In a world powered by digital interaction and social media, the styles and strategies we use to communicate are constantly changing. Public relations professionals work at the forefront of this shifting landscape, following the latest trends and platforms in order to best promote and represent the interest of their clients.

Best Online Master's in Public Relations:

  1. Georgetown University - Washington, DC
  2. University of Florida - Gainesville, FL
  3. George Washington University - Washington, DC
  4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Champaign, IL
  5. Mississippi College - Clinton, MS
  6. Florida International University - Miami, FL
  7. Syracuse University - Syracuse, NY
  8. Webster University - Saint Louis, MO
  9. University of Denver - Denver, CO
  10. West Virginia University - Morgantown, WV

In the age of social media, the PR field is growing quickly, especially in the healthcare, technology, and finance industries.

Public relations (PR) is a subfield of marketing dedicated to representing and promoting individual clients, groups, organizations, events, and noteworthy causes. PR professionals work at the forefront of digital communication and social media, using the latest technologies in order to best serve their clients.

Earning an online master's degree in public relations is an effective, convenient way to prepare for a career in this dynamic field. Online students learn how to craft persuasive press releases, book public appearances, and use various tools and platforms to promote their clients. Many online master's in PR programs culminate with a capstone project, which allows students to demonstrate everything they have learned over the course of their program. Some may also participate in an internship or practicum course, which provides them with supervised hands-on training from experienced professionals.

Read on to learn more about what you can do with a master's degree in public relations, and what kind of career opportunities you can pursue after you graduate.

Choosing a Program

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN PUBLIC RELATIONS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

The master's is considered a terminal degree in the field, so candidates who have earned a master's degree will be qualified for most non experience-based positions. Students in PR master's programs will learn about different strategies for representing and promoting clients, including social media, brand-building, consumer engagement, and search engine optimization. Other key concepts include business law and ethics, marketing analysis, and communication methods.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN PUBLIC RELATIONS WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online PR programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar instruction. Students will be able to download course materials, submit written assignments and projects, take exams, and communicate with their professors at any time of day. Current technology also allows distance learners to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER'S IN PUBLIC RELATIONS?

Most careers in PR are attainable with a bachelor's degree or less. Master's-holders will be qualified for most top entry-level positions, as well as some managerial roles and other titles normally reserved for applicants with an advanced degree. Popular roles for PR master's recipients include PR specialists, PR managers, fundraisers, marketing analysts, and advertising/promotions managers. Some may work freelance, helping clients individually, while others find work as part of PR teams for corporations, nonprofits, and other large organizations.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN PUBLIC RELATIONS PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school matches your professional ambitions. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master's in public relations programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses these colleges offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering going back to school for an online master's in public relations degree, start your research by looking at these top programs.

Accredited Online Master's in Public Relations Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Georgetown University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 95%

Founded in 1789, Georgetown University boasts some of the oldest educational traditions in the country with an eye toward the future. In addition to its campus in Washington, D.C, the continuing studies school at Georgetown University offers online programs, providing students from all over the nation with access to its programs.

In the online master's degree in public relations and corporate communications, students learn to navigate the modern communications environment. They engage with real clients and assignments to build practical experience. The 30-credit degree features nine foundational credits in research, planning, and writing. Additionally, students take six core credits, including a capstone project incorporating the program's teachings, while electives make up the final 15 credits.

Most of the courses in the online master's in public relations run asynchronously, while others may require scheduled sessions. Classes run along 15-week terms in the fall and spring and 13.5-week terms in the summer, and students typically complete this program in 2-5 years.

For admission into the program, Georgetown requires each student to earn an undergraduate degree and a 3.0 GPA as well as submit relevant professional work samples as part of their applications. Online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of location. Georgetown holds accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications
Available Concentrations: Cause communications; corporate communications; digital communications; public relations
Tuition: $1,392/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2-5 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (202) 687-8664
Email: wg311@georgetown.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

The University of Florida offers more than 200 programs online, providing students all over the world with improved educational access. The journalism and communications school offers the online MA in mass communication with a specialization in public relations, one of eight specializations available.

In the 33-credit online master's degree, students learn strategies in brand and risk management by using modern tools and technologies. The program partners with APCO Worldwide to offer students practical experience and mentoring opportunities. The 33 credits include a three-credit capstone course; 12 core credits in writing, public relations theory, strategy, and evaluation; and 18 elective credits.

