Bachelor Degree Programs in Public Relations
Public relations specialists are responsible for using carefully crafted written and verbal communications to enhance or repair the public's perception of products, services or individuals they represent. A bachelor's degree in public relations, communications or a related area can get you started in the field by providing instruction in communication theory, campaigns, and writing.
What Does A Public Relations Bachelor's Degree Program Entail?
Because public relations is such a broad field, bachelor's degree programs generally provide a multidisciplinary education. You'll likely take required courses in verbal and written communication, as well as business and marketing. Most schools offer a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in public relations, generally through a department of communications or a college of arts and sciences. Some Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in public relations are available as well. Several institutions offer public relations as a concentration within their communications bachelor's degree programs. Even if you enroll in one of those programs, however, it's likely that you'll learn most of the skills described above.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a highly competitive job market for entry-level public relations applicants, and reports that work experience can be a valuable tool for college graduates (www.bls.gov). For this and other reasons, many public relations bachelor's degree programs emphasize applied education experience. You may have to complete an internship, and you might be asked to present one or several applied projects in your classes, showing that you've mastered such public relations foundations as image management, promotions and business writing.
|Degree Requirements||Can include internships and applied projects|
|Common Courses||Campaigns, persuasive writing, research methods in PR, crisis communications|
|Online Program Requirements||Internet connection; in-person internship or campus visits may be required|
|Possible Careers||Public relations specialist, publicist, account manager|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2018)*||$60,000 (for Public Relations Specialists)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||9% (for Public Relations Specialists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Kinds of Classes Will I Take?
As a student in a public relations bachelor's degree program, you'll explore the skills and concepts that drive the practice of public relations, as well as the cultural and communicative theories behind them. You may begin your program of study with several courses that address the foundation of public relations and corporate communications. In future semesters, you'll take advanced courses in these areas.
Many schools also offer courses focused on public relations in specific professional areas, like education, multimedia, e-commerce, marketing and nonprofit organizations. Other topics covered might include:
- Communication theory
- Public relations research
- Business and media writing
- Crisis management
- Public speaking
- Intercultural communication
- Public relations campaigns
- Consumer behavior
- Marketing and advertising foundations
- Business law
- Rhetoric and persuasive writing
Are These Programs Available Online?
If you're interested in earning your bachelor's degree in public relations, but can't commit to attending classes at an on-campus program, bachelor's degree programs are widely available online. In some cases, online programs are in communications with a concentration in public relations. As with the on-campus programs described above, however, you'll still explore essential public relations concepts through electives or required courses.
All course materials for public relations distance learning programs are generally transmitted through online teaching and learning systems, like WebCT or Blackboard Vista. You'll need a computer with an Internet connection to access these programs. Additional software, like Microsoft Windows or Adobe Reader, may be needed to view some course materials.
These programs contain everything you need to complete your required courses - lecture notes, quizzes, assignments, e-mail and virtual class discussions are all available online. Most online programs don't mandate internships or other projects that can't be completed online. However, some may require you to complete internships at approved locations, or make a few visits to campus for lectures and other degree requirements. Check with your prospective school for more details.
What Can I Do With A Public Relations Bachelor's Degree?
As a graduate of a bachelor's degree program in public relations, your professional options will be numerous. Virtually all organizations have a need for public relations services, so you can work for a government agency, non-profit charity or private for-profit organization. Some public relations specialists open their own agencies or work on a freelance basis, offering publicity, media relations or crisis intervention services to individual clients and organizations.
Other professionals in the field may work in public relations, marketing communications or advertising departments of companies of varying types. Exact job duties vary from one position to the next. However, general public relations responsibilities include research and execution of publicity campaigns, account or brand management, media communications, product launches, public opinion research and event planning.