2020 Best Online Bachelor's in Public Relations Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 11/24/2020

We have ranked the 19 best colleges offering online bachelor's degrees in public relations, based on their tuition rates and alumni salaries provided by PayScale. Depending on career aspirations, students may be interested in the degrees that focus specifically on media communication, health communications, or advertisting. All prospective students should also look into a program's accreditation when choosing a degree.

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2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Public Relations Degrees

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Public Relations Badge

The 19 online colleges on this list are the best value options for online bachelor's degrees in public relations, based on their tuition and alumni-reported salaries. Graduates of the #2-ranked school, University of Iowa, earn a median salary of $105,100. Webster University is ranked #1, with a median salary of $111,400 and an annual tuition rate of $23,200.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $23,200 $111,400
# 2 #2 $8,073 $105,100
# 3 #3 $10,380 $98,300
# 4 #4 $11,550 $90,043
# 5 #5 $10,376 $88,500
# 6 #6 $14,250 $88,300
# 7 #7 $15,500 $86,200
# 8 #8 $14,880 $84,700
# 9 #9 $15,390 $84,800
# 10 #10 $38,475 $93,029
# 11 #11 $12,210 $79,400
# 12 #12 $11,700 $78,100
# 13 #13 $10,500 $77,000
# 14 #14 $4,200 $70,300
# 15 #15 $11,970 $69,400
# 16 #16 $9,600 $66,343
# 17 #17 $13,560 $66,700
# 18 #18 $12,338 $60,000
# 19 #19 $21,960 $48,600
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo
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2020 Online Colleges Offering Public Relations Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Webster University

  • Annual Tuition: $23,200
  • Median Salary: $111,400
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications degree at Webster University offers a 12-credit concentration in public relations through the School of Communication. The curriculum for this online public relations program places emphasis on developing students' skills in writing, research, and communication in preparation for career opportunities in the public relations and advertising fields. Required coursework covers topics including mass communication, media writing, ethics in the media, interpersonal communication, and international communication, in addition to electives in public relations. Students must complete an internship experience or a thesis to complete their program.

#2 University of Iowa

  • Annual Tuition: $8,073
  • Median Salary: $105,100
  • Locations: Iowa City (IA)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management Program at the University of Iowa offers a concentration in communications public relations/journalism. This program is well suited for individuals who wish to develop advanced writing and communication skills to pursue professional opportunities within the sports and recreation industries. Students who choose the public relations concentration will take 12 credits in the subject area, as well as complete a nine-credit field experience. Sports and recreation management majors have access to a full-time advisor who can help further specialize their undergraduate education.

#3 West Virginia University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,380
  • Median Salary: $98,300
  • Locations: Morgantown (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree is offered through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University. The program's flexible online format allows students to pursue their degree while working or balancing family responsibilities. It offers an individualized undergraduate education; in addition to completing a liberal arts core curriculum, students can choose from a wide variety of concentrations, including public relations. Students in the public relations concentration will complete coursework in integrated marketing communication, event planning and promotion, and branding. 

#4 Washington State University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,550
  • Median Salary: $90,043
  • Locations: Pullman (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree at Washington State University offers a concentration in integrated strategic communication from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. Integrated strategic communication combines skills in creative and persuasive messaging to audiences by way of social and digital media, marketing, branding, and other multimedia content. Students in this online program will learn the principles of both digital and traditional media and, upon graduation, may pursue career opportunities in corporate communication, media relations, advertising, public relations, and more.

#5 Florida International University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,376
  • Median Salary: $88,500
  • Locations: Miami (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communications program at Florida International University equips students with the professional skills needed for opportunities in a variety of roles in the world of communications and media. Students can choose concentrations in business communication, communication arts, social media and e-marketing, marketing, hospitality (event management or travel and tourism), digital photography, graphic design, social psychology, and information technology. Graduates may pursue public relations and communications positions in fields such as business, education, and advertising in both the public and private sectors.

