Master's Degree in Public Relations: Program Overviews

Read about master's degree programs in public relations. Get information on prerequisites, required courses, internships and professional credentials. Examine employment options in the field.

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Essential Information

Public relations specialists work in healthcare, government, advertising and other fields to maintain positive, productive public images for their employers. A master's degree program in public relations helps students develop skills in strategic thinking and communication. Students are trained in public relations writing, media relations, promotions and advertising as well as public relations ethics.

Many programs include internship experiences during which students work with local businesses or agencies to hone their skills. Some programs allow students to focus their studies in areas such as ethics and law, crisis management or new media. Most master's programs in public relations can be completed in about two years of full-time study, and some programs are offered online. Voluntary certifications are also available.

Educational Prerequisites

Master's degree programs in public relations are offered at 4-year colleges and universities. Applicants are required to possess a bachelor's degree, though most programs do not require a specific undergraduate field of study. Some programs give preference to students with relevant professional experience. Many programs require the submission of Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, scores.

Program Coursework

Courses in a public relations master's degree program cover a variety of areas essential to a professional public relations specialist's training. Common courses include the following:

  • Principles of public relations
  • Media relations
  • Public relations writing
  • Advertising and promotions
  • Ethical standards in public relations
  • Corporate public relations management
  • Online public relations
  • Public relations strategy development

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Specialists in public relations held over 250,000 jobs in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). This included those working in advertising, government, healthcare and financial institutions. Employment opportunities were expected to grow 23% between 2010 and 2020, with the most significant growth in advertising and affiliated services. As of May 2012, public relations specialists earned mean annual wages of $61,980.

Continuing Education Information

The Universal Accreditation Board offers accreditation to specialists in public relations. To earn accreditation in public relations, it is necessary to have at least five years of work experience and to pass a computer-based examination.

Some public relations specialists pursue designation as an Accredited Business Communicator through the International Association of Business Communicators, which is focused on global standards in organizational communication. This accreditation requires at least five years of experience, along with passing oral and written examinations. Students seeking additional education may pursue a Ph.D. in public relations or communications.

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Online Schools with Public Relations Programs: How to Choose

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Florida (1 campus)

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • All degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree or higher
    • Post-Master's Certificate degree applicants must have a Masters degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Maryland (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Master
        • MA in Communication

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • Master of Business Administration (MBA) - Communication

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • Digital, Radio, and Television Communication
      • English Composition
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Journalism
      • Public Relations and Advertising
        • Advertising
        • Health Communication
        • Public Relations
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Michigan State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • Digital, Radio, and Television Communication
      • English Composition
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Journalism
      • Public Relations and Advertising
        • Advertising
        • Health Communication
        • Public Relations
  • School locations:
    • Maryland (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Towson University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Communication Technology
      • English Composition
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Public Relations and Advertising
        • Public Relations
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Ball State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Communication Technology
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • Digital, Radio, and Television Communication
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Graphic Communications
      • Journalism
      • Public Relations and Advertising
        • Public Relations
  • School locations:
    • New Jersey (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Kean University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Graphic Communications
      • Public Relations and Advertising
        • Public Relations
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature

Popular Schools

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