Earning an accelerated online Master’s in Public Relations may seem unnecessary but professionals in the field will tell you that holding a graduate degree will open up tremendous opportunities to people. From becoming a manager or senior executive at a public relations firm to opening up their own firm, public relations professionals are finding ways to advance their careers. Education, it seems, is the perfect key to moving up in the ranks.
Public relations is a notoriously busy field; professionals are either putting out a fire, prepping a client for a campaign, or even just focusing on brand engagement for a new campaign. These professionals do not have the ability to drop what they’re doing to attend class; they need a graduate program that can fit around their schedule. As it happens, this ranking is filled with online master’s in public relations programs that are affordable, flexible, and accelerated.
Methodology: Ranking the Fastest Online Master’s in Public Relation
To rank the most affordable accelerated public relations master’s degree programs, Fast Online Master’s editors focused on accredited, reputable programs. Programs are presented in order of tuition rate, according to current IPEDS data.
1. Montana State University Billings
Montana State University offers an MS in Public Relations (MSPR) that can be completed in as few as three or four semesters. Montana State University’s best online public relations masters degree program has a limited amount of space each term, so it is wise to apply early. Classes for Montana State University’s 30-credit master’s degree in public relations include communication law and ethics, issues in public relations, media criticism, campaign planning, and communication theory, to name a few.
Montana State University at Billings is a public institution of higher education that was founded in the 1920s as a normal school in eastern Montana. Montana State University currently operates as a space-grant school that serves approximately 4,100 students online and on its suburban campus. Montana State University Billings is organized into five schools/colleges offering programs in liberal arts/social science, health, education, business, and city college.
Degree: MS in Public Relations
2. Stephen F Austin State University
Stephen F Austin State University offers an MA in Mass Communication that is ranked among the most affordable and University’s best online public relations masters degree programs in Texas and beyond. This accelerated master’s program in public relations offers three specializations in journalism, broadcasting or advertising & public relations. Students can complete the degree with a thesis (30 credits), non-thesis (36 credits), or media project (30 credits plus a six-hour media project) option.
Stephen F Austin State University (SFA) was established in the 1920s as a teacher’s college through legislative action. Stephen F Austin State University operates independently and serves more than 13,000 students each year. The university is named to honor one of the Lone Star State’s founding fathers.
Degree: MA in Mass Communication
3. SUNY Buffalo State
SUNY Buffalo State offers a MS in Public Relations that requires degree candidates to complete 33 graduate semester units. SUNY Buffalo State’s best online public relations masters degree program can be completed with an accelerated track that offers all coursework through the school’s distance learning platform. Additionally, this affordable graduate degree in public relations from Buffalo State requires an internship plus special emphasis on strategic communication & ethical standards, among others.
SUNY Buffalo State (Bluff State) is a public college that was founded in the 1870s. Buffalo State College @ SUNY is a member of the SUNY system that serves more than 9,050 undergraduate and graduate students online and from its urban campus in Buffalo, New York. SUNY Buffalo State is comprised of five colleges and schools offering programs and degrees in education, arts/humanities, natural/social sciences, plus the graduate school and the school for professionals.
Degree: MS in Public Relations
4. University of Arkansas Little Rock
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers an MA in Mass Communication that ranked among the best online public relations masters degree program in Arkansas. UA Little Rock’s graduate degree in public relations is also an affordable option that offers a media research academic track as well. Coursework for the University of Arkansas’ public relations masters program can choose from a master’s thesis or capstone project to meet UA’s graduation requirements. Additionally, UA’s graduate degree offers a multi-platform journalism track or strategic communication with public relations track.
The University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR) was established in the late 1920s as a junior college. The University of Arkansas Little Rock reached university status nearly four decades later, in 1957. More than 9,500 students attend classes online and on the University of Arkansas’ urban campus. The university is home to the Japanese School of Little Rock which hosts programs on the weekends.
Degree: MA in Mass Communication
5. University of Maryland Global Campus
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Master’s in Strategic Communications that requires degree candidates to complete 36 graduate units – all online. Core classes for the University of Maryland’s best online public relations masters degree program include foundations of strategic communications, crisis communications management, decisive thinking, and leading in multidisciplinary fields, plus a capstone project, to name a few. Students interested in UM’s accelerated and affordable graduate degree in public relations can transfer up to 6 credits if eligible.
