There are a few factors to keep in mind when selecting an online program in public relations. When narrowing down your options, you might want to look at what the coursework addresses, the internships available, and decide if you want to specialize in a specific area of PR or complete a more general program.
How to Select an Online Public Relations School
Online public relations courses and programs are offered at some universities and colleges. Students choosing an online public relations school should first decide whether they want to specialize or just enroll in a standard public relations program. Other important deciding factors include degree level and internship options and availability.
Online public relations programs are offered either as a separate degree or alongside a related discipline, such as marketing or advertising. Students who want to specialize in a particular area, such as speechwriting or crisis management, should look for programs that emphasize coursework relevant to their chosen specialization. Those who do not wish to specialize may consider standard public relations programs. Students interested in public relations for new media should look for programs that provide training in blogging, podcasting and streaming video.
According to the College Board (www.collegeboard.com), students need a portfolio of work in order to land a first job. Therefore, a program that assigns projects that showcase a student's skills and that are relevant to his or her specialization area may be a good choice. Internship experience is also important and stressed by many employers, but every online public relations program may not offer or require them. Whether or not to complete an internship is another factor that figures into one's choice of a program.
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List of Online Public Relations Programs
Certificate programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The graduate certificate is typically designed for individuals who have already earned a bachelor's degree. Course topics at the undergraduate level may include media and freelance writing, event planning, strategic communications, media relations, marketing, advertising, promotion and ethics. Course topics at the graduate level may include:
- Campaign laws
- Strategic communication research and planning
- Public relations media writing basics
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Programs at the bachelor's level are available as Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees and may be offered along with another discipline. Students generally can choose specializations at this level. Course topics include marketing, advertising, project management, consumer behavior, communication ethics, motivation, media research. Required general education courses include:
- Media and crisis communication
- Rhetoric and social influence
- Natural sciences
Master's Degree Programs
Master's programs are usually offered as a Master of Arts degree and may be available in an accelerated format. The program may also be available as a Master of Professional Studies degree. Common course topics include:
- Public relations budgeting and practices
- Metrics and analytics
- Public affairs research
- International communications
- Digital marketing strategies
Schools with Online Programs in Public Relations
Franklin University offers both Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degree programs in public relations that can be completed entirely online. The curriculum includes core content in media and research writing, client engagement and promotional strategy. Students are expected to build communication, business, and industry skills. A subsequent bachelor's degree is also available for students who have already earned a bachelor's degree in another area.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online bachelor's degree program in communication with a concentration in public relations. It is designed to teach students how to handle relationships between businesses and their consumers. Courses include campaign planning, media ethics and law, and electronic public relations, among others. Coursework is completed at one's own pace over six 8-week terms per year.
Online programs in public relations are available in various degree levels; whichever one you decide should be based on your desired level of education. Explore a program's internship opportunities and course curriculum to determine if it is right for you.