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With a goal to sway the public’s perception, attitude, and behavior, the field of Public Relations professionals know how to make their mark. Public Relations (and more broadly, Strategic Communications, Integrated Marketing, and other similar fields), is a popular area and one of the most popular online master’s degree programs on the market. Most programs require 30-36 credit hours, coursework covering theory and research, as well as communication and content building, and a final capstone project in which students showcase what they have learned with a real-world public relations or communications project. Specializations are generally offered in integrated communications, social media, and other communication-driven areas. Careers can be exhilarating and fast-paced, and public relations managers or strategic communication specialists tend to be behind-the-scenes movers and shakers, and the salary that comes with all that that entails can be pretty impressive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the public relations professional can expect a salary between $60,000 (with just a bachelor’s degree) up to $115,000. A nearly-doubled salary can be a pretty persuasive argument for obtain that master’s degree, and with all the great programs being offered online, there’s really no reason not to pursue it.
To help you on your search for a reputable, regionally accredited institution that offers a stellar online Master of Public Relations or similar degree, we’ve done all the research. Using our Core Methodology Criteria, we present to you a list of the 45 best graduate degrees in public relations, strategic communications, and similar programs that are offered online for your convenience.
Online Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations & Corporate Communications
Program Details: An award-winning program, the Georgetown Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations & Corporate Communications (MPS PRCC) degree is an online program that imparts to its students a “360-degree perspective of the modern communications landscape” to give them a competitive edge. Provided through the School of Continuing Studies, Georgetown’s MPS PRCC degree presents a strategic 30-credit hour curriculum that students can complete in two to five years. Offering three focus areas online (a fourth is provided on-campus only), students choose five elective courses that concentrate in Corporate Communications, Digital Communications, or Public Relations. All coursework is taught by the same faculty members as the on-campus format of the MPS PRCC program, and the faculty have an impressive collection of real-world professional connections that brings unique and academic-boosting credentials to the classroom (think Facebook, Volkswagen, and the World Wildlife Fund, just to name a few). Graduates of the Georgetown MS PRCC online program also share an impressive foray into the real-world field of public relations, and through their shared experience and success stories, prospective students can learn more about the program.
Georgetown University was founded as Georgetown College in 1789, and 40 students enrolled in the first classes in 1792. Joined by the Medical Center, Law Center, School of Continuing Studies, and the School of Foreign Service in Qatar, the main campus in the Georgetown area of the District of Columbia serves over 18,500 students currently. Designated by the Carnegie Foundation with “very high research activity,” Georgetown is the oldest Jesuit Catholic university in the nation. Regional accreditation for this private research institution comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication
Program Details: The MS in Corporate & Organizational Communication degree program in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University is offered completely online and can be completed anywhere a student happens to be. Eight concentrations are provided, with four specifically relevant to public relations: Public and Media Relations, Social Media and Online Communities, Cross-Cultural Communication, and Leading Communication Strategy and Talent Development. The credit hour requirement varies based on concentration and elective choices. All students take the same core courses, and concentration classes include a wide range of relevant topics such as “Digital Era Skills: Platforms, Tools, and Techniques,” “Public Relations Content Development,” and “Social Media and Brand Strategy Implementation.” Citing students as their “top priority,” Northeastern provides many opportunities for success through Career Resources and the Office of Academic Advising. Prospective online MS in Corporate & Organizational Communication degree students can read the portfolios of current and past students for insight into the program and specific concentrations. As an added benefit, professionals who have the Accreditation in Public Relations credential have access to perks like program acceleration and tuition discounts.
Originally begun in 1898 as evening classes of the YMCA in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University is now a “highest research activity” Carnegie classified institution. Started as the Evening Institute for Young Men, the school grew first into Northeastern College in 1916 and gained university status as Northeastern University (NU) in 1923. Branch campuses in North Carolina, Washington, and California join the Boston campus, which currently enrolls more than 25,000 students. A private institution, Northeastern is comprised of nine academic schools and colleges and has regional accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Science in Public Relations
Program Details: Quinnipiac University’s School of Communications offers an online MS in Public Relations degree program, one of only six master’s level programs to be awarded the Public Relation Society of America’s (PRSA) Certification in Education for Public Relations. This recognition is significant for students, who will then be poised to successfully sit for the PRSA’s Accreditation in Public Relations exam. The 36-credit hour program provides a curriculum with rigorous core classes such as “Strategic Public Relations and Reputation Management,” “Law and Ethics in Public Relations,” and “Global Strategy.” The students’ choice of electives and a final Public Relations Graduate Capstone complete the program, and there is an optional Social Media Track in which classes like “Social Media Practice and Techniques” and “Strategic Planning in Public Relations” are required. The learning environment provided by Quinnipiac University Online is innovative and supportive, and in addition to the QU Online support teams on hand to make resources available to distance learners, the online MS in Public Relations program is guided by industry input through the QU School of Communication Advisory Board.
Quinnipiac University started as the Connecticut College of Commerce in New Haven, Connecticut in 1929. The school would go through several embodiments before becoming Quinnipiac in 2000—this final name was chosen to honor the native Quinnipiac people that used to inhabit the region. The institution also moved to a new campus in Hamden, Connecticut in 1966, and over 10,000 students are currently enrolled in nearly 100 academic degree programs offered through eight schools and colleges. This private nonsectarian institution has regional accreditation granted by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Mass Communication
Program Details: The online Master of Arts in Mass Communication (MCOM) degree program at UA Little Rock offers a professional mass media option that includes a Strategic Communication/Public Relations concentration track. The 33-credit hour program is offered entirely online through UA Little Rock Online and allows students to choose their capstone experience (either a final master’s thesis or a professional project). Located within the UA Little Rock School of Mass Communication, the online MCOM Professional Mass Media option in Strategic Communication/Public Relations boasts caring faculty members who have “considerable professional experience.” Classes range from the required “Public Relations Cases” and “PR for 21st Century Non-Profits” to electives like “Internet Policy and Regulation” and “Ethnic and Alternative Media in America.” UA Little Rock Online Academic Resources for Online Students provides access to a host of services and resources to help distance learners, and a UALR Online Student Success Blog provides additional resources and perspectives that can benefit the distance student.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) was established as Little Rock Junior College in 1927. The school, located in Little Rock, Arkansas, became a four-year institution renamed Little Rock University in 1957, and in 1969 merged with the University of Arkansas to become the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Currently over 11,000 students are enrolled in over 200 academic programs of study within the seven colleges and schools, and UA Little Rock is a metropolitan public university. A space-grant institution, UA Little Rock is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Art in Strategic Communication
Program Details: Located in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication provides an online MA in Strategic Communication for both “current and aspiring communication professionals.” Core coursework for the 30-credit hour program includes foundational topics like “Digital Strategic Communication” and “Strategic Communications Research,” and the degree culminates with a “Capstone Project in Strategic Communication.” Fifteen hours of electives are chosen by the student from either within the program, elsewhere in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC), or other Iowa school or college (with program director approval). Electives include a wide variety of topics, like “Risk Communication,” “Media Management for Strategic Communication,” and “Financial and Budget Fundamentals for Communicators.” The accomplished SJMC faculty, as well as a Professional Advisory Board, assure the expertise of the program, and the Online Resources for SJMC Students makes sure all distance learners have the support they need to be successful in their online program.
The State University of Iowa was founded in 1847 in Iowa City, and the first classes were held in 1855. Admitting both men and women from the beginning, nearly 125 students were enrolled that first year (this makes the University of Iowa the oldest coeducational university in the nation). Now more than 33,000 students are enrolled in over 200 academic degree programs, and this public research institution (the name “University of Iowa” was approved by the Board of Regents in 1964) is a space-grant university. Eleven academic colleges make up Iowa, and the Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation.
