Online Public Relations Degree

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What is a Public Relations Degree?

Public relations (PR) is a branch of marketing and communications. As such, a PR degree covers both marketing and communications concepts. As a student, you would learn how  to tell stories in order to sell services and products. Or, to improve the brand of a company. As part of the course work, for instance, you may learn about different types of media.  Similarly, you may learn how to do research. Or, to create and run campaigns, and score the results.

In addition, by the end of a public relations program, you may also gain confidence as a leader. As a result, you can communicate better with your peers and coworkers. Working with others is key for you as a public relations professional. So is gaining project management skills.

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Types of Online Public Relations Degree

B.A. in Public Relations and Marketing

B.A. in Communication Studies: Advertising and Public Relations

B.S. in Marketing

Explore PR as the core of a business. Study creative subjects such as communication, customer behavior, and advertising. Learn how to devise and conduct research.Explore ideas and practices in marketing and branding. Learn how to write effective messages to sell and promote products and people.Learn how to use marketing channels. Use digital and other media to create marketing and communications plans that work.
Course Examples:

  • Marketing strategy
  • eBusiness
  • Visual literacy
Course Examples:

  • Marketing principles
  • Public speaking
  • Communication theory
Course Examples:

  • Consumer behavior
  • Promotions
  • Strategic marketing
Accreditation to look for: IACBE or AACSBNo specific accreditationAccreditation to look for: IACBE or AACSB

Online Public Relations Degree Levels

There are four levels of PR programs. They are, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree (B.A.), master’s degree, and doctorate degree. If you study public relations, you will most likely earn a B.A. A degree in public relations can fall under many titles. For example, a B.A. or B.S. in communications, journalism, marketing, or business, for example, is related to public relations.

If you are not ready to spend four years in school, however, you could earn an associate’s degree in public relations. It takes one and a half to two years to do so. At this level, for instance, you’ll take general edu courses and public relations courses. However, you’ll only take one year of each and study the most important subjects. If you earn an associate’s degree, you can usually transfer your credits to a B.A. program.

At the associate’s degree level, you may pursue an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree. In either case, your degree will most likely be in marketing, business, or communications. However, your focus will still be on public relations.

If, one day, you opt to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in public relations, doing so will take two to four years. In master’s degree PR programs, you’ll study PR broadly. Additionally, you can focus on a specific part of PR. Nearly 11 % of students who studied PR earned a master’s degree. In doctorate P.R. programs, you learn to do research in the field.

The Road to Earning a Public Relations Degree:

The hardest aspect of earning a Communications and PR degree was a “service learning” aspect of the program for a couple of the courses, in which you have to seek out a connection in the real world that will allow you to handle basic public relations functions for that organization, or at least give you the information you need to create a hypothetical PR campaign.

Chris Clark

Marketing & Communications Coordinator at UHY Advisors

hardest part of earning a PR degree from Chris Clark

Public Relations Courses

General education courses cover subjects like English, math, history, science, and philosophy. If you are earning a B.A., you will have to take courses like these. These courses are not all connected to PR. However, they may help you improve your writing, reading, critical, and communications skills. These are all good skills for PR specialists to have.

The courses you take in a PR major will cover many subjects. And, by taking many courses, you may gain a strong foundation of skills and knowledge in public relations.

As a student, when you earn a B.A. in PR, you’ll also take elective courses. Electives help you learn more about a certain area of PR. For example, you may study journalism, business, entertainment PR, or sports PR.

Course Examples:

Mass communications: A broad course of study that may help you open doors to a career in advertising, broadcasting, PR, journalism, and publishing. Learn how media works and impacts society.

Organizational communications: Learn skills and gain knowledge that you can apply to your work place at once. Study the effect of communication on organization.

Public speaking: Learn to deliver effective oral communication with focus on research, prep and performance.

Multimedia journalism: In this course, you may cover the use of digital tech to produce news stories that combine different formats of media, such as text, hypertext, photos, video, animation, databases and more.

Electronic public relations: Learn about the strategic use of online, mobile and social media tools in PR.

Strategic PR: This course may teach you the usage of PR tactics in an overall communications or marketing plan.

Research and analysis in PR: Learn the role research plays in PR.

Law and ethics in PR: This course teaches critical knowledge of essential and relevant law impacting professional communicators.

How long does it take to earn an online Public Relations degree?

