What do companies, organizations, and high-profile people have in common? They need to be able to communicate well. Or, at the very least, hire people who can.
Navigating the convoluted world of social media, media relations, advertisements, and campaigns is no small task. And the more public it is, the higher the stakes.
That’s why an education in public relations is not only essential but extremely valuable. Gone are the days when PR was equivalent to advertising or propaganda. Today, a PR expert is expected to persuade others while maintaining relationships based on trust.
PR professionals wear many hats: writer, marketer, salesperson, designer, data analyst, leader. The best PR programs train students in all these areas to prepare for the dynamic, global nature of the public relations industry.
Below we highlight the 10 best PR schools in America. Each one offers a unique combination of academic research, hands-on experience, and career insight from world-class faculty. Graduates of these programs have gone on to high-profile opportunities with leading individuals and corporations.
So if you’re looking for a top-ranked PR program, look no further than these colleges.
10. Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA)
Duquesne University is a top-ranked Catholic college and the only Spiritan institution for higher learning in the U.S.
However, students don’t go to Duquesne just to be in a community of Catholic students (over half of students are non-Catholic.) They come for the university’s excellent strategic public relations and advertising programs.
Students can major in PR, advertising, or both. They learn to apply theories to modern life, including how cultural variation can influence how a piece of media is received.
Duquesne prepares students for a wide range of PR careers, from account management to media to creative services to public affairs. Classes are offered in all these fields and more.
Due to the strength of the media department, Duquesne has produced alumni in successful media professions. Journalist John Clayton wrote and reported for ESPN for over 25 years. Faculty member and journalist Mike Dillon profiled author Norman Mailer, music icon Tony Bennett, and football star Johnny Unitas.
9. Biola University (La Mirada, CA)
Biola is a private Christian university where students are especially fortunate to study PR. The school’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter was named a “Star Chapter” in 2013, a prestigious distinction given to less than 10% of PRSSA chapters.
Furthermore, Biola students run 6th Street PR. The full-service PR agency plans both on and off-campus PR campaigns and is one of the “most accomplished and successful student-run firms.”
Biola’s studio facilities also make it possible to gain hands-on experience. The conference room is a collaborative workspace for students and clients, and over 1,000 pieces of equipment are available for rent, including cameras and microphones.
The Torrey Honors Program allows students to take their PR education to the next level. Discussion-based courses and leadership opportunities poise students to serve some of the most influential people and organizations upon graduation.
8. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
PR students at UF’s College of Journalism and Communications learn all aspects of effective communication, including writing, reporting, ethics, research, and media.
They receive a well-rounded education balancing concepts and hard skills, preparing them for careers in business, PR firms, government, and nonprofits.
UF students can also pursue combined degrees: a B.S. in Public Relations and M.A. in Mass Communication. Students can apply up to 12 graduate credits to their undergraduate program, reducing the time it takes to earn both degrees.
UF is consistently top-ranked for its education in public relations. Alumni of the journalism school include Al Burt, a longtime Miami Herald journalist, and Sharyl Attkisson, Emmy Award-winning TV correspondent.
7. Emerson College (Boston, MA)
Emerson College was founded in 1880 as a “school of oratory.” It has stayed true to these roots by growing into a leading liberal arts institution for communication and the arts.
This includes an excellent program for public relations. Emerson teaches students the art (and science) of persuasion through combining data analytics and storytelling.
Students can choose from a B.S. or the 4+1 B.S. and M.A. track, which awards students with a master’s in public relations after only one additional year of study.
Emerson is a small private school, with a student to faculty ratio of 13:1.
Notable alumni include photographer and TV producer Patricia Alvarado Nunez, online media personality Veronica Belmont, and The Simpsons writer John Frink.