Online Master of Arts in Corporate and Strategic Communication
Program Details: The Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences at Ashland University offers a Master of Arts in Corporate and Strategic Communication (MACSC) degree program that can be completed online in as little as eighteen months. The curriculum for Ashland University’s entirely online Corporate and Strategic Communication program requires 30-credit hours of classes, comprised of prerequisites, major courses, and specific track focus area classes. Students choose between the Health & Risk Concentration Track and the Public Relations Concentration Track, and the Public Relations track offers classes like “Seminar in Social Media Platforming” and “Public Relations Campaigns.” All students in the MACSC program complete their degree with a Capstone in Communication Studies, and the coursework is all taught by the competent and experienced Ashland faculty. Unique opportunities abound at the Department of Communication Studies, for instance, students have access to a Public Relations Student Society of America chapter through Ashland, and the MACSC degree to high school teachers who already have their master’s degree through Ashland College Credit Plus curriculum.
Ashland University started as Ashland College when it was established in 1878 in Ashland, Ohio. Founded by the Brethren Church with financial support from the local community, classes began in 1879 with around 60 students in attendance. In 1989, university status was bestowed on the school and the name was changed to reflect that, and now over 6,500 students are enrolled in this private, comprehensive, Christian-based institution. Four academic colleges offer nearly 100 academic degree programs, and Ashland is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Business Administration in Public Relations; Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication; Online Master of Science in Marketing – Public Relations
Program Details: Liberty University Online provides three completely online graduate Public Relations degrees. Two degrees are housed within the Liberty School of Business: the 45-credit online MBA in Public Relations program and the 36-credit hour Liberty online MS in Marketing – Public Relations degree. Some shared core coursework between both degrees is coupled with the Public Relations Cognate courses in “Media Technologies & Communication Strategies,” “Communication & Conflict,” and “Strategic Communication Campaigns for the Digital Age.” The programs can both be completed in about two years, and as with all Online Liberty programs, students can transfer in up to 50% of the credit hour requirement. The third degree is offered through Liberty’s School of Communication and Digital Content. A 33-credit hour program, the Liberty online MA in Strategic Communication degree engages students in classes such as “Strategic Storytelling,” “Video, Social & Mobile Promotion,” and “Strategic Organizational Communication.” As an institution who has really helped shape the online degree market, Liberty Online offers plenty of support, resources, and services specifically aimed at helping the online student succeed.
Noting that his scope of charting “the moral and ethical course of America” was not as far-reaching as a pastor as it could be as an educator, evangelical Jerry Falwell founded the Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia and fully supported by his Thomas Road Baptist Church congregants, the school has grown to be the largest Christian institution of higher education in the world. Liberty University enrolls more than 110,000 students online and 15,000 on-campus. Seventeen schools and college provide more than 600 academic degree programs, and regional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communications with a specialization in Integrated Media Communications
Program Details: UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications provides the MA in Journalism & Mass Communications degree (along with the University of Nebraska at Kearney) entirely online through University of Nebraska Online. The 36-credit hour program is constructed to help advance the careers of professionals desiring to “enhance their skills in a rapidly changing media environment in the context of advertising and public relations,” and students have up to ten years to complete the degree. The coursework benefits from the University of Nebraska faculty, who are either “researchers who are experts in their fields or practitioners with real-world experience.” Required core courses cover “Advertising & PR Research,” “Brands & Branding,” and a final “Integrated Media Communications Capstone” course, as well as a wide range of electives that allow for a great deal of customization. NU Online serves as the student’s “academic partner” and makes available all student services that are offered to on-campus UNL students. For students who do not wish to get a full graduate degree or who want to test the waters before committing, the fully online UNL graduate certificate in Public Relations and Social Media is available.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was established in 1869, just two years after Nebraska joined the union. Located in the growing capital city of Lincoln, the institution was progressive from its inception, admitting students without regard to color, gender, or nationality. The oldest university in the state and the flagship of the University of Nebraska System, UNL is a public research university with over 25,000 students currently enrolled. Nine schools and colleges are spread over 2,800 acres and three campus locations, and regional accreditation is provided by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Science in Management with a specialization in Public Relations
Program Details: Offered through Online Learning at UMUC, an entirely online MS in Management degree with a specialization in Public Relations builds students expertise and helps prepare them for PR certification. The 36-credit hour program is “designed with input from employers, industry experts, and scholars” and presents courses such as “Statistics for Managerial Decision Making,” “Public Relations Theory and Practice,” and “Public Relations Campaigns.” Ideal for the student who wants to move into a “management role in areas that include campaign strategy, theory, ethics issues, and crisis management in the public relations field,” the Strategic Management Capstone Course allows students to develop a public relations campaign proposal for a client organization, form a detailed plan to respond to a fact-based public relations crisis, or provide actual materials for organizations. An Advisory Board assures that the curriculum stays relevant and prepares students for the fast-paced public relations field, and a whole range of UMUC State University Global Campus services are provided to help online students succeed.
The College of Special and Continuation Studies (CSCS) was a satellite of the University of Maryland (UMD). As one of several satellites of UMD, the CSCS was located in Adelphi, Maryland and provided education to working professionals. Started in 1947, by 1970 the school was an independent institution and was renamed University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Offering some on-campus programs, the focus of UMUC is on distance education—particularly to active military. More than 80,000 students are enrolled online or through one of the 140 worldwide locations, and regional accreditation comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership
Program Details: Many distinctive perks await the online MA in Strategic Communication and Leadership (MCOM) student in SAU Online’s entirely online eighteen-month graduate degree program. Located in SAU’s Department of Communication and Media in the School of Arts and Sciences, the unique MCOM program distinguishes itself by pairing online students with “mentors who are influencers in strategic communication.” The curriculum for the 38-credit hour MCOM program includes classes such as “Communication as Vocation and Calling,” “Digital Media Strategies,” and “Communication Theory and Worldview,” and all coursework is presented with “both theoretical and Christian perspectives” by the SAU faculty, who “are practicing professionals who routinely publish, present, and produce original work.” In addition to the online student services and support offered by SAU Online, students receive from their mentors “valuable insights, professional development tips and provide personalized support throughout the program.” Moreover, students who graduate from the program will be in possession of an ePortfolio that they can use throughout their professional career.
Established by the Free Methodist Church in Spring Arbor, Michigan in 1873, Spring Arbor University started as the Spring Arbor Seminary. For primary grade school students initially, in 1923 a junior college was added. Starting in 1960 (when the school was first granted accreditation) all programs that were not part of the four-year school that Spring Arbor College had become were eliminated. Becoming a university in 1994, now almost 3,500 students are enrolled in over 70 academic degree programs offered on the main campus in Spring Arbor or at one of multiple extension sites. Regional accreditation for this private Christian institution comes from the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Logo courtesy of Queens University of Charlotte
Program Details: Queens University of Charlotte provides an online MA in Communication through the James L. Knight School Communication. The Queens University online MA in Communication degree program is 36-credit hours—an optional concentration in Integrated Digital Strategy adds an additional three-credit hours. Required coursework such as “Communication Fluency,” “Strategic Communication for Global Audiences,” and “Organizational Identity and Brand” are all taught by the Queens University Knight School of Communication Graduate Program faculty, all of whom have experience in the field. The Integrated Digital Strategy concentration is ideal for professionals who want to “develop advanced and in-depth expertise in digital and emerging media.” A selection of specific graduate communication resources is made available, such as an Online MA in Communication Virtual Open House and a detailed explanation of the various career paths that are possible with the MA degree, and prospective students can also read the MA in Communication Testimonials given by current students and graduates of the program to learn more about the online MA in Communication degree experience at Queens University.
