2021 Best Online Public Relations Degrees [Bachelor’s Guide]

Home » 2021 Best Online Public Relations Degrees [Bachelor’s Guide]

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If you’re interested in a career path that allows you to blend the worlds of marketing, advertising, communications, and journalism, then you might consider earning an online public relations degree.

Best Online Public Relations Degrees

With a public relations online degree, you may be exposed to various industries and organizations, from private business to government and nonprofits.

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Careers in the public relations domain tend to offer higher than average annual salaries and a positive job outlook.

Public Relations Degrees Online

Public Relations Degrees Online

Careers in public relations usually require you to have skills and knowledge relating to speech writing, communicating with the public, interacting with media professionals, and managing immediate public relations and image crises.

The coursework of a public relations bachelor’s degree program intends to provide the necessary skills to manage these responsibilities. It generally involves a blend of education in journalism, marketing, communication, and media.

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As part of your public relations degree program, you’ll likely take courses that cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Foundations in public relations
  • Public relations ethics
  • Business communication strategies
  • Newswriting
  • Microeconomics
  • Research methods
  • Design in public relations messaging
  • Journalism fundamentals
  • Speech writing

In some cases, depending on the program you choose to attend, you may be required to complete a placement or internship. This would allow you the opportunity to put learned concepts into practice in real-world situations.

Various public relations career paths include:

  • Public relations specialist
  • Communications specialist
  • Public affairs consultant
  • Publicist
  • Public relations manager
  • Fundraising manager
  • Advertising manager
  • Editor
  • Event planner
  • Writer or author

Positions in the field of public relations can be found across various sectors and industries. These can include government institutions, nonprofit organizations, education, research and development, and advertising and public relation firms. PR positions can also be found in finance and insurance, manufacturing, and religious organizations, among others.

Public Relations Careers and Salaries

Public Relations Careers and Salaries

PR careers exist in finance and insurance, manufacturing, politics, government institutions, educational facilities, news organizations, and community-based organizations, among others.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a public relations degree, you may qualify to work in a number of different industries, including those in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Marketing Managers $142,170
Advertising and Promotions Managers $133,460
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $133,270
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers, Educational Services $105,750
Public Relations Specialists, Professional, Political, and Similar Organizations $68,610
Public Relations Specialists, Government $67,590
Writers and Authors $67,120
Market Research Analysts $65,810
Public Relations Specialists, Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services $64,880
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners $51,560

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects positions in the field of public relations to experience positive job growth over the next ten years.

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This includes positions like advertising, promotions, and marketing managers (6% job growth), public relations specialists (7%), meeting, convention, and event planners (8%), public relations and fundraising managers (9%), and market research analysts (18%).

Public Relations Bachelor’s Curriculum

Public Relations Bachelor’s Curriculum

PR degrees generally intend to provide you with the foundational knowledge that you’ll need for positions in the field. Here are some examples of courses that may be included in the curriculum of a public relations program:

  • Introduction to Public Relations: You’ll learn the foundations of the public relations field, including basic theories and practices utilized by PR professionals.
  • Public Relations in a Digital World: You’ll explore digital practices and applications used in public relations, including social media, digital media tours, and video uses.
  • Writing for Public Relations: You’ll develop skills for writing various publications, such as speeches, news releases, articles, and marketing material.
  • Campaign Planning: You’ll learn how to plan and design a public relations campaign, including how to present planning ideas to organizational leaders.
  • Crisis Communication: You’ll discover ways to manage crises in the world of public relations, including communication strategies and best practices.
  • Writing for New Media: You’ll develop skills for writing effectively when it comes to new and emerging media and technologies.
  • Public Speaking: You’ll learn how to give effective presentations and succeed at public speaking in both small group and large audience settings.
  • Communication, Media, and Society: You’ll discover ways that media and news reporting have influenced society and our understanding of events and culture over time.
  • Knowledge and New Media: You’ll learn how to identify accurate information in new media and critique inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Publicity and Public Relations: You’ll learn about the role that publicists play in managing the public image and reputation of an organization or individual.

In addition to completing various courses in public relations, you’ll also earn credits for general education coursework. In some cases, you may also complete an internship, placement, or research project in order to graduate with your degree.

How to Choose an Online Degree in Public Relations

Online Degree in Public Relations

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a public relations program to enroll in, such as:

  • Graduation rates. You can look up the number of students who enrolled in a specific program and were successful in completing and graduating from that program.
  • Internship requirements. You can consider whether or not a program requires you to complete an internship in order to graduate. While internships may add additional time between enrollment and graduation, they can provide you with invaluable experience in the field. In some cases, they may help you find employment in public relations more quickly.
  • Elective course options. Elective courses can allow you to develop skills and knowledge in areas other than your major area of focus. Different schools can offer different course electives, and some may fit your career and educational goals better than others.
  • Cost. The overall cost of your education is an important consideration, and this factor that can differ from one school and program to the next.
  • Accreditation status. Some programs and schools are accredited, while others are not. Your school’s accreditation status can influence the overall quality of your PR education.

