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Masters in Public Relations Online
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Masters in Public Relations Online

Masters in Public Relations Online

If you have a passion and a flair for strategic communication that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their customers, then a masters in public relations online could be your first step in the right direction. According to the National Labor Bureau the median salary of a public relations manager is $116,180.00. So, if you are looking for a masters program that will boost your salary then a Masters program in public relations is a good start. Typically, this vocation requires a good understanding of branding, market research, Interpersonal, organizational, problem solving, content creation, social media, strong writing and communication skills. A Masters in Public Relations would help in honing all these.  Here, we will explore the best online Masters in Public Relations programs and would include information on potential courses, course requirements, costs and all aspects of masters in public relation online programs.

Featured Online Programs

Best Online Public Relations Masters Programs

Public Relations Best Seal

Even though there are a ton of programs leading to a masters in Public Relations, we went through them to make a list of the top Public Relations masters programs based on factors such as cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates etc.

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College Name & Address Tuition Graduation 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
Western New England University
1215 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield, Massachusetts 01119
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 Masters in Public Relations Programs

Public relations is building and maintaining a relationship with the public or customers through influencing and engaging with the key stakeholders across varied and numerous 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 masters in public relations will enable the student to muster all the above. A typical masters in public relations would require two years and around 30-33 credit hours to complete the program. Below, these aspects of a masters in public relations have been discussed in detail.

Masters in Public Relations Online Degree Types

There are typically three types of programs for a masters in public relations. Namely, MA in public relations, MS in public relations and MBA with a specialization in public relations. Below we will discuss in detail how they differ and whom they are meant for. 

MA Public Relations

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

MS Public Relations

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. But 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 masters in public relations, the roles they play post their 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 masters in public relation:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration prepares for
Strategic Communication/Strategic Brand CommunicationStudents learn to communicate the best message, through the right channels, measured against well-considered organizational and communications-specific goals.Director of Public Relations/Media Manager
Corporate CommunicationIn Corporate communications students learn the way in which businesses and organizations communicate with various internal and external audiences.Director of Corporate Communication
Marketing and AdvertisingStudents learn marketing and advertising from a public relations point of view. In public relations, marketing and advertising techniques are used to influence and maintain a narrative conducive to the companies’ policies and ultimate goals.Advertising/Marketing Manager
Brand ManagementHere students learn to create a buzz around a brand and sell a certain narrative about the same.Brand Manager
Crisis ManagementCrisis communication refers to the specific messaging that a company portrays in the face of a crisis or unanticipated event which has the potential to damage their reputation or existence. In the event of such a crisis, it is the responsibility of the communications department to create a strategy to address it.VP/Director of Public Relations

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Public Relations Programs

A masters in public relations would generally have different specialization and that would invoke a little change in curriculum per the specialization. Below are a few subjects learned in a typical masters in public relations.

CurriculumSkills Learned
Strategic Writing for Public RelationsWrite strategic communication pieces on behalf of an organization. That includes releasing communication during crises.
Public Relations TheoryIt is a study of managing a brand’s reputation. It keeps focus on the kinds of information that publics want rather than the organization’s choice of information to distribute.
Measurement & EvaluationThis course will focus on the method and analysis for consumer insights but also for measuring effectiveness of various promotional strategies and campaign effectiveness. This includes an overview of quantitative research methods with emphasis on analysis and interpretation of data, and application to evaluating effectiveness of promotional strategies.
Strategy & MessagingThe focus of this course is 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 StrategyThis course will familiarize students with the topic of marketing communications and promotion management and will teach students the steps for planning a strategic brand communications campaign. The culmination of this course will be a campaign for a real-world client.
Strategic Media ManagementThis course analyzes the markets served by various advertising media and factors to consider in the selection and evaluation of media. Markets include investors, employees, and consumer segments. This course will also cover managing media in a global context.  This course is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of media analysis, planning, buying and optimization.
Messaging StrategyCreating and executing successful messages across communication channels. 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. Strategic brand communication manages every message and contact point within an organization. Audiences include not only consumers, but employees, stockholders, the media, and others
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 the student to demonstrate his/her mastery of strategic brand communication, focused on Creating and Executing a Research Plan; Repositioning Analysis and Strategy; Strategic Brand Communication Strategy & Tactics; Media Strategy & Tactics; Campaign Monitoring and Evaluation

Source: UIUC

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. Below gives a detained overview of the process of accreditation. What is Accreditation?