Queens University of Charlotte opened as a women’s college in 1857. The Charlotte, North Carolina school was known as the Charlotte Female Institute at that time. Several name changes and a move to the Myers Park neighborhood would occur before men were allowed to start taking classes in the 1940s—by 1987 the school was coeducational. Gaining university status in 2002, Queens University currently enrolls over 2,500 students. About 50 academic degree programs are offered through six schools and colleges, and this private university with Presbyterian Church affiliation is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
#12. Gonzaga University
Online Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies
Program Details: The 30-credit hour Online MA in Communication and Leadership program at Gonzaga is a 30-credit hour program that challenges students to “harness communication on all levels and in all types of organizations, whether through a crisis communication plan, an internal strategic plan or a social media strategy.” Offering five optional concentrations, the “dynamic” curriculum provides a great deal of customization through elective choices and two capstones. One required on-campus Gonzaga three-day immersion residency experience provides students with the opportunity to “connect with faculty, build community and network,” and even though students are only required to attend one domestic immersion, they are offered five times a year and students can attend as many as they like. The expert Gonzaga Communications Graduate faculty teach both on-campus and online coursework, presenting classes such as “International and Intercultural Communication,” “Digital Storytelling,” and “Social Media Engagement and Analysis.” Student support through Gonzaga Online is plentiful, starting with a Student Services Team to answer any questions a distance learner may have, and online resources include a Career Center and access to the Foley Library.
Jesuit priest Joseph Cataldo purchased land in Spokane, Washington in 1881 in order to found Gonzaga College—named for Jesuit saint Aloysius de Gonzaga. Classes begin in 1887 with eighteen students who were studying to become priests. In 1912 university status was achieved, and Gonzaga University currently enrolls more than 7,500 coeducational students. Seven schools and colleges provide more than 100 academic degree programs, and Gonzaga is one of the 28 Jesuit institutions of higher education in the nation. A private Roman Catholic liberal arts university, Gonzaga is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Online Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Public Relations
Program Details: Prospective students who are interested in GW’s online Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Strategic Public Relations only need to glance at the GW Strategic Public Relations student outcomes to see the potential to enhance their future career. Graduates of the fully-online program share their insight as well as how the GW program helped them achieve their goals. The 30-credit hour program is housed within the GW Graduate School of Political Management, and students learn from an esteemed faculty who possess a diversity of professional experience and who are experienced in online instruction. The curriculum, which is “designed to provide students a rigorous, contemporary and transformational learning experience,” includes classes such as “Political Socialization and Public Opinion,” “Fundamentals of Business & Finance for PR Professionals,” and “Sustainable Communications.” Students finish the program with the Public Relations & Public Affairs Capstone Research Project, which is developed along with a current employer (or other organization) and GW faculty, and culminates in a “publishable quality research paper.” Student support is specific and dedicated, with round-the-clock GW Graduate School online student support to assist students throughout the rigorous program.
Private research institution George Washington University, located in Washington D.C., was established as Columbian College in 1821. A year later the first class of students—all three of them—enrolled in the school inspired by a State of the Union address given in 1790. The institution became George Washington University (GW) in 1904, and now more than 25,000 students are enrolled in academic degree programs offered through the fourteen schools and colleges that comprise GW. Classified as having “Very High Research Activity” by the Carnegie Foundation, GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
#14. American University
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
Program Details: American University provides an entirely online MA in Strategic Communication degree program with a rich curriculum that imparts the “conceptual tools and strategic-thinking skills” that empowers graduates to be desired professionals in the field. The fully online American Master’s in Strategic Communication degree is a 30-credit hour program that can be completed in as little as 20 months with coursework in topics such as “Communication Theory,” “Social Marketing for Social Impact,” and “Strategic Communication Management” (an optional concentration in Advocacy and Social Impact is available for students who want to work specifically in “social movements, election campaigns, public-policy debates, and legislation to achieve social change”). All coursework is taught by the esteemed faculty in AU’s School of Communication, an experienced and “highly-regarded” collection of industry experts with many years of teaching experience. In addition to the Program Resources and Industry Updates supplied to distance learners via the AU Online MA in Communication website, all online students have access to all of the same resources as the on-campus students, so the quality of the support offered does not differ depending on the format from which the student earns a degree.
American University (AU) was established by Methodist Bishop John Fletcher Hurst through a Congressional charter in 1893. Located in Washington D.C., the school progressively admitted students without regard to color or gender well before many other schools, and 28 students enrolled the first year. Now more than 13,000 are enrolled in this private doctoral-research institution (classified by Carnegie with “High Research Activity”), and eight schools and colleges provide over 160 academic degree programs. Still affiliated with the United Methodist Church, AU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
#15. Syracuse University
Online Master of Science in Communications Public Relations specialization
Program Details: The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University presents an online MS in Communications degree program with a Public Relations specialization that combines the reputation of a renowned institution with the convenience of entirely online coursework. The 33-credit hour MS in Communications program requires five core courses exploring topics like “Multimedia Storytelling” and “Digital Communications Systems,” and four courses are dedicated to the Public Relations specialization that cover theory, management, planning and design elements in the field. The online MS experience, called Communications@Syracuse, assures a robust curriculum and well-supported atmosphere for the online student. Beginning with access to an academic advisor and the student success team, students also enjoy the benefits of unique perks like WeWork Global Access membership during their studies and the Newhouse Network upon graduation. Two weekend immersion experiences are required of all students, but a choice is offered so students can find the best fit for their schedules and professional goals. Past Communications@Syracuse immersions speakers have included key leaders who work for companies such as BuzzFeed, NBC, and Mozilla.
A charter by the State of New York led to the creation of Syracuse University in 1870. Located in Syracuse, New York, the school opened its doors to nearly 50 coeducational students who began classes the next year. Now a research university with the “Very High Research Activity” designation from the Carnegie Foundation, Syracuse enrolls nearly 23,000 students currently in thirteen schools and colleges. A private, nonsectarian institution of higher education, Syracuse has regional accreditation provided from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#16. Troy University
Online Master of Science in Strategic Communication
Program Details: TROY Online provides the MS in Strategic Communication degree program that can be completed online in just a year. The 30-credit hour degree program is located within the Troy University College of Communication and Fine Arts and presented online through the eTROY campus. The online Troy University Strategic Communication graduate program offers a curriculum focused on “emerging communication technologies, crisis communication management and the strategic use of social media in an innovative communication environment.” All coursework is taught by the Troy faculty in the Hall School of Journalism and Communication, and each student completes the program with comprehensive exams and a capstone strategic communication course. Online MS in Strategic Communication students are guided by the TROY Online faculty, who are “seasoned instructors with real-world experience.” Online students have the additional assurance that they are in a program with years of experience serving distance learners—Troy has a “continued commitment to setting the standard for online learning” for over 20 years, and the services and resources provided help support students in their online program.
Troy University was established as the Troy State Normal School in 1887. Located in Troy, Alabama, Troy is a member of the Alabama State University System as well as the flagship campus in the Troy University System. The other campuses in the System are in Montgomery, Phenix City, and Dothan, and initially all schools were independent but have been joined under one accreditation since 2005. Seven schools and colleges provide nearly 75 academic degree programs, and an alumni network of over 100,000 are joined by more than 18,000 currently enrolled students. Regional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Online Master of Arts in Communication
Program Details: Missouri State Online provides the online MA in Communication degree program, and with a student’s choice of electives, several areas of concentration are available, with choices such as “Public Relations Campaigns,” “Concepts and Analysis of Public Relations,” “Communication Technology and Politics,” and “Presidential Rhetoric” leading to an emphasis in Public Relations. The 32-credit hour program is housed within the School of Communication Studies and can be completed in two years, and the Missouri State faculty in the Department of Communication provides direct interaction and “a reputation of excellence through their teaching, research and publication accomplishments.” Missouri State Online Student Support Services are available to all online MA in Communication students, and in addition specific graduate communication advising is provided. Required core courses cover topics like “Theory and Research in Communication,” “Rhetorical Analysis in Communication Research,” and “Applied Communication Research Methods,” which provide a solid communications foundation, and a final Masters Thesis completes the degree.
