Best Master’s in Public Relations Degrees

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Earn a Master’s in Public Relations

Professionals with a master’s in public relations may work as fundraisers, production coordinators, or marketing managers. Master’s degrees often appeal to experienced professionals wanting career advancement. Master’s in public relations programs often include classes in communication inquiry and storytelling through research and measurement.

Master’s degree-seekers need a bachelor’s from an accredited school. Some programs require a personal statement, resume, and recommendation letters.

This page lists the best public relations master’s degrees. Read on to learn about costs, common classes, and how to become a public relations manager.

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Questions About Public Relations

How much do you make with a master’s in public relations?

Graduates may work as public relations managers. These professionals earn a median $118,430 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure exceeds the median $41,950 annual salary for all occupations.

Do you need a master’s to work in public relations?

Many entry-level public relations jobs only require a bachelor’s degree. Earning a master’s in public relations can help workers qualify for management-level positions.

Is public relations in demand?

The BLS projects jobs for public relations and fundraising managers will grow 13% from 2020-2030, which is faster than average.

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Why Get a Degree in Public Relations?

Earning a master’s in public relations can lead to a variety of careers. Graduates may work for government agencies, nonprofits, or corporations. Degree-seekers can often customize their degree with upper-division electives.

Students who pursue a public relations master’s degree online benefit from flexibility. They can complete coursework from anywhere with internet access. Asynchronous curriculum lets students watch recorded lectures anytime. An online format lets learners attend top programs without commuting or relocating.

How Much Does a Public Relations Degree Cost?

Master’s degrees cost an average of $66,340, according to EducationData.org. However, costs vary by school, learners’ residency status, and program length. Full-time students can typically earn a master’s in two years. Learners attending public, in-state schools usually pay more affordable tuition than students attending private or out-of-state schools.

Some public universities waive out-of-state tuition for online students. Degree-seekers should budget for extra fees, such as books and materials.

Learners can potentially lower their expenses by applying to schools with generous financial aid programs. Some universities consider all incoming learners for merit- and need-based aid. Degree-seekers may qualify for federal grants and low-interest loans by submitting the FAFSA.

How Much Do Public Relations Majors Make?

Professionals with a master’s in public relations earn an average of $64,000 annually, according to Jan. 2022 Payscale data. Many employers save management-level positions for candidates with significant experience and a master’s degree.

Professionals can advance their careers by earning a certification from the Public Relations Society of America or the International Association of Business Communicators.

Courses in Public Relations

Master’s in public relations programs prepare students to act as their employer’s representative. Degree-seekers learn how to create relationships between a company and the public. Students take classes in public relations theory and management. They also complete a final-term capstone. Religious-affiliated universities may require theology classes.

Many top public relations master’s degrees require the three core classes below. Please note that curriculum requirements, class topics, and graduate outcomes vary by school. Students should contact their prospective schools for specific details.

  • Public Relations Theory and Management

    This introductory class emphasizes the different theories public relations managers use on the job. Assignments cover persuasion, media, and professional ethics. These and other topics prepare students to create relationships with the public and act as crisis communicators. Enrollees learn how to apply management best practices in the workplace.
  • Public Relations Research

    Public relations specialists and managers research their field’s latest trends. This class trains learners for this responsibility. Classes cover topics like research methodologies and data gathering. Academic requirements include performing original research and writing extended essays. Graduates use their knowledge to give recommendations to senior managers.
  • Capstone

    A capstone class requires students to use their knowledge and skills through a semester-long project like an internship. Learners reflect on their work by critiquing it. Graduates may use their capstone project as part of a job-application portfolio.

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How to Become a Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers need at least a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience as a public relations specialist. Some employers require a master’s in public relations, communications, or business. Other acceptable degrees include journalism and nonprofit management. Education and experience help professionals develop in-demand interpersonal, leadership, and writing skills.

Public relations managers spend much of their day helping their employer create a positive public image. They write press releases, create promotional campaigns, and direct public relations specialists’ work. Professionals specializing in fundraising also write grant applications and meet with potential donors.