#6 Mercer University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,250
  • Median Salary: $88,300
  • Locations: Macon (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Mercer University offers a flexible Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a Public Relations concentration designed for busy, working adults. Admitted students can start in August, October, January, March, or May. This 120-credit online public relations degree entails 39 credits of general education classes, 42 credits of electives, and 39 credits in the major. Core courses in communication studies introduce students to subjects like public relations, organizational communication, and intercultural communication. The 12-credit public relations concentration covers mass media, public relations writing, and public relations campaigns. Online students have an opportunity to interact with one another and their instructors in virtual classrooms via Blackboard Collaborative, an enhanced online learning platform. Prospective students apply online and submit an official copy of a high school diploma or GED, and formal transcripts from any previously attended postsecondary institutions. Mercer Next offers a pathway for transfer students seeking to complete a four-year degree at Mercer. Public relations courses are taught by faculty with real-world experience in the field. Admitted students are assigned a faculty advisor who assists with degree planning. Support services also include access to online writing tutors, ACCESS and Accommodation Office, library resources, and career assistance.

#7 University of Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $15,500
  • Median Salary: $86,200
  • Locations: Gainesville (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Florida offers an online Bachelor of Science in Public Relations that can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. Start dates are August, January, and May. The 124-credit hour curriculum is divided into general education, electives, and 52-credit hours in the major. Students majoring in public relations study subjects such as reporting, media law, public relations writing, and research methods. The program culminates in a capstone project that requires a 70% passing score on a public relations campaign. Classes are mostly asynchronous, allowing students to access course materials whenever it fits into their schedule. Online learners must subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud software and Microsoft Office suite. Prospective students submit an online application that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Official copies of a high school diploma or GED along with college transcripts must be sent, if applicable. Elite faculty strive for rigor in their classes to support student success in the workplace. UFO-X offers unique short classes such as a one-week online course in the spring that focuses on writing and reporting on a baseball training camp in Tampa. Students receive phone support and web access to counselors, dean of students, Disabilities Resource Center, e-Learning help desk, and library resources.

#8 Point Park University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,880
  • Median Salary: $84,700
  • Locations: Pittsburgh (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Point Park University offers a 122-credit Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising. This online public relations degree includes accelerated eight-week classes allowing students to earn a degree in two to four years. The curriculum includes multidisciplinary liberal arts classes that support education. Courses in the 32-credit major and electives complement the student’s personal interests and career goals. Students study subjects such as public relations strategies, mass communication, ad layout, journalism writing, and media law. Hands-on experience includes a 70-hour practicum and a senior capstone project working in places like advertising agencies, broadcast stations, and nonprofit organizations. Asynchronous online classes are convenient and flexible for full-time working students with tight schedules. Prospective students can submit an application and official transcripts, with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA preferred for admission. Up to 90 transfer credits may count toward degree completion at Point Park University. The school also awards college credit for prior life experience, CLEP, and AP classes. Students can access student support services such as online academic and career advising from the time of their admission to graduation.

#9 University of Memphis

  • Annual Tuition: $15,390
  • Median Salary: $84,800
  • Locations: Memphis (TN)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Memphis offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations through UM Global. This 120-credit public relations bachelor’s degree online program integrates media strategy, journalism, and public relations. Along with courses in their major, students must take multidisciplinary general education classes and electives. The major includes classes like media writing, feature reporting, advertising, advanced social media, and public relations campaigns. Students may complete an internship to gain hands-on experience. The program helps prepare students to manage public relations campaigns, handle crisis communications, write ads, and launch promotional campaigns for businesses and philanthropic organizations. All classes are taught in an asynchronous format that provides flexible 24/7 access to course assignments, discussions, and announcements. Prospective students submit an online application and transcripts. Admitted students are assigned an academic advisor who assists with a plan of study. Additionally, UM Global students have online access to student support services such as advising, career counseling, technology assistance, and tutoring throughout their program of study.