Missouri State University (Missouri State) started with over 500 students in attendance in the first year of classes. Established as the Fourth District Normal School in 1905 in Springfield, Missouri, the school gained its current name in 2005. A public, space-grant university, Missouri State currently enrolls over 26,000 students in more than 200 academic degree programs. Nine schools and colleges comprise the school, which sits on 225 acres, and regional accreditation for Missouri State has been continuously provided by the Higher Learning Commission since 1915.
#18. Bellevue University
Online Master of Arts in Business and Professional Communication
Program Details: The Bellevue University MA in Business and Professional Communication degree program can be accessed online for ease and convenience. The 36-credit hour degree program provides core coursework that “focuses on professional communication skills applicable to public relations and strategic communication,” as well as other valuable professional communication skills. Students choose from one of several predetermined concentration options (Business, Computer Information Systems, Executive Coaching, Human Resource Management, Project Management, or Transnational and Cross-cultural Communication) or can construct their own Interdisciplinary Studies Concentration (IDC) from several disciplines. All online classes at Bellevue University are capped at 24 students to assure that individual attention and a peer-fostering environment is part of the online learning experience, and support services from enrollment counselors to round-the-clock online library services to dedicated Student Coaches are provided. Prospective students also have access to Bellevue student and alumni stories and testimonials to learn more about the institution, online programs, and student experiences. In particular, working professionals and non-traditional students at Bellevue will find a high level of support as they work on their advanced degree.
In the mid-1960s Bellevue College was opened in Bellevue, Nebraska and designed to appeal to the working adult and non-traditional aged students. In 1994 the school became Bellevue University, and now just under 9,000 students are progressing through the online and on-campus degree programs offered in Bellevue’s four academic colleges. With an alumni network of over 50,000, Bellevue delivers on its mission to help adult learners “thrive in a connected, competitive world.” One of the state’s largest private institutions of higher education, Bellevue is provided with regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
Program Details: WSU’s online MA in Strategic Communication degree program is a 30-credit hour program that appeals to both seasoned professionals and those wishing to enter the field. Available through the WSU Global Campus and housed in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, the online MA program is crafted to help students “excel in communication, advertising, public relations and corporate communication.” Provided as a multidisciplinary program, students participate in professional core courses such as “Professional Multimedia Content Creation” and “Crisis Communication in Global Contexts.” The strategic communication core covers relevant topics like “Consumer Behavior and Brand Development,” “Professional Marketing Communication Management and Campaigns,” and “Creative Media Strategies & Techniques,” and the final Capstone Project culminates the program. The full-time WSU Murrow College faculty teach all the online courses, and they have collective, award-winning experience covering scholarly endeavors (such as being published) and real-world expertise. As a program through WSU Global Campus, the online MA in Strategic Communication degree program provides students with a full array of student services to help them succeed.
Located in Pullman, Washington, Washington State University (WSU) was established by the Washington Legislature as the Washington Agricultural College and School of Science in 1890. Classes for this state-supported institution began in 1892, and the name became Washington State University in 1959. A public research university, Washington State currently enrolls more than 30,000 students in over 200 academic degree programs. Also a land-grant institution of higher education, WSU has eleven colleges and is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Online Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a specialization in Public Relations
Program Details: The University of Florida enhances its online MA in Mass Communication with a Public Relations specialization by partnering with major consultant organization APCO Worldwide to bring real-world, innovative techniques and best practices to their Public Relations students. Provided through the UF College of Journalism and Communications (CJC), the entirely online MA in Public Relations requires 33-credit hours, with core courses such as “Measurement & Evaluation” and “Strategy & Messaging” and a final capstone project. Students who pursue the degree on a full-time basis can finish in just eighteen months, but the online aspect of the program allows students the flexibility to complete the degree at their own pace. In addition to the partnership with APCO Worldwide, the University of Florida enlists a Public Relations Advisory Council to make sure the already cutting-edge curriculum maintains its relevance and provides the right resources to students. Additionally, the UF CJC Online faculty have “access and insight” into the industry, and help pass on those assets to their online Master’s in Public Relations students.
The University of Florida (UF) can claim several schools as the earliest manifestations of the public university. This land-, sea-, and space-grant institution is a member of the State University System of Florida, and in its very earliest stages was established in 1853 as the East Florida Seminary. A move to Gainesville, Florida would gain the school a permanent campus, and now over 54,000 students are enrolled within the over 300 academic degree programs that are offered by UF’s sixteen schools and colleges. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges regionally accredits UF.
Online Master of Arts in Public Relations
Program Details: Delivering a well-rounded online MA in Public Relations degree, Ball State University offers a program that can be completed by working professionals in just five semesters. The online MA in Public Relations degree program is housed in Ball State’s Department of Journalism, and students can choose between two concentrations for customization opportunities. The 33-39 credit hour program offers two twelve-credit hour concentrations in either Public Relations Leadership (with exciting classes such as “Case Studies of Global, Digital and Ethical PR Practice” and “Public Relations Campaigns”) or Media Analytics (with relevant topics like “Media Audiences & Content Strategy” and “Data Visualization”), and the credit hour variable comes down to the student’s choice in culminating Capstone (a three to six-hour Creative Project, three-hour Applied Research, three-hour Research Paper, or a six-hour Thesis). Classes such as “Studies in Journalism and Communication Theory” and “Business Fundamentals and Entrepreneurship in PR” are taught by the “practitioner professors” of Ball State, and students gain valuable connections through the experienced faculty. The program is entirely online through Ball State Online, and students receive all the support and services they need.
Five brothers purchased a failed school in Muncie, Indiana in the early 1900s and donated the land and buildings to the state. A new school was established, and when classes began in 1918, nearly 250 students were enrolled. Within a short period of time the school was renamed after the brothers as Ball State College, and university status in 1965 led to Ball State University. Made up of eight schools and colleges, Ball State offers nearly 350 academic degree programs to the 22,000 enrolled students, and this public research institution is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Arts in Communication Arts: Concentration Marketing Communication
Program Details: The APSU Department of Communication offers a fully online MA in Communication Arts degree with a Marketing Communication Concentration (also offered is the Media Management Concentration). The 34-credit hour program can be completed via a fast-track or at the student’s own pace for convenience. The curriculum is comprised of degree core courses (such as “Communication Law” and “Applied Communication Theory”), required concentration courses (“Marketing Communication Strategies,” for example), a required Research Paper, and the student’s choice of electives. The electives cover many topics, with classes like “Consumer and Audience Behavior,” “Ethics in a Changing Environment,” and “Communication and Public Opinion.” The APSU Department of Communication faculty teach all coursework, and have a range of experience that translates into applicable skills in the virtual classroom for the distance learner. Housed within the College of Arts and Letters, the MA in Communication degree program helps students “gain the ability to apply theoretical understanding to real world communication” and additionally provides “the environment and services to nurture student growth” to help all online students successfully complete their degree.
Named for the Tennessee governor of the day, Austin Peay, the Austin Peay Normal School was founded in Clarksville, Tennessee in 1927. Originally a teacher training institution, forty years after its establishment the school would become Austin Peay State University, and now six colleges and two schools provide over 60 majors and 100 different concentrations to the over 10,000 currently enrolled students. The fastest growing university in the state, APSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Science in Public Relations
Program Details: The MSUB Master of Science in Public Relations (MSPR) degree program is offered entirely online for students who have varying levels of public relations and communications experiences. Offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, the MSU Billings MSPR degree program requires 30-credit hours and offers four different emphasis areas: Public Relations Theory & Practice, Health Communication, Political and Public Communication, and Media and Society. Some courses are shared between all four emphasis areas (such as “Media Criticism,” “Public Relations Ethics,” and “Issues in Organizational Communication”), and some are unique to each area (like “Healthcare Marketing and Strategy,” “Public Influence,” and “Multicultural Mass Communication”). Regardless of emphasis area chosen, all students finish the degree program by taking a Comprehensive Exam. A recorded conversation between a MSPR student and faculty member serves as a way for prospective students to learn how the MSU Billing Graduate Studies program in Public Relations can help elevate a professional’s career path, as well as to give insight into what being an online student at MSUB is like.
