823-5241