#10 Drexel University

  • Annual Tuition: $38,475
  • Median Salary: $93,029
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Drexel University offers a Bachelor of Science in Communication with a Public Relations concentration. The purpose of the degree is to prepare students to promote profit and non-profit organizations. Drexel’s academic calendar is organized into four 10-week quarters, allowing students to advance quickly through the program. Students must complete 180 quarter credits to earn a bachelor’s degree. Along with general education and electives, students take 12 three-credit core communication classes like mass media, communication theories, social media, and interpersonal communications. Public relations majors take 28 quarter credits in public relations theory, journalism, media strategies, public relations campaigning, marketing, and desktop or electronic publishing. Students must also complete a hands-on senior project demonstrating their ability to apply public relations principles. All classes are taught online and can be accessed 24/7, allowing students to balance other life responsibilities with schooling. Prospective students apply by submitting an online application, all transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. The program teaches students about planning national conferences, managing corporate social media accounts, launching new products, and coordinating special events. Students are supported by many services, including online advising, library resources, and counseling services teletherapy.

#11 Old Dominion University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,210
  • Median Salary: $79,400
  • Locations: Norfolk (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Old Dominion University offers a 120-credit full program Bachelor of Science in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations, Advocacy, and Persuasion for first-year students. Transfer students may enroll in a degree completion program that leads to a BA or BS in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations, Advocacy, and Persuasion. The BA degree differs from the BS in requiring demonstrated language proficiency. General education classes are often completed during the first two years of study at Old Dominion or a community college. The major entails six credits of communication foundation courses, 18 credits of applied theory courses, and six hours of relevant electives. Students study subjects such as public relations writing, public relations and crisis communication, and persuasion. Online courses are offered in an asynchronous and synchronous format. Via the Blackboard learning management system, students have a combination of live web classes along with 24/7 access to course materials and assignments. Prospective students start the admission process by completing an online inquiry form on the school’s website. An enrollment counselor will reach out and assist the applicant through the admission process. Old Dominion has a guaranteed admission program with the Virginia Community College System for seamless transfer of credit. In addition to 24/7 technical assistance, free software, and career services, online students can seek virtual advising and tutoring at the Student Success Center.

#12 Liberty University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Median Salary: $78,100
  • Locations: Lynchburg (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Liberty University offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with a concentration in Sport Communication and Public Relations. This online public relations degree features accelerated eight-week courses making it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 3.5 years. Like all programs at faith-based Liberty University, a Christian worldview is embedded in the curriculum. The degree is organized into general education, sport management courses, and electives. Within the major’s Sport Communication and Public Relations concentration, students take courses like media writing, sport marketing, social media strategies, and communication technologies. Internships offer hands-on experience in public relations and managing sporting events. Courses are taught on the Blackboard learning management system that offers 24/7 flexible and convenient access to coursework, discussion boards, and notifications. Prospective students complete an online application and submit transcripts from schools previously attended. Up to 75% of eligible transfer credits may count toward a degree from Liberty. Students can pursue the job market for recruiting top-notch athletes, planning major events, and launching publicity campaigns. Throughout their studies, students may access support services such as online tutoring, study guides, webinars, and library resources.

#13 Boise State University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,500
  • Median Salary: $77,000
  • Locations: Boise (ID)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Boise State University offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. This public relations bachelor’s degree online program is career-focused and writing intensive. Students may enroll part-time or full-time and take classes that vary in length from five to seven weeks. Students take a minimum of 30 credits in their major, studying subjects such as public relations campaigns, professional writing, media law, and social media strategies. The program culminates in a three-credit hands-on capstone project that demonstrates the student’s ability to apply theory to practice. Students must be admitted to Boise State before applying to the major. Admission criteria include completion of 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework or transcripts verifying a bachelor’s or associate degree from an accredited college. BSU offers live information sessions for students contemplating an online public relations degree. Courses are taught via the Blackboard learning management system that offers students flexible access to course assignments, discussions, and course materials. Students are supported through online access to virtual advising, tutoring, Handshake career services, and more.

