It’s not necessary for PR practitioners to get a master’s degree, but for some, it’s the ticket to take that next step up the ladder or have a deeper
understanding of the industry.
Options for advanced degrees in the field were limited in the old days. Some evening programs in select metropolitan areas existed, but for the most part,
you had to quit your job and relocate to earn a master’s. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.
Every year, more and more universities offer online graduate programs in the field of communications that cater to working marketing and PR professionals.
We looked for programs from existing brick-and-mortar, nonprofit schools in order to compare networking opportunities and departmental reputations. We
found several degrees offered entirely online—not hybrid programs—that can be attended from anywhere in the world with a great deal of flexibility.
Here are the 10 best schools to attend while you remain happily employed at your current job:
University of Iowa: best for value seekers
The price tag for Iowa’s M.A. in Strategic Communications doesn’t change if you live outside of the state; it’s a flat $16,000 for the whole degree.
The University of Iowa is known for having a strong communication department, so the comparably low tuition makes it a really great value compared to most
Purdue University: easiest on full-time work schedules
Purdue figured out the best way for delivering online education for busy professionals. In the school’s M.S. in Communication program, students enroll in
only one 8-week intensive course at a time, making it loads easier than juggling multiple classes on top of work.
University of Southern California: best communications department reputation
USC found a way of delivering an online degree program from the university’s esteemed Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Though rankings of communications departments are scarce, the QS World Rankings for Communication and Media studies pegged
USC at No. 1.
It comes at a price, however. The program costs more than $50,000.
University of Southern California:
largest PR alumni network
USC has a great reputation, and if you’re looking to connect to the broadest network of PR professionals, it also wins by a mile.
According to LinkedIn, there are nearly 16,000 USC alums using the social networking site who work in Media and Communications—the most of any major
university offering online master’s degrees in the field.
George Washington University: most tailored to PR
G-Dub’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations takes full advantage of school’s connections in the nation’s capital to provide expert faculty
who are leading practitioners in the field. The program offers courses like Public Relations Principles & Practices and Media Relations in the New
University of Florida: most tailored to social media
The University of Florida offers three different online graduate degrees in communication, but its most unique is its M.A. in Mass Communication with a
specialty in Social Media.
The program combines mass communication theory, brand development and best practice for social media management.
Troy University: easiest admissions path
You can have a great career despite not getting off to the best start in college.
If you’re chasing an advanced degree to boost your PR career, and have a hard time hitting the 3.0 GPA requirement that most programs have, check out
Troy’s M.S. in Strategic Communications. Its manageable 2.5 GPA makes it great for second chances in the academic sphere.
Syracuse University: best “in class” experience
This brand new program is designed to let distance learners view actual classes as they’re happening. It gives students a great opportunity to not only
interact in real time with instructors, but with students around the world.
Gonzaga University: best campus immersion
Looking for a program that really integrates the in-person experience? Check out Gonzaga’s M.A. in Communication and Leadership Studies degree program,
which requires students to take a three-day trip to Spokane, WA to get acquainted to the program—and their peers—face to face.
Georgetown University: most intriguing
Starting in the spring of 2016, Georgetown is offering an online format for their Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications degree.
The prestige of Georgetown, coupled with the media market of Washington, D.C., should make this an attractive option for prospective students.
What schools would you add to those mentioned above, PR Daily readers?
Chad Reid is the director of communications for San Francisco-based
JotForm, a popular online form builder.