United States Masters Programs in Public Relations & Advertising (MA, MS, MBA)
Masters in Public Relations programs are designed for students who intend on pursuing a career in the broad field of public relations and communications. Master degree programs in public relations teach students how to meet client needs through effective communications, media relations and marketing campaigns.
Many graduate programs combine public relations and advertising however there are also master programs that specialize in Digital Marketing and Advertising.
Types of Public Relations & Advertising Masters Programs
The two main types of master degree programs for Public Relations include a Master of Arts and a Master of Science each specializing in a concentrated area of communications. Students in Public Relations Masters degree programs study the connections between public relations, media, and public opinion. It is likely that these programs will also explore the processes involved between managing the various forms of communications, such as advertising, between organizations, groups and individuals.
Common Public Relations Master's Programs
- MS in Public Relations
- MA in Public Relations
- MS in Advertising
- MS in Digital Marketing and Advertising
- MS in Corporate Communications
- MA in Emerging Media
- Master of Arts in Broadcast Communications
- MA in Writing and Digital Communication
To a large extent, advertising, media, marketing, technology, entertainment, journalism, and public relations are intertwined. Advertising is a form of marketing communication used to promote or sell a product or service. Public relations specialists establish and maintain relationships with an organization's target audience, the medium and others, by designing communications used on a variety of channels, from written to digital platforms.
Prerequisites for Public Relations Master Degree
The typical prerequisite for entry to masters level public relations graduate programs is a Bachelor's degree in a field related to communications; GRE score; and acceptable GPA. Masters in PR and Advertising degree programs are approximately 2-year programs, and may involve internships, class projects, thesis development and thesis defense.
Finding the Right Masters in Public Relations Degree Program
Whether you are primarily interested in theory, mass communications, corporate communications, or focusing on a master’s in advertising degree, public relations is a fairly extensive field where prospective students have different options both academically and for potential future careers.
Some colleges or universities offer Masters in Public Relations through their business administration, journalism, or communications degree programs. Alternatively, there are advertising schools that specifically focus on teaching advertising. The decision to choose one type of program over the other depends on specific preferences, the course selections, and the career aspirations of the student.
Classroom or Online Program
GradSchools.com has easy to use search tools to help you find public relations schools, and a master’s program that aligns with your goals. If you know you are looking for a campus program, a location search can help you find programs in a particular city, state, or country.
If you are more inclined to search for a distance-learning option, hybrid programs combine onsite and online coursework into one low residency and flexible format.
Busy working professionals or those who live too far to commute to university might want to search primarily for Online PR masters degrees.
Masters in Public Relations Potential Curriculum
Most programs conferring a Master in Public Relations degree offer curriculums that concentrate on communications practices used in government, public communication, non-profit organizations and private businesses.
Typically, students will learn about research methodology, communications theories, and leadership in public. It is common that a masters program may include internships or culminating capstone projects that entail real-world experience. Coursework within the PR program may include:
- Media, culture and society
- Ethics and law
- Public opinion research
- Campaign planning
- Writing for news and media
- Digital media
FUN FACT: The primary goal of most commercial firms is to market and sell their products or services at a profit. Advertising is the mass-market equivalent of the salesperson's one-on-one approach.[i]
What Is A Public Relations Specialist?
Public relations specialists aim to create and maintain a favorable public image for their client, whether this is an individual, the government, or a business. They design media releases in order to shape public perception of their client and to increase awareness of its work and goals.
The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $55,680 in May 2014; the lowest 10 % earned less than $31,190, and the highest 10 % earned more than $105,720[ii].
Public relations specialists differ from advertisers in that they get their stories covered by media instead of purchasing ad space in publications and on television. Some of the media used in PR includes:
- Social Media
- Press releases
Potential Career Options For Masters in Public Relations Graduates
Graduates of degree programs in the broad field of Public Relations may seek potential careers in marketing, advertising, fundraising, sales, community relations or corporate communications. Students are typically prepared for opportunities in corporate, government or non-profit organizations. Some possible job titles could include:
- Public Relations Specialist
- Communications Director
- Media Relations Specialist
- Public Information Officer
- Press Secretaries
- Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
- Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers
- Account Executive
- Director of Public Relations
- Business Development Director
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in advertising and public relations are considered fast growing fields over the upcoming period from 2014-2024:
- Employment of advertising, promotions, & marketing managers is projected to grow 9 %
- Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 6 %
- Employment of public relations and fundraising managers is projected to grow 7
Internships at public relations firms or in the public relations departments of other businesses can be helpful in getting a job as a public relations specialist.[iii]
Pursue a Masters in Public Relations Degree
With the changing business trends such as the use of social media in advertising and as a tool for PR firms and professionals, earning a master’s degree may not only help give you an edge over the competition when you enter the workforce, but also be a fascinating subject for advanced education. Browse listings below to get started.
