Cleveland Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Degree Programs

Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs may help professionals explore dynamic communications fields in breadth and depth. Through certificate, master’s degree, and doctorate degree programs in PR, advertising, and marketing, students might learn how to develop and manage marketing and advertising campaigns, navigate components of advertising and marketing such as digital media and international campaigns, and help clients manage, establish, and protect their or their product’s public reputation and identity. They may also develop skills to think critically and creatively and to take effective action. 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!

Advertising Degrees and Careers

What Are Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing?

Put simply, public relations (PR), marketing, and advertising are subsections of communications that entail delivering information to target audiences and establishing communication between two primary entities: the organization, individual, and product (or service) and the public or customer. 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 may be done for small, medium, or large entities in a variety of formats.  

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) — to do their jobs. 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.   

What Graduate-Level Programs Are Available in Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing?

Graduate-level public relations, marketing, and advertising programs are available in certificate, master’s degree, and doctorate degree levels. They may be offered on-campus, online, or through hybrid Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs. Carefully consider your individual needs and goals to select public relations graduate programs that fit for you.

Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Graduate Programs

There are several types of master’s degrees in public relations, advertising, 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 (particularly PR, advertising, or marketing). 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.

Advertising, marketing, and public relations graduate programs may help students pursue leadership, management, or specialized positions in the communications field. Once students have earned their master’s degrees in public relations, advertising, or marketing, 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.

Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Doctorate Degree Programs

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 degrees that help professionals pursue careers as teachers and researchers, while 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. They might conclude their programs with an apprenticeship, student teaching, a comprehensive exam, or a dissertation defense.   

Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Certificate Programs

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 and 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. Alternatively, they might be perfect for students who want graduate-level education but are not ready to pursue a master’s degree in advertising, marketing, or public relations. In some cases, certificate programs allow students to transfer their credits to master’s degree programs down the road. However, this is not always the case, so always check with your specific Advertising and Public Relations Graduate program to determine your transfer options. Most programs expect students to complete their certificate programs through approximately one year of fulltime study. 

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

No matter your Advertising and Public Relations Graduate programs level, you’ll likely study subjects across key areas of advertising, marketing, or public relations:

  • In graduate public relations programs, you might study: international public relations; strategic communication; theories of communication; public relations management; public relations and social, political, and cultural factors; and publicity and promotions
  • In graduate advertising programs, you might study: quantitative and qualitative research, persuasive communication, media, creative strategy and implementation, advertising and management, marketing, and PR 
  • In graduate marketing programs, you might study: 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

Depending on your Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Program, you might gain an overview of each area, or you might delve into each area in depth. In some 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 of PR, marketing, and advertising will depend on the program type, the program intention, and your personal preferences.

Some examples of specific subjects you might study in areas of PR, marketing, and advertising include:

  • 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
  • Communication (crisis, corporate, strategic, intercompany, international, public, etc.)
  • Persuasion methods and techniques
  • Marketing and communications strategy
  • Branding and market positioning
  • Social media
  • Research methodologies

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).

Who Might Pursue a Graduate Degree in Public Relations?

Three primary types of professionals might pursue a graduate degree in public relations, marketing, or advertising: a current PR, advertising, or marketing professional looking to enhance his or her knowledge and skillset; a marketing, advertising, public affairs, or communications professional interested in enhancing their knowledge and skills in a specific area; or professionals in different fields entirely who want to pursue careers in marketing, advertising, or PR. 

Within the fields of marketing, advertising, and PR, professionals pursuing graduate-level 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 PR, marketing, or advertising 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.[i] 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 Advertising, Marketing, or Public Relations Graduate Program?

You can begin your Advertising and Public Relations Graduate Programs search on GradSchools.com. Just below you’ll find a list of graduate programs in advertising, marketing, public relations, and 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 master’s degree in marketing and 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/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

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