Communication Faculty Job Listings On Upswing

September 26, 2023


The NCA’s 2021-22 Academic Job Listings in Communication Report shows a steady, albeit slow, increase in Communication faculty jobs being advertised since a big drop in early 2020 due to COVID. Advertised jobs went from 596 in 2019-20 to 617 in 2020-21 to 627 in 2021-22. The report also compares Ph.D. job advertisements in the Communication field to selected other fields and may indicate universities’ strategic priorities by discipline while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For instance, while job openings in the Communication field consistently increased in the years following a drop from the 2018-19 academic year to the 2019-20 academic year, some other fields experienced significant declines. In the year from 2019-20 to 2020-21, history Ph.D. postings dropped 29.17%; philosophy Ph.D. listings dropped 29.17%, and sociology Ph.D. ads dropped 40.19%. During that year, political science Ph.D. postings also saw another very small decline, and data about English language/literature Ph.D.s is not available.

The report also continues to bring up questions about matches between Ph.D. degree programs and jobs generally requiring a Ph.D.  The most sought-after named specialties for Ph.D. holders in 2021-22 were: Strategic/Public Relations/Advertising (75, or 11.96% of all job ads); and Mass Communication/Media Studies/Film Studies (46, or 7.34% of all job ads), with Health Communication at 33 (5.26%), Journalism at 26 (4.15%), and Digital/New/Emerging Media at 23 (3.67%) and Media Production at 13 (2.07%). Many, if not most, Ph.D.s applying for these positions will have Ph.D.s in mass communication from a “journalism school,” so applicants with a Ph.D. in communication studies from a department/school of communication will at the least have increased competition for such jobs if not be considered less qualified for them—especially in the absence of media industry work experience. 

It is also worth noting that, according to the report, universities are advertising for relatively few new faculty in Communication specialties that are regarded as particularly relevant and current in today’s world: political communication (3 job ads), science communication (3 job ads), risk/crisis/conflict communication (5 job ads), and sports communication (7 job ads). It may be that universities have been previously successful in hiring for these specialties, but it may also be that these specialties are less popular among students than perceived or expected.

The report also shows that the largest number of positions at minority-serving institutions were at Hispanic Serving Institutions (51), followed by Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (27), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) (4), and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) (2). in a future issue, Spectra will highlight the unique history and priorities of minority-serving institutions in preparing future faculty of color."


PBIs (Predominantly Black Institutions) and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) are two distinct categories of educational institutions in the United States, primarily serving Black students. Both have different historical backgrounds, official government designations, and missions. To learn more, click here.