No company wants to face a communications or public relations crisis, but at times, a situation is unavoidable. That’s why organizations both large and small depend on the expertise and savvy of public relations (PR) professionals for things like reputation management. These specialists help them navigate the challenges of today’s increasingly complex media landscape. If you’re interested in advancing your career in public relations, which is a branch of communications degree, then earning a master’s in public relations might be the right step for you.
What is public relations?
Public relations is the practice of using effective communication to maintain a positive relationship between a client or organization and the public and its customers. This field of work usually entails the strategic communication of information, branding and marketing strategies, crisis and reputation management, and more.
Top 5 Masters in Public Relations Programs
|1||Wayne State University||Detroit, Michigan|
|2||Webster University||Webster Groves, Missouri|
|3||Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond, Virginia|
|4||Kean University||Union, New Jersey|
|5||Sacred Heart University||Fairfield, Connecticut|
What is a masters in public relations?
A master’s degree in public relations can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to pursue more advanced managerial and leadership positions in the world of public relations. Whether you’re already in PR and want to enhance your expertise, or would like to transition into this fast-paced field, a master’s in PR will help you focus on developing strong skills in these basic areas:
While the curriculum will be different at each school, the typical coursework in master’s degree in PR program might include:
- Principles of Public Relations
- Crisis Management
- Law and Ethics in Public Relations
- Public Relations Writing
- Marketing and Branding Strategies
- Social Media Strategy
Are you interested in exploring some different programs with diverse curriculum options? Please take a look at the 15 best master’s in public relations programs in our list below!
What can I do with a masters in public relations?
You may be wondering, is a master’s in public relations worth it? Most entry-level public relations careers don’t require a master’s degree. However, a master’s degree in public relations could help you be considered for more advanced roles that often come with higher salaries, such as:
- Public relations manager: $116,180 per year (2019 median pay)
- Vice president of public relations: $143,159 per year
- Advertising, promotions, and marketing manager: $135,900 per year
- Public relations and fundraising managers: $116,180 per year (2019 median pay)
PR majors, and those with graduate degrees especially, can certainly earn above-average salaries in this growing, fast-paced field. If you’re ready to take the next step and review degree program options, take a look below. We’ve ranked the best master’s in public relations programs based on two factors: tuition cost per credit (least expensive is best) and graduate enrollment (highest number of students is best). Scroll down to see our ranking below!
Best 15 Masters in Public Relations Programs
Wayne State University
Wayne State University offers an MA in Communication with a Concentration in Public Relations & Organizational Communication that combines a blend of theory and application of communication in several settings including business, non-profit, and government. The curriculum covers several key areas of communications with an emphasis on public relations management, including employee relations, media relations, public affairs, issue and crisis management, and technical and employee communication. Students are given the opportunity for three different types of internships: a traditional one, service-learning internship project, and worksite internship project.
Webster University offers an MA in Public Relations through its School of Communications available online and at its St. Louis home campus and Fort Belvoir campus. This degree program emphasizes research, strategic analysis, and critical thinking to help organizations solve their most critical communications problems. Students learn how globalization, entrepreneurship, and more are currently affecting modern trends and practices in public relations. Core classes include Media Communications, Media and Culture, Public Relations, Media Research, and Strategic Communication Applications. Students may choose three elective courses in addition to the nine core courses.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University offers an MS in Mass Communication – Strategic Public Relations through its Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. This degree prepares students to lead organizations with effective communications campaigns through periods of growth, change, and globalization. Graduates leave with strategic thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills so they can serve in public relations careers at the highest levels of management. While the program is mainly on-campus, online courses are also available. Students can apply for the Judy VanSlyke Turk Scholarship, which is only available to graduate students who have completed the application process for the strategic public relations graduate program.
Kean University offers an MA in Communication Studies with a Certificate in Public Relations through its School of Communication, Media and Journalism. This program blends practical approaches with theoretical frameworks in communications so students can prepare to pursue further study in a doctoral program or more advanced roles in the working world. Three certificate options are available, including one in public relations/journalism, which enables students to further concentrate their studies on the topic in addition to elective courses. There is an option to take a comprehensive exam or write a thesis at the end of the program.
Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University offers a Masters in Strategic Communication and Public Relations through its School of Communication, Media and the Arts. This program emphasizes hands-on experience so graduates gain the advanced skills they need to master communication across different media platforms. Students learn to create, plan, and distribute multimedia content so they can pursue successful careers in a variety of communications industries, including public relations, social media, political communication, and social media. This program also delves into the social and ethical responsibilities associated with public and professional communications. Students are required to complete a capstone project and internship, and classes are available on campus or fully online.
