Earn a Master’s in Public Relations!
These days, everyone needs someone running the show from behind the scenes. Whether it’s managing a political crisis or just keeping up with the day-to-day communications, working in Public Relations is a fast-paced, high-reward job.
If you’re a confident communicator and know how to think quick on your feet, then you fit the bill for a Master’s in Public Relations. Read on to learn about some of the best programs in the country.
What kind of Master’s in Public Relations degree should you get?
Obviously, no graduate program is alike. Especially when it comes to public relations, each school has a different flair to their curriculum.
Before we get into differences, though, here’s what you can expect to be the same across the board: 1) a solid foundation in communication (both written and digital) and content building, 2) core classes in public relations theory and research, 3) elective options to specialize.
A number of schools separate their concentration areas into different types of PR jobs.
Are you interested in Corporate and Business PR? Do you get excited about a career in fundraising?
There are schools on our list for both of these concentrations – and more!
Basically, it boils down to knowing your career goals and finding a program that meets them. So as you research these schools, make sure to carefully examine curriculums, concentration options, and program requirements.
Depending on your needs, you may also want to consider an online degree. They are an affordable and flexible way to advance your career in PR. Be sure to check out College Choice’s Best Online Master’s in Public Relations.
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Public Relations degree?
Good news for you, both the high end and low end salary for this degree are quite lucrative!
Depending on how you want to fashion your career, you can earn anywhere between $58,000 and $107,000 a year. Either way, you’ll live a comfortable life on your salary.
On the low end of things, people working as a public relations specialist in advertising tend to make around $59,000 per year. But on the high end, fundraising managers can make up to $133,000 annually.
Obviously it all depends on what area you want to pursue. Either way, you can look forward to making bank.
Even more, the demand for people with an advanced degree in public relations is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those positions are expected to increase by 9 percent over the next ten years.
What can you do with Master’s in Public Relations degree?
You can use a Master’s in Public Relations degree almost anywhere. It’s not just businesses that need to keep up with their images.
You could work on a political campaign at a local or even national level. You could join the PR team at a college or university. You could jump into a nonprofit that inspires you and become their fundraiser.
When it comes down to it, everyone needs a good PR person! Wherever you work, just get ready to learn the ins-and-outs of the company or college or campaign.
Because you will be the first line of defense when there are questions or concerns. You’ll be both a promoter and a protector. A cheerleader and a consultant.
If that sounds like a lot to take on, don’t worry! The 15 programs below will more than prepare you for a career in public relations that will be rewarding and challenging in the best sense!
What are the requirements for a Master’s in Public Relations degree?
Many of these programs differ in the amount of time it takes to complete them. For some schools, you’ll be finished in as little as eight months; for others, you’ll go through a two-year program. Neither are necessarily better. It just depends on what kinds of learning outcomes you’re looking for. Most programs will require 30-45 credit hours in total.
While some of the master’s programs are offered through nationally-renowned research universities, others are housed within small liberal arts colleges. A few of the programs offer a hybrid format with some online courses and some on-campus learning. Again, it’s all about what works best for you.
What are the best Master’s in Public Relations degrees?
You’re about to discover the 15 best Master’s in Public Relations degrees in the country.
To come up with these elite, competitive programs we first narrowed down all of the graduate programs in the nation that specialized in public relations. Then we factored in reputation, tuition rates, and retention. Finally, we considered average graduate salaries to determine the return on investment.
Our methodology draws from our College Choice data experts and the excellent resources at US News & World Report and Payscale.com. If you’re ready to show what you’ve got in the world of public relations, read on!
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $26,625
Smack-dab in the middle of our nation’s capital, Georgetown University kicks off our list for having the best master’s 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.
Georgetown University is the place to be if you’re serious about Public Relations. This degree—a Master’s in Public Relations & Corporate Communications—is designed as a hybrid format that gets you connected with Washington D.C. network from the get-go. Over the course of 30 credits, you’ll take classes like:
- Communications Research
- Digital Crisis Management
- Media Relations
- Employee Engagement and Internal Communications
We’re not the only ones taking note of the PR program at Georgetown University. PRWeek named the master’s program the “Program of the Year” for three years in a row! They praised Georgetown’s ever-expanding curriculum, the innovative facilities, and the strong industry connections.
University of Southern California
College Choice Score: 97.38
Average Net Price: $32,932
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 by USA Today in 2014.
USC offers an M.A. in Strategic Public Relations that most students complete in about 16 to 20 months. You’ll spend the first half of the program solidifying your writing and analytical skills. Then you’ll hone your skills to a particular area of PR, whether that’s entertainment, politics, sports, or something else. Here are some classes you’ll take:
- Multimedia Content Creation for Strategic Public Relations
- Writing for Strategic Public Relations
- Legal, Ethical, and Social Foundations
- Public Relations Research, Evaluation, and Insight
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.
New York University
College Choice Score: 96.18
Average Net Price: $35,147
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.
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. You’ll 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
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.
College Choice Score: 95.82
Average Net Price: $31,539
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.
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
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 you’ll get hands on experience.
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 93.86
Average Net Price: $39,562
As the name implies, George Washington University (GWU) was founded on behalf of our nation’s first president. GWU commonly ranks within the top 10 in lists like “Best in the Northeast” and “Most Politically Active” according to the Princeton Review.
The Strategic Public Relations master’s program at George Washington University is designed for working professionals. Therefore, you’ll find classes that are offered both online and on-campus, and a class schedule that only goes from Monday to Thursday. You’ll find engaging electives such as:
- Integrated Marketing Communications
- Nonprofit and Association Communications Strategies
- Public Opinion and Political Socialization
- Multicultural Marketing
This degree is housed in the Graduate School of Political Management, and encourages a global approach in its curriculum. You’ll 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.
