Public Relations Graduate Programs in Illinois

Pursuing public relations graduate programs could be a best way to potentially open the doors to a wide variety of career paths. The communications coursework could not only give you an opportunity to develop top PR skills and mass media strategic communication methods that may be necessary for that industry, but more general skills and knowledge that could be applied throughout a myriad of related fields.

Public Relations Graduate Programs

Whether your aim is to enhance your career or to pursue another field entirely, this degree program could potentially prepare students with the skills and knowledge necessary to take that next step..

Public Relations Graduate Programs

Public Relations Graduate Programs : After Graduation

Pursuing a PR graduate degree could be a great way to enhance your career by helping develop and refine your methods to apply in the fast paced, ever-changing media market. Or, if you’re considering pursuing a career in the PR field, a PR degree program could be an opportunity to build foundational skills and knowledge and gain the experience necessary to participate in the industry confidently. While public relations graduate programs don’t necessarily feed directly into one potential future career, students who have earned a degree may find that they are able to pursue a wide range of occupations.

Ann T. Willets, Masters in Public Relations

Ann T. Willets
Professor of Marketing and CommunicationsNJCU’s Wall Campus

Expert Insight

How is earning a graduate degree in public relations useful:

As you move up the ladder, you’re frequently dealing with the C-suite. You need to understand how they think and speak their language so you are relevant and support the overall business objectives. Too many PR people operate in a silo, seeing only their piece of the puzzle. A graduate degree in public relations with a focus on business management broadens your purview.


PR Careers

Potential entry-level careers that you may pursue with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, and may possibly apply your graduate degree to for professional enhancement, may include:

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

Many of these careers are also projected to experience a possible growth in the amount of occupations available, 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]. It looks like it could be a great time to become involved with the PR industry.

We asked GavinTM Advertising CEO Mandy Arnold how a graduate degree in PR helped her pursue her career goals:

“My graduate degree in PR allowed me to study more in-depth case study work on the real world application of public relations, especially message management and crisis communications. I also found that the emphasis on public speaking and strategic writing gave me an exceptional foundation for building my own approaches.”

~Mandy Arnold, CEO of GavinTMAdvertisingClick to Tweet

PR vs. Advertising: Graduate Programs for Public Relations

Those beginning their search for a public relations graduate program may not know the difference between PR and advertising because of how similar they are. While both fields aim to distribute messages to the public through tatcics of communications and public relations, the way they go about dispersing that information is where the difference lies. Those in the advertising industry pay for their message to be shared to particular outlets, while those in PR do not pay and share their message by providing it to a wide range of media outlets who may deal with similar material. As you could guess, advertising and PR firms’ interests often intertwine. Because of this, advertising and PR departments are commonly combined in companies so that they may better contribute to each other.

Which Public Relations Graduate Programs May Be Perfect for You?

When deciding on which PR graduate program to pursue it’s important to understand your own academic and career goals. When browsing the below degree programs, make sure you have a clear image of what you envision your education to be. Make school work as hard for you, as you are for it!

Public Relations Masters Degree Programs

Public relations master’s degree programs often draw from the foundational skills built during your undergraduate degree, and because of this often require applicants to supply an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 to 2.75 in addition to GRE exam scores as proof of proficiency in the subject matter.

Once you have determined you are qualified to apply, there may be a plethora of degree programs to choose from. Some PR programs are nestled into a general communications master’s program, while others are a concentration in their own right. Some applicable possible programs you could pursue are a Master of Arts in Public Relations, Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication – Public Relations, Master of Science in Public Relations, and Master of Arts in Public Relations and Image Management. While these degree programs may offer their own unique specialized curriculum, they do offer some overarching courses that tackle general communication themes: PR history & theory, media strategies, brand development and management, strategic public relations, international relations, and crisis management.

Graduation times in public relations programs may vary due to the intensity of programs, your intended course load, and differing graduation requirements. On average, students may except to complete a degree program in 1 to 2 years.

Public Relations Graduate Certificate Programs

Admissions for Public Relations Graduate Certificate Programs are often more accessible for students. One of the great things about this application process is that GRE/GMAT exam scores are often not required– this could potentially save you time and money, and get you into your desired program faster. Undergraduate GPAs are a common requirement, and students may be asked to submit a 2.75 to a 3.0.

Graduate certificate programs are intended to help students build new PR knowledge and skills, which could make it great if you’re looking to pursue a career change into the communications industry. Courses could cover a variety of topics that could help enhance your public relations abilities, such as managing social media campaigns, writing press releases, brand portfolios, and crisis communication. The concise coursework shortens graduation time and students could expect to complete a graduate certificate program in 1 year. Program lengths vary by school.

Public Relations Graduate Program Formats

Fitting your PR graduate program into your schedule may seem like a daunting task, but many schools offer varying formats to address students’ scheduling needs. Below are two formats that may help you incorporate your academic life into your existing routine.

  • On-campus curriculum and instruction graduate degree programs could be a great way to take on a structured schedule. Classes are offered at the same time each week, which means you could potentially plan aspects of your life – such as work, childcare, or other priorities – around the routine timeline. On-campus programs may additionally offer networking opportunities with classmates and professors. Peers could be a great resource in the professional world, especially when you have already worked with them during your graduate program.
  • Online PR graduate programs offer a more flexible program where students may be able to log into classes as their time allows. This could be a perfect way to incorporate your education into your preexisting routine. As an added bonus, commutes are eliminated when your classroom is in your living room! Even when studying online, many schools provide access to resources, such as libraries, to aid students in their research. Some may even offer streamed lectures or course chatrooms so that you may be able to access a bit of the on-campus experience.

Find a Perfect Public Relations Graduate Program Today!

A public relations graduate program could be the push you need to potentially develop the skills and knowledge for career enhancement in your current industry or make the leap into pursuing a career in a new profession. If you’re ready for the next step in your education journey, browse the list of links provided below. To refine the list further, selected your preferred degree program format or location from the menu. Found a perfect program? Click through the link to request more information, or head to the program’s site to apply! Good luck finding a perfect public relations graduate program, today!

Sources: [i] | [ii] | [iii] | [iv] | [v] | [vi]

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