Best Public Relations Schools
Public relations is a high-demand field nationally and across the globe. If you're considering a career in the PR industry, you'll typically need a bachelor's degree in PR or a related field, such as advertising or strategic communications. The schools below offer strong PR programs with plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning. At any of these schools, you can immerse yourself in the PR world through interactions with real clients, on-campus PR firms, or field trips and PR conferences. The professionals who teach PR courses at the schools below all have industry experience or continue to work in the PR field, in addition to teaching. You'll also find chances to compete in regional and national PR competitions and interact with alumni to build your professional resume.
Rochester Institute of Technology
- Membership in PR organizations for students offer networking opportunities and admission to exclusive events
- A required senior thesis builds PR skills
- Career Services office has dedicated professionals who help students find cooperative experience positions
Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY, has 200 educational programs to choose from in the form of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. At Rochester Institute of Technology, students can find a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and Public Relations through the School of Communication. Students in this program learn how to create copy, manage PR campaigns, and read their audience. This program prepares students for careers in a variety of fields, including advertising, marketing, social media, or non-profit work. Students can get hands-on experience through a cooperative education program that requires the completion of 350 hours in a paid position at such agencies as Easter Seals, Apple, Riger Marketing Communications, Ogilvy, and AT&T. While at Rochester, PR students will have the opportunity to engage in numerous PR-related students groups, including the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and Rochester Advertising Federation. In these groups, students can network with professionals in the field, seek out contacts for future jobs, and get firsthand PR experience before joining the workforce.
Additional opportunities for career development and PR knowledge are available through the school's chapter of the national PR honor society Lambda Pi Eta, which has around 100 members, including current students and alumni. Graduates armed with Rochester's BS in APR are ready to create convincing messages for a wide assortment of companies. Alumni of this program have gone on to careers as project managers, creative projects managers, creative directors and digital media strategists working for companies like Dixon Schwabl, Squarespace, Netwave Interactive and Visit Rochester.
- Students and the university have won several prestigious awards in the field
- Faculty are experienced in the areas of PR, strategic communication, and advertising
- Students develop their career goals through projects and interactions with real clients
Lindenwood University is located west of St. Louis, MO, in St. Charles. Around 10,000 students attend this university, which offers a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Strategic Communications. At Lindenwood, students are immersed in the PR industry from beginning to end of the program. Students are part of an agency, rather than a classroom, where they can choose their role from the variety of professional options available in the industry. The program requires students to get hands-on experience through 6 hours of experiential credit. Students also interact with industry professionals at special events or work on projects with actual clients who visit the students' agency on campus.
Students in Lindenwood's PR program have won numerous awards in the PR industry, as well. Lindenwood was the only U.S. university to win the American Advertising Federation Mosaic Award in 2016. Students have also won the American Advertising Federation Most Promising Multicultural Student award and the American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition Special Judges Citation Award. The school is a new member of the Public Relations Society of America, presenting students with opportunities to compete in PR competitions starting in 2019. Students graduate from this program armed with a digital portfolio and a resume, offered through the school's Career Services center.
Minnesota State University Moorhead
- Honorable recognition of two PR teams in 2018 in the Bateman Case Study Competition
- Students have interned with the Minnesota Wild, Green Bay Packers, and AdShark Marketing
- Student-led PR firm builds practical experience with campaigns for real clients
Minnesota State University's School of Communication and Journalism offers a BS in Public Relations and a minor in public relations, as well as an integrated BS in advertising and PR program. These programs emphasize PR principles and strategies along with as writing techniques for public relations. The integrated program offers an additional focus on advertising, media, and marketing.
MSU Moorhead has an active PRSSA chapter, which has been in operation since 1985, where students can get exposure to the industry through interactions with PR professionals. At this university, students can participate in the Bateman Case Study Competition. In fact, the university has a history of strong competitors in this competition, including two out of the school's three teams entered in 2018 receiving honorable recognition. Students can utilize the university's career placement office and can get hands-on experience through internships.
