The 19 Best Online Bachelor’s in Public Relations Programs
| TBS Staff
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Every organization requires a public relations specialist to represent its mission and values to both the media and the public. Over the last few years, social media has dominated the profession, making the career an exciting one for individuals with social media expertise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects positions in the field to grow 9% from 2016–2026, outpacing the average growth rate among all occupations. Students with a bachelor’s degree in public relations should find a variety of employment opportunities available upon graduation.
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Online Bachelor’s in Public Relations Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
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The Best Online Bachelor’s in Public Relations Degree Programs
The University of Florida offers an online bachelor’s of public relations degree that prepares graduates to take on challenging careers in professional communications. The curriculum provides intensive instruction in writing and research where students learn the latest innovations in digital communication strategy and digital media technical skills.
This undergraduate degree requires students to complete 124 semester hours, including 52 hours within the major. Professional elective courses allow students to develop skills in areas of photojournalism, feature writing, advertising, and fundraising. Students compete in the Public Relations Student Society of America’s Bateman Case Study Competition, which requires students to apply the theories they’ve studied in developing and implementing a public relations campaign for nonprofit organizations. The University of Florida holds more wins in this contest than any other university.
The University of Florida offers 19 degrees with fully online paths. Students may attend school full or part time, and most classes allow students to complete assignments around their existing commitments with asynchronous class formats.
While students work with faculty from the on-campus colleges, UF OneStop provides a centralized office for the registrar, financial affairs, and bursar’s offices. The school accepts first-time students, transfer students, or nontraditional students looking to complete a degree or update their skillset. Public relations online students must own a Mac laptop, a digital recorder, and a digital camera to complete their assignments.
UF offers discounted tuition to online students, deducting the cost of on-campus fees for some on-campus student services. Students in the Gainesville, Florida area may elect to purchase a fee package to attend athletic events or use the student fitness facilities. All students may access the school’s career services and libraries, and the online Student Plaza makes it easy for students to network and communicate.
The University of Memphis offers students in its bachelor’s degree in public relations program the opportunity to take part in service learning experiences, from helping boost school spirit to working with nonprofit organizations on effective communications and awareness campaigns. The curriculum not only develops strong writing skills, but also develops analytical thinking and strategic planning abilities.
Students must complete 120 credits for this degree, including 21 credits in journalism and strategic media. These courses provide a foundation in areas of writing, visual media, ethics, and media law. The public relations curriculum includes case studies, crisis communications, research, marketing, and management. Students gain internship opportunities from the university’s relationships with fellow Memphis institutions like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or FedEx. Meeman 901 Strategies, a student-led communications firm, and the school’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter provide additional opportunities for professional development, networking, and career preparation.
The UofM Global Campus offers access to more than 60 degrees. Students do not need to have prior college experience to enter the program, but the school does accept transfer students. Students who have completed an associate degree from an accredited school can accelerate their progress toward a bachelor’s degree. Admissions counselors can help ensure students earn credit for appropriate professional and life experience, as well.
UofM students enjoy full access to library services, career services, and technical support. The eCourseware online learning environment allows for students and faculty to communicate and interact, while the Smarthinking program provides online tutoring in more than 40 subject areas.
Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, Pennsylvania, offers students seeking a bachelor’s in public relations and advertising an option to specialize in strategic communications. The interdisciplinary curriculum includes instruction in writing, economics, and humanities.
The undergraduate degree plan requires 120 credits, including 14 core courses and 21 credits in strategic communications. Students also prepare for the latest innovations in the field, including studies in social media and global public relations practice. The capstone in this course uses case studies to provide students a comprehensive exercise in developing a public relations communications project.
The Canvas learning platform provides a flexible and convenient way to complete coursework with its asynchronous classes.
The World Campus Student Center offers chatrooms for students to discuss projects and classes while forming lasting friendships. Online students may also get involved in student clubs, such as the Organizational Leadership Club, and take part in improving the student experience through the advisory board.