It is of utmost importance that the degree that a student earns is recognized by academicians and as well as the industry universally as being of a certain academic and professional standard. Hence, it is important that one ensures that the institution that they are enrolling into has their masters programs accredited.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education is one such accreditation agency. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is responsible for more than 525 accredited and candidate degree-granting institutions which offer one or more postsecondary educational programs, including those offered via distance education, of at least one academic year in length at the Associate’s or higher level in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and any other geographic areas in which the Commission elects to conduct accrediting activities within and outside of the United States.

Accreditation for Professionals:

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 have knowledge of public relations strategy and best practices; an understanding of ethics; and experiences which set them apart.

The reasons to earn the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential are both professional and personal. The APR credential is increasingly becoming valued and used as a screening criterion for hiring and professional advancement. Research has shown that Accredited public relations practitioners earn more money than their non- Accredited counterparts. Find out more about accreditation.  

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

The UAB includes representatives from each public relation participating organization and a chair.

Timeline for graduation from Masters in Public Relations Online Programs

Most masters in public relations typically takes anywhere between 18-24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelors. In doing an accelerated program, students can save money on tuition.

Typically, for a masters in public relations, students need to take 30 – 33 hours of credits.

  • Full-time students typically take 9 credits (3 courses) during the fall and spring semesters, and 6 credits (2 courses) during the summer semester.
  • Part-time students typically take 3 to 6 credits (1 to 2 courses) during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Masters in Public Relations Online Programs Admission Requirements

Generally, every masters program has its own admission requirements, but a masters in public relations admission would typically require a bachelors’ with a minimum of around 2.5 – 3.0 GPA. But a few programs might also require a standardized GRE score, and some might add a work experience of around five years as well. To know more about standardized GRE test please refer to the link below:Know About GRE Test

Masters in Public Relations Online No GRE Programs

If you get lucky, you can get into a masters in public relations program where no standardized GRE score is required. If you would like to choose one of those universities which does not require a GRE score, below is a list of such universities.

Also, we would like to mention here that these universities are all accredited and it is just that these universities don’t want to impose a standardized test. But do keep in mind that these masters in public relations programs might ask for industry experience of around 5 years.

How to Pay for Masters in Public Relations Online Programs

The average college debt among student loan borrowers in America is $32,731, according to the Federal Reserve. This is an increase of approximately 20% from 2015-2016. Most borrowers have between $25,000 and $50,000 outstanding in student loan debt. So, one would imagine that the best way to pay for your masters in public relations program would be by scholarships. A number of schools like the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Florida offer public relations scholarships specifically to their majors but looking beyond campus can yield even more public relations scholarship opportunities. Both the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) give generously to their members, as do public relations firms like Fleishman-Hillard, which also has an internship program.

Here is a link to the list of public relations scholarships: Public Relation Scholarships

If someone does not qualify for a scholarship, working professionals can check with their employers if they would reimburse the tuition fee. The other way of funding your masters is applying for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for Federal student aid. Here a link to the application for FAFSA FAFSA Application.

Here a link for a general view of how to fund your master program Financial-Aid.

