The 15 Best Online Public Relations Degree Programs in 2021 - Best Value Schools

The 15 Best Online Public Relations Degree Programs in 2021

February 13, 2021 | Staff Writers

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If you’re thinking about advancing your career in the fast-paced field of public relations, then a master’s degree is a great option. But what if you need to also balance the demands of work and your personal life? How can you fit in earning your master’s degree, too? A flexible and convenient online master’s degree in public relations could be the perfect solution for your busy schedule.

What is public relations?

Public relations (PR) is all about maintaining an organization’s positive image in the public eye. It also entails using tactics like strategic communication to keep a positive relationship between a client and its customers. In addition to the effective communication of information, PR also includes branding, marketing, crisis and reputation management, and more.

What is a master’s in public relations?

A master’s degree in public relations will build on the knowledge you gained in a bachelor’s degree program in public relations, as well as the skills you’ve gained working in the field. By earning a master’s degree, you can seek more advanced positions in public relations, including managerial and leadership roles.

An online master’s degree in public relations program will help you develop stronger skills in:

  • Communication
  • Writing
  • Organizational
  • Problem-solving

The curriculum will vary by school, but your coursework might look like this:

  • Principles of Public Relations
  • Crisis Management
  • Law and Ethics in Public Relations
  • Public Relations Writing
  • Marketing and Branding Strategies
  • Social Media Strategy

Ready to dive into some options for online public relations programsTake a look at the 15 best online master’s degree in public relations programs in our list below!

Is an online masters degree respected?

Online degrees are becoming increasingly common as schools recognize the demand for more flexible and convenient programs. Working professionals need to juggle the responsibilities of work, school, and their personal lives, and online programs accommodate their unique needs. These programs are just as academically rigorous as their on-campus counterparts. And as more regionally accredited universities offer online degrees, most employers consider them to be just as relevant as traditional ones.

If you’re weighing your options and are worried about whether an online PR degree will be respected in the workforce, consider that online degrees are now very commonplace – and it’s more important to earn your degree in a way that works with your unique schedule rather than abandon your educational or career goals altogether!

Ready to dive into some options for public relations master’s programs? Take a look at the 15 best online master’s degree in public relations programs in our list below!

Is a master’s in public relations worth it? What can I do with a masters in public relations?

You don’t need a master’s degree for most public relations jobs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about earning an advanced degree in this subject. If you want to become an expert in your field and be considered for leadership roles that may come with higher salaries, then a degree in public relations can help you stand out from the competition. Here are some roles you can pursue with a master’s degree in public relations:

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). Take a look at our ranking below!

The 15 Best Online Public Relations Degree Programs

1. Liberty University – Online Public Relations Degree (MBA) (26 points)

Liberty University offers an Online Public Relations Degree (MBA) that is 100% online and offered in a flexible, convenient 8-week course format. This unique degree program combines a master of business administration with a focus in public relations so students can increase their business expertise while mastering their public relations skills. Students learn about how marketing and content creation are critical parts of daily business operations while taking courses in strategic digital communication and media technologies.

  • Tuition per credit: $565
  • Enrollment: 33,217

2. Arizona State University – Online Master of Arts in Communication (25 points)

Arizona State University offers an MA in Communication that is 100% online and teaches students how to effectively communicate in situations of conflict or crisis. This program also focuses on how to strategically use communication in different contexts and settings, such as speaking with individuals of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and gender identities. The curriculum emphasizes developing skills like collaboration, communicating to global audiences, leadership, conflict resolution, crisis management, and more.

  • Tuition per credit: $481
  • Enrollment: 8,741

3. Ball State University – Master’s Degree in Public Relations (23 points)

Ball State University offers a Master’s Degree in Public Relations that is 100% online and geared towards both new and experienced professionals who want to improve their communications skills. This program is especially ideal for professionals or students interested in careers as media relations or public affairs managers, business leaders, event or communications coordinators, market research or media analyst, professors, or public relations directors. The curriculum covers topics like project planning and development, market research strategic communication development, social media analytics, and more.

  • Tuition per credit: $449
  • Enrollment: 5,724

3. University of Alabama – MA in Advertising and Public Relations, concentration in Marketing

Communication Management (23 points)

University of Alabama offers an MA in Advertising and Public Relations with a 100% online concentration in Marketing Communication Management. This program is for working professionals who need the flexibility of an online program while enhancing their expertise in developing and managing effective communication campaigns. Students learn how to hone a more strategic and managerial approach to public relations and communications while learning from a combination of theory and real-world industry trends.

  • Tuition per credit: $420
  • Enrollment: 5,362

5. George Washington University – Online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations (19 points)

George Washington University offers an Online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations that is 100% online and prepares students to solve complex, modern-day public relations problems for corporations, nonprofits, associations, and government organizations. This comprehensive program helps students expand their public relations skill set, broaden their professional network, deepen their critical thinking and gain more clarity around today’s pressing communications issues. Courses include Research Methods for PR and Public Affairs Managers, Media Relations in a Digital World, Strategic Marketing Communications, and Political Socialization and Public Opinion.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,315
  • Enrollment: 15,626

5. Georgetown University – Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications (16 points)

Georgetown University offers a Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications through its School of Continuing Studies that’s available in several formats, including online, on-campus, and hybrid. Students learn to become well-rounded communicators and thinkers on the global, digital, and strategic levels. With proximity to Washington D.C. and Georgetown’s extensive partner network, students benefit from several unique experiential learning opportunities, including building their portfolio with local top communications organizations.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,476
  • Enrollment: 11,745

6. Southern Utah University – Master of Arts in Professional Communication (15 points)

Southern Utah University offers a Master of Arts in Professional Communication that is offered in three formats: online, hybrid, and on campus. This program focuses on developing students’ research, writing, and presentation skills so they can become highly effective communicators in diverse industries. Ideal for public relations professionals, the practice-oriented curriculum focuses on how to strategically create audience messaging and is also ideal for students interested in social media content creation, strategy, curation, and media production.

