Public relations bridges the communication gap between an organization and the public. They are responsible for maintaining a great reputation for the company or organization they represent.

Solid communication skills are needed in writing and working with others, and strategizing campaigns in various distribution forms, such as social media and blog posts. Within the public sector, there are public relations opportunities in presenting new government regulations or writing speeches for a politician.

Higher education in public relations can be found in specific Bachelor's and Master's degrees, or as a concentration with a Master of Public Administration and Business Administration. There is a specific difference between public relations and public affairs. The latter has more of a focus on the community at large, looking out for their interests and concerns.

Public relations represents the company or organization, and while they are not part of advertising, they are expected to maintain a positive image should any problems arise through press releases and reaching out to the community.

Online Master of Public Relations Degrees

Online Master of Public Relations and Public Administration programs with an emphasis on Public Relations can typically be completed within a few years, though some universities will allow for an extended period of time for working professionals that have a very limited amount of time to take classes.

Depending on the university, course lectures will be offered in a live, synchronous format that may require student interaction, or an asynchronous format that can be viewed at anytime. Typically, coursework can be done on a student's own schedule, but they must show progression.

Especially for accelerated programs, there will be weekly assignment deadlines and quizzes or exams that are taken throughout the course.

Universities with Public Relations Programs

Marist University

The School of Management offers a Master of Public Administration with various concentrations, including a Nonprofit Management section that has courses in leadership and management, nonprofit fundraising, organized management, and public relations management. The latter course has a detailed look at management strategies within marketing and communication. Other concentrations in the program include Ethical Leadership, Healthcare Administration, and Analytics.

The entire MPA program is available online with 42 credits needed to graduate, or 39 credits if the internship requirement is waived. For part-time students, courses are typically taken once at a time in eight-week sessions, which equate to two per semester. Most courses will have weekly assignment deadlines, but work can be done at any time of the day. For those looking at a hybrid format, courses are available at the main campus in Poughkeepsie, Albany, and Queens.

Consider a Featured Online MPA Program

School and Program Information Online Program? GRE Requirements Course Information
University of Southern California
Master of Public Administration Online
Ranked #3 for public affairs
check_circle Online Ask representative. Bachelor’s required. Learn to design and run new public systems and programs; evaluate, develop and implement new policy; and track, allocate and raise public funds. Graduate in as few as 24 months.
Norwich University
Online MPA
NECHE Accredited
check_circle Online No GMAT or GRE Required Graduate in as few as 18 months. Eight concentrations to choose from: Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Fiscal Management, International, Municipal, Nonprofit Management, Policy Analysis, Public Administration Leadership & Crisis Management, Public Works and Sustainability.
University of North Carolina
Online Master of Public Administration (MPA)
MPA @ UNC
check_circle Online GRE Waivers available Complete in as little as 18 months, includes a Practical Work Experience practicum at a public service organization.
George Washington University
MSCHE Accredited
check_circle Online Ask representative. 100% online MS in Political Management program, no entrance exam for those that qualify. Earn a GW degree in as few as 18 months.
American University
Online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP)
Master's in Public Policy (MPP)
NASPAA Accredited
check_circle Online Ask representative. Graduate with your MPAP in 24 months
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University of North Florida

Within the department of Political Science and Public Administration, a Master of Public Administration has a concentration and standalone certification within Nonprofit Management. The 12 credit hours requires courses in Management of Nonprofit Organizations, NPO Stakeholder Relations, Nonprofit Financial Management, and an additional elective. For those completing the entire program, it requires 42 credit hours, or 39 credits with an internship waiver.

To finish the program, all classes must have at least a C grade, and six of the seven core courses must have a B grade or higher. Additionally, the cumulative GPA must be 3.0 or better. The courses are primarily on campus during evening hours, but there are opportunities for online education or a hybrid format of the two.

Liberty University

The fully online program from the School of Business provides a Master of Business Administration within Public Relations. Students will discover various aspects of marketing within business and learn various ways to connect with the public. 45 credit hours are needed to complete the program, which takes roughly tow years to accomplish. All courses are divided up into eight-week segments. While NASPAA does not accredit this form of degree, it is backed by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Topics that are covered within the curriculum include analyzing organizational problems, implementing strategy, and social media communication. Liberty University utilizes the Blackboard course management system for their online education. Courses are typically offered in asynchronous format with no login requirements, allowing the freedom of coursework completion at any time of the day.

