Should I Earn a Public Relations Degree?

Public Relations Degree Overview

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What Is a Public Relations Degree?

A public relations degree is a type of degree than can be earned by students who have completed a college, university, or business school program focused on public relations and related topics.

Types of Public Relations Degrees

There are three basic types of public relations degrees that can be earned from a college, university, or business school:

An associate degree may be enough for individuals who are looking for entry-level employment in the public relations field. However, a bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for anyone who wants to work as a public relations specialist or public relations manager. A master's degree or MBA with a specialization in public relations could increase an individual's chances of getting more advanced positions. Public relations specialists who are interested in teaching at the college or university level should consider a doctorate degree in public relations.

Where Can I Earn a Public Relations Degree?

There are a number of campus-based programs that award public relations degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level.

You can also find online programs that are similar in quality. If you are intent on attending a campus-based program, but cannot find one in your area that focuses on public relations, you should look for a good advertising or marketing degree program. These programs will allow you to study many of the same things you would in a public relations degree program, including advertising campaigns, marketing strategies, promotions, public speaking, communication, and public affairs.

Other degree program options for aspiring public relations professionals include degree programs in communication, journalism, English, or general business.

What Can I Do with a Public Relations Degree?

Many people who earn a public relations degree go on to work for advertising, marketing, or public relations firms. Some also choose to work as independent consultants or open their own public relations firms. Common job titles for public relations professionals include:

  • Promotions Assistant - Sometimes known as an advertising assistant, a promotions assistant may work in the public relations, advertising, marketing, or sales department of a large or small company. These entry-level public relations professionals typically focus on promotional campaigns and may handle clerical duties, telephone operations, client communication, and other office-related responsibilities.
  • Public Relations Specialist - Also known as communication specialists or media specialists, public relations specialists work directly with the media. They may be responsible for helping clients communicate with the public. They may answer media questions or contact media outlets to market information or share news. Writing press releases is also a typical job duty. U.S. News recently ranked "public relations specialist" as one of the best jobs of the year.
  • Public Relations Manager - Public relations managers or directors are similar to public relations specialists. However, they often have more responsibilities. In a large company, they may supervise one or more public relations specialists. Public relations managers may also be responsible for writing speeches, designing campaigns, or creating, maintaining, and managing a company's image.

Explore more careers in public relations and marketing.

Learn More about Earning a Public Relations Degree

You can learn more about earning a public relations degree or pursuing a career in the public relations field by clicking on the following links:

  • Public Relations Society of America - The Public Relations Society of America, also known as the PRSA, is the world’s largest organization of public relations professionals. Members include everyone from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals. The organization provides learning, networking, certification, and career resources.
  • About Advertising - The About.com Guide to Advertising offers a number of tips for individuals who are interested in a career in advertising or public relations. Check out the Public Relations Resources section for details on how you can get a job in public relations, information about handling the media, and much more.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) offers an overview of public relations careers and provides information about job outlook, average salaries, work environment, and related occupations.