Public Relations Graduate Schools in the U.S.

Public relations specialists develop a positive public image for a company or individual through media, events and public speaking. A professional holding an undergraduate degree can advance their career by obtaining their master's degree in public relations.

How to Select a Public Relations Graduate School

Public relations specialists work long, odd hours and may need flexibility in a degree program to fit their schedule. When choosing a college program, a person should look for a specialized, real-life curriculum, concentration in any specific areas of interest and a schedule that works within their time constraints.

Common requirements for a Master of Arts in Public Relations include a minimum of 30 hours in core courses and a thesis to complete the program. When a thesis is not required, an additional amount of credit hours with approval and a written examination may be required by the school. Admission to a program may require a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher, though that may vary by school.

Some common courses of study in public relations include advertising and promotion, cultural study of mass media and communications, analysis of behavior, management of communication systems, advertising and public relations research, marketing, and media relations. Psychology, sociology, history and economics courses are also included. Programs often include internships in such specific areas of public relations as networking, volunteering and developing a portfolio.

Public relations employees may choose to focus on a specific area of work, such as crisis management or staff supervision. They may also specialize in an industry like healthcare or non-profit organizations. Observing trends in social, political and economic areas help a public relations specialist develop and maintain a plan of action for a client's image. When choosing a school curriculum, one should look for courses that deal with drafting speeches, newsletters and reports. Intensive writing coursework should also be of high consideration.

A candidate should also look for a program that targets their area of interest. Academic advisors at most universities can help a student develop a program that is right for his or her career development.

Several schools offer flexible scheduling to make it easier to obtain a graduate degree in public relations. Many colleges offer online and accelerated programs, and some offer college credit for life and work experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 over 80% of public relations employees worked 40 hours or more per week, and evening and weekend hours are common.

Graduate Colleges and Schools by Student Enrollment

College/University Student Population Institution Type
Michigan State University46,5104-year, Public
University of Houston36,1044-year, Public
Temple University35,4904-year, Public
University of Southern California33,7474-year, Private not-for-profit
Boston University31,7664-year, Private not-for-profit
Towson University21,1114-year, Public
Ball State University20,2434-year, Public
Webster University19,1544-year, Private not-for-profit
University of Miami15,3234-year, Private not for profit
University of Southern Mississippi14,7934-year, Public
Kean University14,2034-year, Public
University of Denver11,3284-year, Private not-for-profit
Rowan University10,2704-year, Public
Suffolk University9,4344-year, Private not-for-profit
Monmouth University6,4424-year, Private not-for-profit
Mississippi College4,7414-year, Private not-for-profit
Iona College4,3754-year, Private not-for-profit
Montana State University - Billings3,5984-year, Public

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