Established as the Eastern Montana State Normal School in Billings, Montana in 1927, Montana State University Billings was the fifth installment in the Montana University System. Nearly 150 students first attended the school, but after WWII, enrollment began to climb exponentially. The name changed through the years several times, becoming Montana State University Billings (MSU Billings or MSUB) in 1995. Currently over 4,000 students are enrolled in this public university (the third largest in the state), and over 100 programs are offered through the five academic colleges. MSUB is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
#24. Purdue University
Online Master of Science in Communication with a Strategic Communication/Public Relations concentration
Program Details: Students of Purdue University’s online MS in Communications with the Strategic Communication/Public Relations concentration program enter well-prepared by first attending a new student orientation to acclimate them to online learning at Purdue. Start date choices include the fall, spring and summer, and the 30-credit hour program requires no on-campus commitments and can be completed in less than two years. Core and concentration classes such as “Strategic Communications and Ethics” and “Seminar in Global Strategic Communication” are followed by the student’s choice of electives selected from classes like “Persuasive Communication” and “Focus Groups and Interviewing for Strategic Communication.” All coursework is taught by the same award-winning on-campus Purdue University faculty members, who are “renowned for their excellence” and “strive to ensure that each student graduates with a mastery of communication.” Purdue MS in Communication degree resources are plentiful and varied, and distance learners are provided with additional online learning support services. Offered through the Brian Lamb School of Communication, the online MS in Communication degree provides students an “exceptional understanding of strategic communication and the knowledge to address messaging on international, national and local levels.”
Purdue University was founded in 1865 by declaration of the Indiana General Assembly and is “Indiana’s Land-Grant University.” Industrialist John Purdue provided a large portion of the funding and land needed to establish the school, and in return requested it be named for him. Classes began for 39 students in 1874, and now more than 40,000 students are currently enrolled in over 250 academic degree programs offered in Purdue’s ten colleges. The West Lafayette, Indiana campus is the flagship of the Purdue University System, and this land-, sea-, and space-grant institution is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
#25. Walden University
Online Master of Science in Communication
Program Details: Walden’s online MS in Communication degree program offers a built-in Graduate Certificate in Communication for professionals who want both a degree and a certificate in communication. The 30-credit hour online Walden MS in Communication degree allows up to fifteen of credit hours to be transferred into the program, allowing students to complete the degree in an even shorter period of time than the 20 months that is advertised. Comprised of core courses and a Communication Capstone, the Walden MA in Communication degree engages students in classes such as “Public Relations Concepts and Strategy,” “Marketing Communications, Storytelling, and Persuasion,” and “Crisis Communication.” Walden is known for their student-centered, distance learning approach, and as such makes available many online student services. Walden online MS in Communication students are encircled with real-world experiences, support services, student resources, and connections with fellow students and professors. Located in the College of Management and Technology and housed within the School of Management, the MS in Communication degree program employs faculty members who have presented and published numerous reports in the field.
Started as a way to assist working professionals more easily achieve their doctoral degree, Walden University was founded in 1971 by three educators. Husband and wife Bernie and Rita Turner and colleague Harold “Bud” Hodgkinson established the school in Naples, Florida, but moved it to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1982 when the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board granted them the ability to begin offering PhD and EdD degrees as well. Now over 57,000 students are enrolled in exclusively online programs from bachelor’s degrees to PhDs, and regional accreditation for this for-profit university is granted by the Higher Learning Commission.
#26. Marist College
Online Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication
Program Details: Through the Marist College School of Communication and the Arts, students can pursue an entirely online MA in in Integrated Marketing Communication degree (MA in IMC). The Marist online IMC Degree program requires 30-credit hours, and all coursework is offered asynchronously for convenience. The program can be completed on a full-time basis in just three semesters, and part-time students can take up to three years. The curriculum is made up of relevant classes such as “Global Consumer Insights,” “Social Media Strategies & Tactics,” and “Analytical Tools for Decision Making.” A final Integrated Marketing Communication Capstone course finishes the program, and Marist Communication Department faculty provide support alongside the academic advisors who are assigned to each student. The MA in IMC degree program was created with input from industry professionals, and the IMC Advisory Board is made up of leaders in the industry, so students can be sure they are enrolled in a program that is timely and well-constructed. Networking and career Development Services are comprehensive, and MA in IMC students have the benefit of resources such as the Marist College Office of Career Services even after they have graduated.
Marist College is a private, coeducational liberal arts institution located on about 200 acres in Poughkeepsie, New York. Originally a training school and seminary for future Marist Brothers in the Catholic Church, the school was founded in 1929. More than 6,500 students are currently enrolled in just under 100 academic degree and certificate programs. With a branch campus in Florence, Italy and study sites in over 25 countries, Marist College has grown in scope and academics. Marist is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#27. Full Sail University
Online Master of Arts in Public Relations
Program Details: The unique approach to education that is the hallmark of Full Sail University translates into an accelerated twelve-month online MA in Public Relations degree program ideal for students who want to earn their degree quickly and jump into the field. The 36-credit hour program emphasizes hands-on learning, offering courses such as “Innovative Public Relations Tools and Resources,” “Reputation Management Strategies,” and “The Online Media Room.” The culmination of the degree is the Full Sail Public Relations Final Project and Thesis course, which is a comprehensive capstone project. The faculty members are “deeply experienced and stay actively involved in their professions” so that they can provide to their students both a relevant education as well as mentorship and real-world guidance. Additionally, Full Sail University’s Advisory Board are on hand to keep the Public Relations curriculum fresh and up-to-the-minute. The rigorous schedule (24/7 class schedules, full-time workloads, etc.) requires a great deal of support for students to be successful, and a sense of community prevails at Full Sail with the resources and services provided.
Located in Winter Park, Florida since 1989, Full Sail University was established in Dayton, Ohio in 1979 as a recording studio. Moving to Florida in 1980 and now serving nearly 20,000 students, Full Sail University began with a focus on video and film production education but now offers over 90 associate, bachelor, and master degree programs in the fields of entertainment, media, art, and technology. Located in a suburb of Orlando, Full Sail is a private, for-profit institution with national accreditation through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Professional Studies in Strategic Communications
Program Details: Penn State’s online MPS in Strategic Communications degree program is provided entirely online through the Penn State World Campus. Housed within the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, the 30-credit hour MPS degree program is designed for mid-career professionals currently “employed in a wide range of functional specialties and industry sectors, including marketing, web content production, public relations, and copywriting” but does not require an undergraduate degree in communications. The relevant core Penn State coursework includes classes such as “Digital Media Analytics,” “Multimedia Content Development and Delivery,” and “Ethics and Decision Making in Strategic Communications.” The final capstone course (“Strategic Communications Campaigns”) allows students to apply the knowledge they have gained in all of the core coursework in a real-world project developed for an actual client. Other courses like “Reaching Multicultural Populations with Strategic Communications” and “Strategic Communications Law” round out the program along with elective choices, and all coursework is taught by the same “highly regarded” Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications graduate faculty. As a Penn State World Campus MPS distance learner, each student will receive supportive student services to help them navigate the program and be successful.