Other factors that may influence your decision could include the overall flexibility of courses and whether you can enroll on a full-time or part-time basis.

Admissions Requirements

Public Relations Degrees admissions

When applying for an online public relations degree program, there are a number of admissions requirements that you may be required to meet in order to qualify, including:

  • Minimum GPA requirement from high school studies
  • Transcripts from high school education
  • Transcripts from any postsecondary education you’ve completed
  • SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)

Specific requirements can vary from one school to the next.

Accreditation

Public Relations Degrees accreditation

Regional accreditation is a status afforded to schools that meet a specific level of academic quality.

Attending a school that has been granted regional accreditation is an important consideration. It can influence your ability to transfer credits to other schools and programs as well as impact your ability to enroll in graduate programs down the road.

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The accreditation status of the institution you choose to attend can also play a role in the decisions of hiring managers for employment opportunities. For more information on the accreditation status of schools you’re interested in attending, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Public Relations Degrees financial aid

While pursuing an online public relations degree comes at a cost, there are a number of financial aid opportunities that may be available to help you cover the price:

  • Federal aid or state aid. Financial aid in the form of grants and loans is available to qualifying students from federal and state governments.
  • Merit-based or need-based scholarships. Scholarships are offered by public and private organizations. In some cases, scholarships are designated towards particular areas of studies or types of individuals.
  • Work-study programs. Work-study programs can be offered through government institutions.
  • Employer training or professional development programs. These types of programs may be available to you if you’re actively employed.

For more information, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Public Relations Professional Organizations

Public Relations Professional Organizations

As a public relations professional, you may have access to a number of different public relations professional organizations, including:

These organizations can offer you benefits in your career when it comes to networking, as you may have the opportunity to meet and connect with various other professionals in the field. This may even help lead to employment opportunities or new clients.

What Is a Public Relations Major?

Public relations major degree

A public relations major is an area of study that blends content from the fields of public relations, communication, journalism, marketing, media relations, and research.

It provides an in-depth understanding of how to support the management and protection of an organization’s or an individual’s reputation and image. Public relations major degree programs can help prepare you for work in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Positions can extend across the spectrum of subdivisions of marketing, advertising, media, public relations, and research.

Is Public Relations a Good Major?

Public relations major degree programs

Yes, public relations is a good major for many undergraduate students. With a bachelor’s degree in public relations, you may have the opportunity to advance in careers that offer higher than average salaries and promising career growth.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public relations and fundraising managers make a median salary of $118,430 per year, while public relations specialists earn an annual median of $62,810. The median salary for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is $141,490 per year.

Specific earning levels can vary greatly depending on previous experience and the industry in which the work is being performed.

What Can I Do with a PR Degree?

PR Degree careers

There are a number of careers that you may qualify for with a degree in public relations online.

Common careers in the field include public relations specialist, communications specialist, public affairs consultant, publicist, public relations manager, fundraising manager, and advertising manager.

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Other professionals with backgrounds in public relations may work as editors, event planners, writers, or authors. Positions in the field of public relations can span across various industries, including public, private, and nonprofit.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelors in Public Relations Degree Online?

Completing a bachelor’s degree in public relations online generally takes 4 years if you’re following a traditional, 16 week schedule on a full-time basis.

You may be able to finish in less time if you enroll in a program that offers 8 week courses and permits continuous enrollment through the summer semester. Another factor that can impact how long it takes for you to complete your degree is whether you enroll on a part-time or full-time basis.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Public Relations Degree?

Public Relations Degree jobs

The specific careers that you may qualify for with your degree in public relations can vary depending on your previous experience, geographic area, and area of professional interest.

Some public relations careers include:

  • Public relations specialist: Public relations specialists are responsible for communicating information to the public and media on behalf of organizations and individuals.
  • Public relations manager: Public relations managers oversee the management of an organization’s image and identity in the public eye.
  • Event planner: Event planners meet with clients to understand their needs and wants for scheduled events, and they take the necessary steps to bring everything together for a successful event.

Other positions in the field include marketing specialist, advertising manager, writer, and editor.

What’s the Difference Between a Degree in PR vs. Marketing?

Degree in PR vs. Marketing

While there is a strong relationship between the fields of public relations and marketing, there are key differences between these areas.

Public relations:

  • This field focuses on managing the image and brand identity of an organization or individual.
  • Crisis response may play an important part in the role of a PR professional.

Marketing:

  • This field prioritizes the development of sales and promotional activities for particular products and services offered by a business.
  • Role responsibilities may include understanding the target audience and how to effectively communicate to that audience.

In some cases, PR professionals may be required to perform crisis management when a marketing campaign goes awry.