  • Tuition per credit: $533
  • Enrollment: 925

7. University of Denver – Masters concentration in Public Relations (14 points)

University of Denver offers a Master’s concentration in Public Relations that is available 100% online or in the evenings for maximum flexibility. This program can be completed in as few as 18 months. With a focus on developing critical thinking, writing, and reasoning skills, students learn how to leverage mass media, connect with influencers, utilize social media, and create high-quality, persuasive content. Courses include Media Channels and Technology, Ethics in Public Relations, Strategic Public Relations, and Persuasion and Influence.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,460
  • Enrollment: 6,151

8. SUNY Buffalo State – Public Relations (Online), M.S. (13 points)

SUNY Buffalo State offers a Public Relations (Online), M.S. that is 100% online and focuses on the strategic communication planning skills and ethical standards needed to thrive as a public relations manager or consultant. Students are required to complete an internship that gives them valuable hands-on experience in PR, while taking courses in topics like Theories of Public Relations, Advanced Public Relations Writing, and Integrated Communication.

  • Tuition per credit: $565
  • Enrollment: 1,036

8. Full Sail University – Public Relations Master of Arts (12 points)

Full Sail University offers a Public Relations Master of Arts that is 100% online and covers the full spectrum of communication channels and social tools, both new and traditional. The curriculum teaches students the fundamentals of developing a successful public relations strategy, including how to create an effective media plan, conduct event marketing and consumer research, and cultivate strong relationships with influencers and other critical voices in social and traditional media. Courses in this 12-month program include Public Relations in a Digital World and Media Relations.

  • Tuition per credit: $921
  • Enrollment: 1,593

10. Syracuse University – MS in Communications with specialization in Public Relations (12 points)

Syracuse University offers an MS in Communications with a specialization in Public Relations that is 100% online and can be completed in as few as 15 months. This program focuses on leveraging today’s technology and media trends to advance more traditional methods of communication. Students can choose one of four specializations, such as the concentration in Public Relations. Courses include Public Relations Theory, Public Relations Management, Public Relations Campaign Planning and Execution, and Advertising and Public Relations Research Design.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,964
  • Enrollment: 7,577

11. Quinnipiac University – MS in Public Relations (12 points)

Quinnipiac University offers an MS in Public Relations through its School of Communications that is 100% online and prepares PR professionals to become leaders in their field. The curriculum emphasizes critical topics like crisis management, reputation management, branding, and ethics, preparing students to drive strategy at all levels in their careers. Students develop the knowledge and skills they need to pursue careers as relations officers, social media managers, public affairs officers, or media relations specialists.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,075
  • Enrollment: 2,782

13. Lasell University – Master of Science in Communication – Public Relations (10 points)

Lasell University offers a Master of Science in Communication – Public Relations that is available in a 100% online or on-campus blended format. This program can be completed in 12 to 24 months. Students gain the skills and knowledge they need to become experts in media and government relations, crisis communication, and the legal and ethical issues that may impact an organization’s reputation. Courses teach students how to work with the media and stakeholders to develop effective messages, identify demographics and key audiences, and create targeted, effective messages. Classes include Writing for Public Relations and Communication Research.

  • Tuition per credit: $600
  • Enrollment: 386

14. Hofstra University – Master of Arts in Public Relations (9 points)

Hofstra University offers a Master of Arts in Public Relations that is available online with a focus on Reputation and Crisis Management. This program is designed for public relations professionals seeking advanced leadership roles in their field. Graduates leave as experts in PR fundamentals, audience research, strategic writing, media and storytelling, digital communication, audience research, digital communication, and more. Students can complete the program in two years.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,487
  • Enrollment: 4,170

14. St. Bonaventure University – Online Master of Arts in Communication with Specialization in Public Relations (9 points)

St. Bonaventure University offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication with Specialization in Public Relations. This program emphasizes the skills communications professionals need to become exceptional public relations leaders, including conceptual thinking, strategic thinking, visual and written communication, professional readiness, and integrity. Students learn how to craft meaningful messages and stories, work with the media, and build relationships with influencers so they can maintain positive relationships with the public and stakeholders. Graduates pursue careers or leadership roles as Communications Managers, Public Relations Directors, Publicists, Social Media Managers, and more.

  • Tuition per credit: $1,019
  • Enrollment: 565

Ready to explore some more online master’s in public relations programs? Check out our Degree Finder tool to find the school and program that fit your career goals, budget, and schedule.

Our Ranking Methodology

To formulate our rankings, we generated a list based on per-credit tuition rates (in-state where applicable) and graduate enrollment rates for each school. First, we sorted by per-credit tuition rates and then by graduate enrollment rates. Points were assigned to each school and added together for a final ranking score.

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