Top Online MBA Programs in Public Relations
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Online MBA in public relations programs prepare learners to thrive in careers focused on positive public image and community relations. These degrees blend business, communication, and marketing competencies.
Jobs in public relations are likely to see growth in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for both business professionals and public relations specialists will experience employment growth between 2020 and 2030.
The top online MBA in public relations programs combine business coursework with classes in promotion, digital communication, and media relations. Online MBA in public relations programs train people to shape the public image of their organization. A public relations MBA can also advance current advertising, promotions, and marketing professionals to senior positions in the field.
To find the right public relations MBA, learners should look at coursework, cost, and potential career opportunities. This guide details the top online public relations MBA programs.
What Is an MBA in Public Relations?
MBA in public relations programs focus on communication theories, tools, and techniques in business settings. By learning to effectively message and create a public image for an organization or business, public relations specialists increase profits, sales, and public perception.
The BLS reports advertising sales agents earned a median salary of $54,940 in 2020, while marketing research analysts took home a median pay of $65,810. People with an MBA in business can advance to a managerial role in advertising or marketing.
Advertising Sales Agents
Marketing Research Analysts
In 2020, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earned a median salary of $141,490.
Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Public Relations?
Public relations MBAs build written, verbal, and digital communication skills. Through coursework in strategic writing, public relations theory, and messaging, students learn how to communicate on behalf of organizations and companies. MBA in public relations programs train learners to communicate during crises, manage an organization’s reputation, and influence public opinion.
MBA in public relations programs prepare people to craft and shape perceptions of a brand, business, or organization. With a public relations MBA, students can evaluate the appropriateness of messaging, analyze trends and consumer data, and develop solutions to communication problems.
A public relations MBA can help graduates obtain leadership roles within an organization. Public relations managers work for entities across economic sectors, employing technology to craft messaging for healthcare, educational, and manufacturing companies alike.
In 2020, top-paying industries for public relations and fundraising managers included computer manufacturing and courier and delivery services. According to the BLS, higher education employed the largest number of public relations and fundraising managers.
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What Can You Do With an MBA in Public Relations?
Public Relations Manager
Public relations managers oversee an organization or business’s communications, advertising, and messaging. They prepare press releases, organize corporate events, and give interviews to media outlets. Public relations managers work closely with advertisers, marketers, and promotion professionals.
Public relations managers monitor social and consumer trends, adjusting messaging to shape an organization’s image as needed. They also coordinate internal communication, sending out newsletters and updates for employees.
Director of Communications
Communications directors work with executives, managers, and employees alike to create a positive image of an organization or company. They develop strategic plans for outreach, social media campaigns, and promotions. They also issue press releases, interact with journalists, and serve as an organization’s spokesperson.
Directors of communications analyze the efficacy of existing communication practices. They monitor communication technology and trends, pushing their organization forward to remain competitive. Communications directors work in private and public sectors, earning an average salary of around $85,712, according to Payscale.
Public Relations Director
Public relations directors possess extensive marketing, media, and managerial experience. Payscale notes that public relations directors can make an average base salary near $91,600, while entry-level public relations employees earn average salaries of about $51,000.
Public relations directors provide press releases and media guides to the public. They organize events and fundraisers to boost their client's public image. Strong written and verbal communication skills, creativity, and interpersonal skills are critical.
A core part of an organization’s marketing activities, communications coordinators grow healthy relations among employees, managers, and executives. They work closely with marketing, promotions, and advertising colleagues to create and disseminate publications and organizational information.
Communications coordinators manage company events. People in this role have excellent communication and organizational skills, used to fix problems by engaging with clients, consumers, and employees. Coordinators earn about $45,685 on average.
Marketing Communications Manager
Payscale reports marketing communications managers earn an average salary over $67,000. As senior-level marketing professionals, marketing communications managers supervise marketing campaigns and advertising strategies. They may craft messaging on a specific brand, business, or organization for the general public.
Marketing communications managers review consumer data, economic and social trends, and industry updates to create effective marketing strategies. By monitoring competitors, marketing communications managers craft plans to stay atop their respective industry.
Online MBA in Public Relations Curriculum
Curriculum in MBA programs vary. Core classes focus on business fundamentals such as finance, accounting, and management. Public relations coursework provides specialized content to prepare students to engage with the media and consumers while fostering innovation, creativity, and communication skills.
- Media Relations
Media relations coursework emphasizes strategic interaction with media outlets through written and verbal communication skills. Students explore messaging for corporate, noncorporate, and government entities.
- Emerging Digital Media Technologies
Courses in emerging digital media technologies study the design, use, and efficacy of digital media tools. Students explore cultural and social influences on media and technology while evaluating the ever-changing social media landscape.
