Master's Degree in Public Relations: Program Overviews

A master's degree program in public relations helps students develop skills in strategic thinking and communication. Find out what specializations and practical opportunities exist, and learn about career options and certifications.

Essential Information

Many master's programs in public relations include internship experiences during which students work with local businesses or agencies to hone their skills. Some programs allow students to focus their studies in areas such as ethics and law, crisis management or new media.

Most master's programs in public relations can be completed in about two years of full-time study, and some programs are offered online. Voluntary certifications are also available. In order to get accepted to a master's degree program in public relations, students will require a bachelor's degree and completion of a Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Master's Degree in Public Relations

Courses in a public relations master's degree program cover a variety of areas essential to a professional public relations specialist's training. Common courses include the following:

  • Principles of public relations
  • Media relations
  • Public relations writing
  • Advertising and promotions
  • Ethical standards in public relations
  • Corporate public relations management

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Specialists in public relations held over 240,000 jobs in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( This included those working in advertising, political and business institutions. Employment opportunities were expected to grow 6% between 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, public relations specialists earned a median annual wage of $56,770.

Continuing Education Information

After earning five years of work experience and passing an exam, public relations specialists can voluntarily pursue accreditation through the Universal Accreditation Board. Some public relations specialists pursue designation as an Accredited Business Communicator through the International Association of Business Communicators, which is focused on global standards in organizational communication. This accreditation requires at least five years of experience, along with passing oral and written examinations. Students seeking additional education may pursue a Ph.D. in public relations or communications.

A master's degree in public relations, along with an internship, prepares students for a career working in many different kinds of positions. Earning a doctoral degree or securing a professional designation could allow for advancement in the field.

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