The library offers a distance delivery service, free e-book access, and live chat session with reference librarians. Online tutoring through Tutor.com provides help with assignments and online study groups for math and statistics courses. Tech Tutors provide real-time tech support to access the online learning platform with information on how to use many software applications. Penn State encourages high school graduates, transfer students, and nontraditional students to apply for admission to the world campus. Students may transfer credits earned at accredited institutions.
Drexel University offers a top online bachelor’s public relations degree that combines research methods with written and visual communication skills. The 180-quarter credit curriculum includes intensive writing, speaking, and design courses. Students apply theory to develop strategic communication plans and learn how to measure campaign results. Drexel’s unique cooperative education program matches students to employers in 32 states and 51 countries, gaining hands-on experience in public relations while working with top employers in the field.
Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ranks among the largest private universities in the nation, with more than 5,000 students taking advantage of the 140 degrees and certificates offered. Founded in 1891, Drexel continues to lead technology innovations in education, including launching online studies in 1996.
All students enjoy access to the Digital Dragon community where students and faculty build professional networks, share their experiences, and offer ongoing support and encouragement. The university library provides full access to materials, including printed volumes and online databases. The Writing Center offers one-on-one assistance and paper review. Test-drive events allow prospective students to try out the online learning system before applying.
The rolling admissions calendar offers four convenient start times each year. The program accepts first-year students and students transferring from regionally accredited schools. Students may apply up to 135 quarter credits, equivalent to 90 semester credits, toward degree requirements. The quarter credit system allows students to complete classes in 10 weeks and progress quickly through their degree plan.
Students learn to craft compelling stories and drive audience behavior through Old Dominion University’s bachelor’s in public relations program. The communications degree plan offers an in-depth study of corporate and organizational messaging through the public relations, advocacy, and persuasion concentration. The fully online degree leads to a bachelor of science degree, though students with prior college credits may choose a bachelor of arts degree completion option, as well. The degree requires 120 credits, including 18 hours in the communication core courses, research methods, writing intensive, and upper-level social science courses, and 24 hours in the public relations concentration. The department of communication and theatre arts offers a diverse course catalog, allowing students to pursue specific areas of interest, such as public speaking, rhetoric, journalism, marketing, and new media. Internships, research projects, and practicum electives offer hands-on learning opportunities.
More than 11,000 students take advantage of Old Dominion’s online programs, most balancing their education with careers and family responsibilities. The Norfolk, Virginia, university began offering distance education in the 1980s, working with the Virginia Community College System. ODU continues those partnerships today, offering guaranteed admission to graduates of select community colleges in the state, while making use of new technologies in web conferencing and video streaming. Most online classes utilize an asynchronous format, but some courses may require students to be online at specific times each week.
Transfer students may bring as many as 90 college credits to apply towards degree requirements. Old Dominion accepts credits from accredited schools, if students have earned at least a C in the course. An online transfer evaluation helps students gauge how many credits will successfully transfer towards their new degree path.
Colorado State University has multiple paths to a public relations bachelor’s degree online through CSU Global. The school offers concentrations in public relations through its undergraduate degrees in communication, marketing, and business management, allowing students to align their coursework with long-term career goals. The five-course, 15-hour concentration prepares graduates to take on careers in internal corporate communications, external relations, and digital marketing, including roles in global organizations. Students complete a project portfolio that highlights a student’s talents and skills.
Colorado State in Greenwood Village, Colorado launched the global campus in 2007 as an online, independent university within the Colorado State University System Board of Governors. Advisory boards made up of industry experts designed the curriculum around the needs of working adults, ensuring courses provide instruction in skills relevant to the field. Asynchronous classes help students balance school, work, and family responsibility, while accelerated eight-week class schedules help students focus on each subject area before moving on to the next course.