The University of Maryland’s online campus, the Global Campus, was established as University College in 1947 but was reorganized in 2019 as UM’s Global Campus. UMGC primarily focuses on distance learning but operates several satellite campuses throughout the greater DC-Baltimore area and the world. The university serves more than 85,000 students from all across the globe.
6. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers an MA in Communication with several start dates throughout the calendar year. Students attending Arizona State University’s best online public relations masters degree program will finish at least ten classes for a total of thirty graduate credits. Classes for this affordable, accelerated degree from Arizona State University include research methods in communication, theories/models in communication, social influence & persuasion, communication in the workplace, and communication & conflict transformation, to name a few.
Arizona State University is a public higher learning institution that was established in the 1880s, years before Arizona became a state. The university maintains multiple campuses throughout the greater Tempe and Phoenix areas, with a student enrollment that nears 89,000. Arizona State University is organized into 17 colleges/schools with hundreds of academic degrees and program options.
Degree: MA in Communication
7. Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University offers an MA in Professional Communication that is recognized among Utah’s most affordable and best online public relations masters degree programs as noted by the Community for Accredited Online Schools and Best Value Schools. Southern Utah University’s master’s degree in public relations is a practice-oriented degree exploring communication in advertising, strategy, curation, media content creation, and public relations campaigns, to name a few. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree, but it does not have to be specifically a degree in communication to qualify for admission.
Southern Utah University (Southern Utah) was founded in the late 1890s as a teacher’s training school. Southern Utah University now operates as a four-year school offering more than 150 undergraduate and graduate programs from its six colleges/schools.Southern Utah University’s college-town campus and online platform serve more than 11,150 students each year.
Degree: MA in Professional Communication
8. Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University offers an MA in Communication with an academic track in strategic communication that is one of Arizona’s most affordable and best online public relations masters degree programs. Northern Arizona University’s public relations graduate degree program requires degree candidates to complete at least 36-semester credits, with a Grade Point Average (GPA) that does not fall below 3. This master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in public relations includes coursework in research methods, theories, and argument standards across classes. The strategic communications track explores public opinion, audience measurement, and consumer behavior in a digital world.
Northern Arizona University (NAU) was established in the 1890s, a dozen years before Arizona was adopted as a state as a state-funded normal teacher’s school. Northern Arizona University now operates as a space-grant higher learning institution with a student enrollment that nears 30,000 each year. In addition to the main Flagstaff campus, Northern Arizona University maintains a total of forty academic facilities throughout the state.
9. University of Florida
The University of Florida offers an MA in Communication with an academic track in Public Relations that is one of the Sunshine State’s best online public relations masters degree programs with an accelerated track. With three start dates each year, and affordable tuition, this 33 -graduate credit program from the University of Florida can be finished 100% online. Classes for the University of Florida’s online public relations degree include strategic writing, strategy and messaging, and digital reputation and brand management, to name a few.
Founded in the mid-1850s under the Morrill Act, the University of Florida (UF) operates as a land-grant school. The University of Florida is recognized among the top public higher learning institutions in the nation and a senior member of the Florida state university system. This space and sea-grant university serve more than 56,550 students each year online and, on the school’s, multiple campuses.
10. Kansas State University
Kansas State University offers a Master’s in Mass Communication that requires degree candidates to complete 30 graduate semester credits – all online. Kansas State University’s best online public relations masters degree is also ranked among the state’s most affordable accelerated public relations degrees. Coursework for Kansas State University includes communication theory, research methods in mass communication, mass communication law, seminar in issues of the media, digital media audiences & analytics, and strategic communication management, plus a journalism practicum, to name a few.
Kansas State University (KSU) is a public higher learning institution that was founded under the Morrill Act in 1863. Kansas State University maintains multiple campuses across Kansas that serve nearly 21,000 students each year. Kansas State University holds the distinction of being the first land-grant school and the first institution of higher education in Kansas.
Degree: Master’s in Mass Communication
11. Mississippi College
Mississippi College offers an MS in Strategic Communication that is recognized among the most affordable and University’s best online public relations masters degree program in Mississippi. Students enrolled in Mississippi College are required to complete a minimum of 32 graduate semester credits across a variety of communication modalities – written, visual, and spoken. Graduates of Mississippi College’s public relations master’s degree enter the workforce working for advertising agencies, advocacy organizations, research firms, or social media management companies, to name a few.
