California On-Campus Public Relations Graduate Programs

The world of PR is a bustling, changing environment which may demand new skills and knowledge constantly from its participants. A public relations graduate program could give you the opportunity to stay ahead of the game. PR graduate programs may focus on further developing the foundational knowledge students learned during their undergraduate degree to help the grow and mature as PR professionals. New to the industry? Pursuing a graduate program may also enable you to make the leap into pursuing a career in the fast-paced world of media relations.  No matter what your personal goal, there could be a perfect On-Campus Public Relations Graduate Program out there for you!

On-Campus Public Relations Graduate Programs: The Basics

You may want to consider entering into a PR graduate program if you’re seeking to enhance your current capabilities in the field, or are considering pursuing a PR profession and are looking to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to potentially compete in the industry. While many PR related careers require a bachelor’s degree, earning a graduate degree could be a great way to develop your current knowledge or skills or create foundational skills. The techniques and methods studied in a program could feed into several possible future careers because of how widely applicable they are. For example writing and image management could play a vital role in other professional fields. 

Careers in PR

Some entry-level positions that require a bachelor’s degree in public relations, and that you could potentially apply a graduate degree to for career enhancement, may include:

  • Public relations specialist
  • Sales agent
  • Market research analyst
  • Event planner
  • Writer[i]

These careers may also see a possible growth in available occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  From 2014-2024 public relations specialists are projected to see a 6% growth[ii], sales agent 3%[iii], market research analyst 19%[iv], event planner 10%[v], and writers 2%[vi]. Earning a PR graduate degree could be a great way to pursue a career in these growing fields.

The Difference Between PR and Advertising

At first glance, advertising and public relations appear very similar: the goal of each field is to distribute a message to the public about a brand, client, or subject. Where they differ is in how they go about dispersing that information. Those in advertising pay for their message to be disseminated to particular channels, while PR often provides the message to a wide-array of outlet with the hope that some will report on it, though with no guarantee.

Which On-Campus Public Relations Graduate Program is Perfect for You?

There are a variety of PR graduate programs which could make finding one that suits your unique, personal academic goals easier. When perusing the degree programs below, it may help to think about what you, specifically, would consider the make-up of a perfect program. Consider admissions requirements, program curriculum and graduation time. Being informed about these aspects could help refine your search and lead you to a perfect PR graduate program.

Public Relations Master’s Degree Programs

Public relations master’s degree programs often build upon previous communications undergraduate degree coursework, aiming to further develop students’ tools to participate in the constantly changing industry.  Students who are new to the field, though, may also find these programs accessible. This is because PR graduate programs may be offered as part of a general communications program or as its own concentration. Those with little to no PR experience should seek to apply to the more general communications programs because they cover beginner methodology. All those applying may be required to submit an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 to 2.75 in addition to GRE exam scores.  

Below are some common degree programs students may encounter in their research:

  • Master of Arts in Public Relations
  • Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication – Public Relations
  • Master of Science in Public Relations
  • Master of Arts in Public Relations and Image Management

These programs each have unique facets that differentiate them, but their curriculum overlaps In regards to core concepts. Students could expect to cover subjects such as PR history & theory, media strategies, brand development and management, international relations, and crisis management.

Due to their varying academics, and capstone graduation requirements, completion times may differ between schools. With this in mind, students could expect to complete a PR master’s program, on average, in 1 to 2 years.

Public Relations Graduate Certificate Programs

Graduate certificate programs could be a great option for you if you’re looking to become involved with graduate coursework without having to undergo the more rigorous application process of the master’s degree programs. The PR graduate certificate programs may be more accessible by not requiring GRE/GMAT exam scores along with their applications. These programs may also not require you to hold an undergraduate degree in the PR field, potentially making it a great choice for those new to media communications. An undergraduate GPA is still required, though, and students may be expected to submit a 2.75 to a 3.0.

The intentions of these programs are to help students build foundational knowledge and skills that may be necessary to compete in the PR industry and could be a quick way to gain experience you could potentially put towards enhancing your career.  Coursework is often abbreviated and tends to focus on core concepts such as managing social media campaigns, writing press releases, brand portfolios, and crisis communication. With the concise coursework in mind, students may expect to complete a graduate certificate program in 1 years. Program lengths vary by school.

Pursuing Your Public Relations Graduate Program On Campus

On-campus curriculum and instruction graduate degree programs could be a great way to incorporate your education into your routine if you’re looking for a highly structured course schedule. Classes meet in the physical classroom, weekly, during a prescheduled time – this could make it easy to plan and schedule around your personal appointments and work life. Speaking of work, many graduate programs offer courses at night or on weekends to make them more accessible to working students.

Another potential benefit of tapping into the physical classroom could be the networking possibilities. Many of your peers may be entering the PR industry at the same time as yourself and they could be your first contacts. Working with them during class time, or on collaborative projects, could be a great way to build relationships early. Professors may also be a great resource in the professional world, so be sure to speak with them during office hours and begin to foster a good report.

Find a Perfect On-Campus Public Relations Graduate Program Today!

Taking the next step towards your public relations graduate education is as simple as continuing to scroll down the page. Feel free to browse the list of program links below to start your search for your perfect program. Once you have found one that meets all your requirements, click through the link to request more information. Or, you could go to the program’s official site to apply. Good luck finding an on-campus public relations graduate program today!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-8 | [ii]bls.gov/ooh/sales/advertising-sales-agents.htm#tab-6 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/sales/advertising-sales-agents.htm#tab-6 | [iv]bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm#tab-6 | [v]bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/meeting-convention-and-event-planners.htm#tab-6 | [vi]bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/writers-and-authors.htm#tab-6

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