- PRSSA membership offers networking and job shadowing opportunities
- The school offers a scholarship specifically for PR students
- Students develop their own brands and have won Marcom awards for their campaigns
Situated in Upland, Indiana, Taylor University has about 2,400 students enrolled in its approximate 115 programs. In Taylor's Department of Public Relations and Communication, students can find both a B.S. and a B.A. in Public Relations. Students in these programs get professional experience in their advanced-level courses through interactions with real clients.
Public relations students at Taylor have been recognized for the campaigns they've created while in the program, with numerous students winning Marcom awards. The university offers a PR-related scholarship of $1,000 to eligible students via the Laura VanRyn scholarship. Practical and industry experiences are available through internship opportunities and membership in the school's chapter of PRSSA. Students can also connect with alumni of the program to form relationships and network or explore career options.
- Students gain experience through internships with organizations like Sony Music Entertainment, Village Voice, and the Brooklyn Nets
- Faculty are experts in the PR field, with real-world experience
- Co-curricular opportunities for PR available through student-run IMC agency, Lambda Pi Eta, and award-winning chapter of PRSSA
Based in Poughkeepsie, NY, Marist College offers undergraduate and graduate programs to around 6,500 students through both online and on-campus programs. The college has a bachelor's degree in communication with a concentration in PR. Students in Marist College's School of Communication and the Arts explore both the theory and practice of PR through engaging coursework and practical experience options. Courses in the PR program are led by faculty with numerous years of experience in the industry in addition to advanced degrees.
Students can participate in the school's chapters of PRSSA and Lambda Pi Eta or join the IMC Agency, a student-run program. Marist's chapter of PRSSA is recognized as a Star Chapter award winner for three straight years. The school has an internship director who is focused specifically on communications department students, offering them specialized opportunities to work in their selected fields. The internship program at this university is full-service, providing assistance with placement, interviews, resumes, and career plans. A residential internship program is also available through the Marist in Manhattan program, which lasts a full semester.
This college was the starting point for many high-level PR professionals. Alumni include a former assistant press secretary for First Lady Michelle Obama, the founder and CEO of Coyne Public Relations, and a partner and director of Ketchum, which is a New York based client services firm.
- School offers full-time professional development coordinator devoted exclusively to Park School majors
- Several scholarships available for PR students
- Alumni of this program have found careers at Ogilvy and Mather, NASCAR, DonorsChoose.org, and Google
Originating as a music conservatory in the late 1800's, Ithaca College now offers more than 100 degree options for undergraduate and graduate students in areas such as business, communication, health sciences, and humanities. Ithaca's Integrated Marketing Communications B.S. program covers a variety of PR disciplines and functional areas. Students learn about advertising, marketing, legal issues, and PR, as well as explore such areas as media planning, strategy, copywriting, and art direction. There are several scholarships directed specifically toward PR majors, including the Alyssa M. Schoenberg '09 Scholarship for Integrated Marketing Communication, the Michael J. Kaplan '85 Scholarship, a Bryan Roberts Award for Roy H. Park School of Communication internships, and the Jay L. Linden '72 Sales and Marketing Scholarship.
Standouts among the student body include two students selected among the Top 5 Public Relations Students in the U.S. by PR Week and a student who received honorable mention in the Bateman Competition. The school offers offsite experiences through internship programs in New York, L.A., and London. Additional professional experience opportunities can be found through the school's PRSSA and AMA student chapters, along with active chapters of AAF and NYWIC.
University of West Florida
- Scholarships available specifically for students in communications programs, including PR
- ClubAd membership provides networking opportunities and job fairs
- Students can minor in fields that boost their career potential, such as marketing or international studies
Located in Pensacola, University of West Florida has a PR specialization in the Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree program. This program emphasizes communication skills, both oral and written, through coursework in PR writing, strategic business communication, PR campaigns, and crisis communication. Students are prepared to work in PR careers in a variety of industries, including entertainment, health fields, and sports.
Career-focused training is available through ClubAd, which offers opportunities to compete in advertising competitions, earn certifications, and take field trips for hands-on experiences. Students can also interact with professionals in the PR industry through membership in the Florida Public Relations Association. Students who want to build their resumes and prepare for PR careers after college can participate in internships as long as they maintain a 2.7 GPA. Internship opportunities through the University of West Florida include working with PR firms and other businesses in the Pensacola area or on the national level through internships with Disney and CNN, among others.