Officially “The Pennsylvania State University” and the only land-grant university in the state, Penn State was established as the Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania in 1855. The main campus (there are 24 campuses statewide) is located in University Park, and this campus is the flagship institution. Penn State has designation as a space-, sun-, and sea-grant school, and there are nearly 50,000 students enrolled at the University Park campus alone. Online programming is offered through the Penn State World Campus, and this public research university is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications
Program Details: The online MS in Integrated Marketing Communications degree program offered at West Virginia University is not just entirely online, it is offered exclusively online. The 33-credit hour program is housed within the WVU Reed College of Media and provided online by WVU Online, and it can be completed in two years. The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) degree program imparts a “practical, customizable graduate education” that can help communications professionals move on to advanced positions such as Public Relations Specialists or Public Relations and Fundraising Managers. The four core courses (such as “Audience Insight” and “Emerging Media & the Market”) are offered each term, and students choose two specialty courses along with five electives. The elective choices are varied, and students can enroll specifically in classes such as “Applied Public Relations,” “Crisis Communication,” and “Direct Marketing” in order to focus on Public Relations related subjects. All courses are taught by the professional Reed College of Media faculty members who have made their mark in the field, and all online IMC students have a full range of support provided by WVU Online.
Established in 1867 as the Agricultural College of West Virginia, the Morgantown, West Virginia institution was renamed West Virginia University (WVU) after the first year. Solely male at first, it became coeducational in 1889. A land- and space-grant university, WVU currently enrolls over 32,000 students on the main campus in Morgantown and at satellite campuses and extension centers across the state. Nearly 200 academic degree programs are housed within fifteen schools and colleges, and WVU is classified by the Carnegie Foundation with “Very High Research Activity.” The flagship university of West Virginia, WVU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
#30. Drexel University
Online Master of Science in Communication Public Communication concentration
Program Details: Drexel University’s online MS in Communication with a concentration in Public Communication prepares students for “careers in journalism, public relations, and nonprofit communication” by providing the “skills and insider knowledge to manage communications for any organization” (there are two other non-public relation concentrations also available in Science and Health Communication and Technical Communication). The 30-credit hour program (45 quarter credits delivered over four ten-week quarters allow for a shorter time in which students earn their degree) is divided into core Communication courses such as “Theories of Communication and Persuasion” and “Creating and Managing Communication Professional Identities,” and the Public Communication concentration is comprised of the student’s choice of electives from a selection of classes including “Strategic Social Media Communication,” “Foundations of Public Relations,” and “Investigative Journalism.” Housed in the Drexel College of Arts and Sciences, the MS in Communication degree boasts an impressive collection of Master’s in Communication alumni accomplishments. In addition, prospective students can read about the achievements and publications of the Communications faculty to learn more about the professors from whom they will be learning.
In 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a philanthropist named Anthony Drexel established the coeducational Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry. Located in what is now University City (a neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia), the institution went through a name change first in 1936 to become Drexel Institute of Technology, and then again when university status was gained in 1970 and Drexel University was bestowed. Over 26,000 students are currently enrolled in the approximately 200 academic degree programs offered through fifteen colleges and schools, and this private, nonsectarian institution is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online Master of Communication Management
Program Details: The prestigious USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism offers a Master of Communication Management Online degree program that is renowned for its rigor and quality. Learning from the USC Annenberg faculty, who have “deep academic expertise and extensive professional experience,” students engage in an online curriculum that was “designed to build real-world leaders for the modern workplace.” MCM Student Testimonials speak to the success of the program in creating critical thinkers and leaders, and prospective students have access to a multitude of program videos to give them insight into the program itself and what their experience would be like as an MCM distance learner. The 32-credit hour program imparts a “full toolbox of advanced skills” to graduates through the coursework (including classes like “Communication, Attitudes, Values and Behavior,” “Foundations of Effective Public Relations Writing,” and “Online Marketing Communication Development & Analysis”), as well as through the final Communication Research Practicum. An optional experience, students work with faculty advisement within their current organization to solve a communication issue, culminating in a real-world, relevant experience. Provided fully online by USC Online, students have access to support and services they need to be successful.
The University of Southern California (USC), which was founded in 1880, can thank Judge Robert Maclay Widney for its existence. Judge Widney secured funding from influential businessmen in Los Angeles to assure an institution of higher education would be established in the area. The doors opened to 53 students the first year, and now more than 45,000 students are currently enrolled in this private research university offering more than 200 academic degree programs through its seventeen schools. The oldest university in California, USC is a sea- and space-grant designated school with regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication & Innovation
Program Details: The Texas Tech College of Media & Communication provides an Online MA in Strategic Communication and Innovation that prepares graduates for “senior level positions as strategic communicators in today’s global and digital environment.” The 30-credit hour, exclusively online degree program requires courses such as “Strategic Communication in a Global Environment” and “Media Management, Entrepreneurship & Consulting” to build the strategic communication foundations, and electives such as “Multimedia Story Telling,” “Audience/Data Analysis & Reporting,” and “Advanced Social Media Practice” allow students to focus on the coursework that will specifically help them achieve their professional goals. The Texas Tech College of Media & Communication faculty are experts at the forefront of research in the Public Relations field, and students will be exposed to both theory and real-world experiences during the course of their study. For students who do not want to pursue a full master’s degree, the Texas Tech Online Graduate Certificate in Advanced Digital & Social Media is available, and this twelve-credit hour certificate program is also exclusively online.
Texas Technological College was founded in Lubbock, Texas in 1923. Classes began two years later, and over 900 coeducational students were initially enrolled. The school gained university status and the name Texas Tech University in 1969 and is now the flagship institution of the Texas Tech University System with more than 36,000 students enrolled. Over 300 academic degree programs are provided through twelve colleges and schools, and this public research university is classified with “Highest Research Activity” by the Carnegie Foundation. The sixth largest university in Texas, Texas Tech is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Public Relations
Program Details: The CBU Online Master of Arts in Public Relations degree program (MAPR) takes pride in producing professionals who can “communicate with credibility, relevance and impact.” Utilizing a faith-based and biblical context, the MAPR curriculum is comprised of 33-credit hours of courses such as “Legal, Ethical and Social Foundations of Public Relations,” “Critical Thinking and Crisis Management,” “New Media Strategies,” and “Public Relations Campaigns: Social and Physical.” The CBU public relations faculty have experience with online teacher training as well as the effects of media and public relations, and the MAPR program is delivered by the Division of Online and Professional Studies, which was “established for the specific purpose of serving the needs of an increasing number of adults and non-traditional students seeking higher education.” Distance learners have the full support of the CBU One-Stop Student Service Advisors as well, a resource made available by CBU Online as a way to equip students with all the services and support they need to succeed.
The Los Angeles Baptist Association founded California Baptist College in 1950. This school, which was located in El Monte, California, would grow to become California Baptist University. The school grew to need a larger campus, and moved to Riverside in 1955. Leadership was provided by the California Southern Baptist Convention, and now this private coeducational Christian liberal arts university enrolls nearly 10,000 students. Becoming a university in 1998, CBU has ten schools and colleges offering academic degree programs on-campus and online, and regional accreditation comes from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
#34. Lasell College
Online Master of Science in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations
Program Details: The Lasell College MS in Communication degree program provides a Public Relations concentration entirely online. The 36-credit hour program is housed within the Lasell School of Graduate & Professional Studies and caps all classes at 23 students to allow a close-knit community of faculty and peers in “an engaging and professional environment.” The MS in Communication core curriculum offers classes such as “Persuasion & Public Opinion,” “Negotiations & Conflict Resolution,” and “Communication, Ethics & Society,” while the Public Relations concentration focuses on coursework in “Writing for Public Relations,” “Principles of Public Relations,” and “Crisis Communication.” Additional elective courses and the student’s choice of a culminating element (options include a Comprehensive Exam, a Thesis, a Special Study Project, and a Professional Internship) finish the program. The student services extend to all online students, and graduate distance education students in particular benefit from the “career services programs that include webinars on developing a career plan,” as well as a well-connected alumni network and the “deep expertise” of the experienced faculty.