Is a Public Relations Bachelor Degree Worth It?

public relations bachelor degree

Yes, a public relations bachelor degree is worth it for many professionals. With a public relations degree online, you may be prepared to take on a variety of roles.

Common PR positions include public relations specialist, event planner, writer, editor, public relations manager, and advertising manager. A number of positions in the field of public relations are expected to experience positive job growth over the next several years.

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For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth for  advertising, promotions, and marketing managers (6% job growth), public relations specialists (7%), meeting, convention, and event planners (8%), and public relations and fundraising managers (9%).

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Public Relations Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Aurora University

Aurora University

Aurora University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, with 24 hours dedicated to the course. Each class is 8 weeks long. Those interested in the degree may apply online with a copy of their official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

Aurora University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Boise State University

Boise State University

Boise State University offers an online Integrated Strategic Communications degree program. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate, including an internship. All courses are 7 weeks long. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit official high school transcripts with their applications.

Boise State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University

California Baptist University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications. The program can potentially be completed in 16 months. Students must complete 91 credit hours to graduate and have the option to transfer in up to 24 qualifying credits from other schools. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Drexel University

Drexel University

Drexel University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Communications with a concentration in PR. Each class is 10 weeks long. Students have the option to transfer up to 135 qualifying credit hours into the program. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit official high school transcripts and a personal statement.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Florida International University

Florida International University

Florida International University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communications. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Those interested in the program must submit official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.

Florida International University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Franklin University

Franklin University

Franklin University offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. The classes for this program are offered online and are either 6 or 12 weeks long.

To graduate, students must complete 124 credit hours. Those interested in the program must submit official high school transcripts or GED certificates. Some applicants may be required to complete placement tests.

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and appropriate ACT or SAT scores.

Louisiana State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Montana State University – Billings

Montana State University Billings

Montana State University—Billings offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. Students are able to work with academic advisors to create their schedules. Some internship options may be available. Those interested in the program must submit ACT or SAT scores and a copy of their high school transcripts.

Montana State University Billings is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

National University

National University

National University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications. Students may choose to complete each class online or on-campus.

Each class is 4 weeks long. The school offers year-round enrollment, allowing new students to begin studying at the start of every month. Applicants should have a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Those interested in the program can apply online with official high school transcripts or GED certificates, Self-Reported Academic Records, and ACT or SAT test scores.

The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Point Park University

Point Park University

Point Park University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising. To graduate, students must complete 121 credit hours, including a senior capstone project. Applicants should have a minimum GPA of 2.0, but those who do not meet the GPA requirement may still be considered.

Point Park University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Regent University

Regent University

Regent University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a focus on Advertising and Public Relations. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Applicants must apply online with high school transcripts, an admission questionnaire, and a copy of their government-issued ID.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, including 12 dedicated to the concentration. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis and may work with an admissions counselor to fill out their application.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Tulane University

Tulane University

Tulane University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, with 36 dedicated to the major, a capstone project, and a portfolio. Those interested in the program should have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.

Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Florida

University of Florida

The University of Florida offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. Those interested in the program may apply online with official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores.

While the school requires students to have completed certain high school courses, the UF Online Ready program allows some applicants to obtain the required prerequisites.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online Bachelor’s in Communication Studies program. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Official high school transcripts should be submitted when applying.

UMGC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Memphis

University of Memphis

The University of Memphis offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. This program is designed to teach students promotional and protective public relations techniques.

Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website. An admissions questionnaire, ACT or SAT scores, and official transcripts must be submitted when applying.

The University of Memphis is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Toledo

University of Toledo

The University of Toledo offers an online program for a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. The program requires students to complete 120 credit hours, including a final communication studies capstone project. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and either an ACT score of 20 or an SAT score of 1030.

The University of Toledo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Washington State University

Washington State University

Washington State University offers a Bachelor’s in Integrated Strategic Communication. To graduate, students must complete 120 semester credit hours, with 40 coming from upper-level classes. Applicants must submit official high school transcripts or GED certificates and either ACT or SAT test scores.

Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Wilmington University

Wilmington University

Wilmington University offers a Bachelor of Science in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Strategic Communication. The program consists of 40 courses that are 8 weeks long. Applicants are accepted year round. Official transcripts and an application fee must be submitted to the school when applying.

Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Getting Your Bachelors Degree in Public Relations Online

Bachelors Degree in Public Relations Online

Careers in the field of public relations can involve representing a business or an individual to the public, interacting with media professionals, or developing strategies to improve the public’s perception of an organization.

Earning a bachelors degree in public relations can allow you to develop necessary skill sets for this lucrative, growing field. In addition, online learning options tend to offer flexible schedules, so you can structure your studies around your existing responsibilities.

The field of public relations generally offers higher than average annual salaries and positive career growth. If you’re interested in developing expertise in this field, you can start exploring online public relations degrees, both online bachelors as well as online masters in public relations, from accredited schools.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda’s focus is on employment, entrepreneurship, business, and training and development.