- Students manage a PR campaign in their final year of the program
- Real-world experience available through internships and practicums
- Event planning class builds skills in nonprofit event planning
Located in Mechanicsburg, PA, Messiah College is a Christian college with PR programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can find a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations that combines PR theory and hands-on practice. Students gain practical experience through internships, projects, and PR activities available both on and off campus as well as study abroad opportunities.
Students are required to participate in either a practicum or internship to earn the degree. Internship opportunities at this college have included placements at Time Warner Cable, Northeastern PA Red Cross, Bravo Group, and Tierney Communications. In their final year, PR students work with actual clients, managing a non-profit campaign. The school has an active PRSSA chapter and Lambda Pi Eta honor society, and it offers an event planning course to PR students.
University of Maryland
- Fully online PR program for flexible learning options
- Opportunities to create actual PR campaigns for clients
- Marketing club provides opportunities for networking and resume building
The University of Maryland's University College offers a fully online Master of Science in Management with a PR specialization for graduate students who want to continue to work while they learn. This program also offers some courses in a hybrid format so students can get face-to-face interactions through weekend or evening courses. Combining the tenets of management and PR, the program provides students with advanced knowledge of PR theory, campaign strategies, global PR methods, and crisis management. Students also get training in PR writing and broadcast methods, tactical execution, and social media campaigns.
Students can create PR campaign proposals for actual PR firms, participate in PR campaigns, and prepare messages and news releases for clients. The program also prepares students for the APR certification offered through the Universal Accreditation Board. Students can participate in networking opportunities through the university's marketing club.
- Flexible program with evening classes to allow for full-time work and internships
- Several internship opportunities including working at local media outlets
- Two tracks available including multi-platform journalism and strategic communication
With coursework available at both Fordham's Rose Hill/Bronx campus and the Lincoln Center/Manhattan campuses, students can earn a M.A. in Public Media from a program that prides itself on developing students' journalistic skills to pursue public discussion, community action, and social justice in their reporting. In this one-year program, students not only build a personal portfolio, but learn and collaborate with top professionals in the field. In fact, Fordham's Public Media program partners with radio and television media outlets such as WFUV, WNYC, BronxNet, and WNET to provide internships and course instruction.
Through academic inquiry and hands-on focused coursework, students learn key communication skills, storytelling strategies across various platforms, and multi-media production skills including web and mobile.
St. Cloud State University
- Award-winning and individually accredited faculty teach PR classes
- Communications department features study abroad programs in England, China, and Chile
- Numerous scholarships are available for students in mass communications programs
St. Cloud State University, in St. Cloud, MN, has a BS in Mass Communications Public Relations program for undergraduate PR students. It requires completion of 44-46 credits specifically in PR or communications, including courses focused on new media communications, campaign plans, community relations, and crisis communication. Students work with faculty who serve as mentors and offer the knowledge of serving as professionals in the PR industry. Many of these faculty have won awards or received PR accreditation.
Hands-on experience is a key component of this program, which offers state-of-the-art PR facilities on campus for practical training as well as internships with various organizations. Students can also find active student organizations to build their networking options and resumes. Options include a local chapter of PRSSA, Media Outside the Box, and the Advertising Federation of St. Cloud State. This on-campus program is also offered as a minor.
Baldwin Wallace University
- University's location allows for easy access to PR firms and businesses to build practical skills
- Students can participate in a yearly PR event on campus
- Student-run digital marketing clinic enhances students' experience
Baldwin Wallace University, located near Cleveland, in Berea, OH, is a private Methodist college. The university's School of Humanities offers a bachelor's degree program in public relations. Students in this program can build their resumes and prepare for PR careers through internship and networking opportunities, in addition to completing coursework. Offering a hands-on approach to PR, the program hones students' ability to create and manage PR campaigns, plan special events, develop organizational communication strategies, and create social media campaigns.