University of Georgia in Athens
College Choice Score: 89.27
Average Net Price: $14,956
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.
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
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.
College Choice Score: 87.31
Average Net Price: $31,823
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.
The master’s 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
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.”
University of Denver
College Choice Score: 85.31
Average Net Price: $32,940
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).
Flexible and accessible, the Master’s in Public Relations at the University of Denver is a catch. You’ll take a total of twelve classes in this program. The terms last ten weeks, and you can take them either online or on-campus—whatever fits your schedule! You’ll choose from popular electives like:
- Branding and Marketing Positioning
- Integrating Social Media
- Persuasion Methods and Techniques
- Writing Digital Content
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.
University of Miami
College Choice Score: 84.52
Average Net Price: $37,424
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 Report listed the University of Miami as the 44th “Best National University.”
You’ll 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. You’ll 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
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.
University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa
College Choice Score: 83.44
Average Net Price: $20,133
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.
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 you’ll find an overlap in your coursework:
- Public Relations Communications Theory
- Advertising and Public Relations Management
- Advertising Media
- Communication Campaign Workshop
The final two classes in this curriculum are the Communications Campaign Workshop I and II. You’ll 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.
Ball State University in Muncie
College Choice Score: 82.42
Average Net Price: $13,369
Ball State University is located in Muncie, Indiana, and found its start in 1917 after it was gifted to the state. Since then, it has preserved its local pride; Ball State University has a high percentage of students from Indiana. They account for about 80 percent of its total student body of 22,000.
Offered as a hybrid program (as well as completely online or fully on-campus), the Ball State University M.A. in Public Relations is a strong choice for an integrated degree. You’ll take classes at a slower pace and finish the program in 5-6 semesters. Some featured classes include:
- Social Media Analytics
- Case Studies of Global, Digital, and Ethical PR Practice
- Business Fundamentals and Entrepreneurship in PR
- PR Evaluation Techniques
One benefit of attending this program on the Muncie campus is your access to three top-notch facilities: the Holden Strategic Communications Center, the Integrated Media Lab, and the Unified Media Lab. You can also join in on the student-run PR agency, Cardinal Communications.
Michigan State University
College Choice Score: 81.54
Average Net Price: $14,970
Michigan State University was originally founded as a land-grant university focused in agricultural science. Since its early days, though, it has expanded into a large public research university into other disciplines. Michigan State University enrolls over 50,000 students.
MSU’s Master of Arts in Public Relations offers two unique concentration areas: Fundraising and Media & Information Studies. Depending on which of the two interest you the most, you can look forward to a curriculum that is catered toward you. A sampling of classes from each area includes:
- Media Theory
- Qualitative Research MEthods
- Fundraising and Philanthropy in Nonprofit Organizations
- Consumer Behavior Theories
The College of Communication Arts and Sciences (which houses this degree) is a leader in the field. It has been recognized for its work in mass communication. Even more, eight faculty members and alumni have been Pulitzer Prize winners.
College Choice Score: 79.87
Average Net Price: $32,169
Hofstra University is Long Island’s largest private institution. Just a few miles east of New York City, Hofstra University was started as a branch of NYU, but established its independence in 1939. From the beginning, however, it catered its educational opportunities to working adults.
Classes at Hofstra University are offered in two different formats: weeknight classes and Saturday classes. This gives working adults lots of flexibility to fit classes into their busy schedules. No matter your pace of learning, you’ll finish 36 credits of coursework in the following:
- Reputation Management and Crisis Public Relations
- Digital Communication
- Business Essentials and Corporate Public Relations
- International and Intercultural Public Relations
One feature of this M.A. in Public Relations is the capstone internship experience. Students are given a paid internship at a variety of area business. In the past, students have worked at PR firms, media groups, consumer communication agencies, and more.
College Choice Score: 78.41
Average Net Price: $27,021
Iona College is a private, Catholic institution that is based in New Rochelle, New York. It is one of the smallest programs on our list, with a student body of just around 3,800. Despite its size, Iona College offers over 60 undergraduate programs, and 45 degrees at the graduate level.
Offered through the Department of Mass Communication, Iona College’s M.A. in Public Relations is a comprehensive program that prepares you for industry-standard written and digital communication. You’ll earn a total of 36 credit hours, split between core courses, electives, and a culminating project or internship. Here are some classes you’ll take:
- Media Law and Ethics
- Converged Technologies for Public Relations
- Corporate Communication
- Investor Relations
If your interest rests in nonprofit work, you might want to consider the Advanced Certificate in Nonprofit Public Relations. In total, you’ll take 9 credits of online coursework in classes like Writing for Organizations or International Communication for Nonprofit Organizations.
College Choice Score: 77.07
Average Net Price: $32,084
One of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, DePaul University makes a big splash in Chicago’s educational lineup. DePaul maintains two campuses in the city—one in Lincoln Park and the other in the Loop. The College of Communication enrolls around 1,100 students.
The curriculum for this M.A. in Public Relations and Advertising splits your core classes and elective requirements right down the middle, with 24 credits in each area. This gives you ultimate flexibility and self-guidance. Some highlight PR electives at DePaul University include:
- Public Relations in Health Care
- Engaging Latinx Communities
- Creative Processes
- Integrated Communication Campaigns
DePaul University sets you up to hit the ground running post-graduation. This program culminates in an annual ePortfolio Showcase, in which students compile their best work and present it to industry professionals. You’ll have a head start in the application process!