Cynthia Sullivan
Written By - Cynthia Sullivan

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A Master’s in Public Relations (PR) is a dynamic and essential program designed for individuals seeking expertise in managing communication strategies, building brand reputation, and navigating the complex world of modern media. In today’s interconnected and information-driven society, the role of PR professionals has become increasingly critical for organizations, businesses, and individuals alike. This advanced degree delves into the multifaceted aspects of public relations, equipping students with the skills to craft compelling narratives, cultivate positive public perception, and effectively navigate crisis communication. The program combines theoretical knowledge with practical applications, preparing graduates to thrive in the fast-paced and ever-evolving field of public relations.

Masters in Public Relations Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees in Communication

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Public Relations Online Programs

Even though many programs lead to a master’s in Public Relations, we went through them to list the top Public Relations master’s programs based on factors such as cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates, etc. Here is the list of the best online public relations master’s programs:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Florida
Tigert Hall, Gainesville, Florida 32611
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
Georgetown University
37th and O St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20057
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
Marist College
3399 North Rd, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
Purdue University
Hovde Hall of Administration, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
George Washington University
1918 F Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052
Syracuse University
900 South Crouse Ave., Syracuse, New York 13244
Quinnipiac University
Mt Carmel Ave, Hamden, Connecticut 06518
Ithaca College
953 Danby Road, Ithaca, New York 14850
University of Denver
2199 S. University Blvd, Denver, Colorado 80208
Ball State University
2000 University Ave, Muncie, Indiana 47306
Florida International University
11200 S. W. 8 Street, Miami, Florida 33199
Texas Tech University
Broadway and University Avenue, Lubbock, Texas 79409
California Baptist University
8432 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, California 92504
Colorado State University
102 Administration Building, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
Webster University
470 E Lockwood Ave., Saint Louis, Missouri 63119
Mississippi College
200 South Capitol Street, Clinton, Mississippi 39058
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Public Relations Online Programs

Public relations are building and maintaining a relationship with the public or customers through influencing and engaging with the key stakeholders across various public avenues to construct and formulate the public perception of an organization. Individuals working in this profession would typically handle corporate and investor relations and marketing communications. They would be involved in crisis and reputation management and be involved in product branding.  Depending on their specialization, a master’s in public relations will enable the student to muster all the above. A typical public relations master would require two years and around 30 to 33 credit hours to complete the program. Below, these aspects of a public relations master have been discussed in detail.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Public Relations Programs

A master’s in public relations would generally have a different specialization, and that would invoke a slight change in curriculum per the specialization. Below are a few subjects learned in a typical master’s in public relations. Different curriculums have different courses; however, some standard courses one can find across institutions include

CurriculumDescription/Skills Gained
Measurement & EvaluationThis course will focus on the method and analysis for consumer insights and measuring the effectiveness of various promotional and campaign strategies. It includes an overview of quantitative research methods emphasizing the analysis and interpretation of data and application to evaluate the effectiveness of promotional strategies.
Strategy & MessagingThis course focuses on creating and executing successful messages across communication channels. It explores the development of persuasive messaging through theories of persuasion, consumer-information processing, and theories of creativity.  The course examines the relationship between creative strategy and creative executions while allowing students to practice creating content for traditional and non-traditional media.
Promotional StrategyThe course is designed to provide students with comprehensive insights into the development and execution of effective promotional campaigns. In today’s competitive business landscape, promoting products, services, or ideas requires a strategic and integrated approach. It explores various elements of promotional strategies, from traditional advertising to digital marketing, aiming to equip the skills needed to create impactful promotional campaigns.
Strategic Media ManagementThis course analyzes the markets served by various advertising media and factors to consider in selecting and evaluating media. Markets include investors, employees, and consumer segments. This course will also cover managing media in a global context.  It is designed to give students an advanced understanding of media analysis, planning, buying, and optimization.
Messaging StrategyThis course teaches how to create and execute successful messages across communication channels. The course examines the relationship between creative strategy and creative executions while allowing students to practice creating content for traditional and non-traditional media. They learn about strategic brand communication and different audiences, including consumers, employees, stockholders, and the media.
Professional SBC Capstone ProjectThis course serves as a capstone, requiring the student to demonstrate a mastery of knowledge in the primary areas of Strategic Brand Communication. The project is designed to allow them to demonstrate their mastery of strategic brand communication. It is focused on Creating and Executing a Research Plan, Repositioning Analysis and Strategy, Strategic Brand Communication Strategy & Tactics, Media Strategy & Tactics, Campaign Monitoring and Evaluation.