Online students enjoy access to the school’s libraries, career counseling, tutoring services, and tech support. The Student Assistance Program offers additional non-academic support services, such as help with mental health issues, financial planning, and relationship counseling. Students also know the upfront cost of each degree, locking in tuition rates if the student maintains good academic standing. Students can accelerate completion of the 120-credit undergraduate degree through the transfer of previously completed courses or by demonstrating competency in courses through recognized exams. CSU also offers college credit for military training or through a prior learning assessment.
Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi combines the writing and messaging expertise of the department of communications with the strategic marketing skills of the department of business in an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in public relations. The accelerated online format provides nontraditional students flexibility in completing their educational goals. The communications core includes foundations of writing public speaking and graphics software, while the 18-credit hour public relations concentration consists of multimedia journalism study. Students complete hands-on learning experiences and assemble a portfolio of their work throughout the program. Students may also consider a minor in marketing or a related field to further their specialization.
Students can earn up to 30 credits a year, completing a 130-credit undergraduate degree in about four years. Each class meets for eight weeks through the asynchronous online learning platform Moodle. The web-based software allows students to communicate with faculty members, access course lectures and related instructional materials, take part in student discussions, and submit assignments.
The office of student support helps students succeed with assistance and encouragement from academic advisors, and the writing center provides free one-on-one consultations on writing assignments. Distance students may access library resources, including online databases. Online students may also use tutoring and career services at no charge during the course of their studies.
The school offers a smooth transition for community college graduates seeking to complete their degree.
Students may transfer general education classes and applicable specialty courses successfully completed at regionally accredited institutions. MC discounts tuition for the accelerated programs.
A bachelor’s degree in public relations is as little as 16 months away with California Baptist University’s online program. This Baptist school incorporates ethics throughout the 48 credits of major study. Students gain a strong foundation in journalistic principles, organizational communications, marketing, business management, and digital communications. The accelerated course format allows students to focus on one or two courses every eight weeks, with year-round, rolling admissions. Students must complete oral communications and composition courses before beginning major coursework.
CBU, located in Riverside, California, designed its online and professional studies for nontraditional students, many of whom must balance work and personal commitments. More than 40 degrees provide a path to in-demand careers. Applicants may transfer up to 100 credits from prior college attendance, and CBU offers college credit for recognized standardized exams. The school participates in state and federal student aid programs to provide scholarships and payment plans.
California Baptist University maintains affiliation with the California Southern Baptist Convention. More than 9,000 students study within the 75 undergraduate, 31 master’s, and three doctorate degrees for working adults.
Students may complete all courses online or through one of the educational service centers in Brea, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, and Temecula, though distance students have full access to academic support services like tutoring and career services. Faculty members offer online or in-person office hours. The Blackboard online learning platform allows students to utilize multimedia instructional resources in an asynchronous format. Discussion boards allow students to explore theories and key concepts through collaboration on group learning projects.
Geneva College, a private Presbyterian college in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, offers a public relations bachelor’s degree online through its adult program. The public relations curriculum includes a foundation in areas of digital and traditional communications, marketing, and crisis management, preparing graduates to take on numerous communications roles after graduation. The 120-credit undergraduate degree includes 36 required credits in communications and public relations. Geneva also offers electives in areas of organizational analysis and professional development. Foundations of Christian Thought and humanities courses help students develop their worldview from a biblical perspective.
Students with prior college experience may transfer credits completed at regionally accredited schools. Geneva also offers college credit for military training, industry certifications, and professional development courses, all which can accelerate a student’s progress toward graduation.
Geneva College designed it’s 10 adult programs with working students in mind. Programs feature an accelerated format that allows students to complete their undergraduate degree in 16 months. Terms last about eight weeks and students may attend full or part time. The online learning system connects students to their instructors, classmates, and library resources. The school also provides students with Office 365 at no charge.
The school maintains a 12:1 student to faculty ratio, ensuring students receive the attention and support they need. In addition, more than 75% of undergraduates take advantage of internship opportunities or other applied learning activities, gaining valuable hands-on experience before entering the field. The school boasts 96% of graduates have entered the workforce or enrolled in graduate school within one year of graduation.