Mississippi College (MC) was founded in 1826 by a charter from the Governor and is recognized to be Mississippi’s oldest institution of higher education \ and the 2nd oldest college in the nation with a Baptist affiliation. Mississippi College holds the distinction of being the first coed school in the country to award an academic degree to a female student.
Degree: MS in Strategic Communication
12. University of Tennessee at Knoxville
The University of Tennessee Knoxville offers an MS in Communication and Information with an academic concentration in Strategic and Digital Communication that ranks as one the best online public relations masters degree program in Tennessee with an accelerated study track designed for working professionals. This two year program is available entirely online with asynchronous classes that can be accessed on your time. This thirty-credit degree pulls coursework from four schools to offer a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach.
The University of Tennessee (UTK) was established in the 1790s, a couple of years before Tennessee reach statehood. The University of Tennessee is a land-grant school that serves as the state’s flagship campus with a student enrollment that nears 31,000 students. The school maintains an arboretum with hundreds of plant species.
13. University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis offers an MA in Public Relations (PR) that is recognized among the most affordable and best online public relations masters degree program in Indiana with an accelerated track. Students enrolled in this thirty-credit public relations degree can find rewarding careers working for PR agencies, nonprofit communications, travel & tourism information, event planning, government communications, education communications, and sports information, to name a few.
The University of Indianapolis (UIndy) is a private higher learning institution that was founded in 1902. The University of Indianapolis’s online platform and the suburban campus in Indianapolis serve more than 5,450 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year. The University of Indianapolis offers more than 100 academic degrees from its nine colleges and schools.
Degree: MA in Public Relations
14. St Bonaventure University
St Bonaventure University offers an MA in Communication with an academic emphasis in public relations that can be completed in under 24 months. In addition, St Bonaventure University’s best online public relations masters degree program is accredited by the ACEJMC – the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism & Mass Communications. Students enrolled in St Bonaventure University’s graduate degree program includes classes in branding, strategy, and execution, strategic thinking in marketing, marketing communications research, integrating event management, and experiential marketing, to name a few.
St Bonaventure University (SBU) is a private university that was founded as a college in the 1850s. St Bonaventure University is affiliated with the Franciscan Catholic Church. The school’s rural campus in upstate New York serves more than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The school’s campus in Allegheny covers more than 500 acres, with additional facilities in Buffalo and Hilbert College.
15. Lipscomb University
Lipscomb University offers an MA in Public Relations that can be completed in only one year, all online. This best online public relations masters degree program from Lipscomb University prepares students for advanced level careers in communications or public relations. Classes included in Lipscomb University’s public relations graduate degree include public relations effectiveness, crisis and emergency communication, public relations campaigns, social media, and new media channels, and seminar in public relations, to name a few.
Lipscomb University was founded in the 1890s as a private institution of higher education by the Churches of Christ. Nearly 4,600 students attend classes online and on the school’s suburban Nashville campus. Lipscomb University also operates additional satellite facilities in Franklin and downtown Nashville.
Degree: MA in Public Relations
16. Webster University
Webster University offers an MA in Public Relations that is among Missouri’s most affordable and best online public relations masters degree programs. Webster University’s master’s degree in public relations offers two start dates – one in the spring and another in the fall. Webster University’s 36 credit unit public relations degree includes coursework in media and culture, writing for public relations, media organization, strategic communication applications, and seminar in media communications, to name a few.
Webster University (Webster) was established as Loretto College in 1915. Currently, Webster University operates multiple locations across the US and the World, plus the main Webster Grove campus. The school’s student enrollment nears 10,000 each year. Webster University is organized into five colleges/schools that offer programs in arts/sciences, fine arts, business/technology, communications, and education.
Degree: MA in Public Relations
17. Full Sail University
Full Sail University offers an MA in Public Relations that is one the Sunshine State’s most affordable & best online public relations masters degree programs that can be completed in twelve months. Course highlights for Full Sail University’s graduate degree program in public relations include media relations, research methods, legal aspects of media, media relations, reputation management strategies, consumer research analysis, writing for interactive media, and public relations in a digital world, to name a few.
Full Sail University was established in the late 1970s as a for-profit institution of higher education in Ohio. Full Sail University was moved to central Florida in 1980. Full Sail University’s Winter Park campus and online platform serve nearly 20,000 students each year. The university’s programs focus on film, audio, and media, plus the business of entertainment.
