Online Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs & Graduate Schools

Online graduate programs in public relations, advertising, and marketing may provide a great option for busy professionals who prefer a flexible schedule. Many online ...

programs enable students to access course materials and submit work at times convenient to them. And, online programs may make advanced education more accessible to students who depend on distance education or simply prefer to engage in a program in another city, state, or country. Online graduate programs in public relations, advertising, and marketing may also give students access to digital libraries and other school resources. With all of these perks, why not earn your public relations, advertising, or marketing degree online? Keep reading for Online Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs information.

What might graduate programs in PR, marketing, and advertising be like? We can give you a sense. In PR, marketing, and advertising programs, students might develop their knowledge and skills in many areas. They might explore:

  1. How to help clients manage, establish, and protect their own or their product’s public reputation and identity
  2. How to navigate components of advertising and marketing such as digital media and international campaigns
  3. How to develop and manage PR, marketing, and advertising campaigns

They may also develop their critical and creative-thinking skills and learn how to take effective action in areas of PR, advertising, marketing, and business. To learn more about PR, advertising, and marketing, and to discover how earning a graduate degree in one of these subjects might enhance your career, read on!

What Are Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing?

Public relations (often referred to as PR), advertising, and marketing generally involve establishing a relationship between clients (such as individuals, businesses, governmental, for-profit, or non-profit organizations) or their products, and target audiences. PR professionals help their clients build a reputation and identity using PR tools such as articles, interviews, speeches, press releases, and social media (to name a few). Marketing and advertising professionals typically sell ideas, products, and services using tools such as market research, market strategy, design work, and more.

PR, advertising, and marketing professionals might handle crises, navigate transitions, develop brand identities, or handle numerous other components having to do with managing clients’ public personas. This may be done for small, medium, or large entities using a variety of formats.  

What Graduate-Level Programs in Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing May Be Available Online?

Public relations, advertising, and marketing students might pursue a graduate-level certificate, master’s degree, or doctorate degree online.  Read on for more information about each type of program:

The Master’s in Public Relations, Advertising, or Marketing Online

Students who want to pursue an online master’s degree in public relations, advertising, or marketing typically pursue a Master of Art (M.A.), a Master of Science (M.S.) in PR, advertising, or marketing, or a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) with an emphasis on public relations, advertising, or marketing. M.A. and M.S. programs usually focus primarily on public relations, advertising, or marketing, while M.B.A. programs typically focus on various areas of business.

In M.A. or M.S. public relations, marketing, or advertising master’s programs, students might gain broad but in-depth information on theories, principles, and applications in these subjects and specialize their knowledge in a particular area. Meanwhile, in M.B.A. programs, students might study business (including operations, management, finance, and other areas) and specialize their knowledge in public relations, advertising, or marketing.

In most cases, students pursue an online master’s degree in public relations, advertising, or marketing over the course of one to two years of intensive or fulltime study. To develop their skillset, they might participate in an apprenticeship or internship as parts of their programs. At the conclusion of their programs, they might take a comprehensive exam or complete a capstone project such as a thesis. 

The Doctorate in Public Relations, Advertising or Marketing Online

Students who pursue doctorate-level education in public relations, advertising, or marketing might pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Business Administration degree (D.B.A.). A PhD program will likely be research intensive and help professionals pursue careers in higher education, often as teachers and researchers. A D.B.A. program will likely focus on practical application and help professionals pursue advanced positions in business. The intention of doctorate programs varies by program, so take time to discern if a given program is the right one for you. 

In general, students pursue a Ph.D. or D.B.A. in public relations, advertising, or marketing over the course of three to six years of fulltime study. To develop their skills, they might participate in an apprenticeship, internship, or student teaching. At the ends of their programs, they might write and defend a dissertation or take a comprehensive exam.

The Advertising, Marketing, or Public Relations Certificate Online

Online advertising, marketing, or public relations certificate programs give students an opportunity to explore some of the fields’ most fundamental theories and principles. These shorter programs typically help students develop their knowledge and skillset in PR, advertising, and marketing as industries or specialize their knowledge in particular areas. Online certificates might be useful for students who want to enhance their existing careers, transition their careers into PR, advertising or marketing, or sample curricula in the subjects before engaging in a more intensive master’s degree program.

