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Master of Science (MS): Public Relations Degree Overview

Master of Science degree programs in public relations teach students to meet client needs through effective communications, media relations and marketing campaigns.

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Essential Information

Students in Master of Science in Public Relations programs study the processes involved in managing communications between organizations, groups and individuals. They explore the connections between public relations, the media and public opinion. Program specializations include public relations theory, mass communications and health communications. These programs last approximately two years and typically require the completion of 30 or more credit hours.

In order to apply, students will need at least a bachelor's degree in a field related to communications as well as acceptable GRE scores and undergraduate GPAs.


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Master of Science in Public Relations

Most programs conferring a Master of Science in Public Relations offer curricula focused on communications practices used in government, public communication, non-profit organizations and private businesses. Typically, students will learn about research methodology, communications theories and public relations leadership. Programs may include internships or culminating projects that offer real-world experience. Students will also need to complete and defend a thesis. Coursework within the program may include:

  • Media, culture and society
  • Ethics and law
  • Public opinion research
  • Campaign planning
  • Writing for news and media
  • Digital platforms

Popular Career Options

Graduates of degree programs in this field may seek careers in marketing, advertising, fundraising, sales, community relations or corporate communications. Individuals are typically prepared for opportunities in corporate, government or non-profit organizations. Some possible job titles could include:

  • Public relations manager
  • Corporate communications specialist
  • Informational writer
  • Media analyst
  • Public opinion researcher
  • Lobbyist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections for the 2014-2024 period, public relations specialist employment will increase at a rate of 6% (www.bls.gov). The median salary for these specialists was $56,770 as of May 2015. The BLS also expects a 7% growth for public relations and fundraising managers over the decade spanning 2014-2024. The median salary for public relations and fundraising managers was $104,140 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

Graduates interested in research or academia may pursue PhDs in public relations. Specialty areas in this field include urban affairs, media or issue management. Other options include doctorates in related fields, such as communications or public affairs.

Public relations master's degree programs encompass the study of media, politics and sociology. Students earning one of these degrees gain the necessary knowledge and skill set to excel in a variety of public relations fields.

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