Chemistry professor Edward Lasell established the Auburndale Female Seminary in 1851 in Newton, Massachusetts (in the village of Auburndale). Solely for women at the time, the school became coeducational in 1997. Other major changes include a move to a full four-year, degree-granting institution in 1989, and that same year the name became Lasell College to honor the school’s founder. More than 2,000 students are currently enrolled in over 50 academic degree programs within the five schools of Lasell College, and this private college located in Auburndale, Massachusetts has regional accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations
Program Details: Designed for both seasoned pros and those who want to enter the field, the SNHU online MA in Communication with a Public Relations concentration offers relevant information and tools to all skill levels. Requiring 36-credit hours for graduation and provided entirely online, MA in Communication students engage in inventive and applicable communications classes such as “Law & Ethics: A Line in the Sand,” “More than Words: Communication by Design,” and “Second Self: Identity & Personal Brands.” The Public Relations concentration is constructed of four courses in topics like “Integrated Public Relations Campaigns & Measurement” and “Crisis Communication in a 24/7 World,” and students complete the program with a Communication Capstone. SNHU provides over 200 online degree programs, so students can be sure that both their academic needs and their support needs are met. With online professors who are leaders in their field, tutorials and examples of online classes, student testimonials and links to resources and support services, SNHU Online proves that they truly are a “leader in online education.”
Founded by husband and wife Harry A.B. Shapiro and Gertrude Crockett Shapiro in 1932, the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science was a for-profit school located in Manchester, New Hampshire. Moving to a location in between Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire and gaining a charter as a non-profit institution of higher education, the school has been known as Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) since 2001. More than 80,000 students are enrolled, mostly online, and the private, nonsectarian university is made up of six academic colleges. SNHU has regional accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
#36. University of Denver
Online Master of Arts in Communication Management with a concentration in Public Relations
Program Details: The 48-credit hour online MA in Communication Management degree program at University of Denver University College provides students with six concentration options, specifically one in Public Relations. The fully online degree can be completed in as little as eighteen months—all students participate in the same twelve credits of core courses, such as “Research, Measurement, and Storytelling” and “Business Fundamentals for Communicators,” and choose between a final Capstone Project or Portfolio Capstone. The Public Relations concentration courses comprise fifteen-credit hours of the degree program, and cover topics like “Communication and Society: Theories and Applications” and “Dimensions of Reputation Management.” An additional nine credits of electives round out the program, and students can (with approval) choose from within any other University College program to source their classes. As a program of the University College (the University of Denver’s online education experience), online MA in Communication Management in Public Relations degree students find an environment that is respectful of their “commitment of time, resources, and energy” replete with services and support (such as advisors) and a faculty made up of experienced practitioners.
Founded as the Colorado Seminary in the wild west atmosphere that prevailed in the mid-1800s, the University of Denver (DU) was begun by Methodists who hoped to tame the area. Opened in 1864, the school would not tame the mining town, but instead move outside of the city in less than two decades and go through a name change in 1880 to officially become DU. Over 300 academic degree programs are provided in the ten schools and colleges that make up DU, and approximately 12,000 students are currently enrolled. A private research university, DU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
#37. Rowan University
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
Program Details: Provided as a partially online program through Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships and previously known as the Master of Arts in Public Relations, Rowan University’s MA in Strategic Communication degree program allows students more freedom in focusing on an area within their professional interests. Students can choose to focus on “media relations, strategic writing, event planning and management, visual communication, online public relations, or school public relations,” and all coursework is taught by the Rowan University faculty, who have experience both in the field and in the classroom. Classes are relevant and accessible in a hybrid format (evening face-to-face classes and online classes), with a 33-credit hour curriculum made up of required courses like “Graduate Strategic Case Studies and Public Relations Planning” and “Graduate Strategic Visual Communication.” The remaining classes are chosen in conjunction with the student’s focus area, and there is no thesis requirement to complete the degree. For students who desire an entirely online experience, the nine-credit hour Rowan School Public Relations Certificate of Graduate Study is available. Students can complete the certificate online and apply the credits towards the MA in Strategic Communication degree.
Classes began for the much-anticipated Glassboro Normal School in 1923 for 236 students, many of whom arrived fresh off the train that first morning. Located in Glassboro, New Jersey, the school went through many name changes and expansions through the years—becoming a full four-year school in 1934 and becoming Rowan University in 1997 in honor of Henry and Betty Rowan, who had gifted a sizable amount to the school in 1992. Twelve schools and colleges comprise this public research university, and over 125 academic degree programs are offered to nearly 20,000 currently enrolled students. Regional accreditation comes from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
#38. Maryville University
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership
Program Details: Promising an “experience-driven degree,” the online MA in Strategic Communication and Leadership program at Maryville University makes it possible for students to “graduate with at least three in-demand professional certifications” (from Google AdWords, Salesforce, and HubSpot). The completely online coursework in the 36-credit hour program is comprised of a Strategic Leadership core, a Strategic Communication core, electives, and an optional Emerging and Digital Media Concentration. Classes are rigorous but student-centered, covering topics like “Strategic Communication Best Practices,” “Public Relations Research & Strategy,” and “Professional & Organizational Ethics,” and Emerging and Digital Media Concentration focus on subjects like “Social Network and Search Engine Optimization,” “Digital Media Campaigns,” and “Digital Market Metrics & Analytics.” All courses are taught by the Maryville College of Arts and Science faculty, who are accomplished, published practitioners in the field. Maryville is proud of its commitment to innovation and relevant distance education programs, and as a way to offer insight into the atmosphere of the school, Maryville Online Blog provides information on education trends, resources, and career-oriented articles.
Founded in 1872 by the sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as Maryville Academy of the Sacred Heart, Maryville University was originally a school for women. Now located in the west St. Louis County suburb of Town and Country, Missouri, the school was first located in Mount Pleasant. Moves, expansions, and name changes prevailed through the years, and now this private coeducational (since 1968) university enrolls almost 10,000 students. Nearly 100 academic degree programs are offered by the six schools and colleges of Maryville, and regional accreditation comes from the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Arts in Communication with a Public Relations concentration
Program Details: The WNE College of Arts & Sciences presents an exclusively online MA in Communications degree program with a Public Relations concentration. Students can begin the WNE MA in Communications in Public Relations program in the fall, spring, or summer and finish all the requirements for the degree in as little as fifteen months (students who take one course per term can finish in two and a half years). Coursework is comprised of core courses such a “Crisis Management and Public Relations” and “Manufacturing and Managing Public Opinion,” and public relations electives include classes such as “Strategic Approaches to Public Relations” and “Strategies for Social and Digital Media.” The “extensive experience” of the WNE Department of Communication faculty enables them to be both “professors and mentors” to online students, and recent graduates of the program detail the advantages of the online WNE MA in Communication with a Public Relations concentration program as well as how it helped shape their professional success.
Western New England University started as an extension of Northeastern College in 1919. Located in Springfield, Massachusetts and known as Springfield-Northeastern, the school became an independent institution in its own right: Western New England College in 1951 and Western New England University (WNE) in 2011. A private university with just under 4,000 currently enrolled students, WNE houses five schools and colleges and is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Regional accreditation for WNE comes from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Online Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication
Program Details: The Illinois MS in Strategic Brand Communication (MS SBC) degree program is offered online to cater towards the needs of busy professionals. Students benefit from the program being jointly provided by the Department of Business Administration in the Gies College of Business and the Sandage Department of Advertising in the College of Media. The interdisciplinary 32-credit hour curriculum is split evenly between the two departments and constructed to be completed quickly in just fifteen months, with completely online class topics such as “Strategic Branding: Global Perspectives,” “Consumer Insights,” and “Managing Projects and Teams.” The program is ideal for the working professional who not only wants to influence public relations for their company but also desires to earn a “contemporary business management education with the latest in strategic integrated marketing, advertising and multimedia communications, in order to be a leader in the field.” The insightful and engaged University of Illinois faculty provide guidance and support as well as relevant coursework to the student cohorts, and past MS SBC students have stated that the degree is the “right program, at the right time, at the right place.”
