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Best online public relations degree 2021: Top picks

Best online public relations degree 2021: Top picks
Written by Publishing Team

Have you ever wanted to use your writing skills to help businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations gain public support? You may want to consider a career as a public relations specialist. And one of the most important ways for this role is to earn a degree in public relations online.

The field of public relations continues to evolve in the age of digital media, and there is still a demand for professionals across industries. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2020 and 30, PR specialist jobs will grow 11%.

Read on for our rankings of the top online bachelor’s degrees in public relations, as well as our guide on what to expect from this degree.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Public Relations Degrees

Before looking at our rankings, please take a moment to look at ZDNet’s ranking methodology. Our custom algorithm weighs the affordability, academic merit, and reputation of each program.

Unless otherwise noted, data are obtained from the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, the college scorecard, and the website for each program.

1. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

about the program: FIU’s College of Communications, Architecture and Arts offers a 120 degree Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communication. Core coursework includes principles of advertising, global media, and society, and the fundamentals of writing.

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Average annual net price: $7,296
  • years to completion: four
  • SAT range: 1110-1280
  • Minimum GPA: not required
  • Registration periods per year: rolling admission
  • Course delivery methods: Connected

Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. University of Florida Online

Gainesville, Florida

about the program: The UF Online catalog includes a 124-credit online Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

  • Acceptance rate: 32%
  • Graduation rate: Not available to the public
  • Average annual net price: $7,492
  • years to completion: four
  • SAT range: 1170-1330
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Registration periods per year: rolling admission
  • Course delivery methods: Connected

Accreditation: Online University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. Montana State University Billings

Billings, Montana

about the program: The online Bachelor of Public Relations program at MSU Billings is designed according to the standards of the Association for Public Relations for Undergraduate Education in America. The program offers concentrations in digital media, public relations for society, and public affairs.

  • Acceptance rate: Not available to the public
  • Graduation rate: 33%
  • Average annual net price: $13,844
  • years to completion: four
  • SAT range: Not available to the public
  • Minimum GPA: not required
  • Registration periods per year: rolling admission
  • Course delivery methods: Connected

Accreditation: Montana State University Billings is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

4. Point Park University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

about the program: An online BA with 121 credits from Point Park in Public Relations and Advertising concluded with a capstone project. Students may submit their results in the American Advertising Association’s National Student Advertising Competition.

  • Acceptance rate: 73%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Average annual net price: $21,470
  • years to completion: four
  • SAT range: 980-1190
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Registration periods per year: rolling admission
  • Course delivery methods: Connected

Accreditation: Point Park University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Franklin University

Columbus, Ohio

about the program: Transfer students can bring in up to 94 credits of the Franklin Bachelor of Public Relations which is 124 credits. Major electives include CRM, Introduction to Grant Writing, and Rhetoric and Social Impact.

  • Acceptance rate: Not available to the public
  • Graduation rate: 34%
  • Average annual net price: $12895
  • years to completion: four
  • SAT range: Not available to the public
  • Minimum GPA: not required
  • Registration periods per year: rolling admission
  • Course delivery methods: Connected

Accreditation: Franklin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

What to Expect in an Online Bachelor’s Degree Program in Public Relations

The online Bachelor of Public Relations degree is a four-year degree that prepares learners for specialized public relations or low-level management roles in the advertising, marketing, and nonprofit sectors.

The certificate emphasizes practical coursework – you’ll study strategic communication, public relations ethics, law, social media, and digital PR campaigns. The curriculum usually culminates in a capstone project in which you must present your PR campaign.

To succeed in a Bachelor of Public Relations program, you need strong writing skills. Many programs feature major and elective courses in grant writing, copywriting, and marketing copy.

It also helps to have good social skills to communicate with teachers and peers. The connections you build in college can benefit your future career.

Bachelor of Public Relations Courses

Most undergraduate public relations programs focus on a few major subjects: mass communication/media, strategic/business communication, and writing.

Your program curriculum will make you a smarter business communicator, ready for a career in advertising, marketing, journalism, and the nonprofit industries.