Degree: MA in Public Relations
18. Georgetown University
Georgetown University offers an accredited Masters in Public Relations & Corporate Communications that is ranked among Philadelphia’s best online public relations masters degree programs. Georgetown University’s graduate degree also offers three start dates and thirty semester units, which can take two to five years to finish depending on the student’s status. In addition to a capstone project, degree candidates are required to take classes in conversations in ethics, elements of communications, and public relations writing, among others.
Georgetown University was founded as a college with an affiliation to the Roman Catholic Jesuit Church in 1789. Georgetown University serves more than 18,950 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Georgetown holds the distinction of being the oldest institution of higher learning in the nation.
19. Pace University
Pace University offers an MA in Communications and Digital Media with an academic track in Social Media & Public Relations (SMPR) that is one of the Empire State’s best online public relations masters degree programs that are also affordable. Additionally, Pace University’s 36-credit graduate degree in public relations offers students an accelerated track that can be complete in as few as 18 months. The Social Media & Public Relations concentration for Pace University’s public relations explores a variety of communication types required for a business to succeed.
Pace University is a multiple campus higher learning institution that serves nearly 14,000 students online and from its facilities across New York. The original location in NYC for Pace University was in the NY Tribune Building. Pace operates a public high school, a business incubator, and a women’s advocacy and justice center.
20. Syracuse University
Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications offers two of New York’s best online public relations masters degree programs with its a Master of Science degree program (MS) in Communications or a Master of Science degree program (MS) in Communications Management. Both public relations-related degree programs from Syracuse University can be completed entirely online. The communications degree can select from four academic concentrations and can be completed in only fifteen months. The communications management degree requires students to complete at least 36 graduate semester units.
Syracuse University (‘Cuse) was founded by the Methodists in the 1830s in Lima, New York. Currently, Syracuse University operates as a nonsectarian school, having moved from Lima to Syracuse in 1870. More than 21,150 undergraduate and postgraduate students attend classes offered by Syracuse University’s thirteen colleges/schools.
21. Hofstra University
Hofstra University offers an MA in Public Relations with an available track in Reputation and Crisis Management that is one of New York’s most affordable and best online public relations masters degree programs. Degree candidates enrolled in Hofstra University’s graduate public relations degree must finish a minimum of 36 graduate units – all available online. Core coursework for Hofstra University’s master’s public relations degree includes PR fundamentals, digital communication, international relations, and crisis strategies, to name a few.
Hofstra University was founded as an academic extension of NYU in the mid 1930s but became an independent school several years later. More than 10,250 students attend classes offered by the university’s ten colleges/schools. Many presidential debates have been hosted by Hofstra University, recognized as the largest of all private schools on Long Island.
22. University of Denver
The University of Denver offers an MA in Communication Management with an academic track in Public Relations that is one of the nation’s most affordable and best online public relations masters degree programs with an accelerated study path, according to US News. The University of Denver’s graduate degree in public relations can be completed in as few as 1.5 years. Core coursework for this degree includes applied critical thinking in communication, storytelling through research & measurement, and communication inquiry and analysis, plus a portfolio capstone project, among others.
The University of Denver was established as a seminary in the mid-1860s. Currently, the University of Denver operates as the oldest privately run independent school across the Rocky Mountain Region. The campus of the University of Denver is a few miles to the south of Denver’s downtown. The University of Denver’s student enrollment nears 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
23. Biola University
Biola University offers an MA in Public Relations and Reputation Management that is one of the Golden State’s most affordable degree programs. Biola University’s best online public relations masters degree program offers four academic tracks – digital management, media ethics, strategic communication, or leadership – all of which can be completed in only one year. Sample classes include new trends in digital communication and proactive management, and crisis prevention, to name a few.
Biola University was established in 1908 and operates as an interdenominational evangelical Christian institution of higher education. More than 4,000 students attend classes online and on the school’s La Mirada suburban campus. The university’s name is an acronym – Bible Institute of LA.
24. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers an MA in Communication that allows for students to transfer up to 12 graduate credits if eligible. Southern New Hampshire University’s best online public relations masters degree program is offered with an accelerated track that can be completed in fifteen months or at the student’s preferred pace. This master’s degree in communications offers a concentration in public relations or new media marketing – both online. Classes include communication, media, and society, strategic communication in a new age, to name a few.