One of the first land-grant universities established after the passage of the Morrill Act of 1862, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (“Illinois”) was founded as the Illinois Industrial University in 1867. Classes began the following year with 77 students, and the school was located in both Champaign and Urbana. Now sixteen schools and colleges offer over 250 academic degree programs to more than 45,000 currently enrolled students, and this public research institution is designated as a land-, sea-, and space-grant school. The flagship of the University of Illinois System, Illinois has regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
#41. Fordham University
Online Master of Science in Strategic Marketing Communications
Program Details: Three start dates a year and the ability to complete the program in as little as twelve months makes the online MS in Strategic Marketing Communications degree at Fordham very appealing to fast-paced professionals. Located in the Fordham University Gabelli School of Business, the 33-credit hour online MS in Strategic Marketing Communications degree offers coursework that will teach students to “utilize a variety of approaches, such as purpose-driven campaigns, content marketing, and storytelling to build sustainable relationships” in their careers. The Fordham MS in Strategic Marketing Communications curriculum provides foundational and relevant online coursework in both media and communication classes and marketing classes, such as “Crisis Communication and Leadership Strategies,” “Marketing Strategy,” and “Social and Digital Media.” Offered by Fordham Business Online, students are required to participate in at least one three-day, on-campus residency at the Gabelli School, which is “located in the heart of this global media hub” of New York. Led by the expertise of the Gabelli School of Business communications and media management faculty, students gain the skills to be successful as well as the benefit of joining an active and influential alumni network.
Established in New York City as St. John’s College in 1841, Fordham University was the “daring and dangerous undertaking” of future Archbishop of New York, John Hughes. Six students were the first in attendance, and within five years the school would be sold to the Jesuits—leading it to be known as “The Jesuit University of New York.” Now housing nine schools, Fordham currently enrolls more than 16,000 students over five campus locations and online. A private Jesuit research university with “High Research Activity” (Carnegie classification), Fordham is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Management
Program Details: CSP Online provides an online MA in Strategic Communication Management degree program that provides students with the foundation of expertise in “emerging technologies, industry innovation, leadership and intercultural communication.” The 36-credit hour MA degree program is housed in Concordia’s College of Business and Technology and can be completed entirely online. The curriculum covers a multitude of relevant topics, with classes such as “Communication Inquiry & Measurement,” “Strategic Customer Experience,” and “Intercultural Communication,” and all students end with the “Reflection and Capstone” course. Concordia University, St. Paul has a proven track record of success for online program graduates, and the MA in Strategic Communication Management degree program in particular benefits from the CSP Cohort-Based Learning model that the institution utilizes for all degree programs (regardless of online or on-campus). The model uses a “collaboration over competition” approach, and students progress through the program together, offering support and a built-in network. Prospective students can learn more about the online learning experience from Concordia St. Paul Online Student Testimonials and Concordia Open House events.
Originally established as a school for male high school students who wanted to become ministers within the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Concordia University, St. Paul (Concordia) began as Concordia High School in 1893. Going through changes such as adding a junior college and eventually separating from the high school, Concordia has grown through the years. Women were admitted as students for the first time in 1950, and the school grew to a degree-granting institution in 1962. Over 4,000 students are currently enrolled in this St. Paul, Wisconsin university, and regional accreditation comes from the Higher Learning Commission.
Online Master of Arts in Mass Communication
Logo courtesy of Stephen F. Austin University
Program Details: The SFA online MA in Mass Communication degree programs allows students to construct the bulk of the program from their elective choices for immense customization. Required courses for this 36-credit hour program include classes like “Media & Society” and “Media Law & Ethics,” and the electives range from a “Seminar in Public Relations” course to classes such as “Management Problems in Media” and “Broadcast Sales.” Students also have their choose of culminating experience—they can opt for a Non-Thesis project, a Thesis, or a Media Project. Additionally, the program is “individually designed to meet the specific objectives of each student,” which means that prior coursework, relevant work history, and future career goals are all taken into account and discussed with the student’s dedicated graduate coordinator. Offered through SFA Online, the MA in Mass Communication degree program provides tech support and resources to help distance learners find success. Prospective students can read about the positive experiences of past online students through the SFA Online student testimonials, and resources such as the SFA Online Video Viewing Checklist help make sure that all online students are fully prepared as they enter their program.
In 1917, the Texas Legislature voted to establish a state teacher’s college and located the school in Nacogdoches, Texas. Named after one of the founders of Texas, the Stephen F. Austin Teachers College welcomed students to the first classes in 1923. Gaining university status in 1969 and now known as Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA), the public university enrolls almost 13,000 students in seven schools and colleges. Main campus covers over 400 acres and is joined by over 600 acres for agriculture and a 2,500-plus forest and field stations. Regional accreditation comes from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
#44. Mississippi College
Online Master of Science in Communication Public Relations and Corporate Communication
Logo courtesy of Mississippi College
Program Details: Offered through the Department of Communication in the School of Christian Studies and the Arts, Mississippi College’s online Master of Science in Communication (MSC) degree program “melds theory and practice.” The 31-credit hour Mississippi College MSC degree program offers a focus on Public Relations and Corporate Communication (in addition to other focus areas in Journalism and Theater, and two additional degrees in Professional Communication in Health Services and Professional Communication in Sports), and students engage in classes like “Practices in Public Relations,” “Media Sales,” “Managing in a Global Environment,” and “Consumer Behavior.” Some coursework is offered through the AACSB-accredited MC School of Business, so students are getting a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education. An affordable and established institution, Mississippi College promises online students both the convenience of online coursework and the prestige of a renowned school. MC Online provides small classes and an interactive online experience through the Moodle Course Management System, and online students can be sure they are in good hands with the experienced MC Communication Department faculty, who “care about students as learners and individuals.”
Chartered by the Mississippi Legislature as Hampstead Academy, Mississippi College got its start in 1826, making it the oldest institution of higher education in the state. Two name changes occurred before the school was even five years old—first to Mississippi Academy in 1827 and then to Mississippi College in 1830. Not religiously affiliated at the beginning, now MC has a strong Christian tradition with the Mississippi Baptist Convention. Over 125 academic degree programs are currently offered to more than 5,000 students, and this private Baptist college located in Clinton, Mississippi is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.
#45. Webster University
Online Master of Arts in Public Relations
Program Details: Webster University’s online MA in Public Relations degree program is housed within the School of Communication and provided entirely online. Requiring 36-credit hours, the online MA in Public Relations degree is located in the Department of Communications & Journalism and comprised of 27-credits of core coursework such as “Media and Culture,” “Media Organization and Regulations,” and “Strategic Communication Applications.” The remaining nine-credit hours are made up of the student’s choose of electives taken from a selection within the Webster School of Communication (classes from a different School may be allowed if a student can prove the relevance to their academic and professional goals). All coursework is taught by the Webster School of Communication faculty, who have many combined years of industry and teaching experience. With a focus on “how entrepreneurship, ethical frameworks and globalization provide key components shaping the current practice of public relations,” the online MA in Public Relations degree program at Webster University produces graduates who are prepared with the key “insights necessary to pursue a career in public relations or a related field.”
Webster University was started as Loretto College in 1915 by the Sisters of Loretto. Located in the St. Louis, Missouri suburb of Webster Groves, the institution is distinguished as being one of the first Catholic women’s colleges to be established west of the Mississippi River. Five students made up the first class, but now more than 20,000 are enrolled. Five schools and colleges and several branch campuses make up this private university—coeducational since the first males were admitted in 1962 and renamed “Webster University” since 1983—and the Higher Learning Commission provides regional accreditation.