Some additional courses that one can find across programs include:

  • Public Relations Management
  • Media Relations
  • Crisis Communication
  • Strategic Communication Planning
  • Digital and social media in PR
  • Corporate Communication
  • Public Relations Writing
  • Reputation Management
  • International Public Relations
  • Public Relations Research
  • Ethics in Public Relations
  • Event Management in PR
  • Integrated Marketing Communication
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Public Affairs and Government Relations

By the end of the program, students in the Master’s in Public Relations program will acquire a range of skills, including:

  • develop strategic communication plans to achieve organizational goals;
  • navigate and handle crises to protect organizational reputation;
  • utilize digital platforms for effective communication and engagement;
  • understand and implement communication strategies within corporate settings;
  • implement techniques to build and maintain a positive organizational reputation;
  • navigate cultural nuances and communication challenges in global contexts;
  • navigate ethical dilemmas and make moral decisions in PR practice;
  • integrate marketing and PR efforts for cohesive organizational messaging;
  • effectively communicate with and engage various stakeholders; and
  • understand and navigate the intersection of public relations and government affairs.

Masters in Public Relations Online Degree Types

There are typically three programs for a master’s in public relations. Namely, an MA in public relations, an MS in public relations, and an MBA in public relations. Below, we will discuss how they differ and whom they are meant for. 

MA Public Relations

An MA in public relations deals with the more theoretical aspect and would suit future proponents who typically deal with reading market and consumer sentiments and accordingly make policy decisions, modifications, and changes.

MS Public Relations

An MS in public relations typically deals with the applied aspects of public relations and would suit future proponents of public relations who would be responsible for executing policy changes and running campaigns to manage a narrative and influence public sentiments.

MBA in Public Relations

An MBA in public relations is not quite common, but it is a mix of subjects studied in an MA and an MS in public relations. However, there are few MBA in public relations programs; below is a list for reference:

Specializations in Masters in Public Relations Programs

As per the specialization chosen by a student in master in public relations, the roles they play post-graduation would vary, so one should be mindful and choose their specialization, per their interest of vocation. Below is a list of typical roles played post a master in public relations:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration Prepares For
Strategic Communication/Strategic Brand CommunicationStrategic Communication/Strategic Brand Communication specialization is designed to equip students with the skills to convey impactful messages through the most effective channels. Emphasis is placed on aligning communication strategies with organizational goals, ensuring a cohesive and compelling narrative. The curriculum covers strategic planning, audience analysis, and the utilization of various communication platforms to achieve organizational objectives.• Director of Public Relations
• Media Manager
• Communication Strategist
• Brand Communication Specialist
• Public Relations Consultant
Corporate CommunicationCorporate Communication specialization focuses on how businesses and organizations communicate with diverse internal and external stakeholders. Students gain insights into developing effective communication strategies that align with organizational goals. Topics covered include internal communication, crisis communication, and cultivating a positive corporate image. Emphasis is placed on fostering transparent and coherent communication practices within the corporate environment.• Director of Corporate Communication
• Corporate Communication Manager
• Internal Communication Specialist
• Employee Relations Manager
• Corporate Affairs Consultant
Marketing and AdvertisingMarketing and Advertising specialization delves into the intersection of public relations, marketing, and advertising. Students explore how public relations strategies can be integrated into marketing and advertising campaigns to shape public perception and enhance brand presence. Emphasis is placed on understanding consumer behavior, creating compelling narratives, and utilizing various channels for effective communication.• Advertising Manager
• Marketing Communications Specialist
• Brand Strategist
• Public Relations Consultant in Marketing
• Social Media Marketing Manager
Brand ManagementBrand Management specialization focuses on developing skills and knowledge essential for building, maintaining, and enhancing a brand’s reputation. Students delve into the strategic aspects of brand communication, understanding consumer perceptions, and crafting narratives that align with organizational goals. The curriculum emphasizes brand strategy, identity, and the use of communication tools to create a strong brand presence.• Brand Manager
• Brand Strategist
• Corporate Communications Manager
• Public Relations Specialist with Brand Focus
• Marketing Communications Director
Crisis ManagementCrisis Management specialization equips students with the skills to navigate and mitigate challenges that may jeopardize an organization’s reputation. They learn strategic communication techniques to address crises effectively, minimize damage, and restore stakeholder trust. The curriculum covers crisis planning, real-time response strategies, and post-crisis evaluation.• VP/Director of Public Relations
• Crisis Communication Specialist
• Public Relations Manager
• Corporate Spokesperson
• Reputation Management Consultant

