The Program

Effective communication and competency in crisis management leadership is pivotal for organizations and stakeholders in times of crisis, risk, and disaster. The Crisis Communication Think Tank (CCTT) , a thought leadership entity established in 2018 at the University of Georgia (UGA) and housed in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, has become a globally-recognized best practice model in building academia-industry collaborations among leading crisis scholars and practitioners through dialogue on emerging topics and co-creation of theory-driven, evidence-based advice for crisis research and practice.

In the world of crisis communicators, the academics who study this discipline and the practitioners who are immersed in it recognize two hard truths. First, we are seeing a dramatic rise in demand for crisis communicators worldwide. Second, most individuals are challenged when navigating through a crisis.

At the University of Georgia, academics and practitioners from industry, nonprofits and the public sector have worked collaboratively to prepare future leaders and executives in the crisis, risk and disaster communication practices. To educate the next generation of crisis communication leaders, based on the successful CCTT model of bridging academia and industry, this 12-credit graduate certificate program in crisis, risk, and disaster communication provides advanced learning about crisis, risk, and disaster communication through specialized coursework connecting theory and practice across sectors and industries. It is specifically aimed at students interested in obtaining in-depth and integrated education in the interdisciplinary areas of crisis and risk communication, risk management and disaster management.



  1. The CRDC graduate certificate is interdisciplinary, open to any UGA graduate student. All participants in the program must be graduate students currently enrolled at UGA or be able to show documentation of their acceptance for coursework at UGA. Students must be accepted into the CRDC certificate program and applications will be taken throughout the academic year and students will be admitted throughout the academic year accordingly. Students will be notified of their acceptance status through email and provided with instructions for registering for classes.
  2. The purpose of this graduate certificate is to provide students with advanced knowledge, skills, and experience across the fields of crisis, risk, and disaster communication management research and practice. The 12-credit graduate certificate has its program of study constructed with two core Grady College courses (6 credits). Depending on the desired study of focus and/or career orientation, students will choose two additional courses (6 credits) offered by the Terry College of Business and/or the College of Public Health.
  3. The certificate program offers two tracks: (1) business track in partnership with the Terry College of Business or  (2) public health track in partnership with the College of Public Health. Given the growing need for organizational readiness, and the critical role of effective and ethical public communication in society, there is increasing demand for advancing the training of future leaders and executives in the crisis, risk, and disaster communication domains. Students in this certificate will acquire the knowledge and abilities needed to use communication to effectively respond to information needs, provide clear guidance in situations where uncertainties abound, and foster compliance with recommendations.
  4. The admission process requires an application packet containing: (1) a resume, and (2) a one-page written statement of goals and purposes pertaining to crisis, risk and/or disaster areas. To select candidates from a competitive, qualified application pool, the following criteria will be used: (1) Demonstrated strong competencies in written communication in crisis, risk, and, or disaster related areas; (2) Evidence of strong interest in advancing knowledge and career in crisis, risk, and disaster communication research and/or practice; and (3) Professional experience or evidence of preparedness as demonstrated by internship experience and/or hands-on project success in crisis, risk, and/or disaster related areas.

Certificate Track: How It Works

The certificate’s curriculum is designed to be completed within the two years of study typically undertaken by students in master’s degree programs. Graduate student participants who successfully complete the certificate will have the advanced communication management knowledge, skills, hands-on experiences, and demonstrated competencies to work with organizational leaders, corporate and/or firm executives, community partners, media professionals, and key stakeholders in and outside organizations to effectively manage crisis, risk, and disaster threats and challenges.

The CRDC certificate requires 4 graduate courses (12 credit hours). Two core courses in journalism and mass communication, and two courses in management, risk management and legal studies for the business track or two courses in disaster management for the public health track.

Level I Core Required Courses (6 hours)

  • JRMC 8170 – Risk Communication
  • JRMC 8180 – Crisis Communication and Strategic Conflict Management

Level II Courses: Select two courses from one of the following tracks (6 hours): Business Track

  • MGMT 7011 – Leading Evolving Organizations
  • RMIN 7010 – Fundamentals of Risk Management
  • RMIN 7100 – Fundamentals of Risk Management
  • LEGL 7500 – Legal Risk: Management, Strategy, and Communication

Or, select two courses (6 hours) from the Public Health Track

  • DMAN 7100 – Introduction to Disaster Management
  • DMAN 7400 – Public Health Crises and Disaster Management
  • DMAN 7450 – Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Disasters
  • DMAN 7650 – Disaster Mental Health Overview


  • Curt HarrisCollege of Public Health, UGA
  • Morgan TaylorCollege of Public Health, UGA
  • Yan JinCCTT Director, Co-Founder
  • Glen NowakCCTT Co-Founder
  • James M. Carson, Terry College of Business, UGA
  • Jason Epstein, Terry College of Business, UGA
  • Mike Pfarrer, Terry College of Business, UGA


Graduate Certificate in Crisis, Risk, and Disaster Communication approved for Fall 2024

The University of Georgia has been approved to offer a Graduate Certificate in Crisis, Risk, and Disaster Communication (CRDC), a program that will educate students in skills needed for proactive,


Prepared For Whatever Tomorrow Brings

Elizabeth Hardister had her eyes set on getting a master’s degree from the University of Georgia Institute for Disaster Management (IDM) before she had even declared an undergraduate major. Her


You Don’t Have to be a Disaster Management Minor to Make a Difference

It’s a common misconception: disaster management is a one-minded field. A branch of public health, disaster management is nothing if not multidisciplinary. It is everywhere and in everything. Its principles