The online master's degree in public relations features start dates in each of the three semesters. While the courses follow the on-campus semester system of a 13-week summer and a 16-week fall and spring, UF delivers classes asynchronously, which allows working professionals to manipulate study schedules around their work hours. By taking a full-time course load, which requires three classes per semester, students can finish the degree in less than 18 months.

For admission into the program, each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree and a 3.0 GPA, along with GRE scores of 156 on the verbal and 146 on the quantitative side. Online students pay no additional out-of-state fees to attend online classes. UF holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Mass Communication With a Specialization in Public Relations
Tuition: $129/credit in-state; $553/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (352) 273-3412
Email: "distancesupport@jou.ufl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

Established in 1821 in Washington, D.C., GW offers students an education rooted in tradition while providing options and flexibility. The political management graduate school features two online degrees, including the master's in strategic public relations. This degree, available both on-campus and online, teaches students to master communications using new media tools and strategies. The program also offers training in government communication, public policy, advocacy, and regulations.

The 30-credit online master's degree in public relations features seven required courses, including a final research capstone project and three electives. To make up the required credits in the program, students explore writing, research, digital media, finance, and ethics courses. Learners may take a global perspectives residency, which enables them to earn credit while studying abroad. Once admitted, students may start the program in the fall, spring, or one of the two summer start dates. With a full course load, students can expect to finish the course in 18 months.

At GW, most online courses run asynchronously, allowing working professionals to coordinate their work and study schedules. Some classes, however, may require scheduled meeting times. For admission into the program, each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Candidates should also possess three years of relevant work experience. GW holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Public Relations
Tuition: $1,765/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE (if GPA requirement not met)
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (202) 994-6000
Email: gspmgrad@gwu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

UI carries a reputation for innovation in educational delivery and accessibility. For more 20 years, the institution's online programs offered in-state and out-of-state students the same opportunity to earn a degree. Over the years, the school grew to offer more than 90 online programs.

The online MS in strategic brand communication allows working professionals to enhance their skills and careers without sacrificing full-time employment. A student taking a full course load can continue working and still complete a degree in 15 months. This 32-credit interdisciplinary program teaches the use of digital media technologies to improve brand messaging for businesses and organizations.

Taught by faculty members in business and media schools, students complete 16 credits in advertising and media and 16 credits in business administration, including a final capstone project. Students in the online master's in public relations program also engage in global workshop webinars with industry professionals, which provides practical perspectives and the building blocks for a professional network.

At UI, online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of location. Courses typically run asynchronously, but the program offers one live class each week for students to connect with peers and instructors. While not mandatory, UI recommends that online students attend these live classes. Each applicant must boast a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA for admission. Given the advanced nature of the study material, the school also prefers candidates with work experience. UI holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Strategic Brand Communication
Tuition: $875/credit
Credit Requirements: 32 credits
Program Length: 15 months

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (217) 265-0799
Email: grad@business.illinois.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

Mississippi College

Clinton, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

As Mississippi's oldest college, MC boasts a long history of on-campus programs, and its online programs deserve just as much attention. The online degrees at MC typically run asynchronously and allow working professionals to earn a degree while maintaining full-time employment. With more than 18 online master's degrees to choose from, including the online MS in applied communication, MC represents a valuable option for professionals seeking career development.

The online, 31 semester hour degree emphasizes practical application to help students build on their experience while adding to their professional portfolios. The online public relations master's program consists of 13 semester hours in required courses exploring public relations, research, and persuasion. Students also complete 15 semester hours in communication electives and three semester hours in general electives. While the communication classes run asynchronously, some general electives may feature more fixed schedules.

At MC, online students participate in two terms during the fall and spring, along with one summer term. Full-time students take a minimum of 4-6 semester hours each semester and can complete the degree in less than two years. For admission, each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA. Some candidates may need to submit GMAT scores if they possess a lower GPA. Students with previous graduate schooling may receive up to six transfer credits. MC holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Applied Communication
Available Concentrations: Journalism; theater; public communication in health services; professional communication in sports; public relations and corporate communications
Tuition: $683/credit
Credit Requirements: 31 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Phone: (601) 925-3457
Email: fortenbe@mc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

With an online educational system in place for more than 20 years, FIU has long provided students with improved flexibility and access to its programs. The institution continues to build on the effectiveness of online delivery by leveraging new technologies and strategies in experiential learning. FIU offers more than 40 online master's programs, including the online MS in mass communications with a track in global strategic communications.

