Public Relations Degree

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is defined as the “professional maintenance of a favorable public image by an organization or person.” The field dates back to the early 20th century – a time when public relations professionals emphasized press agentry and publicity, as cited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The Nazi propaganda of WWII and  pioneering publicist P.T. Barnum’s publicity stunts like the elephant walk across the Brooklyn Bridge are just a few of the many early examples of public relations.

A form of marketing, public relations is crucial to a company’s overall marketing mix. A public relations professional can work with the media to secure favorable stories about a product or service, while engaging with customers through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, et. all). PRSA cites additional responsibilities:

  • Gauging and interpreting public opinion that may impact an organization.
  • Planning and implementing the organization’s efforts to influence or change public image.
  • Counseling management about policy decisions, courses of action and communication, taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
  • Researching and evaluating communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to organizational goals.
  • Evaluate other marketing and promotional programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts.

What to Expect With a Degree in Public Relations

Online schools make it possible for students to obtain a Public Relations degree – through interactive assignments, webinars, online presentations, and discussion boards. A degree in Public Relations allows you to login to your classes at any time of the day. A common myth of online college is that it is way easier than traditional college. This is untrue. Your online Public Relations degree will be challenging and time-consuming. It will prepare you for the fast-paced world of public relations so you can flourish in this competitive and challenging field.

As a student of this program, you will be required to take  foundational arts and humanities courses. As you advance through the program, you will take career-relevant courses. Course requirements vary from school to school (check with your admissions rep for specific course requirements) but here are some major themes of courses you will take:
  • Advertising
  • Business administration
  • Creative writing
  • New media
  • Public affairs
  • Public speaking
  • Political science
  • Technical writing

Qualifications and Time to Completion

As a prospective associate’s or bachelor’s level PR degree student, expect to have the following things looked at by admissions representatives: previous academic achievement, previous college credits, standardized test scores. College admissions requirements vary greatly from school to school, so connect with an admissions advisor to find your desired schools’ qualifications.

If you are seeking a master’s degree or higher, a college admissions board will look at your GMAT/GRE scores as well as previous academic achievement.

Common Roles for the Public Relations Degree Graduate

A Public Relations degree graduate is qualified for a range of roles. Most graduates start out at a entry-level role, then can advance to specialist, manager, and directorial roles. Here are some common roles a PR grad pursues:

  • Social media manager
  • Social media coordinator
  • Communications manager
  • Corporate communications manager
  • Special events coordinator
  • Press secretary
  • Public relations counselor (agency)
  • Publicist
  • Speech writer
  • Content manager
  • Blog editor

Job Outlook

The growth of public relations positions is on the up-and-up, so students take note! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of public relations managers is expected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The growth of these roles is largely due to the increased competition of businesses, and the need for businesses to stay relevant within a high-information age (especially through digital media).

Education is a MUST in this field. Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree.  In addition, some employers prefer a master’s degree in public relations or journalism. In 2010, one-fourth of public relations managers held a master’s degree. Search through our network of degree options now!

Degree LevelSchoolProgram
Bachelor'sWalden University
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication - Public Relations
Master'sLiberty University Online
Master of Business Administration - Public Relations