Why This Matters


    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.


    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.


    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. 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 28 Online Master’s in Public Relations Programs

Best Online Master's in Public Relations Programs Badge
Intelligent Pick
University of Maryland Global Campus
Best Public Research University
Florida International University
Best Public University
University of Florida
Best Baptist University
California Baptist University Online
Best in the Northeast
Edinboro University
Best Corporate Communications Focus
Mississippi College
Best for Healthcare Industry
Washington State University
Best Master of Science Degree
Montana State University Billings
Best Christian University
Liberty University
Best Master of Arts Degree
Western New England University
Best in the Midwest
Purdue University
Best Liberal Arts College
Marist College
Fastest Completion Time
Arkansas State University
Best Certification Options
Maryville University
Best for Asynchronous Classes
Murray State University
Best Online University
Southern New Hampshire University
Student Recommended
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Best in the South
Webster University
Best in the West
University of Denver
Best Private University
Quinnipiac University
Best Private Research University
JHU Advanced Academic Programs
Most Experienced Faculty
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University

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, as well as the ability to make sound decisions under pressure.

Many employers value hands-on experience 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, and fundraising.

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 as well as 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.