You can earn an associate’s degree in PR in two years or less with full time study. That said, you may earn a B.A. in four years with full time study. Moreover, if you are a working student, online schedules allow for flexibility. Consequently, this enables many working students to pursue a degree full time, and work at the same time.

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Examples of How Long it Might Take To Earn a PR Degree

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Full Sail University120Monthly29 months
Ashford University120Monthly (every five weeks)48
Pennsylvania State University120Winter, Summer, and Fall48

Average Public Relations Degree Costs

In 2017, students paid a median in state public tuition rate of $7,847. They paid a median out of state private tuition rate of $30,756. Below are specific prices you could pay to earn a B.A. in PR:

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Northern Michigan University120$437$52,440
Ashford University120$510 + fees$61,200 + fees
University of Florida124$955 + fee$114,633 + fees

Top Public Relations Schools

NCES tells us there were 288 schools that offer Public Relations degrees or programs in the 2017 school year. From those schools, there were 11,164 degrees earned by students. The majority (83.3%) of these degrees were B.A.’s.

School2017 Grads total / degrees awardedTuition
Fashion Institute of
Technology
546$20,192
The University of Texas at Austin529$36,744
Michigan State University519$40,024
Southern New Hampshire University401$30,756
The University of Alabama396$28,100

BECOMING AN ACCREDITED PR PROFESSIONAL

Once you’ve completed your PR program, you can pursue PR accreditation or certification. Both signify to future employers that you have the skills, knowledge, and talent you claim to have. Firstly, by taking an exam and being interviewed, you can show your ability to a panel of proven professionals. If you do well, you can secure a cert or accreditation. Adding this to your resume can help employers verify your skills and talents.

Accreditation and certification are offered by professional PR organizations. These organizations are well trusted in the field. Therefore, they add a level of respect and honor to your resume. While you don’t need to be accredited or certified to work in PR, it helps to be so.

Some examples of agencies that offer certification and accreditation (or can connect you with one who does) include:

In addition, you can join agencies like these to grow your professional knowledge in the field. Through membership, you may also attend conferences and access research in the field. By joining professional organizations, you can help keep your skills top notch.

A Career in PR

In 2018, the PR workforce had 270,000 members. A worker’s average age in the field that same year was 40 years old. About 1.7 % of the workforce was 29 years old and 3.9 % was 28 years old.  In 2018, nearly 65.3 % of the workers with a degree in PR were female.

What can you do with a public relations degree?

Earning an online public relations degree may give you the skills necessary to pursue a career in many fields such as:

  • Public Relations
  • Copywriter
  • Fundraiser
  • Marketing
  • Media Buyer
  • Communications Manager

Mean Annual Salary for PR Specialists by State

The table below shows states with the highest employment levels. As such, this career path often asks for a degree in PR or communications.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
D.C.17,310$107,490
NY24,510$72,910
CA26,820$72,910
FL12,050$60,920
TX28,360$60,600

PR SPECIALISTS

As a PR Specialist, you may write press releases and carefully craft informational material for the media. In addition, you could help clients communicate with the public, respond to media requests or customer questions. Also, you may even write speeches for public figures or business executives. Your role is to make clients appear in favor to the public.

Avg. Salary: $60,000 per year
Job growth to 2028:6% (As fast as avg.)
Entry level edu: B.A.

PR FUNDRAISING MANAGERS

PR Fundraising Managers are similar to PR specialists. They are different in that the former is also responsible for creating campaigns that attract donors. As a manager, you could contact potential donors, hold meetings with high profile contributors, and apply for grants. You may also design ad campaigns to raise money for your clients.

Avg. Salary: $114,800 per year
Job growth to 2028: 8% (Faster than avg.)
Entry level edu: Bachelors

ADVERTISING, PROMOTIONS, AND MARKETING MANAGERS

As an advertising manager, you will typically work for companies to help publicize a product or service. If your focus is on advertising, you may write marketing campaigns, such as TV commercials, radio spots, print ads, online marketing efforts, and more. In addition, you could also spend a large portion of time doing industry research in order to develop potential marketing strategies.

Avg. Salary: $132,620 per year
Job growth to 2028: 8% (Faster than avg.)
Entry level edu: Bachelors

COPY WRITER

In general, a writer will write content for all types of media. A copy writer, on the other hand, writes short ads and slogans to help sell a product. Skills that are key to this job include being able to adapt, creativity and persuasion.

Avg. Salary: $62,170 per year
Job growth to 2028: 0% No Change
Entry level edu: Bachelors

© Education Connection 2019. All Rights Reserved.

EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.

Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.