Master's Degree in Public Relations: Program Overviews
Read about master's degree programs in public relations. Get information on prerequisites, required courses, internships and professional credentials. Examine employment options in the field.
Public relations specialists work in healthcare, government, advertising and other fields to maintain positive, productive public images for their employers. A master's degree program in public relations helps students develop skills in strategic thinking and communication. Students are trained in public relations writing, media relations, promotions and advertising as well as public relations ethics.
Many programs include internship experiences during which students work with local businesses or agencies to hone their skills. Some programs allow students to focus their studies in areas such as ethics and law, crisis management or new media. Most master's programs in public relations can be completed in about two years of full-time study, and some programs are offered online. Voluntary certifications are also available.
Master's degree programs in public relations are offered at 4-year colleges and universities. Applicants are required to possess a bachelor's degree, though most programs do not require a specific undergraduate field of study. Some programs give preference to students with relevant professional experience. Many programs require the submission of Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, scores.
Courses in a public relations master's degree program cover a variety of areas essential to a professional public relations specialist's training. Common courses include the following:
- Principles of public relations
- Media relations
- Public relations writing
- Advertising and promotions
- Ethical standards in public relations
- Corporate public relations management
- Online public relations
- Public relations strategy development
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Specialists in public relations held over 250,000 jobs in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). This included those working in advertising, government, healthcare and financial institutions. Employment opportunities were expected to grow 23% between 2010 and 2020, with the most significant growth in advertising and affiliated services. As of May 2012, public relations specialists earned mean annual wages of $61,980.
Continuing Education Information
The Universal Accreditation Board offers accreditation to specialists in public relations. To earn accreditation in public relations, it is necessary to have at least five years of work experience and to pass a computer-based examination.
Some public relations specialists pursue designation as an Accredited Business Communicator through the International Association of Business Communicators, which is focused on global standards in organizational communication. This accreditation requires at least five years of experience, along with passing oral and written examinations. Students seeking additional education may pursue a Ph.D. in public relations or communications.
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