Public Relations Major and Undergraduate Degree Program Info

Public relations degree programs at the undergraduate level focus on determining and impacting the public's impressions of organizations or individuals. Programs are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree level.

Essential Information

Undergraduate degree programs in public relations discuss concepts relevant to researching and influencing the population's opinion of ideas, people, products and organizations. Associate's degree programs are typically combined with advertising and marketing and may provide hands-on training. Bachelor's degree programs sometimes allow students to complete an internship in a public relations firm. Public relations courses are available online through some programs.

Excellent communication skills are required and previous education in speech and/or writing is desirable as well.

Associate's Degree in Public Relations

Standalone associate's degree programs in public relations are relatively rare. Associate's degree programs in public relations usually admit any high school graduate. Some programs provide students with hands-on experience writing advertising copy or operating film and television equipment. Public relations associate's degree courses cover creating print and multimedia press releases, measuring public opinion and advancing a message using television, radio, print media and the Internet. Specific course topics include:

  • Mass media communications
  • News writing
  • Marketing theory
  • Communications technology
  • Organizational communications

Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations

Public relations bachelor's degree programs teach students how to use mass communication to control an organization's message and get relevant information out to the public. Students apply what they learn to publicizing products and services and changing the public's perception of ideas or people. Public relations bachelor's degree programs also teach students how to use specific marketing tools to promote new products and messages or to handle potentially business-damaging news with crisis management techniques. Courses emphasize critical thinking, data analysis, and the role of technology in communication. Specific courses may include:

  • Global business practices
  • Writing for electronic media
  • Brand management
  • Public relations campaign development

Popular Career Options

People who earn an associate's degree in public relations often qualify for entry-level positions in advertising, marketing or media consulting. Graduates often choose the careers listed below:

  • Advertising copywriter
  • Marketing assistant
  • Sales representative

Most enterprises use some form of public relations to support their primary business goals, so public relations majors can work in many fields. The careers listed below are popular options:

  • Advertising account manager
  • Political campaign strategist
  • Media relations expert

Continuing Education

Master's degree programs in public relations allow graduates with a bachelor's degree to focus on the PR challenges for specific industries and business types, such as entertainment, health care, nonprofit entities and multinational corporations. Graduate-level public relations study also delves into public relations for communicating social responsibility and the role of digital communication in public relations. The Public Relations Society of America offers a voluntary certification, Accredited in Public Relations, for PR professionals.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in public relations prepare graduates with knowledge, skills and experience to be successful in a variety of career routes in the field.

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