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, an online degree in PR often covers both marketing communication skills and media relations. These areas help students learn to tell stories in order to sell services and products. And, improve the brand of a company using mass media and special events.
Problem solving is important too. So, you may study research methods and analysis. This may improve your ability to create and run campaigns. Then, score the results using metrics and data. Part of any communications degree is to learn how to speak and write with clarity. Writing for public relations may span speeches, press releases, and social media. And public speaking is about confidence and grammar. Plus, using suitable language for products, services and corporate communication.
As a result, online students may grow skills while also building know how. You may learn to express yourself better with your peers and coworkers. Public relations specialists also need to know crisis management. That is about knowing how to take the lead with media communications. Like creating a plan that manages fall out from bad publicity.
TYPES OF ONLINE PUBLIC RELATIONS PROGRAMS
There are many types of online programs in PR. To narrow school search results, choose a level of program, then check out all the different majors. Here are a few as a resource guide.
B.A. in Public Relations and 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 for various public relations campaigns.
- Social Media strategy
- Visual communications
B.A. in Communication Studies: Advertising and Public Relations
Explore ideas and practices in marketing and branding. Learn public relations writing. That is about how to write effective messages to sell and promote products and people.
- Marketing principles
- Public speaking
- Communication theory
B.S. in Marketing
Learn how to use marketing channels. Use digital and other media to create marketing and communications plans that work.
- Consumer behavior
- Strategic communication
Online Public Relations Degree Levels
There are four levels of PR programs. Associate, bachelor’s, masters and PhDs. These programs may fall under many titles. Communications, journalism, marketing, or business, for example. All relate to public relations. If just starting out, you begin with an undergrad degree. Some people do this at community college with an associate degree. That said, a bachelor’s tends to be a gateway for many of the job fields public relations professionals go for.
There are two kinds of online bachelor’s degree programs. Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science in public relations (BS). Both tend to take about four years and entail 120 credit hours of coursework. From there, you may continue your higher education in grad school. There are master’s, MBAs and PhD degree programs at this level. Nearly 11 % of students who studied PR earned a master’s degree. In doctorate PR 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.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator at UHY Advisors
- Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
- Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
- Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access.
Business Administration, Psychology, Information Technology, Human Services…
- Ranked #8 by U.S.News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
- Apply up to 90 transfer credits for bachelor’s students, and 9 transfer credits for master’s degree students.
- CSU Global graduates experience a return on investment of 4:1, which means they receive $4 in salary and benefits for every $1 they invest in their education.
Business, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, IT, Psychology…
- Experience a Purdue Global undergraduate program for an introductory 3-week period. There’s no financial obligation beyond the application fee
- Apply eligible work experience and prior college credits toward up to 75% of your undergraduate degree.
- More than 175 programs at associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
Business, Cyber Security, Psychology, IT, Nursing, Criminal Justice
Public Relations Courses
Gen ed 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 and a capstone project. These courses are not all connected to PR. But, may help you improve your writing, reading, critical, and communications skills. These are all good skills for public relations managers to have.
The online courses you take in a PR major will cover many subjects. To put these areas in perspective, you may learn through case studies. These may provide strong foundation of skills and knowledge in public relations. If in a public relations bachelor’s degree, 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.
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.
Communication Strategies/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 may 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. If you are a working student, online schedules allow for flexibility. This enables many working students to pursue a degree full time, and work at the same time.
Examples of How Long it Might Take To Earn a PR Degree
|School||# of Credits Required||Start Dates||Minimum Months to Complete|
|Full Sail U||120||Monthly||29 months|
|Ashford U||120||Monthly (every five weeks)||48|
|Pennsylvania State U||120||Winter, Summer, and Fall||48|
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 the costs to earn a B.A. in PR:
|School||# of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Total Tuition Cost|
|Northern Michigan University||120||$437||$52,440|
|Ashford University||120||$510 + fees||$61,200 + fees|
|University of Florida||124||$955 + fee||$114,633 + fees|
Top Public Relations Schools
DataUSA tells us there were 288 schools in the United States that offer PR degrees or communication programs in the 2017 school year. From those schools, there were 18,861 degrees earned by students. Most of these degrees were B.A.’s.
|School||2017 degrees awarded||2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)|
|Fashion Institute of Technology||618||$16,490|
|U of Texas at Austin||529||$38,326|
|Michigan State U||519||$39,766|
|Southern New Hampshire U||401||$31,136|
|U of Alabama||396||$30,250|
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 are well trusted in the field. They may 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 bodies that offer certification and accreditation (or can connect you with one who does) include:
- Public Relations Society of America
- International Public Relations Association
- American Communication Association
- American Marketing Association
- Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management
You may also 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
The PR workforce has 2.27 million members. A worker’s average age in the field that same year was 40.1 years old. Nearly 73.2 % of the workers with a degree in PR were female.
What can you do with a PR degree?
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning an online PR degree may give you the skills you need to pursue a career in many fields such as:
- Public Relations
- Media Buyer
- Communications Manager
Mean Annual Salary for PR Specialists by State
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||18,600||$109,390|
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 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
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