A public relations specialist must be energetic, have exceptional communication skills (verbal as well as written), and have a high tolerance for crowds and busy spaces. Students obtaining an accredited online masters degree in public relations from the best accredited online public relations master’s degree programs will learn and hone these characteristics as they progress.
An accredited online bachelor’s degree in public relations in public relations, journalism, or communications is typically required to enter into an online public relations master’s degree program.
The majority of accredited online public relations master’s degree students have one of the following bachelor’s degrees under their belt from one of the best online schools:
- Communications/Media Specialist
- Lobbying (Political)
- Business Administration
Furthermore, some online students have worked in the field as interns, print and electronic journalists in some capacity, and in positions that gave them leadership and communication skills.
Good online master’s degree programs in public relations typically take between two to three years to complete. The types of public relations degrees offered by the best public relations master’s programs online include:
- Master of Science in Public Relations (MS in Public Relations)
- Master of Arts in Public Relations (MA in Public Relations)
The best online master’s degree programs in public relations have a curriculum that is meant to make the online student well-rounded in several disciplines. Information technology (IT), healthcare administration, science, sales, marketing, political science, and creative writing are usually included. These courses give the student the tools he or she needs to effectively facilitate communication between the public and a myriad of different kinds of organizations.
These are some of the courses that can be expected with an accredited online public relations master’s degree program from a top online school:
- Political Science: A good accredited online public relations masters degree program will include a course on government affairs, political theory, drafting press releases, preparing speeches, and communicating with those in leadership.
- Sociology: This is a social science class that trains students to conduct critical analysis and scientific investigation into the social activity of humans. This often entails the themes of both social welfare and of social structures.
- Writing: This online masters degree in public relations teaches students the fundamentals of creative and professional writing and sometimes is called visual and media communications. Students learn guidelines and rules on how to be an effective writer, whether it is in the media, government, business industry, or non-profit sector.
- Psychology: Often confused but closely related with sociology, psychology is the science of understanding and explaining mental processes and behaviors of individuals and groups of individuals.
- Journalism: The top online master’s degree in public relations programs will have at least one journalism class. Journalism is the investigation and reporting of issues, events, culture, and society to the public. Much of it entails writing, editing, photography, and/or video production.
Specializations and Concentrations
Because public relations is a broad field, in order to become an expert in a specific niche, some online master’s public relations students will pursue specialties or concentrations in areas including:
- Advertising and Marketing
- Media Relations
- Client/Investor Relations
- Speech Writing
- Interest-group Representation
- Government Representation
Accredited online public relations master’s degree graduates open the door to a wide range of career options. Common career paths for online masters degree public relations graduates include:
- Editor/Journalist: An editor or journalist is charged with delivering quality, factual, objective and non-biased news to the general public. Often, there will be a targeted demographic, though. Professionals in broadcast and electronic news earn an average of $42,000 according to the labor bureau, and up to $72,000 for seasoned journalists. The field is expected to stay around the neutral point, with the average hiring and turnover cycle being constant.
- Public Relations Specialist: A public relations specialist is a public advocate for an organization or group of individuals. These specialists ensure good relationships between the organization and public through a plethora of devices and techniques. The average salary for this job begins at $38,000 and reaches to more than $97,000 per year with experience and education. According to the Bureau of Labor, the job market for public relations specialist is expected to grow 24% by the year 2018.
- Lobbyist: Also known as public relation agents or advertising specialists, these are extremely competitive jobs that require above average skills in communications and media, marketing, establishing and promoting relationships and goods/services, and promoting an organization’s agenda. The average annual salary for a lobbyist/public relation agent is $75,000 or more. This career is expected to grow just slightly in the next few years.
- Public Relations Manager: This person often provides leadership and management to other public relations personnel and is charged with setting the firm’s tone of message and strategy for delivering it to the public via its employees. The average annual salary for a public relations manager is $60,000, but varies widely according to the organization’s size, the individual’s experience and education, and his or her length of service. The Bureau of Labor predicts that careers in this sector will grow 13% by 2013.
An online master’s degree in public relations, or a concentration of, is not always mandatory. However, those with an online master’s degree will have the edge in a extremely competitive job market.