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.
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.