2021 Best Online Masters in Public Relations Programs

Earning a masters in public relations online may be beneficial for anyone who wants to advance their career in communications and business.

Masters in Public Relations Programs

After completing a masters program, you may become a public relations manager, a communications director, or a media relations manager. In order to discover the public relations master program that is right for you, you may want to learn more about the studies in this field and explore accredited online programs.

You may find yourself taking intriguing classes and developing your expertise as a PR professional.

Best Online Masters in Public Relations Programs

Marketing Manager meeting with his staff

A successful public relations career depends on stellar communication skills. When you study for a public relations masters degree online, you may hone your ability to deliver messages and strategically promote brands.

As you study effective communication, you may take courses on writing, speaking, and storytelling. You may perform analyses of others’ messages and use those lessons to fuel your professional development.

Crisis management is an important skill for PR professionals to have, so you may learn how to deliver announcements to the public during times of trouble. You might also discuss how to preserve your organization’s image when things seem to be going wrong. Today, much PR work happens online.

A modern public relations program may cover how to strategically use social media and other online platforms to enhance your organization’s reputation. Learning about analytics may be an important component of your social media studies. Although public relations is a communications field, it is also a business discipline.

As a result, you may round out your master’s program with business classes that cover topics like organizational leadership, finance, and business law. Taking these types of classes can help prepare you to assume management roles.

Some PR professionals work for individuals. For example, celebrities often have public relations teams. In politics, public relations representatives are frequently called press secretaries.

Businesses and other organizations hire PR specialists too. If you have your sights set on a management job, getting a master’s degree may be an important step toward that goal. Some companies prefer managers or directors who have both experience and an advanced degree.

PR managers may specialize in one of the many subsets of this field, such as social media management, crisis management, event planning, fundraising, or media relations. There may also be a place for you in marketing or advertising management. In time, you might even advance to one of your organization’s top executive roles.

Public Relations Careers & Salaries

Public Relations Careers & Salaries

Public relations professionals understand both business and communication principles. This broad foundation means that you may be equipped to succeed in a variety of different roles after graduating with an online masters in public relations.

The field of public relations deals with creating a positive image for an individual or an organization. Job titles within PR include press secretary, social media manager, communications director, and media director.

Your PR skills might help you become a fundraiser who solicits donations for a nonprofit organization or a market research analyst who studies consumer trends. Event planners also need PR know-how, so you may qualify for that position as well.

If you already have training in graphic design, you might find that a master’s in public relations can pair well with that skill. You can use your designs to convey a message or relay information from your organization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a masters in public relations, you may pursue any of the following jobs.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Marketing Managers $136,850
Advertising and Promotions Managers $125,510
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $116,180
Top Executives $104,690
Postsecondary Teachers $79,540
Market Research Analysts $63,790
Writers and Authors $63,200
Public Relations Specialists $61,150
Fundraisers $57,970
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners $50,600

With a master’s degree, you could also have opportunities to teach public relations at the college level. Full-time faculty usually need doctorates, but a master’s may help you become an adjunct professor.

A masters can also help you qualify for managerial roles in public relations and fundraising. Because public relations shares similarities to advertising and marketing, you may be able to hold leadership roles in those fields as well.

With both a master’s degree and much experience, you might even get the opportunity to move into one of the top executive roles in your organization one day.

Public Relations Master’s Curriculum

Advertising team planning together

A public relations graduate program usually requires students to take 30 to 36 credit hours. That means that you may take 10 to 12 classes. Your curriculum may be similar to some of the example courses listed here:

  • Case Studies in PR: You’ll take time to explore situations that others have faced in PR and see what you can learn from how they handled them.
  • Concepts of Mass Communication: This foundational class will cover theories of communicating to the public through television and other forms of media that reach large audiences.
  • Crisis Leadership: In this course, you’ll discuss how to maintain positive public relations in the face of emergencies or other difficult issues.
  • Data Collection and Analysis: You’ll learn to collect information from the public, interpret the meaning of the data, and use your findings to fuel PR decisions.
  • Data Visualization: This class will teach you to create image-based representations of the information that your organization wants to share with others.
  • Nonprofit PR: Nonprofit organizations sometimes have unique needs, so you may take a class on providing PR services in those settings.
  • PR Law and Ethics: Learning and following regulations and operating with integrity is essential for your professional career and your organization’s long-term success.
  • Social Media for Public Relations: You will learn to engage customers through social media and evaluate your organization’s online metrics.
  • Strategic Digital Communication: In this class, you will explore the concept of using digital advertising, copywriting, and other online strategies to achieve your organization’s goals and build the brand.
  • Writing for Public Relations: By practicing your writing skills, you’ll become more adept at persuading audiences through clear, professional, and engaging messages.

In addition to courses like these, public relations master’s programs may include elective options, a capstone class, or an internship.

Admissions Requirements

Masters in Public Relations student studying on his laptop

Before beginning a master’s in public relations, you’ll need to submit your application with components like those listed below.

  • References: The school may want to hear about you from professional or academic supervisors.
  • Resume: Some masters programs may appreciate candidates with several years of professional experience.
  • Test results: Some schools ask for GRE or GMAT scores, but that’s becoming an increasingly less common requirement.
  • Transcripts: Official records from previous college programs will showcase your academic background.