Timeline for graduation from Masters in Public Relations Online Programs

Most masters in public relations typically take anywhere between 18 to 24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelor’s. In doing an accelerated program, one can save money on tuition. Typically, for a master’s in public relations, they need to take 30 to 33 hours of credits.

  • Full-timers typically take nine credits (3 courses) during the fall and spring semesters and six credits (2 courses) during the summer semester.
  • Part-timers typically take 3 to 6 credits (1 to 2 courses) during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Accelerated Masters in Public Relations Online Programs

An Accelerated Master’s in Public Relations is designed for students who wish to expedite their graduate education. This program typically compresses the traditional timeframe, allowing them to complete the requirements more quickly. While the exact structure varies, accelerated programs often involve more intensive coursework and focused schedules and may require them to carry a heavier academic load. Some institutions providing an accelerated master’s in public relations include:

Masters in Public Relations Online Programs Admission Requirements

Admission into Master’s in Public Relations (MPR) programs involves a comprehensive evaluation of applicants to ensure they possess the academic background, skills, and motivation to excel in the field. While specific requirements can vary among institutions, the following are common elements often sought in applicants:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A completed undergraduate degree from an accredited institution is typically a fundamental requirement. The degree can be in any field, although some programs may prefer or require a related discipline.
  • Transcripts: Applicants usually provide official transcripts from all previously attended institutions. These transcripts showcase academic performance and are crucial in assessing eligibility.
  • Minimum GPA: Many programs set a minimum GPA requirement, commonly ranging from 2.5 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Some highly competitive programs may have higher GPA expectations.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Applicants typically need to submit letters of recommendation, often from professors, employers, or other individuals who can attest to the applicant’s qualifications and potential for success in a master’s program.
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP): A well-crafted SOP outlining the applicant’s motivations, career goals, and reasons for pursuing a Master’s in Public Relations is usually required. This document helps the admissions committee understand the applicant’s intent and fit for the program.
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV): A comprehensive resume or CV detailing academic and professional experiences and relevant skills is commonly requested.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Some programs may require GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores. However, an increasing number of institutions are moving towards test-optional policies.
  • Writing Sample: In some instances, applicants may be asked to submit a writing sample to demonstrate their communication and writing skills.
  • Interview: A personal or virtual interview may be part of the admissions process, allowing applicants to discuss their background, aspirations, and suitability for the program.
  • Prerequisite Courses: Depending on the program, students may need to complete specific prerequisite courses or demonstrate proficiency in certain areas.

Accreditation for Masters in Public Relations Online Programs

Accreditation means that an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. It is of utmost importance that academicians and the industry universally recognize a student’s degree as being of a particular academic and professional standard. Hence, one must ensure that the institution they are enrolling in has their master’s programs accredited.

Accreditation in Public Relations is a voluntary certification program for public relations professionals. The designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR) signifies a high professional level of experience and competence. Accreditation demonstrates that some individuals know public relations strategy and best practices, an understanding of ethics, and experiences that set them apart. The APR credential is increasingly valued as a hiring and professional advancement screening criterion. Research has shown that Accredited public relations practitioners earn more money than their non-accredited counterparts.