FAQs about Masters in Public Relations Programs

Q: What can I do with a masters in public relations?
A:Typical roles after a masters in public relations include public relations manager/director, promotion, advertising, or marketing manager.
Q: Is there a deadline for admission?
A:Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed as they are received.
Q: Can I transfer credits from a previous graduate program? How many?
A:Students may transfer up to 9 semester hours of graduate work from a previous institution. Faculty will evaluate course equivalencies on a case-by-case basis.
Q: How long does the program take to complete?
A:Full-time online or evening students (9 credits per semester) complete the program in two years (four semesters). As course offerings allow, it is possible for those studying full-time to graduate in less than two years.
Q: Are scholarships available? How do I apply?
A:Merit-based scholarships are distributed on a competitive basis to eligible applicants. No additional materials are needed outside of the MA application to be considered. Applicants are encouraged to meet with representatives in the Office of Student Financial Services to inquire about need-based aid and other resources to finance their degree. Matriculated students may also apply for a variety of campus jobs, which are continually updated on Hofstra’s website. Continuing students may apply for additional scholarships and are alerted when this opportunity arises during the semester.

Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Public Relations Online Graduates

Post a masters in public relations, students would look at managerial positions constructing and shaping an organizations public relation strategy. The typical career positions one would look at include public relations manager/director, promotion, advertising, or marketing manager etc. These roles typically might have interactions with the public and media. Below is list of a few positions:

OccupationMedian Annual Salary (US $)Job Growth (2019-2029)Job Description
Director of Public Relations/Media Manger/ Fund Raisers116,1809%Public relations managers direct the creation of materials that will enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.
Public Relation Specialist/Director of Corporate Communication61,1507%Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and increase awareness of its work and goals.
Advertising/Marketing Manager135,9006%Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, advertising sales agents, and financial staff members.
Brand Manager89,8237% As brand managers, their focus may be more about a company’s brand image than about specific products, although they may also focus on the brand message that’s presented within product advertisements.

Source: BLS and Glassdoor

Certifications and Licensing for Masters in Public Relations Online Graduates

Public relations careers do not require any licensing. But few organizations value an accreditation certificate from professional agencies like The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) program is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB).

As a skilled public relations professional, you know that your success is dependent on staying relevant, resourceful, and inspired. The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential certifies your drive, professionalism, and principles, setting you apart from your peers and positioning you as a leader and mentor in the competitive public relations field. Building on the foundation of your educational degree, the APR keeps you current on today’s best practices and applications in the ever-evolving communications world.

The APR:

  • Asserts professional competence.
  • Communicates professional expertise, plus personal and professional dedication and values.
  • Reflects progressive public relations industry practices and high standards.

Preparing for the APR is an exercise in success, as the process provides an assessment of your proficiency and accurately calibrates your craft, contacts, and career goals. Where extra support is needed, you will be introduced to a tremendously skilled and experienced network of mentors, providing you with a lifetime of guidance and expertise.

Apart from the above accreditations, one can even pursue certain certifications which always helps till you take the final plunge into the masters in public relations program. Please refer below table for reference:

CERTIFICATE IN STRATEGIC MEDIA COMMUNICATIONSThe Certificate in Strategic Media Communications serves to provide foundational public relations knowledge for anyone interested in PR, but it also is ideally suited for marketing professionals who need public relations knowledge to remain current in their industry.NYUThe program must be completed within 3 years.
Strategic Branding & Public Relations CertificateThe internship course provides eligible students an opportunity to earn elective credit toward the Strategic Branding and Public Relations Certificate program based on an internship position- comprised of at least 120 hours of practical application of course material- that the student has secured and had approved by UCLA Extension.ULCAUCLA Extension students who are enrolled in the Strategic Branding and Public Relations Certificate and who have completed a minimum of 20 units in their program.
CERTIFICATE IN PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC RELATIONSThe Certificate in Principles of Public Relations Online Study Course, developed by faculty members of the PRSA Educators Academy and produced by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), helps you prepare for taking the computer-based examination.Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)1. within six months of graduation (before or after) from an accredited college or university whose degree is in public relations or a related area of study; AND 2. members of the Public Relations Student Society of America or student members of another UAB Participating Organization, such as the Florida Public Relations Association or the Southern Public Relations Federation.

Additional Resources for Public Relations Professionals

Public relation professions can further their careers with alliance and accreditation through professional public relation 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 relation 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.

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