Some schools allow applications at any time during the year, but others hold to firm deadlines.

Accreditation

Online Masters in Public Relations Programs Accreditation

When you’re looking for public relations master programs, you may want to check a college’s accreditation status. The best type of accreditation to consider is regional accreditation.

A college earns regional accreditation by proving its ability to educate students well. This certification can help give you confidence that you’re earning a degree that has value and substance.

Employers will often appreciate that you graduated from a master’s program at an accredited school. Regional accreditation can also help you transfer graduate credits to another university or enroll in a doctoral program.

Information on regional accreditors is available from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online Masters in Public Relations Programs Financial Aid

If you qualify, you may be able to benefit from financial aid or scholarships that can help pay for your education.

Both state governments and the federal government sponsor student aid programs. You might be able to access low-interest loans from the government. Even better, you may qualify for grants, which don’t have to be paid back.

Scholarships are another valuable form of financial aid. You might be able to win this type of tuition assistance from your college. Scholarships may also be offered by a business, a professional industry organization, or a philanthropic group.

Your workplace might have a student assistance program as well. Employers are most likely to support degrees that will enhance employees’ contributions to the organization.

Speaking to a college’s financial aid office may help you learn more about your options for paying for school. You my start, though, by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Public Relations Online?

Marketing Manager working in her office

Traditional public relations graduate programs take about 1 to 2 years to complete. If you enroll in a program with 16 week semesters, 2 years may be about what you can expect.

Some schools have fast-track calendars with 8 week terms, and the classes run throughout the year. With that scheduling, you might be able to finish your master’s degree in about 18 months. Other factors may influence your program length, such as how many credits you are able to take if you are balancing work and family responsibilities.

Full-time students can finish more quickly than part-time ones. It is possible, though, that transferring credits or receiving credit for prior knowledge may shorten the length of your studies.

What Can You Do with a Public Relations Degree?

Advertising Manager and assistant working on a project

Public relations graduates often work as PR specialists or managers. Jobs in this field include social media director, communications director, press secretary, media relations manager, and event planner.

You might also have the opportunity to be a graphic designer, a market research analyst, or a fundraiser. As a public relations professional, you may work for a well-known individual, such as a Hollywood star, or you may be employed by an organization. Both nonprofit groups and corporate businesses can benefit from the input of PR experts.

Is a Masters in Public Relations Worth It?

PR manager meeting with team

Yes, a master’s degree in public relations is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $116,180 and 9% job growth for public relations and fundraising managers (Bureau of Labor Statistics), a degree in public relations can help you launch a career in this important communications field.

Common public relations careers include public relations specialist, public relations manager, marketing manager, event planner, and fundraiser.

Earning a master’s degree may help you become a public relations manager, which may come with a significant salary boost. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PR managers, on average, make about $55,000 more per year than PR specialists.

Having a masters may qualify you to receive a higher starting pay in most communications positions.

Universities Offering Online Master’s in Public Relations Degree Programs

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer public relations masters degreee online.

#1  Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#2  Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#3  California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

#4  Concordia University – St Paul

Concordia University St Paul campus

Concordia University-Saint Paul is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#5  Concordia University – Wisconsin

Concordia University Wisconsin campus

Concordia University Wisconsin is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#6  Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#7  Florida International University

Florida International University campus

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#8  George Washington University

George Washington University campus

George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#9  Georgetown University

Georgetown University campus

Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#10  Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University campus

Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#11  Lasell University

Lasell University campus

Lasell University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#12  Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#13  Marist College

Marist College campus

Marist College is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#14  Maryville University

Maryville University campus

The Maryville University of Saint Louis is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#15  Mississippi College

Mississippi College campus

Mississippi College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#16  Montana State University – Billings

Montana State University Billings campus

Montana State University Billings is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#17  Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Pennsylvania State University campus

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#18  Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#19  Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University campus

Quinnipiac University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#20  Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#21  Stephen F Austin State University

Stephen F Austin State University campus

Stephen F Austin State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#22  Syracuse University

Syracuse University campus

Syracuse University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#23  Troy University

Troy University campus

Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#24  University of Arkansas – Little Rock

University of Arkansas Little Rock campus

UA Little Rock is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#25  University of Denver

University of Denver campus

The University of Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#26  University of Florida

University of Florida campus

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#27  University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global campus

University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#28  University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus

USC is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

#29  Webster University

Webster University campus

Webster University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#30  Western New England University

Western New England University campus

Western New England University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Getting Your Master’s in Public Relations Online

Getting Your Master’s in Public Relations Online

Earning a master’s degree in public relations may help you get started in this exciting field or help you advance your current PR career.

In a public relations program, you may study mass communication, social media, data analytics, and other important business and communications topics. After graduation, you may work as a PR manager, a social media director, a fundraising coordinator, or a market research analyst.

Earning a public relations master’s degree through online study can be a convenient, flexible way to complete your graduate education. You may consider exploring accredited online PR programs to find the one that’s the best fit for you.

Isaac Collins
WRITTEN BY
Isaac Collins