The 30-credit global strategic communications master's focuses on digital communication and management with a globally and socially responsible perspective. Students complete five required courses exploring research methods, ethics, theory, and management. The remaining classes offer some flexibility, as students choose communication electives and other complementary courses. The program finishes with a comprehensive research project.

The online master's in public relations runs through six, eight-week terms, with students completing two courses each term. This allows FIU learners to complete the degree in one year. Furthermore, the program's typical asynchronous course delivery allows working professionals to maintain employment during their studies. FIU also partnered with the Center for Labor Research and Studies to award graduate certificates in conflict resolution and consensus building.

For program admission, each student must possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, as well as satisfactory GRE scores. For all online students, the institution charges the same tuition rate. FIU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Mass Communication: Global Strategic Communications
Available Concentrations: Conflict resolution and consensus building
Tuition: $25,000
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (305) 919-4050
Email: carta@fiu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Syracuse University has attracted students to its New York campus since 1870. In 1993, Syracuse began offering online programming, which allowed students to study from the comfort of their own homes. The MS in communications with a specialization in advertising allows students to upgrade their communications skills while still working in the field.

The advertising specialization in the 33-credit communications program serves as one of three available focuses. Students learn to design strategic and lasting advertising campaigns by using modern theories, tools, and techniques. The program also allows students to work in a practical environment, improve their portfolios, and develop professional networks.

Of the 33 credits required for the online master's degree in public relations, students complete 15 core credits and 12 specialization credits covering topics in research, digital branding, planning, and strategic practices. For the final capstone course, students create an innovative digital communications advertising project. Syracuse offers online students start dates in each of the four, 12-week terms during the year. With a full course load, students can complete the degree in 15 months.

While classes run outside of traditional work hours, most of the program's courses run synchronously, which provides ample opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction. Additionally, online advertising students participate in two in-person immersions, one on the Syracuse campus and another at a location chosen by each cohort. For admission into the program, students need a bachelor's degree. Admissions representatives may require applicants to submit GRE scores and complete a video interview. Syracuse holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Communications
Available Concentrations: Public relations; advertising; journalism innovation
Tuition: $1,964/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 15 months

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (844) 797-2666
Email: communications@syracuse.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Webster University

Saint Louis, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Founded in Missouri in 1915, Webster University features campuses in cities across the world and online. Webster offers more than 50 online programs, including the MA in public relations. The program runs asynchronously and features no on-campus requirements, allowing students across the country to earn a Webster degree without relocating.

The 36-credit online public relations master's degree teaches students to develop global and ethical perspectives regarding public relations. For the 27 required core credit hours, students take classes in writing, research, and international communications, in addition to media and culture. The program also includes a final capstone project. For the remaining nine credits, students choose from other communication courses and complementary disciplines.

At Webster, online master's students participate in five, eight- or nine-week terms. Most students complete six credit hours per term, which allows them to complete the degree in just over one year. For admission into the online master's in public relations, students need a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA. While Webster evaluates transfer credits on a case-by-case basis, students may receive up to 12 transfer credits.

All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of location, and all students gain access to student service resources like the writing center and career services. Additionally, the school offers academic and technical support for online students to ensure that they get the best chance at success. Webster holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Public Relations
Tuition: $780/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery
Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: (314) 246-7401
Email: joinusonline@webster.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

University of Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 75%

Through the University College at DU, working professionals gain access to flexible online programs that allow for an optimal work and study balance. Online students can earn every degree available at DU, including any of its 13 master's degrees. The online MA in communication management with a concentration in public relations constitutes one of the six concentrations available in the program and teaches students to leverage mass and social media to build and deliver effective branding.

The 48-credit program features four core courses, including business fundamentals, communication, research, and a final capstone project. The five concentration courses delve into advanced public relations strategies. Students complete the requirements for the online master's degree in public relations by choosing three electives.

At DU, online courses run throughout 10-week terms. With a full course load, students can complete the public relations master's degree in as few as 18 months and up to a maximum of five years. Online programs at DU do not require any on-campus sessions or residency requirements. Regardless of location, all online students pay the same tuition.

