Why This Matters

  • 27,600 NEW COMMUNICATIONS JOBS ANTICIPATED

    Overall employment in media and communications occupations is expected to continue growing as fast as the average for all occupations in the U.S. This includes jobs in PR, digital marketing, and corporate communications.

  • DEMAND FOR PR MANAGERS TO RISE 8% BY 2028

    The job outlook for public relations managers is very strong through the next decade, thanks to the constant demand for information on the Internet and social media. This field will add an estimated 6,300 new jobs.

  • EARN $54,800 MORE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary for a PR manager is $114,800. By comparison, a PR specialist with only a bachelor’s degree earns an average annual salary of $60,000.

Our Research

This list concentrates specifically on graduate-level programs in public relations. The most common graduate degrees in this field are either a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS). Many programs award the degree in communications, with a concentration in public relations.

A main criteria for our list was that programs be delivered entirely or primarily online. This ensures accessibility for the greatest number of students, regardless of their geographic location or availability.

All of the programs we reviewed are offered by schools with regional accreditation. Some programs also have accreditation through specialized accrediting bodies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we evaluated all of them based on reputation, faculty, flexibility, cost, and outcomes. Based on these reviews, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online public relations graduate programs are affordable, flexible, and highly regarded. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 73 hours to write this article
  • 141 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 395 education programs we compared

The Top 20 Online Public Relations Graduate Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

As the name implies, public relations is all about communicating with audiences via a variety of platforms, including social media, print and broadcast news, and live events. PR specialists and managers should have strong writing, public speaking, interpersonal, and organizational skills, and the ability to make sound decisions under pressure.

Many employers value hands-on experience as well as education in public relations. If you are earning a graduate degree in public relations as a way to enter the field from another profession, seek out a program that offers an experiential learning component, such as an internship. This will give you an opportunity to apply your theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting, and demonstrate your capabilities to future employers.

A graduate program in public relations is highly specialized. Students who want a broader skill set may choose to pursue a master’s in communications. These types of programs will prepare students for a wider variety of communications-based professions, including digital marketing, journalism, fundraising, as well as public relations.

Public relations professionals do not need any specific credentials for employment, but there are a number of organizations that offer voluntary credentials. These include the International Association of Business Communicators, and the Public Relations Society of America. Membership in these organizations is a sign of professionalism and mastery in the field.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Public Relations Graduate programs:

  • How are online classes delivered? Online classes are typically delivered in one of two ways. Synchronous courses meet remotely at the same time throughout the term. In asynchronous courses, students access their lessons and assignments on their own schedule. It’s helpful to know which type of classes you are seeking as you review programs.
  • Are there standardized test requirements for admission? Many graduate programs require students to submit standardized test scores, such as the GRE or GMAT, as part of the application process. If you have never taken these tests, or if your scores are not current, you should plan on taking them as early as possible, as it can take several weeks for scores to be processed.

You should begin collecting your application materials, and keeping track of application deadlines and procedures. Every school has a different process, and you can contact their admissions office if you have any questions.

Financing your graduate degree is another important consideration. You should explore institutional aid options, like scholarships and assistantships, as well as student loans and employer tuition benefits, if you are currently working.