Some of the best public relations programs can be found at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels at schools such as the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, Syracuse University, and Auburn University.
In a public relations (PR) program, students acquire marketable skills in print, visual, and multimedia communications. They also learn how these skills can be used to interact with the media and the general public on behalf of a company or an organization. Public relations degrees are generally available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. The best PR schools have on-campus public relations firms and offer the chance to acquire some real-life professional experience. The schools discussed here were all highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
University of Southern California in Los Angeles
Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California tied as the 22rd-best among national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2020. USC offers Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations programs that stress hands-on experience. Students take classes at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and gain hands-on experience working with the on-campus public relations firm, TriSight Communications. Students can also join the USC chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. USC is home to the research-focused Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center, which has earned recognition for its work in identifying best practices, new ideas, and standards in public relations.
University of Texas at Austin
For 2020, U.S. News & World Report designated the University of Texas (UT) in Austin as the 14th-best public school in the country. Although the university has more than 40,000 undergraduate students, it still boasts a 19-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. UT's advertising and public relations program is one of only a few programs in the U.S. that's housed within its own department. Since 1999, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations has offered an undergraduate major in public relations.
UT is also home to one of the nation's nine initial chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America, which helps nurture relationships between students and professionals in the PR field. It also hosts its own student-run public relations agency, Texas Tower, through which students gain experience working on PR projects for nonprofit organizations.
Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY
Syracuse University tied for 54th among national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2020 rankings. Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Public Relations programs are offered through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Students gain skills in handling communications in numerous fields, including government, corporate, consumer, economic, and media entities. Syracuse also has its own in-house PR firm, Hill Communications. Those looking for career opportunities and professional advice can take advantage of the Newhouse Alumni Career Advisory Network. This group consists of nearly 4,000 alumni who have volunteered to assist up-and-coming communication and public relations professionals.
Auburn University in Auburn, AL
Auburn University ranked among the top 50 public schools in the country on U.S. News & World Report's 2020 list. The school offers a bachelor's degree in public relations. Students are required to complete an internship. Study abroad opportunities are also available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Members of student-run Auburn University Public Relations Council of Alabama get to work on client PR projects.
More Top Public Relations Programs
Other top schools that offer public relations programs include the following:
|Boston University||Boston, MA||Has an in-house public relations agency operated by students|
|DePaul University||Chicago, IL||Internships with Chicago-area PR firms are possible|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||Offers a Master of Arts in Public Relations|
|University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa, AL||Ranked among the top 75 public schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2020|
|University of Georgia||Athens, GA||The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications offers a B.A. in Journalism with a public relations focus|
|University of Tennessee||Knoxville, TN||Offers a B.S. in Public Relations and M.S. and Ph.D. programs in communication and information with a concentration in public relations|
Students looking for public relations schools should consider internship and study abroad opportunities when choosing a program. Schools that are highly ranked by organizations like U.S. News & World Report may also merit consideration.