For admission into the program, each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree and a 2.5 GPA. The school does not require any standardized test scores and, though potentially beneficial, DU does not require relevant work experience. Applicants with previous graduate schooling may receive up to 12 transfer credits. Upon admission, students gain access to online academic support and career services. DU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Communication Management
Available Concentrations: Public relations
Tuition: $686/credit
Credit Requirements: 48 credits
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous or asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Phone: (303) 871-4785
Email: chris.heriza@du.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

Since it was founded in 1877, West Virginia University has grown to include 15 degree-granting colleges. WVU's main campus in Morgantown offers a master's in integrated marketing communications, launched in 2003 as the first of its kind in the country. The program emphasizes new and growing areas of integrated marketing.

Courses in digital and social media, public relations leadership, and data marketing communications lead graduates into careers in the integrated marketing field. Graduates who complete the master's in public relations online may find jobs as brand managers, marketing or public relations directors, and CEOs.

The online master's in marketing and public relations requires 11 courses for a total 33 credits. The asynchronous structure allows students to complete the program on a part-time or full-time basis. Part-time students usually complete the program in 11 semesters and full-time students complete the program in seven semesters.

Learners take four core courses, three electives, and two specialty classes before completing their studies with a capstone project. All learners study marketing and research analysis, audience insights, brand equity management, and emerging media and the market. Students choose from 26 elective courses, including marketing, research, sales, design, and branding. Students who pursue the WVU public relations master's program online can access job preparation resources, job listings, and a soft skills webinar that helps learners understand their personal attributes.

Candidates submit a personal statement, resume, and transcripts when applying, with the option of providing recommendation letters and GRE or GMAT scores. WVU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


Program Overview
Program Name: Master's in Integrated Marketing Communication
Tuition: $890/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (304) 293-6278
Email: imcprogram@mail.wvu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Concordia University - Wisconsin

Mequon, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Concordia University-Wisconsin sits near the banks of Lake Michigan in Mequon, just 16 miles north of Milwaukee. Founded in 1881, the Lutheran university offers an MBA in communications and public relations.

The 39-credit-hour program focuses on enhancing communication skills. Students take core courses in statistics, economics, corporate finance, and management. Upon completion, learners take five courses in the online master's in marketing and public relations concentration. Classes last eight weeks, meaning students may finish their degree in less than two years.

Master's in public relations online graduates improve their communication and speaking skills and hone the art of the pitch so the media and the public pay attention to their message. Classes improve students' strategic thinking, public speaking, and business writing. Graduates of the online master's in marketing and public relations program often find jobs as fundraising managers or public relations managers or specialists.

The flexible online course schedule appeals to working professionals in corporate public relations, advertising, and image management who want to sharpen their writing and speaking abilities. Coursework covers social marketing strategies, group dynamics and leadership, publicity and public relations, and public speaking.

Candidates must submit an essay, resume, and two recommendation letters when applying. Students may transfer up to six credit hours provided the learner earned the credits within the last seven years, completed courses from an accredited institution, and achieved a minimum 3.0 GPA. Concordia University-Wisconsin holds accreditation from the HLC.


Program Overview
Program Name: MBA in Communications and Public Relations
Tuition: $682/credit
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 26 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact
Phone: (262) 243-5700
Email: admissions@cuw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

California Baptist University

Riverside, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

California Baptist University was founded in 1950 by the California Southern Baptist Convention. The school, with its main campus located in Riverside, now offers 31 master's programs, including a master of arts in public relations.

Students may complete the 33-credit-hour online program in 12 months in an accelerated format. The master's in public relations online appeals to working professionals seeking to improve their skills or move on to their next employment opportunity.

The program emphasizes strategic communication and critical thinking in public and media relations, journalism, social media, nonprofit work, and advertising. Courses in public relations cover history and theory, tools and techniques for research evaluation, campaign strategies, and effective writing methods. Communications topics include risk and crisis, new communication technologies, intercultural communication, and media's impact on communication behavior. Learners complete a capstone project at the end of their studies.

Online master's in marketing and public relations graduates prepare themselves for leadership positions in their chosen field. Graduates who complete a master's degree in public relations online enhance their ability to write, communicate, and work collaboratively in a team environment, all of which are attractive attributes to companies.

Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Students with a 2.5-2.74 GPA may receive admission on a conditional basis. Applicants must provide transcripts and a personal statement. California Baptist holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Public Relations
Tuition: $580/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact
Phone: (877) 236-1617
Email: cbuonline@calbaptist.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

Quinnipiac University

Hamden, CT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 75%

Quinnipiac University boasts a rich history. The school sits on land once owned by the Quinnipiac Indian tribe and is located not far from the river of the same name. The university's predecessor opened in 1929 before moving to the current campuses in North Haven and Hamden, southern Connecticut. Among its programs, the private university offers a master of science in public relations.

The program educates students who wish to drive brand management strategy. Classes cover crisis management, writing, and law and ethics. Quinnipiac offers a social media track that prepares students to craft messages for social strategy. Learners study social and web analytics, community management, and social media practice.

Students choose how they wish to complete the 36-credit-hour online program. Students in the fast-track program complete their studies in 12 months, while non-accelerated full-time students take two years to complete the program. Learners may also earn the master's degree in public relations online on a part-time basis. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA while in the program.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least three years of work experience. Candidates submit transcripts, recommendation letters, personal letters of intent, and a resume with a portfolio. The master's in public relations online does not require GRE scores.

The master's in public relations online holds a certification in education for public relations from the Public Relations Society of America. Quinnipiac also maintains accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.


Program Overview
Program Name: MS in Public Relations
Available Concentrations: Social media
Tuition: $940/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: 3 years

Contact
Phone: (877) 403-4277
Email: quonlineadmissions@quinnipiac.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Located north of Manchester, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private school founded in 1932. Today, SNHU teaches 3,000 on-campus students and over 90,000 online. The school has a reputation for offering many online programs, including a master of communication in public relations.

If students take two courses per 10-week term, this program can be completed in 15 months. The schedule is flexible, with classes available at all times, and no GMAT or GRE is required for admission. Applicants must submit a personal statement and have a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA.

The general degree requires 36 credits while the public relations concentration consists of 12 credits, including courses in reputation management, social media practices, crisis communication, and integrated public relations campaigns and measurement. Graduates learn to develop targets, write persuasive messaging, apply moral reasoning, engage diverse audiences, stay up-to-date on the latest practices, and create, grow, and manage a brand.


Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Communications in Public Relations
Tuition: $960/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Contact
Phone: (888) 387-0861
Email: enroll@snhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

University of Michigan - Flint

Flint, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Established in 1956, the University of Michigan-Flint offers more than 20 degree programs entirely online. These include an online master of arts in applied communication, which full-time students can typically complete in two years.

With a 30-credit curriculum featuring courses in subjects like communication consulting and training, applied communication research methods, and case studies in persuasion, UM-Flint's master's in arts in applied communication provides students with a robust mix of theory and practice. After completing 24 credits, degree candidates finish off their studies with two capstone courses, wherein they apply their newly gained knowledge and skill set to a real-world issue in the field of applied communication.

Students in the program progress through the curriculum in a group via the cohort format, enjoying the flexibility of asynchronous courses. They also focus on project-based learning, which helps them develop a portfolio of professional work to demonstrate their skills to future employers.

Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree from a school holding regional accreditation with at least a 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must also submit a resume, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. With a fall start date, UM-Flint's program features an early review deadline for applicants who want to be eligible for scholarships, research assistantships, and grants.

UM-Flint holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Applied Communication
Tuition: $634/credit in-state; $948/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (810) 766-6679
Email: hseipke@umich.edu (Heather Seipke, Ph.D.)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

WHAT ELSE CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN PUBLIC RELATIONS PROGRAM?

Timeline 1 to 2 years
Program Costs (when available) $15,000 to $30,000 in full tuition
Concentrations In many broader master's programs (including Master of Business Administration degrees), 'public relations' is considered a concentration or specialization on its own. For some PR master's programs, the following degree specializations are available: International Public Relations, Marketing Technology, Marketing Research and Analysis, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management
Accreditation Certification in Education for Public Relations (CEPR)

EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK FOR MASTER'S IN PUBLIC RELATIONS GRADUATES

Master's vs Bachelor's in Public Relations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that master's degree-holders enjoy lower unemployment rates on average than employees with less education. The latest BLS data reveals that master's degree-holders across all industries face an unemployment rate of 2.4%; by comparison, the unemployment rates for bachelor's and associate degree-holders are 2.8% and 3.8%, respectively.