Sources: [i] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertising | onetonline.org/link/summary/27-3031.00 | bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm | bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm | bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-5 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-4
University of Saint Mary
Customize your accelerated, online MBA degree with a concentration in Marketing and Advertising Management. This concentration explores the ideology behind effectively motivating team members to take ideas from the drawing board to market.
Liberty University Online
Use the media to grow your business. With the Media Management specialization added to your Master of Arts in Organizational Management degree from the Forbes School of Business at Ashford University.
The Marketing concentration prepares students with essential knowledge and skills to undertake and manage the process of developing consumer audiences and moving products from producers to consumers. Students delve into consumer behavior and dynamics...
- Fairfield, CTFairfield, CT
Sacred Heart University
Part of Sacred Heart University's prestigious John F. Welch College of Business, the Master of Science in Digital Marketing Program fills a growing demand from employers for professionals educated in all aspects of digital marketing. This program covers...
- Washington, DCWashington, DC
A three-time winner of PRWeek’s “PR Education Program of the Year” Award, Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations & Corporate Communications (PRCC) teaches students how to think strategically, digitally, and globally.
- Austin, TXAustin, TX
University of Texas at Austin
Offers instruction in both management and creative aspects of advertising. Currently enrolled are about 100 Master's students and about 25 Ph.D. students.
- Tallahassee, FLTallahassee, FL
Florida State University
This program is designed for graduate students who are interested in studying the mass media. The program may result in a terminal degree, leading to a position in a media, advertising, or related organization. The program may also serve as preparation...
- Dallas, TXDallas, TX
Southern Methodist University
Endowed program in top-five market includes agency internships and study abroad. Build your career while earning your MA.
- San Jose, CASan Jose, CA
San Jose State University
Our emphasis is on studying and creating new media forms leading to careers in advertising, journalism, and public relations.
- Boston, MABoston, MA
Global Marketing Communication and Advertising provides a team-based approach to cross-cultural communication strategies.
Loyola University Maryland
Loyola’s distinctive, online Emerging Media program will focus on new and emerging communication trends and technologies...
- Miami, FLMiami, FL
Barry University's Master of Arts in Broadcast Communication prepares you for various electronic media professions in broadcast television and radio, wired media, satellite media, and new and emerging media. You have the opportunity to cultivate practic...
- Hempstead, NYHempstead, NY
The new MA in Public Relations at Hofstra is a professional program designed to educate students in the communications field.
Montana State University - Billings
This program is designed to provide students with the essential theoretical and practical tools they need to develop their careers in public relations...
- Radford, VARadford, VA
The Department of Communication offers a Master of Science in Corporate and Professional Communication designed to prepare students for a variety of c...
- Baton Rouge, LABaton Rouge, LA
Louisiana State University
The Manship School of Mass Communication offers the nation’s only graduate program focused exclusively on media and public affairs, with a Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.) and a Ph.D. in mass communication and public affairs. Students gain experien...
- West Long Branch, NJWest Long Branch, NJ
Effective communicators are in high demand, especially in the ever-changing social and digital media landscape...
- Glassboro, NJGlassboro, NJ
The M.A. in Public Relations will equip students to serve as a director of Communication and public relations for corporations,...
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
Baruch College, City University Of New York
The MA in Corporate Communication is designed to prepare aspiring and practicing corporate communication professionals.
University of Maryland University College
UMUC's Master of Science in Management program is designed for professionals who are assuming increasing management...
- Lubbock, TXLubbock, TX
Texas Tech University
The School of Mass Communications offers a Master of Arts degree in Mass Communications.
- Edwardsville, ILEdwardsville, IL
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
The program goals are to deepen students' understanding of communication theory and research and to provide students with skills that would allow them...