The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a consortium of nine leading public relations organizations, which are:

Masters in Public Relations Online No GRE Programs

Some Master’s in Public Relations (MPR) programs have adopted a test-optional policy, so they do not require applicants to submit GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores for admission. However, specific policies can vary between institutions, and prospective students must check individual programs’ admission requirements. A few colleges provide no GRE graduate public relations programs, including:

Free Courses for Public Relations Professionals

Free courses in public relations help one learn the intricacies of the profession and field. A few such courses that students of an online master’s in public relations can take include:

CoursePrinciples of Public Relations [22]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionStudents delve into the historical evolution of public relations, gaining insights into how the profession has developed over time. The curriculum covers fundamental theories and models that guide strategic communication efforts, emphasizing the importance of building and maintaining positive relationships with diverse stakeholders.
CoursePublic Relations: Optimize Systems Theory and Stakeholder Management Practices [23]
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThis course aims to equip students with a deep understanding of the theoretical foundations and practical applications of systems theory and stakeholder management in public relations. They will gain valuable skills to navigate complex communication environments and optimize strategies for effective stakeholder engagement.
CourseIntroduction to PR [24]
Provided byPR Academy
DescriptionThis course is designed for individuals seeking entry into strategic communication and reputation management. Students will delve into the theoretical foundations of PR, exploring key concepts such as stakeholder engagement, media relations, and crisis communication.

How to Pay for Master’s in Public Relations Online Programs

The following are potential funding mechanisms for students pursuing a Master’s in Public Relations (PR) to explore and consider:

  • Scholarships: Scholarships offer a straightforward and popular means of funding advanced education. If awarded, applicants receive financial support that does not require repayment. 
  • Fellowships: Full-timers are often eligible for merit-based or project-based awards known as fellowships. These fellowships assist one in pursuing higher studies and may provide financial support during the program.
  • Assistantships: Two types of assistantships, namely Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships, may be available for PR master’s students in certain universities. These assistantships allow individuals to teach, work, or research at the university while pursuing their studies.
  • Grants: Grants, typically provided by federal, state, or private sectors, cover tuition and other associated student expenses such as study materials, transportation, and equipment.
  • Working on Campus: Some universities offer employment opportunities for students to work on campus. While this option treats graduates as employees, the earnings can help partly fund their tuition fees.
  • Federal Loans: Another option is to consider Federal or Private Loans. However, graduates should be mindful of the interest rates associated with loans, which may contribute to student debt if not repaid promptly.
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): FAFSA is a viable option to fund graduate studies. One can fill out the FAFSA application to determine their eligibility for federal student aid.

Read the best Financial Aid Guide to understand college funding options comprehensively.

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Public Relations Online Graduates

Graduates with a Master’s in Public Relations (PR) can pursue diverse and rewarding careers across various industries. The advanced skills and knowledge gained during the program equip them for roles that involve strategic communication, reputation management, and effective engagement with different stakeholders. Here are some potential careers for individuals with a Master’s in PR:

  • Public Relations Manager/Director
  • Corporate Communication Specialist
  • Media Relations Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Event Manager/Coordinator
  • Crisis Communication Specialist
  • Digital Marketing Specialist
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Consultant/Agency Executive
  • Higher Education Communication Director

Students would look at managerial positions in constructing and shaping an organization’s public relations strategy. The typical career positions one would look at include public relations manager/director, promotion, advertising, or marketing manager. These roles typically might have interactions with the public and media. Below are a few positions explained:

OccupationPublic Relations Specialists [25]
SkillsAnalytical, interpersonal, excellent communication, strategic thinking, adaptability, and creativity.
Median Annual Salary$67,440
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionAs a Public Relations Manager, individuals are responsible for managing and enhancing the public image of an organization or individual. They utilize analytical and strategic thinking to develop communication plans, engage with the media, and create a positive public perception. Duties involve crafting press releases, organizing events, managing social media, and responding to public inquiries, contributing to the overall success and reputation of the entity they represent.
OccupationAdvertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers [26]
SkillsAnalytical, creative, strategic thinking, communication, leadership, and adaptability.
Median Annual Salary$138,730
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionAs Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, individuals are responsible for planning and executing campaigns to promote a product, service, or brand. They use analytical and creative skills to identify target audiences, develop marketing strategies, and oversee advertising and promotional activities. Duties involve coordinating with creative teams, analyzing market trends, and assessing the effectiveness of marketing efforts to drive business success and achieve organizational goals.
OccupationPublic Relations and Fundraising Managers [27]
SkillsStrategic communication, relationship building, organizational skills, creativity, leadership, and adaptability.
Median Annual Salary$125,620
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionPublic Relations and Fundraising Managers manage an organization’s public image and coordinate fundraising efforts. They develop communication strategies to build and maintain a favorable public perception, handle media relations, and oversee fundraising campaigns for various projects. These professionals work closely with internal teams and external partners to ensure effective communication and successful fundraising initiatives, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
OccupationProject Management Specialists [28]
SkillsProject planning, coordination, time management, problem-solving, leadership, communication, and risk management.
Median Annual Salary$95,370
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionProject Management Specialists are crucial in planning, executing, and closing organizational projects. They coordinate project activities, ensure deadlines are met, allocate resources efficiently, and communicate project goals and progress to stakeholders. These specialists may work in diverse fields, such as IT, construction, healthcare, or finance, overseeing projects from initiation to completion and contributing to successfully implementing organizational initiatives.

Certifications and Licensing for Master’s in Public Relations Online Graduates

Masters in Public Relations (PR) graduates may pursue various certifications and licensing opportunities to enhance their skills and professional standing. While public relations professionals have no mandatory licensure, certifications can demonstrate expertise and dedication to the field. Here are some relevant certifications:

Certified Public Relations Professional (CPRP) [29]
CPRP certification is designed for mid-career public relations professionals. It demonstrates advanced knowledge and expertise in strategic communication, ethical practice, and leadership within the PR industry.

Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) [30]
APR is a credential for public relations professionals who have proven their competence in the field. It assesses skills in research, strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation of public relations programs.

Social Media Strategist (SMS) [31]
This certification is focused on social media strategy. It covers areas such as developing and implementing social media campaigns, analyzing metrics, and ensuring compliance with ethical standards.

HubSpot Content Marketing Certification[32]
This certification is ideal for PR professionals specializing in content marketing. It covers content strategy, creation, promotion, and analytics.

There is no specific licensing requirement for public relations (PR) professionals in the same way there might be for certain regulated professions. However, it’s crucial to note that regulations and requirements can change, and it’s advisable to check with relevant professional organizations, state boards, or regulatory bodies for the most current information.

Additional Resources for Public Relations Professionals

Public relations professionals can further their careers with alliance and accreditation through professional public relations organizations. These organizations routinely organize events and conferences inviting industry stalwarts and members to intact and connect contemporary issues and like-minded professionals from the public relations industry. Most public relations professional organizations would like to enroll professionals and students into their ranks, often offering discounts on memberships and accreditations at discounted prices for recent and current graduates. Some organizations that masters in public relations students can consider include:

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) [33]
PRSA is one of the largest professional organizations for public relations practitioners. It provides resources, professional development opportunities, and a network of PR professionals.

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) [34]
IABC is a global association for communication professionals. It offers resources, networking events, and professional development opportunities.

National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS) [35]
NBPRS focuses on promoting diversity and inclusion in public relations. It offers networking events, professional development, and mentorship opportunities.

Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) [36]
HPRA is dedicated to advancing Hispanic PR professionals. It provides networking opportunities, professional development, and advocacy for Hispanic communicators.

Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management [37]
The Global Alliance is an international organization that brings together PR and communication professionals globally. It focuses on collaboration, research, and professional standards.

FAQs About Master’s in Public Relations Online Programs

What is a Master’s in Public Relations (PR)?

A Master’s in Public Relations is a graduate-level program that provides advanced knowledge and skills in public relations. It focuses on strategic communication, reputation management, media relations, and other aspects of effective public communication.

Can I pursue a Master’s in Public Relations online? 

What career opportunities are available with a Master’s in Public Relations? 

Do I need work experience to apply for a Master’s in Public Relations program?

Is a Master’s in Public Relations worth it? 

Can I switch to public relations with a Master’s degree in another field?

What projects or assignments can I expect in a Master’s in Public Relations program?

How are technology and digital media integrated into Master’s in Public Relations programs?