Best Online Master’s in Public Relations Degrees

Are you ready to find your fit?

What kind of Online Public Relations degree should you get?

Below are the most elite communications and public relations programs in the country. They are housed in large, research universities and small, interdisciplinary liberal arts college alike.

And while some of these programs emphasize international communications and others media relations, they each share some things in common. For one, they are all delivered online. Additionally, they are the best at training leaders in public relations, management, and strategic communication.

How much do people make with an Online Public Relations degree?

We’ve got good news for folks in public relations! In the next few years it is estimated that PR jobs will jump up by 6 percent, with at least 15k new jobs opening up.

And while those with just a bachelor’s degree can find work in public relations, those with master’s degrees are much more likely to land managing roles, making on average 51k a year. You can look forward to a long and lucrative career!


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Accredited Online College Programs

If you’re thinking about pursuing a master’s degree online, take a look at our list of the best online colleges to help make your decision.

What can you do with an Online Public Relations degree?

PR managers are in high demand, as they are needed in most fields and industries to help craft company vision, implement branding tactics, and analyze customer response.

Not only are public relations jobs stable, in demand, and high-paying, but they’re versatile. So, even if you begin your career in the corporate office, navigating customer and company demands, you will find you can translate that experience to a range of other industries, such as nonprofit work, healthcare administration, and education. The possibilities for PR managers are limitless!

What are the Best Online Master’s in Public Relations degrees?

We looked at the academic reputation of every school offering an online MA or MS in Public Relations degree then refined those schools to include credit hour cost, retention rate (a marker of student satisfaction), and early annual salary of graduates.

What we arrived at is a list that reflects the most academically rigorous programs in the country that are also, simultaneously, some of the most affordable, and those that ensure vocationally success after graduation. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

Best Online Master’s in Public Relations Degrees

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $4007

    Overview

    Though not really needing an introduction, as Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is renowned in many ways and has been for decades, it’s worth reiterating JHU’s major contributions to research, especially in the areas of business, medicine, and engineering, and with a campus comprised of dozens of renowned research facilities and centers. JHU is home to around 5k undergraduates and 15k graduate students.

    Features

    Though not technically a degree in public relations, the online MA in Communications program at Johns Hopkins offers a concentration in public relations that gives students all the same skills and knowledge they’ll need to find careers in advertising, business, promotions, or sales. Regarding the cost, don’t let that scare you: this number represents the cost per unit (as opposed to credit). While most master’s programs require around thirty credits, JHU requires ten units. So the price for this rewarding, renowned degree isn’t much different than other schools, on our list and elsewhere. Some of those ten units include courses on:

    • Research and Writing Methodology
    • Introduction to the Digital Ages
    • Theory of Mass Communications
    • Qualitative Research

    Notables

    Forbes ranks Johns Hopkins University in 66th place among all national universities and colleges, while U.S. News & World Report includes JHU among the top ten best schools in the nation. Likewise, ARWU, Washington Monthly, and Times Higher Education, among many others, place JHU among the top twenty schools in the entire world.

  2. Georgetown University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $1263

    Overview

    An elite research university located in the nation’s capital, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic affiliated institution of higher education in the U.S. (though, of course, it has operated independently of the church for many years). Georgetown has earned a reputation for its unique student-centered research initiatives, which have made huge contributions in a number of fields, from theology to the development of the HPV vaccine.

    Features

    The online public relations program at Georgetown is four-fold in its approach: it equally emphasizes strategy and critical thinking as well as compelling writing and storytelling, and its curriculum is both practical, with applied learning, and informed by the industry. So, at Georgetown you can expect a master’s degree that equips you to understand emerging trends as much as it helps you develop your sense of creativity. Core courses include:

    • Conversations in Ethics
    • Elements of Communication Planning
    • Communications Research
    • Public Relations Writing

    Notables

    Georgetown University is globally and nationally ranked by ARWU, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, Times Higher Education, and The Princeton Review, among others.

  3. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $1666

    Overview

    The University of Southern California (USC) is located in Los Angeles and has a large student population of over 40k, over half of whom are graduate students. It is a research university (the oldest in the state) and is known for producing some of the country’s best, most successful engineers, entrepreneurs, and academics.

