Public relations is an interesting field of study. Students interested in pursuing a PhD in public relations should take a good look at the curriculum offered and see if it fits their career and educational goals.
Choosing a Master's Degree Program in Public Relations
Public relations PhD degree students should be sure to check if the programs they’re interested in offer courses in areas such as creating press releases, handling media relations, online marketing and other core roles that public relations professionals must perform on a daily basis. Public relations professionals are also often required to analyze and interpret sales data as part of their job, so it’s vital to understand if the graduate programs they are considering offer coursework in data analysis and statistics as well.
Prospective public relations and advertising graduate students should also consider the specific curricula offered by various PhD programs and decide which one is most suitable. Is the coursework mostly in a classroom or does it involve workshops and seminars? Are any sorts of internships required or encouraged? Knowing these aspects beforehand may help you better understand what is required of the students in these programs and which programs are most suitable for your particular learning style.
Public Relations Program Accreditation
Before making the important step of enrolling in a public relations PhD degree program, you might want to check to ensure that the program is accredited. Be sure to consult with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation at chea.org and the United States Department of Education at ed.gov to make sure that the program you’re interested in enrolling in is fully accredited.
It’s especially important to check the accreditation credentials of online public relations graduate programs before enrolling, as some are programs may be merely diploma mills that create their own accrediting agencies. Thorough research and consulting with legitimate resources beforehand are key steps in ensuring that you’re prospective graduate program is fully accredited.
Myths and Realities about Earning Your Public Relations PhD Degree
As with any sort of graduate program, there are a number of myths associated with with what it is like to earn a PhD degree in the subject. It’s important to clear some of these up before enrolling in a graduate program.
Myth: Public relations PhD degree programs are basically the same as undergraduate programs.
Reality: The reality is that graduate programs for public relations are usually considerably more challenging and involved than undergraduate programs. All too often, prospective graduate students think that graduate school is merely a continuation of their undergraduate classes. Unfortunately this is often not the case.
Graduate programs for public relations, typically require long hours of intense work and study as well as a more intensive focus on the subjects at hand. For example, public relations graduate students may be involved in much larger, more complex projects than they’re used to in undergraduate school. Often, these projects and courses involved a more hands-on approach that aims to mimic the professional world of public relations employees. In general, students looking to enroll in PhD programs will find them coursework more intense, detail-oriented and involved than the work they performed on the undergraduate level.
Myth: Graduate programs for public relations can just be used to delay the inevitable entry into the “Real World.”
Reality: Graduate students who hold this view are making a key mistake. Rather than take a passive approach to earning their PhD degree in public relations, students should be proactive and aim to learn as much about their fields as possible as well as make contacts for possible job opportunities in the future. Graduate students should make a point to learn about the new technologies, emerging theories and dynamic business models that impact the world of public relations and advertising.
Myth: Graduate programs are always a fool proof way to a higher-paying position in public relations
Reality: Earning a PhD degree in public relations does not gaurantee a higher salary. While earning a graduate degree could potentially lead to a diverse spectrum of potential career opportunities, students should understand that a graduate degree does not qualify them to earn a salary premium. It’s still vital to work your contacts, polish your resume, prep for interviews, apply aggressively and take other steps to land a quality job in advertising and public relations after graduation.
Myth: Public relations graduate students are pigeonholed into certain fields after graduating.
Reality: To the contrary, holding a graduate degree in public relations and advertising could potentially open the door to many other career options outside of just those two fields. Graduates may find themselves working in fields such as marketing, media, business management, entertainment, education, communications and much more.
Finding Internship and Practicum Opportunities in Public Relations PhD Degree Programs
Graduate school may be a great time to seek out internships, join professional organizations and pursue new academic opportunities to enhance your skills and breadth of experience. Participating in an internship or joining professional organization may be excellent ways to build contacts, learn new knowledge and make your resume stand out above the rest.
Graduate students may want to strongly consider joining their local chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, or PRSSA. PRSSA is a national networking organization for prospective public relations professionals that lets its members build contacts, augment their education, and apply to internships. It’s an extremely useful organization that may help students marry their academic endeavors to real world experiences. For graduate students looking to network and get a jumpstart in the job market, joining PRSSA might be an excellent idea1.
In addition, graduate students might want to keep tabs and participate in discussions on websites and online forums such as journalisttoolbox.org, instituteforpr.org and prnewswire.com for the latest news, information and business trends in the world of public relations and advertising. Keeping abreast to the developments in these fields is a great way to gain new knowledge and follow new advancements in the field.
Finally, public relations graduate students should inquire with their schools about any internship possibilities available. Internships may be a great way to make contacts, build your resume, and accumulate valuable work experience. Graduate students should strongly consider any possible internship opportunities presented to them as a way to possibly enhance their resume and gain an edge in the competitive job market.
FAQ about earning PhD degree in public relations
Many prospective graduate students also have questions about graduate programs in public relations and advertising. Here are just a few of the frequently asked questions about PhD degree programs in this field.
Q: How can I tell if a graduate program for public relations and advertising is fully accredited?
A: Always be sure to check with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education before enrolling in an online program. Make a point to thoroughly research the school’s accreditation credentials and keep a way eye out for any online diploma mills.
Q: What sorts of jobs are available to students who earn a PhD in public relations?
A: Individuals who graduate from a public relations graduate program may find that there is a wide array of potential job opportunities in a variety of fields. Students with graduate degrees may be able to identify employment opportunities, not only in public relations, but also in fields such as marketing, business management, media, communications, journalism, sales, professional writing and much more. Earning a graduate degree might possibly expand your employment options.
Q: How can I find jobs in public relations after graduating?
A: Online job boards might be a good place to start any job search. Job seekers might also choose to explore opportunities found on social networking sites. Utilizing the services of a temp agency might also be an option for individuals seeking to accumulate work experience.
Q: What are the major differences between online PhD degree programs and traditional programs offered on campuses?
A: Online graduate programs for public relations differ in many respects compared to more traditional programs on campus.
Online programs, as their name suggests, take place entirely online. Students and professors communicate digitally and all academic courses and tests are performed online as well. Students may communicate with each other and their professors via message boards and email. Prospective online students should make sure that they’re comfortable with this learning format before committing to an online graduate program for public relations.
Q: What sort of professional organizations can public relations PhD degree students utilize?
A: Professional organizations and online resources may be useful in job hunting, building contacts and learning new knowledge about public relations and advertising. Professional organizations that may be worth looking into include the Public Relations Student Society of America and the American Media Association. Online resources that may be worth checking out include MediaBistro.com, MarketingPRJobs.org and CollegeGrad.com. Other job boards such as Indeed.com and CareerRookie.com are also useful for recent online graduate school students.