#14 Tennessee State University

  • Annual Tuition: $4,200
  • Median Salary: $70,300
  • Locations: Nashville (TN)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Tennessee State University offers a 120-credit hour Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Public Relations. This public relations bachelor’s degree online program is well-suited to adults with an associate degree or prior college coursework. Students must take 60 hours of general education to earn a degree. Transfer credit may be counted toward degree requirements. The major entails 24 hours of coursework in public relations, a 3-credit hour senior seminar, and 33 hours of related electives. Courses in the major are designed to teach students the knowledge and technical skills needed in the broad field of public relations. Students access their courses on TNecampus, a flexible and the D2L learning management system. Technical support is available 24/7. An internship is an option for those seeking hands-on experience. Admission standards include a 2.0 GPA on previous college coursework. Applying to the school involves submitting an online application and official transcripts. Students may be awarded college credit for military training and other life experience through the school’s Prior Learning Assessment process. Resources offered include online student support counselors, the TN eCampus bookstore, 24/7 tech support, online databases, and e-books.

#15 University of North Dakota

  • Annual Tuition: $11,970
  • Median Salary: $69,400
  • Locations: Grand Forks (ND)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of North Dakota offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a Public Relations concentration. Students admitted to this 120-credit online public relations degree program complete general education, courses in the major, and electives. Students studying public relations must maintain a 2.2 GPA in their 33-credit major, which includes 12 credits of core communication courses and a minimum of 21 credits in the public relations major. Courses cover public relations essentials like professional writing, developing ad campaigns, public relations strategies, and strategic communication. This public relations bachelor’s degree online program is completely online and asynchronous, meaning that students can access their courses 24/7 from anywhere at any time. Students must complete a three-credit experiential course such as an internship in a public relations firm. Admission to the major starts with admission to UND. Prospective students should submit an online application, along with any formal college transcripts and high school transcripts, unless applicants have 24 prior or concurrent college credits. Student success is supported through a range of online services including virtual tutoring, advising, library resources, and career guidance.

#16 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Median Salary: $66,343
  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Southern New Hampshire University offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. The SNHU academic calendar is organized into six 8-week terms, which gives students the flexibility of finishing their studies quickly or working at a slower self-pace. Students pursuing a career in public relations can take courses in writing for public relations, electronic communications, crisis communication, technical writing, social media strategy, organizational branding, media law, and visual design. The major culminates in a capstone project that involves planning and pitching an actual public relations campaign to a prospective client. Earning a bachelor’s degree also requires completion of general education classes and electives that help students sharpen their skills in communication, critical thinking, writing, and problem solving. Asynchronous online classes give students 24/7 convenient and flexible access. Graduates of the program can compete for jobs in media relations, speechwriting, event planning, journalism, and more. Faculty and staff offer academic advising and career assistance to online students throughout their course of study.

#17 Bridgewater State University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,560
  • Median Salary: $66,700
  • Locations: Bridgewater (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Bridgewater State University has a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a Public Relations concentration designed for part-time online learners. The flexible and convenient program is well-suited to working adults who hold an associate’s degree or equivalent. Transfer credits may be counted toward bachelor’s degree requirements. Students can take two courses each semester, with an option of summer enrollment, and complete the degree in three years. Students in this online public relations degree spend 39 credit hours in classes directly related to their major. Courses in the 18-credit core focus on public relations writing, communication research, and public speaking. Public relations elective classes include the study of organizational communication, strategic communication, public relations campaigns, public relations case studies, and more. Prospective students apply by completing an online degree application and submitting formal transcripts for transfer evaluation. Classes are accessible 24/7 on the Blackboard learning management system that makes it possible for students to access course content anytime that suits their schedule. Students may complete practicum and internship experiences to learn hands-on public relations skills in the workplace. Students receive individualized assistance, guidance, and support from their academic advisor and through the College of Continuing Studies.

#18 Franklin University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,338
  • Median Salary: $60,000
  • Locations: Columbus (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Franklin University offers a 124-credit Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. General education classes, courses in the major, and electives provide a well-rounded education. Of the 124 credits required for a baccalaureate degree, 24 credits are in the professional foundation's core, and 24 credits are in the PR major. Core classes cover subjects such as interpersonal communication, ethics, marketing, management, and motivation principles. Public relations classes specifically focus on public relations strategies, promotions, crisis communication, media research, and writing. A four-credit capstone project requires students to develop public relations communications for an organization. Online asynchronous classes are taught on the Canvas learning management platform that gives students flexible and convenient access to course content, discussions, assignments, and grades. Prospective students can expect to spend about 20 minutes completing an online application. Official high school transcripts or GED certificates must also be submitted. Franklin University may accept up to 94-semester credits. Admitted students are offered an academic advisor, student success coaching, tutoring, mentoring, writing instruction, e-textbooks, and online library resources.