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire learn to engage diverse audiences through a curriculum that focuses on written, verbal, and visual communications. With required courses in writing, public speaking, graphics and layout, and electronic public relations, students gain an understanding of business communication theory and the skills necessary to successfully apply those methods.
This undergraduate degree in public relations requires the completion of 120 credits, though SNHU offers a generous credit transfer policy, allowing students to apply up to 90 credits of prior college work towards their degree. Academic counselors work with each online student to develop a degree plan and help learners transition to the flexible, online learning platform. SNHU utilizes an accelerated semester format, with six terms each year. Faculty not only hold advanced degrees in their field, but also possess relevant, practical experience. SNHU ensures all instructors have the skills necessary to deliver engaging courses in an online environment.
The private, nonprofit university serves more than 80,000 students through its fully online programs. New Hampshire University has earned honors from the United States Distance Learning Association and U.S. News and World Report for innovative educational technology and distance education. SNHU developed multiple support services to help online students succeed, including an online writing center and tutoring services, career development and counseling services, 24-hour technical support services, and online library services. An online student lounge helps students develop personal relationships, share ideas, and collaborate on assignments.
Writing and communications technology make up the core of the University of Minnesota-Crookston’s bachelor’s in public relations. Students complete intensive courses in communication theory and writing in the communications curriculum, including utilizing new technology for effective communication. The organizational communication/public relations emphasis builds upon the intensive writing curriculum with additional training in event planning, publication design, and crisis communications. Courses in persuasion and behavioral science research help students learn practical techniques for influencing audiences. Students may also seek internship opportunities for college credit and work experience. Faculty also assist students in developing a portfolio to showcase their best work. The degree requires the completion of 120 credits.
The Crookston campus pioneered online learning within the University of Minnesota system, offering flexible educational options for working students. The school offers 15 fully online degrees and certificates for professional development through its Center for Adult Learning. Online students enjoy access to dedicated faculty and academic advisors and may also take part in study abroad programs, available in more than 60 countries. As a recognized leader in instructional technology for more than 20 years, UMC ensures faculty excel in online instruction and provide personalized attention to students.
Classes follow the traditional 15-week semester format, with three semesters each year. However, the Moodle online learning platform delivers asynchronous instruction, with students completing assignments and taking part in discussions at their convenience.
Online students do not pay out-of-state tuition, and the school accepts transfer credit from accredited institutions. Online students may access library resources and an online bookstore.
Point Park University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offers a comprehensive public relations bachelor’s degree online. The bachelor of arts in public relations and advertising teaches students the analytical and creative skills necessary to develop, implement, and measure an integrated marketing campaign for businesses, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations. Students study writing, visual communications, multimedia storytelling, and social media marketing.
The undergraduate degree requires 125 credits, including participation in the National Student Advertising Competition of the American Advertising Federation or the IMC Agency course, where students work in the student-run advertising and public relations agency Wood Street Communications. Both classes offer hands-on experience in planning a communications strategy and allow students to develop a portfolio of their work. These courses provide a capstone experience that helps students bring together all their coursework in a cumulative session. The school also maintains relationships with numerous Fortune 500 companies, many of whom host students for internships. Students also gain experience in the latest technological innovations in public relations and media campaigns.
Point Park began as a business training school in 1933. Today, it serves nearly 4,000 students in almost 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school established its first graduate program in journalism and mass communication in 1981.
The advertising and public relations degree plan utilizes an accelerated course format, with each class lasting eight weeks. Most students complete the program in two to four years. Each student works one-on-one with an enrollment counselor to ensure students receive credit for applicable prior learning. The school also accepts credits from accredited institutions.
The Texas State University school of journalism ensures graduates of its bachelor’s in public relations have the skills necessary to succeed in the ever-changing field. Courses include practical guidance in writing and editing for mass media. Texas State also offers concentrations in digital media, multimedia production, or sports media. Digital media classes ensure students can utilize essential design elements, such as color, typography, and photography for a variety of media projects. Likewise, advanced social media and analytics guarantee students can harness the power of social media networks as part of integrated communications plans. Instructors incorporate lab sessions for hands-on learning experiences. Students may also take advantage of internship opportunities or student media positions, including positions with Bobcat Promotions, a professional, student-run public relations company.
Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas serves more than 38,000 students.
Students complete 40 hours of specialized instruction in their major as part of the 120-hour undergraduate degree plan. In addition, all students must submit a portfolio of their work prior to graduation.
Texas State uses the TRACS learning management platform for online course delivery, allowing for online class discussions, tests and quizzes, and convenient access to course materials. Distance students may access library resources, such as research databases and reference assistance. Students may also receive books by mail or borrow from participating Texas libraries. Unless otherwise required, all online classes allow students to participate according to their schedule.
Franklin University, a private university in Columbus, Ohio, designed its bachelor’s degree in public relations with the needs of working students in mind. Professionals bring their expertise to students with hands-on, practical experience. The 124-credit undergraduate degree models the Public Relations Society of America standards, with 48 hours in the professional core curriculum required. Classes include writing, verbal communication, marketing, and theories of work motivation. Students learn how to work with clients, develop internal communication processes, plan special events, and utilize digital communications and social media campaigns. The public relations capstone allows teams of students to complete an integrated communications plan for a client using written and digital products.
This degree takes about four years to complete, though Franklin offers a generous transfer policy, with more than 90% of students transferring credits from other schools. Students can apply up to 94 transfer credits towards their undergraduate degree, and an unofficial transfer assessment can help students gauge how many credits they need to complete required courses. Transfer programs may allow graduates of partner community colleges to complete a bachelor’s degree in only one year. Students can also earn credit for military training and professional certifications.
Three trimesters each year offer multiple start times for students, while numerous course lengths and asynchronous classes allow students to arrange their school schedule to meet their specific needs. Students may also access free tutoring, writing assistance, and library resources online.
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in public relations will find a quality curriculum offered entirely online from Montana State University Billings. Modeled after the Public Relations Society of America’s recommendations, the curriculum blends theoretical instruction in communication with the practical application of writing, speaking, and design skills. The degree requires 120 credits, with 45 credits in the public relations curriculum. Public relations courses in organizational communication, ethics, and media for social change explore the psychology that often drives communications decisions. Internship opportunities and a capstone course allow students to apply their skills and develop work samples they can show prospective employers.
MSU Billings helps students accelerate their degree path with generous transfer policies. Students may also earn credit for prior military or professional experience. The school offers many programs that assist veterans, as well.
MSU Billings provides more than 240 classes online each semester, making it a leader in distance education in the state. The school uses the Desire2Learn online education platform. Most courses do not require students to adhere to a class schedule, so students can complete assignments when convenient for them. Academic support, including online tutoring, helps students find the resources they need to be successful. Online students also have access to career assessments, job listings, and job search assistance through the career services office.
The accelerated public relations bachelor’s degree online from Louisiana State University Shreveport prepares graduates to enter the communications field or take the next step in continuing their studies through a graduate degree.
The bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a concentration in public relations not only provides hands-on instruction in writing, editing, and public relations, but also introduces students to the latest innovations and technology in digital and new media. LSUS requires students complete 120 credits, with 31 hours of communications and public relations study. Faculty members utilize a "learning through engagement" instructional method that helps students cultivate critical thinking abilities while developing the technical expertise required. Sophomore and senior seminars ensure students have mastered the skills of their trade, with students completing a professional portfolio of their work.
The Moodle online platform delivers the seven-week courses in an asynchronous format. LSUS offers rolling admissions and six terms each year. Enrollment specialists provide personalized assistance for students throughout the admissions process, including registering for classes and applying for financial aid. Students work with these individuals through their degree completion. Online students enjoy access to the LSUS library, bookstore, and career services resources. Students may transfer credits earned at accredited institutions.