    Features

    The online Master of Communication Management degree at the University of Southern California helps students investigate both the societal and psychological influences of marketing, public relations, and global business practice. This is an ideal program for those who want a degree in PR that will prepare them to be successful managers and leaders. Offered fully online, this degree is thirty-two credit hours of classes covering:

    • Managing Communications
    • Strategic Corporate Communication
    • Online Marketing
    • Global Marketing Communication

    Notables

    Across ranking agencies—from The Princeton Review to Forbes, U.S. News, and Reuters—USC is considered among the top twenty-five best universities in the country. The school is comprised of dozens of Nobel Laureates, Rhodes Scholars, MacArthur Fellows, National Medal of Arts winners, Fulbright Scholars, and more.

  4. Marist College
    Location

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Tuition

    $800

    Overview

    If you’re looking for a smaller school with a liberal arts education platform, Marist College may be for you. Located in the Hudson River Valley, in the town of Poughkeepsie, Marist has approximately 7k combined undergraduates and graduate students enrolled in one of their seventy-five academic degree programs.

    Features

    Through Marist’s Integrated Marketing Communication master’s degree students learn how to analyze business and organizational objectives and turn them into public relations strategies. They also learn how to articulate the role of public relations in relation to a company’s vision, how to build a successful public relations campaign, and how to implement that strategy through intentional goal setting. This program is 100 percent online and allows students to continue working full time while earning the degree. A sampling of classes includes:

    • Advertising Management
    • Public Relations Management
    • Social Media Strategies and Tactics
    • Mobile Marketing

    Notables

    Marist is consistently recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best College.” Forbes and Kiplinger’s have also praised Marist, for its community focus and affordability, respectively.

  5. Quinnipiac University
    Location

    Hamden, CT

    Tuition

    $910

    Overview

    Quinnipiac University is a smaller school (with around 9k students) that offers a diversity of degrees in education, communication, business, engineering, health science, law, medicine, and nursing. Quinnipiac is a private university located in North Haven, Connecticut with two other locations in Mount Carmel and Hamden.

    Features

    Offered through the School of Communications, the online MS in Public Relations degree at Quinnipiac gives students access to the evolving fields of public relations, digital marketing, and social media. This is a thirty-six credit hour degree covering public relations management, global strategy, reputation management, strategic public relations writing, crisis communications, and more. Graduates are fully prepared to sit for the Accreditation in Public Relations exam from the Public Relations Society of America, and they also have the opportunity to further specialize through elective offerings, among them:

    • Social Media Concepts and Practices
    • Community Management
    • Strategic Planning
    • Project Planning

    Notables

    In addition to its many academic accolades, Quinnipiac is perhaps best known for its polling institute. The Quinnipiac Polling Institute has earned national recognition for independent, public opinion polls on politics and public policy, and it is considered among the most credible polling resources in the country.

  6. Ithaca College
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    Tuition

    $846

    Overview

    Ithaca College is primarily an undergraduate school, with around 7k students, but it also offers a number of master’s degrees—both on campus and online—to around 500 graduate students. Ithaca is a private, liberal arts school with satellite campuses in LA, DC, and New York City. It was originally founded as a music conservatory, but now proffers degrees in over a hundred areas.

    Features

    Through Ithaca College’s renowned communications school you can earn a MS in Communications Innovation that helps you master the elements of information and story design. Much like a degree in PR, this degree emphasizes innovative communications, navigating media, and global leadership. One thing to note about the Ithaca program is that it does require some visits to the New York campus. But classes, such as those below, and course work can be fully completed online:

    • Innovation and Collaboration
    • Emerging Media
    • Ethics of the Media
    • Government Regulation of Communications

    Notables

    As a whole, Ithaca College is regionally ranked sixth by U.S. News & World Report, with similar praise given by Forbes, The Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly. Of the all the departments and discrete schools that comprise Ithaca College, the Roy H. Park School of Communications is an internationally recognized communications school. Graduates have gone one to work for major media companies, such as NPR, ESPN, The New York Times, CNN, and NBC.

  7. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainsville, FL

    Tuition

    $552

    Overview

    The University of Florida (UF) is primarily located in Gainesville and is known for its research contributions, including its efforts to promote sustainability. UF is home to one of the nation’s oldest and most renowned natural history museums and is a member of the State University System of Florida and the Association of American Universities.