Students participate in a required internship, utilizing the corporate, business, and non-profit resources available in Cleveland. Practical experience is built through job shadowing opportunities, an annual PR for nonprofits event, and membership in such student organizations as PRSSA and Lambda Pi Eta. The university also offers a digital marketing clinic, run entirely by students, that offers PR services to nearby businesses.
Western Kentucky University
- Students build real-world skills through a student-run PR agency
- Seminars and guest speakers through PRSSA enhance student learning
- Optional internships help students network with PR professionals
Located in Bowling Green, WKU offers 100 bachelor's programs and more than 100 graduate programs, as well as numerous minors, certificates, and associate's degree options. Students interested in public relations can find a bachelor's degree program in PR that requires the completion of 36 hours of major coursework. An optional internship provides opportunities for hands-on learning in the PR field, or students can pursue a study abroad program in a PR field. Past internships have included jobs at local businesses, non-profit agencies, consulting firms, entertainment agencies, and government offices.
In the PR program, students learn essential PR strategies, digital methods, and management techniques. They take courses in ethical PR issues, PR writing, and research methods. The Public Relations Society of America has certified the program, and the school offers access to several PR related clubs, including PRSSA. Students get an up-close look at the PR world through the field trips, workshops, and job shadowing opportunities. They can also get hands-on experience through the university's Imagewest PR agency, which offers services handled by students to real clients.
Columbia College Chicago
- Students can complete multiple internships to build their professional skills and portfolio
- PR training starts in the first year
- Graduates of this program have found careers at well-known PR firms and companies
Located in downtown Chicago's South Loop neighborhood, Columbia College Chicago offers an urban campus with easy access to nearby galleries, cultural centers, theaters, and parks. Students at this school can choose from both undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields, including a bachelor's degree in PR along with a minor. First-year students can get started right away learning about public relations through a PR writing course and an introductory PR course. Research is also a key component of this program, which starts with a consumer behavior course in the first year. Students immerse themselves in real-world PR experiences in their third year of the program, with some students completing multiple internships before graduation. The college helps students find internships, with several internship coordinators available to locate and secure positions. Past students have landed roles with Ogilvy Public Relations, Hill and Knowlton Strategies, and Golin, and some students have held jobs with TEDx and Midwest Fashion Week.
The school has an active PRSSA chapter that promotes networking and guest speakers to help students build their resumes. The faculty who teach PR courses have been responsible for campaigns for established clients, managed PR conferences, and published works on PR issues. Alumni of the college work at Bonnaroo, HBO, Walmart, SkirtPR and more.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- Faculty members have extensive experience in the public relations industry
- Study abroad program allows students to take communications courses in areas like Costa Rica and France
- PR students can broaden their education through a required minor in a related subject area
Home to nearly 20,000 students, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the state's second-largest university. The university offers a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a Public Relations concentration through the Department of Communication. This program emphasizes PR writing, campaign management, research design, and ethics in PR.
Students are required to complete an internship in order to earn the degree. Internships generally take place in a student's senior year, and students are required to turn in weekly and final reports on their internship experience. In this degree program, students are also required to fulfill requirements for a minor. Minors are available in numerous subjects, such as mass communication, professional writing, or organizational communications. The communication department offers scholarships specifically for communications majors, as well as study abroad opportunities that feature related courses.
University of Findlay
- Student-run Findlay Media Network offers PR students opportunities to promote newspaper, radio, and TV programs
- Students can build their own website to showcase their PR skills and knowledge
- Experiential learning opportunities are plentiful and include ongoing interactions with real clients and PR professionals
Located in Findlay, OH, this university offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs emphasizing experiential learning. The Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations provides students with the skills they need to navigate the PR job market, including oral and written communication, interpersonal, teamwork, and leadership skills. Hands-on training is a major component of this program, which offers job shadowing and guest speaker options in addition to the ability to work with actual clients through the required capstone project.
Students complete a required internship in their final year, where they can build their resume, utilizing skills learned in the classroom. The school has a variety of student organizations designed to help students network with PR professionals and expand their knowledge of the PR field, including a chapter of PRSSA, Cleveland Browns Edge Program, and Findlay Media Network.