A member of the Louisiana State University system, the Shreveport campus serves more than 5,700 students with 21 undergraduate and 12 graduate programs. Four undergraduate and 14 graduate degrees are offered online. Most faculty members hold terminal academic degrees, and the school maintains a 19:1 student to teacher ratio, ensuring all students receive a quality education.
Students can prepare for a career in advertising with a public relations bachelor’s degree online through Regent University. The curriculum weaves business fundamentals and biblical principals throughout the communications studies core. Students seeking the advertising and public relations concentration develop persuasive writing and speaking skills, while also learning to communicate effectively with new media platforms. A capstone seminar showcases a student’s abilities through the completion of a research project. The degree requires 120 credits, which many students complete in four years.
Each of Regent University’s accelerated online classes last about eight weeks, with asynchronous online courses allowing students to balance school, work, and family responsibilities. Most students have prior college credits that accelerate their degree completion, and students may qualify to have most general education courses waived if they earned an associate degree from an accredited community college. Regent University does require all students to take Making of a Christian Leader and Making of a Christian Mind, classes that play an integral part of the university’s mission to provide a biblical education with a global context. The school maintains articulation agreements with many institutions in the region and offers credit for military training, entrance level examinations, and work or life experiences.
Regent University, a private Christian evangelical university in Virginia Beach, serves more than 10,000 students across undergraduate and graduate programs, with the average age of part-time undergraduate students at 37 years old. Faculty designed the 128 online programs to accommodate the flexible education needs of working students.
Mid-America Christian University utilizes an issues-based curriculum to engage students in problem-solving and critical thinking activities throughout the bachelor’s in public relations curriculum. A concentration of the communication, media, and ethics undergraduate degree, classes allow students to develop client management skills and understand social influence and audience persuasion. The 42 hours of major requirements include a capstone experience that allows students to implement a public relations campaign and measure its effectiveness. The accelerated format offers five- or ten-week terms with asynchronous class scheduling.
The 124-hour degree plan includes core courses in liberal arts, mathematics, and science. The school accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions, with up to 30 credits available for prior life and work experience. The school may award credit for military or professional training, volunteer activities, or even travel experiences. A prior learning assessment ensures students receive the most credit possible for their degree plan, accelerating their progress.
The school maintains a low student to teacher ratio, particularly in upper-division classes, which boasts one teacher for every seven students. A division of the adult and graduate studies college, online programs provide convenient educational opportunities with 24 degree options. Students enjoy access to an academic advisor and the library’s extensive collection of books and periodicals.
Choosing a Program
With a bachelor’s in public relations, students can become experts in several subjects, including persuasion and macroeconomics. While the former teaches students how to employ techniques in persuasion, the latter helps distance learners determine how a company’s advertising campaign or social media presence will perform in the broader market. Students receiving their public relations degree often pursue a concentration. A concentration in journalism trains graduates to become effective writers, while a concentration in digital marketing prepares them to effectively expand their employer’s online presence.
Your program may require you to complete a capstone project that combines all your learned skills and knowledge into a single project. Capstones usually involve extensive research that is presented to both faculty and to peers. Besides fulfilling a graduation requirement, a capstone project will also become part of your professional portfolio.Return to the top
Online Bachelor’s in Public Relations Careers
Public relations specialists have many job titles and responsibilities. The following list represents some of the positions graduates can pursue.
- Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
- These individuals work closely with executives to craft advertising campaigns by applying marketing research, statistics, and macroeconomic principles learned in the classroom. A concentration in advertising or marketing assists public relations specialists who work as advertising, promotions, and marketing managers.
- Median Annual Salary: $127,560
- Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Market Research Analysts
- Market research analysts study market trends and conditions to make sound recommendations to company executives.
- Median Annual Salary: $62,560
- Projected Growth Rate: 23%
- Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
- Event planners use their organizational and interpersonal skills to ensure the success of an organization's events. Public relations specialists versed in persuasion and marketing serve their organizations through event planning.
- Median Annual Salary: $47,350
- Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Source: Bureau of Labor StatisticsReturn to the top
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