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A public relations master’s degree can open the door to a variety of advanced degrees and managerial roles in media and mass communications. If you pursue a public relations online master’s, this can provide a flexible learning experience and cut down on living and transportation expenses.
If you’re considering earning a master’s in public relations, this article explains what to expect from the degree, including if you are an online student. We also explore potential career opportunities for graduates with this public relations degree.
What Is an Online Master’s Degree in Public Relations?
A master’s degree in public relations prepares you for advanced positions in media environments or a doctoral degree. Content covered at the graduate level builds skills like digital marketing and social media analytics.
Typically, master’s programs take three to four semesters to complete, requiring 30 credits to graduate. The length of your program can vary depending on whether you enroll full time or part time.
Depending on your program, graduate students should expect to participate in either a practicum or an internship. The program typically details this information in its curriculum. Internships may be paid or unpaid and can grant credit toward your degree.
Many programs give the option to study online or on campus. The online experience may involve using software such as Canvas, a web-based management system. Online courses may be asynchronous, providing flexible time frames to watch lectures and complete assignments, or synchronous, involving real-time class meetings and discussions.
Admissions Requirements for a Public Relations Master’s Degree
The minimum education requirement for most graduate programs is a bachelor’s degree or higher. Programs may require students to have a minimum undergraduate GPA as well, often of 2.75 or 3.0.
Graduate schools often require applicants to send transcripts for either their whole academic career or their highest degree earned, depending on the program.
Master’s programs may require a resume and letter of intent. The letter of intent is meant to describe the applicant’s personal information, academic achievements and plan to attend classes online or on campus.
Master’s programs may also require professional work samples, such as blog posts, social media campaigns and writing samples, to demonstrate applicants’ writing and critical-thinking skills.
Common Courses for a Public Relations Master’s Program
Master’s programs move out of the introductory courses and delve deeper into practical implementation. As a public relations master’s student, you should expect extensive training in corporate communications and the ethics involved with mass media communication.
Course offerings vary among programs, but below we describe some common courses you can expect to take for a public relations master’s degree.
This course allows students to examine different types of companies and the best communication functions for each. Because this is a master’s-level course, the theory of corporate communications is just one part of the experience. Students also have opportunities to apply the practices and concepts learned from their undergraduate classes in real-life scenarios.
By the end of the course, students understand the functions of corporate communications and how to apply them strategically to any business.
Elements of Communications Planning
Communications planning is essential to a public relations specialist’s career. The use of communications planning lets stakeholders know which buyers to target and where to direct outreach efforts.
This course develops students’ skills in identifying companies’ goals and objectives and applying tactics and strategies to meet those goals. At the end of the course, learners can apply communications planning to various challenges for effective results.
Ethics: Philosophical, Professional and Personal
As a public relations specialist, using media and technology in mass communications presents ethical and philosophical implications. The study of ethics helps you identify how these implications relate to media and how people deal with moral dilemmas in media.
Through philosophical research and strategy, this course examines how morals impact cognitive and emotional belief systems. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to identify the difference between personal and professional ethics.
Careers for Public Relations Master’s Graduates
What can you do with a public relations degree at the graduate level? We list some potential careers below.
Advertising or Promotions Manager
Median Annual Salary: $127,150
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +7%
Job Description: By generating interest in products, advertising and promotions, these managers develop strategies and advertising campaigns for clients. Advertising and promotions managers can work for advertising agencies or as part of in-house marketing teams.
Median Annual Salary: $100,810
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +10%
Job Description: Organizations that rely on donations hire fundraising managers to oversee their campaigns. Fundraising managers use their knowledge and expertise to implement suitable tactics to help bring in donations.
Median Annual Salary: $135,030
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +10%
Job Description: Marketing managers develop strategies to sell products for organizations. They also keep an eye on trends to predict markets and strategize accordingly. Marketing managers may also use pricing strategies to help increase their organizations’ profits and satisfy consumers’ needs.
Public Relations Manager
Median Annual Salary: $125,780
Projected Job Growth (2021-2031): +8%
Job Description: Public relations managers maintain and enhance the public image of an organization. These professionals monitor the social and political atmosphere to support how their organization is perceived.
Should You Earn a Public Relations Master’s Degree Online?
There are a few factors to consider when working toward an online master’s degree in public relations. For example, many online programs offer flat-rate tuition to online learners, even those who reside out of state. Distance learning can also cut down on expenses related to housing and transportation.
On the other hand, the online learning experience involves a fair amount of self-discipline. If you prefer a more structured learning environment, an on-campus program might be more suitable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Public Relations Degrees
Is a master’s degree in public relations worth it?
For many students, yes. A master’s degree in public relations can create career opportunities in mass communication that might otherwise be unavailable, such as public relations manager.
What can you do with a PR master’s degree?
A master’s in public relations equips students with extensive mass communication and marketing knowledge. There are plenty of job opportunities with a master’s degree in public relations, such as marketing manager and public relations manager.