University of Southern California
University of Southern California offers a Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising through its Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This program’s sophisticated curriculum teaches students how to blend the art of storytelling with data intelligence on multiple media platforms. Students also learn how to understand audiences to better develop and execute public relations strategies while also leveraging influencer and brand relationships. Graduates will be prepared for advanced opportunities in marketing, advertising, entertainment, business, healthcare, technology, advocacy, and more.
New York University
New York University offers an MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication through its School of Professional Studies. This program – located in New York City, the media capital of the world – is an immersive, two-year degree experience that teaches students how to effectively incorporate effective PR tactics into an overall marketing strategy. The curriculum combines research, strategic planning, writing, and execution skills so graduates leave with the tools they need to make effective change in the business world. The program includes a practical course with hands-on experience at a real-world business, as well as a capstone paper.
Georgetown University offers a Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications through its School of Continuing Studies. This program teaches students to be well-rounded communicators who can think on the strategic, digital, and global levels. Classes are designed for working professionals who need flexibility, with classes available online, on-campus, or through a combination of both. Students are able to leverage Georgetown’s extensive partner network and proximity to Washington, D.C. for experiential learning opportunities, including networking, hands-on practice, and building their portfolio with local top communications organizations.
Quinnipiac University offers an MS in Public Relations through its School of Communications that teaches students to conduct in-depth communications research, develop strategic messaging for multiple platforms, and create programs that effectively deliver an organization’s goals and message. Students gain the skills they need to pursue careers as public affairs officers, media relations specialists, community relations officers, or social media managers. Graduates will leave ready to develop and execute PR campaigns as well as handle potential crisis situations. While offered on-campus, the program is also available online.
Biola University offers an MA in Public Relations and Reputation Management through its School of Fine Arts and Communication that prepares students to become effective, ethical communicators who can build trust between organizations and the public. The program emphasizes leadership development, where students have a capstone project based on applying their learnings to a PR-related position. It also focuses on the ethics of PR in communications, with a Christian perspective integrated throughout the curriculum. The program is 100% online and can be completed in as few as 12 months.
University of Miami
University of Miami offers an MA in Public Relations through its School of Communication. This degree program teaches students the fundamentals of public relations and how to strategically use communication across a variety of fields and categories, including organizations, products, non-profits, and services on both the national and international levels. Students benefit from award-winning faculty, small class sizes, and professional networking opportunities that allow them to get real-world experience beyond the classroom. Two tracks are available: a 30-credit thesis track and a 36-credit, coursework-only non-thesis track.
Western New England University
Western New England University offers an MA in Communication with a Public Relations Concentration through its College of Arts & Sciences that prepares students to use communication and publicity in several strategic ways, including enhancing a client’s image, building or expanding a brand, developing strong media relationships, and navigating communication crises. Faculty members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the sports industry and the corporate world. Courses include Principles and Practices of Public Relations, Crisis Management, and Writing for Communications Professionals.
Suffolk University offers an MA in Communication with Public Relations & Advertising Concentration through its College of Arts & Sciences located in Boston. Students master the fundamentals of effective communication, public relations, and advertising while practicing what they learn in real-world experiences at nearby internships and full-time roles close to campus. The curriculum covers topics like global branding, gender communication, advertising, campaign management, strategic marketing, public relations, interculture communication, and more. Unique benefits include a state-of-the-art social media lab, media production and post-production facilities, and “smart” classrooms with the latest education technology.
Saint Peter’s University
Saint Peter’s University offers an MA in Communication and Public Relations for professionals who want to advance in public relations, advertising, public relations management, or advocacy in the corporate or nonprofit sectors. Students hone their speaking, writing, and visual skills while also immersing themselves in research so they can become expert communications and public relations leaders in their industries. Students also receive the benefit of a Jesuit education, which emphasizes ethical decision making in all aspects of business and communication.
Iona College offers an MA in Public Relations that shapes students into communications professionals who can champion causes, develop brands, and mold messages. Students can specialize in an area of interest, including corporate communications, sports and entertainment public relations, or non-profit communications. In all specialty areas, graduates will leave with practical experience through collaboration with agencies, corporations, and media outlets, as well as sharpened creative and analytical skills.
Interested in reviewing more public relations programs? Take a look in our Degree Finder tool and we’ll help you find the school that’s best for your career goals and schedule.
Our Ranking Methodology
We generated a list based on per-credit tuition rates (in-state where applicable) and graduate enrollment rates for each school to formulate our rankings. After sorting first by the per-credit tuition rates and then by graduate enrollment rates, we assigned points to each school and added these points together, which comprised the final ranking score.
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