- Advanced Marketing Strategies
Advanced marketing strategies classes reinforce best practices in marketing while introducing learners to evaluation, strategic, and communication practices. Coursework explores the marketing process, training students to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities at every stage.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Public Relations Program
When choosing an MBA in public relations, learners should consider coursework, cost, and degree outcomes. Unlike a master’s degree in public relations or communications, an MBA in public relations combines business and communication coursework.
Traditional MBA degrees take two years to complete. An online MBA in public relations provides a flexible, convenient alternative to an on-campus program. Learners can work full time, completing coursework while meeting their personal and professional obligations.
An online degree benefits full- and part-time students alike. Full-time learners can take classes along an accelerated timeline, earning a degree in as few as 18 months, while part-time students complete a program over several years.
An online degree often provides a more affordable option for public relations MBA students. Many institutions offer the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students, allowing learners to earn a degree as a nonresident with no additional cost. Online programs also eliminate room and board, commuting, and comparable expenses incurred by on-campus students.
Curriculum for MBAs in public relations vary by institution. Learners should make sure potential programs offer coursework that facilitates their career growth. Potential students may also consider internship, project, and research components. Working professionals may have opportunities to complete some degree requirements at their current place of employment.
Scholarships for Public Relations MBA Programs
Online students earning an MBA in public relations can apply for financial aid. Studying public relations and business administration opens additional funding options for learners. Many professional organizations and private funders offer scholarships and fellowships to students earning a degree in these fields.
Who Can Apply: PRSSA offers several scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students earning a degree in public relations. Scholarships exist for leaders in the field and members of specific demographic and ethnic groups. Some scholarships recognize learners who have had excellent internship experiences.
Who Can Apply: The Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship, sponsored by Daughters of the American Revolution, supports students earning a business administration degree. Learners must submit documentation of a minimum 3.25 GPA for consideration. Applicants can reapply annually.
Who Can Apply: Through partnerships with educational institutions around the world, NBMBAA offers scholarships to support the educational and career advancement of historically underrepresented students. Requirements vary by program, but applicants must hold membership in NBMBAA.
Who Can Apply: The Institute for Public Relations gives the Orangefiery Best Master’s Thesis of the Year Award to a graduate student who demonstrates advanced research-based knowledge of the field through a formal thesis. Applicants submit their completed thesis and letter of endorsement from a faculty member for consideration.
Who Can Apply: The Forté Foundation offers financial assistance to women earning an MBA. Applicants to the Forté Fellows Program must attend a sponsored school, enroll full time, and demonstrate leadership in the field.
Professional Organizations for Public Relations
Professional organizations for public relations build networks within the field. People benefit from membership by gaining access to continuing education programs, resource libraries, and collaboration opportunities. Public relations organizations also provide job boards, career guidance, and mentorship support to members.
NSPRA, founded in 1935, provides communication training and services to schools and educational organizations. Members of NSPRA receive weekly and monthly newsletters, access to the NSPRA directory, and strategic counsel consulting services. NSPRA also offers professional development programs, awards, and an annual seminar to support best practices, networking, and interactive learning.
IPR supports the use of research and research-based knowledge in public relations and corporate communication. The institute maintains award programs, events, and an online community. Public relations students and professionals can sign up for IPR’s research newsletter; contribute to organizational publications; and participate in bootcamps, symposia, and webinars.
With more than 30,000 student and professional members, PRSA serves the communications community through professional development, career building, and award programs. Members of PRSA also receive access to monthly webinars, event discounts, and access to PRSA awards competitions.
IABC serves business communication professionals through educational programs, certifications, and an online resource library. IABC’s mission is to unify the collective disciplines of business communication through best practices, innovation, and in-depth learning.
Established in 1955, IPRA unites public relations professionals from around the world. IPRA offers code of conduct resources, training programs, events and conferences, and awards to advance communication and ethical practice in the discipline.
2022's Best Online Public Relations MBA Programs
Explore our 2022 rankings of three of the best online MBA in public relations (PR) programs. Click on the link below to find out how we rated these colleges and universities.
Common Questions About an MBA in Public Relations
Can I get an MBA in Public Relations?
Yes. An MBA in public relations teaches necessary communications skills in the business world. Students can receive an MBA in communications online or in-person at top colleges and universities across the country.
How do I choose the right MBA in Public Relations program?
MBA in PR or communications programs vary in length, tuition, and course content. Spend time browsing website resources and speaking with an advisor for each program of interest to determine which one suits your learning needs and future goals.
How long does it take to get an MBA in Public Relations?
An MBA in communication and public relations takes around two years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs or credit transfers to shorten program length. Learners can also opt for online programs to complete coursework flexibly.
What skills do I need to have a career in Public Relations?
Public relations professionals have effective communication and multitasking skills. Time management, adaptability, and problem-solving skills also come in handy. A public relations MBA builds upon these skills while teaching actionable industry strategies and theory.
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