Bachelor's and master's degree programs in public relations are widely available at colleges and universities. Degrees are usually conferred as a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, for which a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) equivalent is necessary for admittance. Applicants to a master's degree program must have a bachelor's degree and possibly proof of work experience in the field to be considered. Once admitted to these programs, online courses are available.
Bachelor's in Public Relations
Undergraduate curricula include general education classes and covers public relations strategies and research, communications management and plans, writing, and ethics. The bachelor's level curriculum is four years in length and combines conceptual thinking with skill building. Some examples of course topics include:
- PR writing
- PR research
- Ethics and laws in PR
- PR strategies
- Integrated communications
Master's in Public Relations
At the master's level, students learn how to apply public relations theory and develop research skills. Direct experience is gained through internships. These programs can be completed in two years and require completion of a thesis project for graduation. Expounding on the subjects covered in a bachelor's public relations program, master's courses discuss media forms and theoretical principles in classes like:
- PR theories
- Media strategies
- PR management
- New media
Popular Career Options
Graduates often work with public relations agencies or in corporate communications, public service, advocacy, and fundraising. Popular job titles include research analyst, publicist, sports manager, entertainment manager, corporate communication specialist, and event planner.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for public relations specialists is expected to grow at a rate of 6% from 2014 to 2024. These professionals earned a mean annual wage of $65,830 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Certification and Continuing Education
While not necessary, professional certification might help in the competitive public relations job market. Certification is offered by organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators. These organizations also provide opportunities for continuing education courses.
An education in public relations can be pursued through 4-year bachelor's degree and 2-year master's degree programs. These can lead to various successful career paths in places such as public relations agencies and in corporate communications.