Complete Guide to Top Online Public Relations Degrees
There are 89 online public relations degrees to choose from on our comprehensive list, and 15 that we have ranked as the top colleges for an online public relations degree. Depending on career interests, students may be interested in the degrees that focus specifically on media communication, health communication, or advertising. All prospective students should also look into a program's accreditation when choosing a degree.
2016 Top Online Colleges Offering Public Relations Degrees
These top 15 schools for online public relations degrees offer programs at the bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Annual tuition for nine of these schools is under $15,000 and all schools have academic strength scores over 55%. Our least expensive online public health school, #2 ranked Southern New Hampshire University Online, offers both bachelor's and master's public relations degrees at an annual tuition of $9,600 and has an academic strength score of 60%.
View our methodology for more details.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 Ball State University||Annual Tuition $10,620||Academic Strength 66%|
|#2 Southern New Hampshire University Online||Annual Tuition $9,600||Academic Strength 60%|
|#3 Olivet Nazarene University||Annual Tuition $11,970||Academic Strength 69%|
|#4 Regent University Online||Annual Tuition $11,850||Academic Strength 68%|
|#5 Liberty University Online||Annual Tuition $12,420||Academic Strength 64%|
|#6 University of Denver||Annual Tuition $15,072||Academic Strength 74%|
|#7 Point Park University||Annual Tuition $12,800||Academic Strength 62%|
|#8 Western New England University||Annual Tuition $14,640||Academic Strength 67%|
|#9 Arkansas Tech University||Annual Tuition $13,140||Academic Strength 55%|
|#10 Ottawa University Online||Annual Tuition $14,850||Academic Strength 56%|
|#11 Concordia University-Texas||Annual Tuition $16,640||Academic Strength 64%|
|#12 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||Annual Tuition $17,370||Academic Strength 61%|
|#13 Kent State University at Kent||Annual Tuition $19,362||Academic Strength 64%|
|#14 California Baptist University||Annual Tuition $19,741||Academic Strength 61%|
|#15 George Washington University||Annual Tuition $24,000||Academic Strength 81%|
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Public Relations Degrees ( 54)
Online Public Relations Degree Overview & Career Information
There are three different online degree level options for public relations. Over the course of four years a bachelor's degree will prepare students for positions such as campaign manager, public relations coordinator, and public relations specialist. A master's program in public relations will enhance a student's knowledge in communication through technology and media. A master's program will typically take two years to complete and prepare graduates for above entry-level positions such as public relations manager, brand manager, and director of communications. Online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are also available for people interested in receiving an education in the field of public relations.
Students can obtain an online bachelor's degree in public relations in four years, generally upon completing 120-credit hours. Participants will sharpen their skills in critical thinking, writing, strategic planning, and execution. These skills will lend assistance to building relationships between organizations and their public audiences, which is a necessity for graduates to perform in their follow up careers. Public relations programs require general education coursework along with major specific courses such in public speaking, public relations, journalism, social media, writing for public relations, organizational communications, and ethics. A high school diploma or equivalent must be obtained prior to enrolling in a bachelor's program along with a qualifying SAT or ACT test score. Depending on the school, a letter of recommendation may also be required. Graduates can seek entry-level job opportunities in both business and government as PR specialists, representatives, campaign managers, and PR coordinates. Public relations bachelor's programs are offered at both colleges and universities.
Graduates can continue their public relations education through an online master's program at the university level. Through a master's program, students will learn to enhance their technology tactics that will be crucial in their public relations careers. Participants will take 36 to 48 credit hours of study to complete their degree within two years. Degree courses include Communication, Media & Society, Identity & Personal Brand, Communication by Design, Graduate Social Research Methods, and Dimensions of Reputation Management. Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in public relations or a related field will be eligible for a master's program. Some universities will also require a letter of recommendation as well as an admissions letter written by the applicant describing their education and career aspirations. There are a variety of above entry-level career options for master's degree holders within the PR industry. Titles include publicist, brand manager, director of communications, writer, and consultant.
Public relations professionals who are interested in enhancing their skills in the areas of communication, marketing, computing affairs, and media relations may be interesting in pursuing a certificate degree in public relations. Students can complete a certificate program in as little as 12 months through 16 to 24 credit hours of course work. The type of coursework offered in a public relations certificate program includes Public Relations Principles and Process, Public Relations Writing and Tactics, Dimensions of Reputation Management, Integrating Social Media, Digital Marketing Communication, and Persuasion Methods. A minimum of a high school diploma or GED will be required for applicants to qualify for a certificate program although for a graduate certificate the applicant must hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. Holding a certificate degree can help professionals within the industry gain promotions and pay raises. Opportunities in communications, consulting, campaign managing, and coordinating will also be available to graduates. Certificate programs can be found at colleges and universities.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Public Relations Degree
Accreditation should always be considered when applying to institutions of higher education. Accreditation is the process in which colleges, universities, and educational programs are evaluated for quality and to ensure that acceptable-levels trainings are being conducted. Another important factor to consider is low-cost loans for students as only accredited institutions are able to participate in federal financial aid programs. Attending a regionally accredited school will also make the transfer process a lot easier for those who may be interested in changing their path in the future as regionally accredited colleges will most often accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions. Lastly, many employers are looking to hire graduates who have attended regionally accredited schools. It gives the employer more confidence that the applicant has been well trained in their field and will be a great asset to the organization.
Careers in Public Relations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate in public relations is expected to rise 12 to 13 percent through the year 2022. With the rise in popularity of technology and social media, public relation specialists have become vital role in the relationship between organizations and the general public. Key job titles within the industry include public relations specialist and public relations manager. Public relations specialists are hired to to maintain a positive company image through media and address any concerns that general public may have about the organization. Job functions of a specialist include creating press releases, gathering requested data, determining ways to access target audience, and assisting the client in successful communicating with the general public.
Public relations managers will oversee PR specialists to ensure that all tasks and projects are being completed within the company's or client's standards. They also focus on evolving their clients' images with social, political, and economical changes to keep in good standing with the public. In order to qualify for a manager position it will require a minimum of three years work experience along with an educational background. A typical work week for a public relations manager incudes creating logos and signs to keep up the clients' image, organizing events, crafting speeches, coordinating interviews, and creating press releases.
- Accreditation. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.wiche.edu/knowledge/14295
- Public Relations. Communications-Major. Accessed July 21, 2016 http://www.communications-major.com/public-relations-managers-and-specialists/
- Careers in Public Relations. University of Denver. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://universitycollege.du.edu/comm/degree/masters/public-relations-online/degreeid/488#careers.
- Certificate in Public Relations. University of Washington. Accessed July 20, 2016. https://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/public-relations-and-strategic-communications.
- Master's in Public Relations. Southern New Hampshire University. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ma-in-communication/public-relations.
- Public Relations Certificate. University of Denver. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://universitycollege.du.edu/comm/degree/certificate/public-relations-online/degreeid/489#courses.
- Public Relations Degree Online. Southern New Hampshire University. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/ba-in-communication/public-relations.
- Accreditation. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.wiche.edu/knowledge/14295.
- Public Relations Degree Online. Communications-Major. Accessed July 21, 2016. http://www.communications-major.com/public-relations-managers-and-specialists/.