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Earn your MPA online from USC Price and learn to design and run new public systems and programs; evaluate, develop and implement new policy; and track, allocate and raise public funds. Graduate in as few as 24 months. Bachelor’s required.
Click for admissions information.

Earn a top-ranked Master of Public Administration online from UNC-Chapel Hill without relocating. MPA @ UNC can be completed in as few as 18 months and no public service experience is required to apply. Advanced degree GRE waivers are available to those who qualify.
Click for admissions information at OnlineMPA.UNC.edu

The Master of Public Administration program at Norwich University can equip you with the skills necessary to become a more effective leader and make a positive difference. Graduate in as few as 18 months with 100% online coursework and no GRE or GMAT required. Choose from one of eight concentrations which include Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Policy Analysis and Analytics, Nonprofit Management and Public Works and Sustainability.

Earn a master’s degree from a top-ranked school for public affairs. American University brings DC to you with the online Master of Public Administration and Policy (MPAP), combining our nationally recognized and NASPAA-accredited Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) degree programs into one foundational, highly marketable credential. Click here for more program information.

Course Examples

Strategic Communication

Overview of successful marketing campaigns and the strategies they used to sell their goods and services. Strategies include creating a plan, what audience the organization should go after, and determining budget restrictions. Students can also learn how to establish a relationship with media members to increase their reach within the public.

Speechwriting

All public relations programs will have classes focused on skills and strategies for writing, either through the distribution of press releases or speeches made by the organization. Other platforms include social media, blog posts, presentations, email, and more. Students will learn the writing style and professional format used in order to clearly and directly send the company’s message to the community.

Social Media Practices

These courses will examine how the evolution of social media has impacted marketing communication and provides examples of various strategies used by organizations over recent years. This includes what has been successful and the issues that companies can run into when using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Digital Analytics

Learn how to collect and visualize various data sets and information on the traction of advertising campaigns. Utilizing these skills and software tools will provide performance updates on marketing and how to present these findings to other employees or shareholders.

Ethics in Public Relations

It is extremely important to have ethical consideration to maintain a positive image for the company or organization that is represented. Public relations will inevitably have the responsibility to deal with damage control when there are any problems, fully disclosing the situation and what the next steps are in order to resolve the issues.

NASPAA Accreditation

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) has a peer-reviewed accreditation process that ensures the curriculum of a graduate program at a particular institution meets high standards in public service. Over 300 universities around the world have been given accreditation, meaning students will receive the education and resources needed to advance in their career. All universities are required to review their curriculum and teaching capabilities on an annual basis, and NASPAA publishes employment information in all the various sectors, be it public, private, or nonprofit. While there are no Master’s degrees in Public Relations that are accredited directly by NASPAA, public administration degrees do have concentrations and electives within the field.

Career Opportunities

Purchasing Manager

A higher-level employee that is responsible for buying goods or services for their company or organization. They must oversee and analyze the options while comparing price points and other trends, and all purchases must fit within the budget. These managers also have the authority to look over the company’s spending practices and recommend changes that can help save money or become more optimized in their processes. Becoming a manager typically requires at least five years of experience, and according to Salary.com, the average salary can be anywhere from $100,000 to $132,000.

Public Relations Specialist

Maintains a positive look for the organization while identifying and solving any issues that may arise. Duties typically involve the creation of press releases when more information or clarification is needed, such as when news breaks or the organization is introducing something new or updated. They will formulate long-term plans and gather consumer reaction from the goods or services that the organization is responsible for. In general, it is always important to keep the image of the organization in peak form. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there expects to be six percent growth between 2018-28.

Marketing Manager

Another higher-level position that looks to increase the reach of the company or organization. A number of duties can be held for these managers, such as establishing relationships with media members, researching the good or services that the company will use for marketing activities, overseeing and analyzing consumer trends, and managing the marketing department of the organization. Other important activities may include negotiating contracts and setting up contests or special deals for consumers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing managers make an average of $134,290 per year and there is eight percent growth expected within the career between 2018-28.