    Features

    UF offers an online Master of Arts in Mass Communication degree with specialization in Public Relations. This two-year degree is broken into twelve-week semesters, with three semesters each year, all of which can be completed online, through recorded lectures and coursework. This is a thirty-hour degree that requires a capstone project on public relations. UF boasts an employment rate of 97 percent for its graduates, who have found jobs as:

    • Event Coordinators
    • Global Communications Managers
    • Media Relations Managers
    • Public Relations Directors

    Notables

    The University of Florida is nationally and globally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Times Higher Education, among others, for its academic standing as well as its affordability. Similarly, many of UF’s programs and departments ranked among the best in the country, including its aerosciences, ecology, engineering, medicine, agricultural science programs.

  8. Purdue University
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $731

    Overview

    Part of the Big Ten Conference, Purdue University is an elite, public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. With nearly three hundred academic programs across all degree levels, and 40k enrolled students, Purdue is one of the largest universities in Indiana and the Midwest.

    Features

    Like several other programs on our ranking, Purdue offers an online MS in Communications degree that can be paired with a specialization in public relations. This program emphasizes branding and vision across international, national, and local outlets while teaching students how to apply ethical principles to decision making, how to consider audience interest, and how to refine public relations writing. This program can be completed fully online and in as few as twenty months. Courses include:

    • Strategic Communication and Professional Writing
    • Financial and Investor Relations
    • Strategic Public Relations
    • Crisis Communication
    • Fundraising
    • Global Communications
    • And more

    Notables

    With LEED-certified buildings, a sustainability council, and several research labs and facilities, Purdue’s commitment to sustainability and innovation is clear. Purdue is ranked 60th (by U.S. News & World Report) in the nation among all colleges and universities, and it was recently ranked 63rd best university in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

  9. Webster University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $780

    Overview

    Located in Webster Groves, Missouri, Webster University is a private university with over 20k undergraduate and graduate students. It specializes in business, technology, communications, and education degrees, though it offers an array of programs across the sciences and arts. Students from all over the country, and even the world (representing over 140 countries) attend Webster.

    Features

    Webster University offers a full MA in Public Relations degree that can be earned online. This thirty-six hour program combines practical applications with industry theory to give students insights into the global perspectives, ethical frameworks, and emerging trends of public relations work. In addition to the core courses covering media communications, PR writing, international communications, and media research, Webster students have the opportunity to take some unique elective courses, among them:

    • Written Storytelling
    • Multinational Public Relations
    • Crisis Management Communications
    • Communication Strategies for Nonprofit Organizations
    • PR for Public Affairs and Government Relations
    • PR for Investors and Financial Stakeholders
    • And more

    Notables

    While perhaps most universities and colleges are quick to boast about their athletic programs, divisions, and rankings, Webster University has the unique privilege of claiming the top ranking in Division 1 College Chess.

  10. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $1655

    Overview

    Located in the nation’s capital, George Washington University (GWU) is a private, research university comprised of over a dozen colleges and schools, among them the renowned School of Media and Public Affairs. Around 28k students attend GWU, over half of whom are postgraduates. GWU is an elite research school ranked among the top in the nation for its research funding, expenditure, and facilities.

    Features

    For those looking for a PR degree that is on the frontier of new media strategy, the Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Public Relations degree at George Washington University may be an ideal fit. While this online program is steeped in the foundations of communication strategy, it emphasizes the importance of understanding new trends. Thus, students practice critical strategy as much as they do adaptability. So whether you want to bring your PR expertise to corporate, non-profit, political, or entertainment industries, this degree from GWU can help you get there through a curriculum covering:

    • Media Relations in the New Media World
    • Ethical Standards in PR and Public Affairs
    • Sustainability Communication Strategies
    • Political Socialization and Public Opinion
    • Finance and Management for PR Professionals
    • Applied Public Relations and Public Affairs Research
    • And more

    Notables

    In addition to being well-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Washington Monthly, and ARWU, The Princeton Review regularly counts George Washington University among the top ten universities in several unique categories: most politically active, best college town, best in the Northeast, best study abroad programming, and more.

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