Online Public Relations Degrees

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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 would include both marketing and communications concepts. Students should learn how craft stories to sell services and products. Or, to improve the brand of a company. Leaning about different types of media may also be part of the course work.  Students might also learn how to conduct research, create and run campaigns as well as analyze the results.

By the end of a public relations program, students may also gain confidence as leaders. With confidence, students can communicate with peers and other people in the organization. Being able to work with others and manage projects is key for PR professionals.

Types of Online Public Relations Degrees

Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Marketing

BA in Communication Studies: Advertising and Public Relations

Bachelor of Science in Marketing

Explore PR as the core of a business. Study creative subjects such as communication, consumer behavior, and also advertising. Learn how to devise and conduct research.Explore theories and practices in marketing and branding. Learn how to craft effective messages to sell and promote products and people.Learn how to use marketing channels. Use digital and other media to develop 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 public relations programs: associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. The majority of students who study public relations earn a bachelor’s degree.

Some public relations programs offer minors. Minors give students a chance to focus on an area of PR. Students might study advertising, news media, entrepreneurship, or another subject related to PR.

Bachelor’s degrees in public relations have many titles. First, they could be a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. Second, they could be in communications, journalism, marketing, or business. A B.A. or B.S. in one of these subjects would then relate to PR. A B.A. or B.S. degree could also be focused on PR.

Students who are not ready to spend four years in school might earn an associate’s degree in PR. It takes one and a half to two years to do so. At this level, students take general education courses and PR  focused courses. However, they only take one year of each to study the most important subjects. Students who earn an associate’s degree can later transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree program.

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

If you one day opt to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in PR, doing so will take two to four years. In master’s degree PR programs, students either study PR broadly. Additionally, students can focus on a specific part of PR. Nearly 11 percent of students who studied PR earned a master’s degree while in doctorate PR programs, students learn how to conduct research in the field.

General education courses cover subjects like English, math, history, science, and philosophy. Every student who earns a bachelor’s degree has to complete courses like these. These courses are not directly connected to PR. Instead, they help students enhance writing, reading, analytical, and also communication skills. These are all important skills for PR specialists.

Courses in a public relations major cover many subjects. Courses in subjects like these and others offer students a foundation of skills and knowledge in public relations.

Students also take elective courses when they earn a bachelor’s degree in PR. Electives help students learn more about a specific area of PR. For example, students might study journalism, business, entertainment PR, or sports PR.

Mass communications 

Organizational communications 

Public speaking 

Multimedia journalism 

Electronic public relations 

Strategic public relations 

Research and analysis in public relations 

Law and ethics in public relations 

How long does it take to earn an online public relations degree?

Students can earn an associate’s degree in public relations in two years or less with full time study. They can earn a bachelor’s degree in four years with full time study. For working students, online schedules allow for flexibility and enable many professionals to pursue a degree full time and work at once.


Examples of How Long it Might Take To Earn a Public Relations Degree

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Full Sail University120Monthly29 months
Ashford University120Monthly-every five weeks48
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. Following are specific prices you could pay to earn a bachelor’s degree in public relations:

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 awarded to students. The majority (83.3%!) of these degrees were bachelor’s degrees.

School2017 Grads total/degrees awardedTuition (Out of State)
Fashion Institute of
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


Once you’ve completed your public relations program, you can pursue public relations accreditation or certification. Both signify to future employers that you have the skills, knowledge, and also the talent you claim to have. By taking an exam and being interviewed, you can demonstrate your ability to a panel of proven professionals. By doing so well, you can secure a certificate or accreditation. Adding that to your resume can help employers know that your skills and talents are verified.

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

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

You can 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. Joining a professional organizations can help keep your knowledge top notch.

A Career in Public Relations

In 2018, the public relations workforce had 2.09 members. The workforce could grow by 6 percent, or 17,300 workers, before the next census. Workers’ average age in the field that same year was 40 years old. About 1.7 percent of the workforce was 29 years old and 3.9 percent was 28 years old. Females were most likely to hold a degree in public relations. In 2018, nearly 65.3 percent of the workers with a degree in public relations were female.

Mean Annual Salary for Public Relation Specialist by State

The table below shows states with the highest employment levels. This career path often needs a degree in public relations or communications.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage

What jobs can you get with a PR Degree?

Studying to receive a public relations degree may give you the skills necessary to pursue a career in other fields as well. By carefully assessing your writing and communication skills, online public relations specialists courses may make you a valuable candidate for hire at many organizations. Be sure to study which options may be available using statistics compiled by the BLS.


PR Specialists write press releases and carefully craft informational material for the media. They help clients communicate with the public, respond to media requests or customer inquiries, and may also even write speeches for public figures or business executives. Their role is to make clients appear favorably to the public.

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


PR Fundraising Managers are similar to public relations specialists. They are different from then in that the former is also responsible for creating campaigns that attract donors. They contact potential donors, hold meetings with high-profile contributors, apply for grants and also design ad campaigns to raise money for their clients.

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


Whereas fundraising managers may work for specific people, advertising, promotions and marketing managers typically work for companies to help publicize a product or service. Since their focus is on advertising, they devise marketing campaigns that include TV commercials, radio spots, print ads, online marketing efforts and more. Additionally, they may also spend a significant portion of time conducting industry research to develop possible marketing strategies.

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

© 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.