Graduate Programs in Communications and Public Relations

Apr 25, 2020

Essential Information

In graduate communications and public relations programs, students can typically choose program specializations, allowing them to focus coursework and research on a particular area of interest, such as media or marketing. In a master's program, students can expect to complete a master's project and pursue professional internships. Doctoral programs often require college teaching assistantships and a dissertation.

Acceptance to a graduate communications and public relations program usually requires a bachelor's degree and 3.0 minimum GPA, as well as GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Prior work experience may also be preferred for admission.

Master's Degree in Communications and Public Relations

Master's-level programs typically require 40 credits for completion. Students acquire professional writing, oral communication and research skills. Depending upon the institution, communication concentrations can be found in administration, digital technology and promotional strategies. Classes consist of:

  • Foundations in public relations
  • Public relations for global environments
  • Press relations
  • Strategies for effective communication
  • Regulations and ethics in communications

Ph.D. Degree in Communications and Public Relations

Doctoral programs in communications and public relations typically take four years to complete and require 60 post-master credits. Students build critical-thinking and researching skills in these programs. Studies include:

  • Legalities in communication industries
  • Advances in technology affecting communications
  • Voter attitudes and political communications
  • Approaches to media and marketing communications
  • Advanced research methods in communications

Popular Career Options

Communications and public relations graduates can work as managers and personnel in the public and private sectors. Job titles may include:

  • Hospital public relations specialist
  • Non-profit public relations director
  • Media relations manager
  • Communications executive
  • Marketing communications specialist

Communication professionals holding a Ph.D. are qualified to work in a number of settings. Specifically, graduates can work as:

  • Communications consultants
  • Government-sponsored researchers
  • Corporate communication strategists
  • Communications and public relations professors
  • Field scholars

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 6% growth in job opportunities for public relations specialists from 2018 to 2028. The average annual wage for these professionals was $70,190 in May 2019.

Master's and doctorate degree programs in public relations and communications prepare students for many career possibilities. Students can specialize in topics like media or marketing to explore the topics most relevant to their future career field.

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