The following courses are common offerings in nationally accredited public relations degree programs.

Writing for Strategic Communication

This course provides an overview of the principles of writing for public relations professionals. Students learn how to write newsletters, press releases, and other materials according to industry expectations.

Ethics and problems in mass communication

This course examines the laws and ethical principles relating to journalism, advertising, entertainment, and digital media. Learners leave this course to avoid potential legal issues while preparing communication materials.

Digital and online media

Students learn about digital mass communication and how to use it to craft successful public relations campaigns. Course topics include social media platforms, content management systems, and online journalism.

PR campaign crowning

Many programs culminate in a capstone project in which learners must prepare a public relations campaign consisting of proofreading, proposing, and implementing. Students submit a portfolio detailing all phases of the campaign.

Public Relations Degree Levels

Different public relations degrees and certifications are designed to fit different career goals, budgets, and timelines.

Choose the degree that best fits your long-term plans, current budget, and time constraints. For example, if you hold a management degree and would like to switch to a position in public relations, consider getting a graduate degree in public relations.

Public Relations Certificate

Length: Six months to one year

cost: $300 – $3000

Postgraduate jobs: Public Relations Specialist, Public Relations Coordinator, Event Planner

A degree in Public Relations offers a fast and affordable path to public relations-related work for nonprofit organizations, corporations, and government agencies. This non-accredited certificate teaches learners essential skills in brand management, community outreach, and business communications.

Most programs consist of four or fewer courses in strategic communications, public relations plan development, and crisis management. Success in this program requires that the student develop strong project management and written communication skills.

Associate in public relations

Length: From two to three years

cost: $2000 – $5000

Postgraduate jobs: Advertising Sales Agent, Administrative Assistant, Legal Assistant

A two-year associate’s degree in public relations can help you secure an entry-level job in advertising and marketing. Major courses offer mass communication, public speaking, and legal communication. The degree can qualify you to work as a paralegal or other specialist in legal communication.

Many students use this degree as a stepping stone to earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations or related subjects such as marketing, journalism, and advertising.

Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations

Length: four years

cost: $20,000 – $100,000

Postgraduate jobs: Public Relations Specialist, Marketing Writer, Event Planner

A Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations qualifies you to work as a public relations specialist who writes transcripts, coordinates events, and designs digital PR campaigns for a variety of organizations and companies.

A bachelor’s degree in public relations differs from an associate’s degree by emphasizing writing and strategic communication skills. Many graduates go on to work as marketing writers. To succeed in this program, you need strong written and verbal business communication skills and the ability to self-motivate effectively.

MA in Public Relations

Length: From two to four years

cost: $40,000 – $150,000

Postgraduate jobs: Director of Public Relations, Director of Marketing, Director of Marketing, Advertising and Promotion

A public relations expert can assist a public relations specialist in progressing to leadership roles in advertising, public relations, and management related to marketing. With sufficient experience, graduates may become executives or department managers. Some programs may require a certain number of years of work experience from applicants.

You can increase your chances of earning a subsequent degree by pursuing a major. Many programs may also allow you to complete an internship.

PhD in Public Relations

Length: Three to five years

cost: $50,000 – $200,000

Postgraduate jobs: Post-Secondary Teacher, Non-Profit Executive, Dean

The PhD in Public Relations is a final degree designed for future educators, C-level managers in nonprofit organizations, and research scholars interested in consumer behavior and media studies.

During a typical doctoral public relations program, learners study advanced public relations concepts and area of ​​specialization, such as political communication, media organizations, and advertising.

To complete a thesis based on their area of ​​specialization, students take coursework in Research Methods and Statistical Analysis.

Finally

If you want to pursue a degree in public relations, remember that it can be widely applied outside of public relations. You can work in journalism, advertising or management with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

A public relations degree will improve your communication skills that are in demand in many industries.

Consult your college, local career center, or community resources such as local nonprofits for more information about PR degrees.

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Publishing Team