According to 2011-12 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of master's recipients who major in PR-related fields is much smaller than the number of PR bachelor's degree-holders. Additionally, the data shows that nobody graduated with a doctoral degree in public relations that year. These educational trends leave students with a master's degree in PR well-positioned to compete in the job market. The NCES findings are detailed in the table below.

Major Field of Study Bachelor's Degrees Conferred (2011-12) Master's Degrees Conferred (2011-12) Doctoral Degrees Conferred (2011-12
Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communication 1,050 14 0
Public Relations/Image Management 4,121 508 0
Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communication (Other) 964 152 0

Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Earning a Living

In addition to more favorable job placement rates, job candidates with a master's in PR also stand to earn higher salaries than their counterparts with a bachelor's degree. The BLS reports that the median earnings for master's degree-holders across all industries is $1,341 per week. Comparatively, bachelor's-holders earn $1,137 in median weekly wages and associate-holders make a median weekly salary of $798.

Salary expectations in the public relations sector reflect these general trends. The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report reveals that PR master's graduates earn a higher salary than bachelor's recipients in the same field. The following table uses data from the report to explore salary expectations for bachelor's and master's degree-holding PR professionals at two career benchmarks.

Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Annual Salary Premium for Master's Degree-Holders
Bachelor's in Public Relations & Communication $39,400 $72,300 19.5% at Entry-Level mark; 10.7% at Mid-Career mark
Bachelor's in Public Relations $39,000 $69,400 20.8% at Entry-Level mark; 15.3% at Mid-Career mark
Master's in Public Relations & Communication $47,100 $80,000

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, those with a master's make roughly 10%-20% more than their bachelor's degree-holding peers at both the entry-level and mid-career stages. However, it's also important to note that salary expectations for specific jobs will depend on a few factors, including the location of the position and its job title.

The next table examines salary expectations at four career stages for four different PR-related professional titles.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Public Relations Manager $48,962 $65,285 $75,088 $76,623
Public Relations Specialist $41,175 $50,691 $56,079 $60,334
Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator $37,605 $41,918 $44,184 $50,868
Public Relations Director $49,158 $78,481 $92,716 $90,077

Source: PayScale

Of the four professions listed, public relations directors enjoyed the highest salaries at all four career benchmarks, despite a slight decline in salary between the experienced and late-career stages. Directors also saw the highest career salary growth, with an increase of 82.3% between the entry-level and late-career marks.

Career Opportunities

Graduates leave school qualified for dozens of job openings, although your eligibility for specific positions will depend on factors like degree specialization and your experience. Below, we've coverd some of the most common career pathways in PR in detail.

Public Relations Specialists: These PR professionals usually work directly with individuals, organizations, and other clients. They conduct detailed market analyses to determine the best course of action for promoting their clients, and will perform post-campaign evaluations using sophisticated tools and platforms. Other day-to-day duties include writing press releases and speeches, arranging interviews and public appearances, and issuing surveys on social media.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: PR and fundraising managers usually lead teams of PR professionals as part of large-scale promotional or advertising campaigns. They work to pinpoint target audiences for their clients, and prepare them for interviews and media appearances. Fundraising managers develop strategies for generating organizational income and securing potential donors.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers: These managers supervise teams that develop promotional campaigns for individuals, organizations, and special interest groups. They may design or work on print and online media campaigns, billboards, radio ad spots, and other marketing materials.

Market Research Analysts: Professionals in this data-driven field will study various patterns, trends, and market activities to determine the best course of action for representing and promoting different clients and products. They often conduct surveys, polls, and questionnaires on behalf of their clients, and report their findings in a variety of mediums.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Job Growth (2014-24)
Public Relations Specialists $56,770 6%
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $104,140 7%
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers $124,850 9%
Market Research Analysts $62,150 19%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to public relations is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below, you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for PR professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • Public Relations Society of America: Founded in 1947, the PRSA is considered the world's largest PR-related professional organization, boasting more than 22,000 members in the PR and media communications industry. A comprehensive professional development tool on the organization's website allows users to browse courses and training sessions by category and location.
  • International Public Relations Association: Originally created as a consortium for British and Dutch PR personnel, the IPRA today focuses on the public relations industry in both developed and emerging nations. Standard and professional membership options are available.
  • National Black Public Relations Society: The NBPRS advocates for African-American professionals in PR, investor relations, government affairs, and other related fields. Membership benefits include mentorship, peer-to-peer support, networking events, and professional development opportunities.

Financing Your Online Master's in Public Relations

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.