Best Master’s in Public Relations Degrees

  1. Georgetown University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $26625

    Overview

    Smack-dab in the middle of our nations capital, Georgetown University kicks off our list for having the best masters in public relations degree in the nation. Beyond its excellent academic standings, this private research university is known for its high percentage of student involvement and activism.

    Program Features

    Georgetown University is the place to be if youre serious about Public Relations. This degreea Masters in Public Relations Corporate Communicationsis designed as a hybrid format that gets you connected with Washington D.C. network from the get-go. Over the course of 30 credits, youll take classes like:

    Communications Research Digital Crisis Management Media Relations Employee Engagement and Internal Communications

    Notables

    Were not the only ones taking note of the PR program at Georgetown University. PRWeek named the masters program the Program of the Year for three years in a row! They praised Georgetowns ever-expanding curriculum, the innovative facilities, and the strong industry connections.

  2. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $32932

    Overview

    Located in a culture and entrepreneurship hub, the University of Southern California has graduated thousands of business leaders and innovative thinkers. This LA-based research university is home to Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which was ranked #1 in the nation byUSA Todayin 2014.

    Program Features

    USC offers an M.A. in Strategic Public Relations that most students complete in about 16 to 20 months. Youll spend the first half of the program solidifying your writing and analytical skills. Then youll hone your skills to a particular area of PR, whether thats entertainment, politics, sports, or something else. Here are some classes youll take:

    Multimedia Content Creation for Strategic Public Relations Writing for Strategic Public Relations Legal, Ethical, and Social Foundations Public Relations Research, Evaluation, and Insight

    Notables

    This program makes it possible for you to become an expert in your field. It offers three Skills Specialization areas: 1) Computational Public Relations, 2) Digital, Interactive and Converged Communication, and 3) Corporate and Business Communication.

  3. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $35147

    Overview

    A cultural touchstone for higher education, New York University (or NYU) is based in Manhattan, but has locations all over the world. This private university was founded in 1831. Its student body exceeds 50,500 students in total.

    Program Features

    The M.S. in Public Relations and Corporate Communication at NYU takes the form of two specialty concentrations: Corporate and Organizational Communication or Public Relations Management. Both concentrations require a total of 42 credit hours. Youll have the choice to complete an internship, too. Some highlight courses include:

    Public Affairs: Public Opinion and Issues Management Crisis Communication Investor Relations Public Relations Consulting

    Notables

    Students enjoy the amazing network of connections that they find at New York University. Graduates have landed positions in a wide range of areas including Amnesty International, Bloomingdales, The New York Knicks, Johnson Johnson, and more.

  4. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $31539

    Overview

    Boston University (BU) is a powerhouse institution with a global reach. Though its main campus remains in Massachusetts capital city, BU has branches in London, Paris, and Sydney. Founded in 1947, the College of Communication is the oldest public relations school in the United States.

    Program Features

    The Boston University College of Communication offers a M.S. in Public Relations. This program lasts just three semesters, but is jam-packed with opportunities to prepare you for a career. The curriculum sequence is balanced between core requirements and electives like:

    Political Campaigning Managing Corporate Crises and Issues Global Marketing Communication Advanced Writing for Media Professionals

    Notables

    This program includes a ton of curriculum add-ons that enhance your stay at BU. For example, the London Internship Program lets you hop across the pond for a 12-week study of global marketing communication. Or the PRLab is a student-run PR agency where youll get hands on experience.

  5. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $39562

    Overview

    As the name implies, George Washington University (GWU) was founded on behalf of our nations first president. GWU commonly ranks within the top 10 in lists like Best in the Northeast and Most Politically Active according to thePrinceton Review.

    Program Features

    The Strategic Public Relations masters program at George Washington University is designed for working professionals. Therefore, youll find classes that are offered both online and on-campus, and a class schedule that only goes from Monday to Thursday. Youll find engaging electives such as:

    Integrated Marketing Communications Nonprofit and Association Communications Strategies Public Opinion and Political Socialization Multicultural Marketing

    Notables

    This degree is housed in the Graduate School of Political Management, and encourages a global approach in its curriculum. Youll get a chance to participate in a Global Perspective Residency program, which sends you to places like Germany, South Africa, Brazil, and beyond for political engagement and public relations.

