Advertising & Public Relations Graduate Programs
Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs may help professionals explore dynamic communications fields in breadth and depth. Through certificate, doctorate and masters in advertising graduate programs, students might learn to develop and manage marketing campaigns, as well as navigate components of advertising such as digital media and international campaigns.
In public relations graduate programs, they may learn to help clients manage, establish, and protect their or their product’s public reputation and identity. Students in either program may also develop their ability to think critically and creatively, and to take effective action.
Put simply, public relations (PR), marketing, and advertising are subsections of communications that entail delivering information to target audiences. They are concerned with establishing communication between two primary entities: the organization, individual, and product (or service) and the public or customer. PR, advertising, and marketing may be done for small, medium, or large entities in a variety of formats.
Public relations (PR), while sometimes a part of advertising and marketing, is distinct from both. It utilizes free opportunities (such as interviews and press releases) and communicates through multiple media outlets to establish an organization’s reputation and public narrative.
Marketing and advertising, meanwhile, involve promoting and selling products, services, and ideas through campaigns that may involve market research, strategizing, design work, and more.
PR, advertising, and marketing professionals help businesses, organizations, and individuals gain exposure and establish a place in the market and public discourse. They might use tools such as market research and strategy, digital technology, multimedia, and communicative media— such as press releases, articles, interviews, speeches, and advertisements (amongst others). Professionals in these areas might also perform crisis management, manage a company’s internal communications, control social media content, or otherwise protect and create a client or a client’s product’s reputation and identity. Businesses, governmental agencies, non-governmental agencies, non-profits, and individuals are just some entities that might utilize the talents of PR, advertising, and marketing professionals.
Public relations, marketing, and advertising graduate programs are available in certificate, master’s degree, and doctorate degree levels. Each of these are targeted to students with different backgrounds, as well as goals.
These programs may also be offered in a variety of formats. Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs may be available on campus, for those who prefer traditional classroom learning. Online advertising graduate programs, on the other hand, may be great for working professionals and those who need an education flexible enough to accomodate their lifestyle.
Carefully consider your individual needs and goals to select public relations graduate programs that may fit you.
There are several types of masters degrees in advertising, public relations and marketing. Some primary ones include: the Master of Science (M.S.) in Marketing or Advertising; the Master of Art (M.A.) in Public Relations, Marketing, or Advertising; and the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) with an emphasis on public relations, advertising, or marketing.
M.B.A. programs that emphasize public relations, advertising, and marketing typically provide an interdisciplinary study of business with a secondary focus on key areas of communications. Meanwhile, M.A. and M.S. programs typically focus their curricula on public relations, marketing, or advertising as disciplines and enable students to specialize in specific areas of the subjects—such as digital marketing, product placement advertising, or corporate public relations—through an emphasis.
Masters level public relations and advertising graduate programs may help students pursue leadership, management, or specialized positions in the communications field. Once students have earned their advertising, marketing or public relations masters degree, they might opt to transfer into a PhD program. Check with your school and program to help determine the transferability of your prospective degree.
Marketing, public relations, and advertising master’s programs generally require one to two years of fulltime study and may conclude with an internship, comprehensive exam, or thesis defense. Check with individual schools to learn more, as programs vary.
Students might pursue one of two types of doctorate degrees in advertising, marketing, or public relations: the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or the Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.). In many cases, these degree programs emphasize communications, advertising, marketing, or business. Programs may place a secondary focus on public relations or more specific areas of advertising and marketing.
PhDs are typically research-intensive advertising graduate programs that help professionals pursue careers as teachers and researchers. D.B.A.s typically emphasize practical application and help professionals pursue careers in business settings. To ensure that a doctorate-level degree program meets your needs as a PR professional or a marketing or advertising professional pursuing specialized knowledge, read any given program’s objectives and outcomes.
In many cases, it takes students anywhere from three to six years to earn a Ph.D. or D.B.A in advertising or PR. They might conclude their programs with an apprenticeship, student teaching, a comprehensive exam, or a dissertation defense. Programs vary.
Advertising, marketing, and public relations certificate programs typically provide students an overview of one or more of the fields and outline their key principles, tools, and challenges. As part of their core and elective study, students might explore both theory and application. They may learn how to use advertising, marketing, and PR to enhance their job performance and skillset.
Graduate-level certificate programs might enhance a students’ existing bachelor’s or master’s degree in advertising or a related field. Alternatively, they might be perfect for students who want graduate-level education but are not ready to pursue a masters in advertising, marketing, or public relations. Certificate programs are often shorter, typically taking approximately one year of full time study. This may make it a great introductory pathway to graduate study.
Additionally, in some cases, certificate programs allow students to transfer their credits to master’s programs down the road. However, this is not always the case. Always check with your specific public relatioms or advertising graduate program to determine your transfer options.
No matter your public relations and advertising program's level, you’ll likely study subjects across key areas.
Depending on your public relations or marketing graduate program, you could gain an overview of each area, or you might delve into each area in depth. In other programs, you might focus on one or two areas and learn just key theories of others. The extent and depth to which you’ll study these and other areas will depend on the program type, intention, and your personal preferences.
Some examples of specific topics you might study in areas of PR, marketing, and advertising are listed below
These are just some of the many subjects you might explore through your core and elective curricula. In master’s and doctorate-level public relations, marketing, and advertising programs, you might also pursue functional and applied specializations in communications. Some examples of functional specializations include crisis management, corporate identity management, and strategic public relations, marketing, and advertising management. Some examples of applied specializations include marketing, advertising, and PR as they are used internationally, politically, or publically (for governments or non-profits, for example).
Every public relations and marketing school determines their own curriculum. Therefore it's best to follow up directly if a specific subject is important to you.
Three primary types of professionals might pursue a graduate degree in public relations, marketing, or advertising. A current PR, advertising, or marketing professional may wish to enhance his or her knowledge and skillset. Or a marketing, advertising, public affairs, or communications professional may be interested in enhancing their knowledge in a specific area. Finally. some professionals in different fields entirely may use a graduate eductation to switch industries and pursue careers in marketing, advertising, or PR.
Within the fields of marketing, advertising, and PR, professionals pursuing graduate education might be interested in working as account supervisors, managers, executives, or as media relations managers. They may also be interested in conducting research in the field or analyzing campaigns to improve their chances for success. Most commonly, people who pursue advanced education in marketing, advertising, or PR are interested in management, leadership, or specialist positions in the field.
Fun Fact: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PR specialists must have interpersonal, organizational, speaking, writing, and problem-solving skills. Public relations managers must have communication and leadership skills in addition to many of the skills specialists have.i Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Managers must have analytical, communication, decision-making, interpersonal, and organizational skills. They must also be creative.ii
You can begin your Public Relations and Advertising Graduate Programs search on GradSchools.com. On this page you’ll find a list of graduate programs in advertising, marketing, public relations, and other specific areas of communications. In each listing, you’ll see the program type (on-campus, online, or hybrid) and degree level (certificate, master’s, or doctorate). You can click on the program name or the “request info” button to get more information.
Alternatively, you can use our search tool to browse programs by degree type, program location, or program format. Whether you’re looking to pursue a doctorate degree in PR, a masters in advertising , or a certificate in an area of PR, marketing, or advertising, we likely have options for you! Good luck!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-4
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