Southern New Hampshire University was founded in the 1930s as a business school offering coursework in secretarial science and accounting. The school is one of the largest (and fastest growing) institutions of higher education, with a total enrollment nearing 139,000 (with most online). Southern New Hampshire University is organized into seven colleges/schools.
Degree: MA in Communication
25. Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University offers an MA in Strategic Communication and Public Relations that requires degree candidates to complete 36 graduate semester credits in approximately two years. In addition, Sacred Heart University has no GRE or GMAT score requirement when applying for its best online public relations masters degree program. Classes for this degree include media ethics, multimedia communications, advertising, PR and consumer culture, crisis communication, and strategic communication in the digital age, plus a capstone project, among others.
Sacred Heart University was established as a private institution of higher education with a Catholic Affiliation in 1963. With more than 8,150 students, SHU is recognized to be the 2nd largest Catholic school in the New England area. The university offers more than 75 academic degree programs from the bachelor’s to doctoral levels.
Why Should I Get My Master’s in Public Relations Online?
Why get an online Master’s degree in Public Relations? Students may choose an online Public Relations Master’s degree for a lot of reasons.
First, this kind of degree can help you dive deeper into the world of public relations. An online Masters in Public Relations can open up several career possibilities. For instance, if you enjoy written communication and have strong writing skills, a public relations career can help you make the most of that passion. Likewise, if you enjoy working directly with people and organizations, a public relations job can help you do exactly that on a daily basis. Public relations jobs are also great for those who like to think on their feet, and the job lends itself well to those who enjoy some time in the spotlight. An online Public Relations Master’s degree can help you connect to all of these benefits.
Plus, by earning an online Master’s degree in Public Relations, you’ll get to take your PR skills to new levels. You’ll learn nuances, details, and other ways to go deeper.
An online Public Relations Master’s degree can also help you qualify for more important job opportunities. Most PR careers only call for a bachelor’s degree, so by getting a master’s degree, you can stand out from other job applications and become more competitive in the job market. You might switch to a more prestigious PR firm. You might also use your online Public Relations Master’s degree to gain leverage for salary negotiation.
Those are some of the best reasons for getting a PR master’s degree, but why go for an online master’s, specifically? For one thing, when you get your Master’s in Public Relations online instead of on campus, you’ll get flexibility. An online Master’s in Public Relations will let you learn from just about anywhere. Often, online master’s degree programs let students learn at their own pace, too.
If you earn your Master’s in Public Relations online, you may also have the option of getting an accelerated degree. Accelerated degree pathways are more intense than other degree pathways, but some students prefer this route because they want to finish their degrees as quickly as possible. If an accelerated degree appeals to you, it’s often easier to find this kind of option online than on campus.
When it comes to your Master’s degree in Public Relations, online learning also gives you more school choices. Since you won’t be limited by your physical location, you can choose from a wider range of schools.
Finally, you may even save money with an online Master’s degree in Public Relations. Some online programs are less expensive than their on-campus counterparts.
What Can I Do with a Master’s in Public Relations?
For those with a Master’s in Public Relations, jobs can include a lot of possibilities. The most obvious example is becoming a public relations officer. Public relations officers help people, corporations, and organizations manage their relationships with the public. Public relations officers can write press releases, host press conferences, and more. With a Master’s in Public Relations, jobs can also include leadership positions that you may not have achieved with a bachelor’s degree alone.
The job market for public relations is growing. In fact, it’s growing faster than the average career in the United States. With the right PR skills, you may find a lot of job opportunities.
And if you eventually want to move away from the PR field, you’ll find that you have plenty of transferrable skills. PR degrees teach organization, communication, and other important skills that you can use in all kinds of jobs. For example, event planners use many of the same skills as PR professionals. So do HR specialists, social media managers, and many other professionals.
How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Public Relations?
The Public Relations Master’s salary is about $62,000 per year, on average. Of course, a Master’s in Public Relations salary can vary based on several factors. For example, experience plays a part. The more experienced you become in the field, the easier it will be for you to make the most of your Master’s in Public relations. Salary options can grow as you become more established.
In bigger cities, you can expect a larger Public Relations Master’s salary than you could expect in a smaller town. In cities with bigger corporations and organizations, your skills will be in higher demand. As a result, you may find that PR firms pay more in these places.