Online Master’s in Public Relations Programs

Hoping to expand your career in public relations, corporate communications or special events and promotions? A master's degree in public relations may be the next step for you in reaching those goals. Master's in public relations programs, which may include similar coursework as a Master's in Strategic Communication program, teach students how use the advanced communication skills and tools needed to effectively advocate on behalf of a brand, organization, social cause or candidate. Coursework will include public relations writing, ethical issues, research and data analysis, as well as how to produce multimedia content and effective messages, shape brand reputation and build relationships for their clients in a variety of industries.

A master's degree in public relations can lead to careers as:

  • Communications Director
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Publicist / Press Agent
  • Corporate Spokesperson
  • Promotions & Special Events Manager
  • Communications Consultant

For many aspiring public relations experts, working in the industry while studying for your master's degree is critical for gaining hands on experience and landing the best job after graduation. For busy professionals, an online master's in public relations program may be the best way to earn your degree while continuing to work and/or fulfill family obligations.

Choosing an Online Master's in Public Relations Program

Once you've decided to pursue an online master's in public relations, the next step is researching and selecting the right program. But how to know which school is right for you? Keep these key factors in mind to simplify your decision-making process.

Accreditation

A master's degree is a significant investment in your career, so make sure the program you select will provide you with a high quality education. One way to ensure a program's quality is by checking its program accreditation. Accreditation means the program has been evaluated by a third-party accrediting organization according to rigorous academic standards and has met or exceeded these standards, so you can be assured of that program's high quality. Examples of accrediting organizations for master's in public relations program include the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, as well as regional accrediting bodies such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Cost

Cost for a master's in public relations program can vary based on a number of factors, including the size and type of school, geographic location, a student's residency status and the program length. When considering the total cost of a program, it's important to include mandatory school fees, books and other program materials in addition to the tuition price.

In many cases, online programs are more affordable than their traditional on campus counterparts, but this is not always the case. As an example of online program costs, the University of Florida offers a 33-credit online Master's in Public Relations program that costs $19,330.Textbooks and other course materials are not included in this program price.

Program Length

Most students complete a master's in public relations program in around two years of full-time study. In some cases, an accelerated program may allow students to finish their degree in 12-18 months. Factors that may impact a program's length include whether students enroll on a full- or part-time basis and if any on campus classroom time is required and when. Oftentimes with online programs students are accepted on a rolling basis, enabling them to begin studying in the fall, spring or even summer semesters.

Admissions Requirements

In order to gain admission to a master's in public relations program, students should keep in mind the following admissions requirements:

  • Completion of a bachelor's degree, ideally in communication or a related field
  • GPA of 3.0 or above in their undergraduate coursework
  • Transcripts from all undergraduate colleges attended
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Scores from applicable graduate school tests, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

In many cases, master's in public relations programs require applicants to have completed two to three years of relevant work experience in public relations, journalism or communications. In addition to the requirements listed above, these students also need to submit a resume detailing their relevant work experience and/or professional writing samples.

Classes and Courses

A master's in public relations program often includes courses similar to the following, which are part of Webster University's online Master of Arts in Public Relations program:

  • Introduction to Public Relations
  • Media and Culture
  • Writing for Public Relations
  • Media Research
  • Strategic Communications Applications
  • Media Organization & Regulations
  • International Communication
  • Crisis Management Communication

In addition to the foundational public relations courses like those listed above, many master's in PR programs allow students to concentrate in a particular area of public relations such as public affairs and government relations, crisis management, digital communication, non-profit or cause communication among others. Many programs also finish with a capstone project or internship component, which encourages students to put everything they've learned into practice and gain professional public relations experience.

Advantages of Online Master’s in Public Relations Programs

For busy professionals or those with family commitments, an online master's in public relations program is a convenient and cost-effective way to earn an advanced degree. Online coursework allows students to complete assignments and attend lectures from home and on their own schedules, which is particularly important for students gaining professional experience in PR simultaneously. Often with a lower tuition cost that traditional on campus programs, online programs also allow students in rural areas to choose from a larger number of schools without a lengthy commute. These factors and more make it easier than ever to pursue a master's degree in public relations.

Colleges That Offer Accredited Online Master’s in Public Relations Programs

Select Your State:

California

SchoolContact Information
California Baptist University
10370 Hemet Street, Suite 200
Riverside, CA 92503
(951) 343-3900

Connecticut

SchoolContact Information
Quinnipiac University
275 Mount Carmel Avenue, OF-QUO
Hamden, CT 06518
(877) 403-4277

Florida

SchoolContact Information
University of Florida
1885 Stadium Road
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 273-3412

Missouri

SchoolContact Information
Webster University
470 East Lockwood Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119
(800) 981-9801

New Hampshire

SchoolContact Information
Southern New Hampshire University
2500 North River Road
Manchester, NH 03106
(888) 387-0681

Washington, DC

SchoolContact Information
George Washington University
2130 H Street NW Suite 709G
Washington, DC 20052