Grand Valley State University
- Program blends liberal arts education, technology, and professional training with social impact of PR
- Hands-on experience with real clients is emphasized throughout the program
- The school is establishing the Frederick A. Chapman Endowed Memorial Public Relations Scholarship
Located in Allendale, MI, Grand Valley State University offers both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in advertising and public relations in addition to a minor. The B.S. requires additional coursework in statistics and research, while three semesters of a foreign language is required for the B.A. The program combines theory and practice in public relations and advertising through coursework in digital communications, social media, and analytics.
Students can interact with real clients in several of their classes in addition to completing a required internship. The program culminates in a capstone project that requires the planning of a PR campaign for an actual client. Students can participate in several related student organizations, including PRSSA and the American Advertising Federation. Students in the PRSSA chapter can participate in GrandPR, a student-run PR agency that is nationally recognized. A forthcoming scholarship is designed specifically for PR students.
- Faculty bring years of experience in PR to the classroom
- Students can participate in competitions focused on advertising and PR
- Portfolio-building opportunities include campaign plans, design projects, and social media assignments
Chapman University, in Orange, CA, enrolls around 8,500 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The university's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts offers a combined public relations and advertising B.A. program that emphasizes the use of visual media. Students can choose from either advertising or PR after completing the core program, or they can combine the disciplines in one program. Students get plenty of opportunities to learn from PR experts through guest speakers, field trips, and competitions.
This university also offers an active PRSSA chapter and the Chapman Ad Club. Through these organizations, students can apply to participate in the Bateman Case Study Competition and the National Student Advertising Competition. These competitions enable student teams to build campaigns for real clients. Chapman won the national championship of NSAC in 2010 and Bateman in 1995, in addition to winning several regional championships for each competition.
West Texas A&M University
- Students create websites in their final year that can be used as portfolios for potential employers
- 1910PR is a student-led PR firm on campus that provides hands-on learning opportunities in the PR field
- Students can compete in the NSAC advertising competition and WT Leadership, a mentoring program
At this Canyon, TX, university, students can choose from a B.A. or a B.S. in Media Communication with an emphasis on advertising and public relations. Students acquire leadership skills while taking classes on advertising and PR campaigns, PR copywriting, mass media, and PR research. The program culminates with a senior project, and all students complete an e-portfolio to showcase the skills they've acquired in the program.
A required internship helps students build PR experience and get firsthand knowledge from professionals in the field. The university's Ad/PR club provides scholarship options for PR students and helps them network with PR professionals or build skills through competitions, like the Houston Advertising Federation Student Competition and the ADDY awards.
- Students can develop professional networks and skills through internships at non-profits, hospitals and sports teams
- PR students can participate in the school's PRSSA chapter
- Graduates have found careers at Ogilvy PR, Golan Harris, and Edelman Public Relations
Located in Milwaukee, Marquette University has around 80 majors in fields like business, education, communication, and science. Marquette's Diederich College of Communication offers a bachelor's degree program in public relations in addition to a minor. The program focuses on research principles, planning strategies, and communication methods and includes courses in strategic communication, emerging media, and media law. A required internship is part of the program and is generally completed in a student's junior year.
Students can find opportunities for experiential learning in PR through the advertising club, Lambda Pi Eta, and PRSSA. As a member of PRSSA, students can go on field trips and interact with PR professionals through a variety of activities. Students are eligible for membership in Lambda Pi Eta with a GPA of 3.25 in their major, with 12 credits completed, and 3.0 overall. Once part of this honor society, students can attend conferences to build their resumes and network with PR experts.
Sacramento State University
- Program was created using recommendations from the Commission on Public Relations Education
- Students with strong GPAs can join Epsilon Phi and build their PR skills through activities sponsored by the honor society
- University has an active chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America
Also known as California State University - Sacramento, this university offers around 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Students at this green campus can find a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Relations. This program combines classroom learning with practical experience in the community. Students network with PR professionals and put their PR skills to work through a required internship.
The program covers message analysis and development, digital media creation, PR management, and problem-solving methods. The faculty who lead PR courses at this university have a breadth of experience in the PR world and continue to consult and publish while they teach.