In most cases, students earn a graduate-level certificate in PR, advertising, or marketing in approximately one year of fulltime study. When engaged in online certificate programs, many students continue to work fulltime and schedule their studies around their professional obligations.

What Might I Study in Online Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs?

In many cases, the online curricula of advertising, marketing, and public relations graduate programs are virtually the same as on-campus ones. The primary difference may be that some lessons, materials, and outcomes are designed to be delivered digitally.  

As you take advertising, marketing, and public relations course online, you’ll potentially study subjects that fit within the following areas:

  • In advertising graduate programs: quantitative and qualitative research, persuasive communication, media, creative strategy and implementation, advertising and management, marketing, and PR 
  • In marketing graduate programs: marketing management, business and marketing analytics, digital marketing, marketing theory and models, marketing metrics and assessment, marketing research, consumer behavior and insights, ethics in marketing, and marketing strategy
  • In public relations graduate programs: publicity and promotions, public relations management and leadership, theories and principles of communication, strategic communication, international public relations, and public relations and social, political, and cultural influences.

More specifically, you might study the following subjects to get a clearer sense of PR, marketing, and advertising as fields and disciplines:

  • Communication (crisis, corporate, strategic, intercompany, international, public, etc.)
  • Persuasion methods and techniques
  • Marketing and communications strategy
  • Branding and market positioning
  • Social media
  • Research methodologies
  • Key principles and theories in the disciplines
  • Tools and tactics in the disciplines
  • Digital media
  • Public relations, marketing, and advertising campaigns
  • Public relations, marketing, and advertising law and ethics
  • Reputation management

These are just some of the many subjects in PR, advertising, and marketing that you might study through your core and elective curricula. In online master’s or doctorate degree programs, you’ll likely engage in an in-depth study of all or some of these areas. You might also use elective study to emphasize an area of public relations, advertising, or marketing. In business programs (such as the M.B.A. and the D.B.A.), you might explore how any of these subjects relate to various components of business.

In master’s and doctorate-level programs, you might also explore functional and applied specializations in PR, advertising, and marketing. Some examples of functional specializations include crisis management, corporate identity management, and strategic public relations, marketing, and advertising management. Examples of applied specializations include marketing, advertising, and PR as they are used internationally, politically, or for public entities (for governments or non-profits, for example).

In online certificate programs, you might explore each or some of these areas lightly, or you might dig into one area in more depth. It simply depends on the program.

Who Might Pursue an Online Graduate Degree in Public Relations, Advertising, or Marketing?

Individuals who have busy lives, depend on flexible scheduling, and prefer distance education might pursue an online graduate degree in public relations, advertising, or marketing. To succeed in their online program, students may need to be self-starters who take the initiative to access and complete coursework. They might also need to be well-organized and adept at using technology.

Public relations professionals, marketing professionals, advertising professionals, business professionals, public affairs professionals, and professionals looking to change careers all might find graduate certificates or degrees in PR, marketing, or advertising useful. They might seek to enhance their knowledge and skillset in one of the subjects overall or develop their knowledge in an entirely new area. They may also be interested in pursuing supervisory, management, leadership, or specialized positions in public relations, advertising, or marketing. Examples of possible careers students might pursue include:

  • Account supervisor, manger, or executive
  • Media relations, advertising, marketing, or promotions manager
  • Public relations, advertising, or marketing research
  • Public relations, marketing, advertising, or communications professor

These are just some of many types of positions public relations, marketing, or advertising professionals might pursue.

Professionals in public relations might also need a particular skillset. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PR specialists must have interpersonal, organizational, speaking, writing, and problem-solving skills.[i] Meanwhile, public relations managers must have communication and leadership skills in addition to many of the skills specialists have.[ii] Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Managers must have analytical, communication, decision-making, interpersonal, and organizational skills.[iii] They must also be creative.[iv]

How Can I Find an Online Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs?

If an online public relations, advertising or marketing graduate program sounds like a perfect fit for you, simply scroll down to view a list of online certificate, master’s degree, and doctorate degree programs. To refine your search—say to browse by program level (certificate, masters, or doctorate)—you can use our search tool. Once you find a program you like, feel free to use the online form to contact a program directly. We wish you luck as you explore your possible Online Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs options!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-4 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-4 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-4