  6. University of Georgia in Athens
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $14956

    Overview

    The flagship university in the wider state system, the University of Georgia (UGA) is a Public Ivy institution that is located in Athens, Georgia. The school upholds a strong academic reputation, ranking 54th in the U.S. among other national universities. UGA is also home to the Peabody Awards, one of the top honors for excellence in media.

    Program Features

    The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication brings together a number of M.A. concentration options, one of with is in Public Relations. Related options include Advertising, Mass Media Studies, and Emerging Media. The PR-specific classes include:

    Public Relations Theory Public Relations Campaigns Public Opinion Research Methodology in Mass Communication

    Notables

    The Grady College of Journalism has a wide range of centers and organizations to get you involved in content-building and networking right away. The Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research and the Georgia Scholastic Press Association are two such facilities.

  7. Syracuse University
    Location

    Syracuse, NY

    Tuition

    $31823

    Overview

    Syracuse University is a private research institution in New York that educates nearly 22,500 students each year. It maintains the Carnegie designation of producing the highest level of research activity. The Newhouse School of Public Communications hosts a close-knit cohort of graduate students, which totals around 250 students across disciplines.

    Program Features

    The masters program in Public Relations at Syracuse University is a 13-month degree that requires 36 credits to complete. It prepares you to either work as a public relations consultant or a doctoral candidate to teach or research (this involves a thesis track). Your classes will cover:

    Media Law Public Relations Theory Writing for News Public Relations Visual Communications Theory Practice

    Notables

    The Newhouse School has enjoyed accolades across the board for its excellence in public relations education. Last year, it won the PRWeek Award for Outstanding Education Program, and in 2016, it won the PR Education Program of the Year.

  8. University of Denver
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $32940

    Overview

    Known as the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountains, the University of Denver (DU) was founded in 1864. It is a small but mighty school, and over half of its student body are graduate students. This year, DU ranked within the top 100 national universities (#87).

    Program Features

    Flexible and accessible, the Masters in Public Relations at the University of Denver is a catch. Youll take a total of twelve classes in this program. The terms last ten weeks, and you can take them either online or on-campuswhatever fits your schedule! Youll choose from popular electives like:

    Branding and Marketing Positioning Integrating Social Media Persuasion Methods and Techniques Writing Digital Content

    Notables

    This degree is offered through the University College of Professional and Continuing Studies. The entire academic program is catered toward working adults. This means classes are offered in a variety of formats (online, evenings, flex-scheduling), and accelerated options give you the chance to graduate in just 18 months.

  9. University of Miami
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $37424

    Overview

    The University of Miami is a private institution with a beachside view of the Atlantic Ocean. The campus is situated on the southern tip of Florida, in Coral Gables. In its 2018 rankings,U.S. News World Reportlisted the University of Miami as the 44th Best National University.

    Program Features

    Youll take on an M.A. in Public Relations at the University of Miami. This program is divided into thesis and non-thesis tracks and require 30-36 credits. Youll be able to carve a speciality out of five chosen electives. A sampling of some coursework includes:

    Sports, Publicity Promotions Media Relations International Public Relations Nonprofit and Public Information Campaigns

    Notables

    The University of Miami is one of the more costly programs on our list. However, you can offset these costs with a variety of scholarships that are specific to the School of Communication. There are close to thirty different scholarships awarded to students.

  10. University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $20133

    Overview

    The oldest and largest public university in the state, the University of Alabama is based in Tuscaloosa. The College of Communication and Information Sciences (which houses the Advertising and Public Relations degree) is home to around 2,700 students.

    Program Features

    This M.A. in Advertising and Public Relations gives you options. You can go with Plan I, which is a two-year program that is research-based. Or you can set off on Plan II, which is a one-year professional program. Despite the differences youll find an overlap in your coursework:

    Public Relations Communications Theory Advertising and Public Relations Management Advertising Media Communication Campaign Workshop

    Notables

    The final two classes in this curriculum are the Communications Campaign Workshop I and II. Youll get the chance to research and design a strategic advertising and PR campaign for an organization of your choice. This is a great way to synthesize your learnings and prepare a portfolio for future employers.

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