#19 Montana State University-Billings

  • Annual Tuition: $21,960
  • Median Salary: $48,600
  • Locations: Billings (MT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Montana State University-Billings has several options for students interested in obtaining a public relations degree online, including a 120-credit, four-year, Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. Students holding a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree may pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science with a Public Relations major. Transfer students who previously completed approximately two years of college coursework can earn a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with a Public Relations major. Students working toward a career in the field of public relations take courses such as public relations principles, ethics, case studies in public relations, and organizational communication. Flexible and convenient asynchronous classes are taught on the D2L course management platform giving adult students the ability to study whenever they have a block of time in their busy schedule. Students may submit their application online, or they can print and mail a completed application to the school’s admissions office. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt of official transcripts and an application fee. Student services that are available to online students include advising, career planning, electronic library resources, disability accommodations, tutoring, and tech support.

Online Public Relations Degree Overview & Career Information

There are three different online degree level options for public relations. Over the course of four years a bachelor's degree will prepare students for positions such as campaign manager, public relations coordinator, and public relations specialist. A master's program in public relations will enhance a student's knowledge in communication through technology and media. A master's program will typically take two years to complete and prepare graduates for above entry-level positions such as public relations manager, brand manager, and director of communications. Online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are also available for people interested in receiving an education in the field of public relations.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Public Relations

Students can obtain an online bachelor's degree in public relations in four years, generally upon completing 120-credit hours. Participants will sharpen their skills in critical thinking, writing, strategic planning, and execution. These skills will lend assistance to building relationships between organizations and their public audiences, which is a necessity for graduates to perform in their follow up careers. Public relations programs require general education coursework along with major specific courses such as public speaking, public relations, journalism, social media, writing for public relations, organizational communications, and ethics. A high school diploma or equivalent must be obtained prior to enrolling in a bachelor's program along with a qualifying SAT or ACT test score. Depending on the school, a letter of recommendation may also be required. Graduates can seek entry-level job opportunities in both business and government as PR specialists, representatives, campaign managers, and PR coordinates. Public relations bachelor's programs are offered at both colleges and universities.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Public Relations Degree

Accreditation should always be considered when applying to institutions of higher education. Accreditation is the process in which colleges, universities, and educational programs are evaluated for quality and to ensure that acceptable levels of trainings are being conducted. Another important factor to consider is low-cost loans for students as only accredited institutions are able to participate in federal financial aid programs. Attending a regionally accredited school will also make the transfer process a lot easier for those who may be interested in changing their path in the future as regionally accredited colleges will most often accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions. Lastly, many employers are looking to hire graduates who have attended regionally accredited schools.It gives the employer more confidence that the applicant has been well trained in their field and will be a great asset to the organization.

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Careers in Public Relations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate in public relations is expected to rise 12 to 13 percent through the year 2022. With the rise in popularity of technology and social media, public relation specialists have become vital in the relationship between organizations and the general public. Key job titles within the industry include public relations specialist and public relations manager. Public relations specialists are hired to to maintain a positive company image through media and address any concerns that the general public may have about the organization. Job functions of a specialist include creating press releases, gathering requested data, determining ways to access target audience, and assisting the client in successfully communicating with the general public.

Public relations managers will oversee PR specialists to ensure that all tasks and projects are being completed within the company's or client's standards. They also focus on evolving their clients' images with social, political, and economical changes to keep in good standing with the public. In order to qualify for a manager position it will require a minimum of three years work experience along with an educational background. A typical work week for a public relations manager incudes creating logos and signs to keep up the clients' image, organizing events, crafting speeches, coordinating interviews, and creating press releases.

References

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