Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Public Relations

Are you a “people person” who loves the challenge of working with the media? If so, a career in public relations may be in your future! Public relations (PR) specialists build positive connections between people, businesses, organizations, and the public. Using a variety of tools and techniques, PR specialists enhance a client’s image and develop relationships with media outlets to create lasting partnerships.

As interest in the field of public relations grows, many learners are seeking master’s degrees in an effort to differentiate themselves. Enrolling in a master’s program allows students to concentrate on the topics most relevant to public relations, such as communication methods, marketing strategies, and leadership skills. Unlike bachelor’s programs, graduate coursework prepares future PR specialists for a variety of legal and ethical situations they are likely to encounter in the workplace. A 6% job growth rate makes the field highly competitive and master’s program graduates have the knowledge and skills needed to stand out in the crowd.

If you’re concerned with the cost and commitment of traditional graduate programs, earning an affordable master’s in public relations online may be your best option. The following accredited programs let you earn an affordable public relations master’s degree online, providing the highest returns for the lowest tuition rates. Offering the same rigorous academics and opportunities as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, these self-paced programs let you study when and where it’s most convenient for you, making earning your master’s easier than ever before.


10 Affordable Online Master's Degrees in Public Relations
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1

Montana State University-Billings

Value Score 8.15
Average Tuition $5,276
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 75%
Number of Online Programs 5
Part-time cost per credit hour $220

Located in the Treasure State's largest city, Montana State University Billings administers a top-ranked online public relations master’s degree program that offers students the opportunity to choose from four in-demand specializations. Areas of emphasis include public relations theory, health communication, public communication, and media communication. All required courses can be completed online, and local students have the opportunity to attend traditional classes during the evening.

MSU’s online master of science in public relations is designed to help students build practical, career-oriented skills with a strong focus on advocacy. Students in the program benefit from access to a wealth of internship, student teaching, and research assistantship opportunities.

Applicants are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in communications or a closely related field, with a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Prospective students must submit their GRE scores, as well as three letters of recommendation and a personal statement of purpose.


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2

West Virginia University

Value Score 7.50
Average Tuition $8,568
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 29%
Number of Online Programs 7
Part-time cost per credit hour $476

West Virginia University makes its master of science in integrated marketing communications program available exclusively online. Drawing on a diverse range of academic faculty, working professionals, and entrepreneurs to design and teach classes, WVU’s online master’s degree in public relations program is built with a unique “learn it today, use it tomorrow” philosophy. This makes the program particularly valuable to students looking to study online part-time while maintaining careers in the marketing and PR industries. Classes are offered on accelerated eight-week schedules, spread across five academic terms. Students must complete a minimum of 33 credit hours to be eligible for graduation.

Application requirements include a 300- to 500-word personal statement, a resume that highlights relevant professional experience, GRE or GMAT scores, and academic transcripts from all previously attended post-secondary institutions. Candidates may submit letters of recommendation in support of their applications. While out-of-state students are not currently eligible for in-state tuition, the difference between the two rates was just over 10% during the 2016 to 2017 academic year, making the program an affordable option for those living outside West Virginia.


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3

Kent State University at Kent

Value Score 6.76
Average Tuition $10,864
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 46%
Number of Online Programs 9
Part-time cost per credit hour $495

With a system of 10 campuses based in eight locations throughout northeastern Ohio, Kent State University boasts a current body of about 41,000 students and an alumni network totaling more than 234,000 people. The school’s online master of arts program in public relations can be completed in about one year of full-time study, and features a strategically designed curriculum that emphasizes strong communication skills and a business-minded orientation. Key topics of study include internal communications, investor relations, crisis management, and social media strategies, providing the program a high degree of relevance to the current business climate.

For unconditional admittance to the program, applicants must hold an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Candidates must also submit an up-to-date resume and statement of purpose, along with college transcripts and at least three letters of recommendations that draw on academic and/or professional sources. International students may also apply to this public relations master’s degree online program but may be subject to additional application requirements (including demonstration of English proficiency).


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4

Mississippi College

Value Score 6.44
Average Tuition $9,810
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 21%
Number of Online Programs 9
Part-time cost per credit hour $545

Mississippi College is a Christian liberal arts and sciences institution formally affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention. The institution offers learners several options for pursuing a master’s in public relations online through its master of science in communication programs. Three distinct concentrations are available: professional communication in health services administration, integrated communication (general), and professional communication in sports.

Mississippi College places a high value on helping students develop a combination of soft skills and practical, concrete skills that help graduates make a seamless and successful transition to the professional world. Upon completion of the program, students are highly qualified for careers in public relations, corporate communications, and the media divisions of small, medium, and large companies. As of the 2017 to 2018 academic year, in-state and out-of-state students are both eligible for the same affordable tuition rates, making the school an excellent choice for budget-minded students.


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5

California Baptist University

Value Score 5.95
Average Tuition $11,232
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 28%
Number of Online Programs 10
Part-time cost per credit hour $624

California Baptist University is among Southern California’s top-rated Christian colleges. The school maintains an entirely Christian faculty, and its relatively small student body encourages small class sizes and high levels of student-faculty interaction in both traditional and online classes.

The school’s online master of arts in public relations program emphasizes creative thinking and the development of strong research and communications skills. As with CBU’s other programs, the school’s master’s degree in public relations online places a heavy emphasis on Christian approaches. Tuition rates are relatively affordable, and financial aid is available to those who qualify.

Graduates emerge with strong business, public relations, and technology skills, and benefit from advanced training in strategic planning, branding, reputation management, and product positioning. CBU’s public relations program also includes a strong focus on the emerging and increasingly critical area of social media marketing. Career paths and options include management-level and leadership positions in fields including marketing, community relations, and communications.


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6

Southern New Hampshire University

Value Score 5.43
Average Tuition $18,810
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 92%
Number of Online Programs 33
Part-time cost per credit hour $627

Southern New Hampshire University’s master of arts in communication program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals looking to balance advanced studies with their current careers and life commitments, as well as for students seeking new professional opportunities. This online public relations master’s degree program has embraced the sea change brought on by the rise of connected technologies, and is tailored to equip graduates to meet the needs of businesses operating in a 24/7 world.

Beyond its focus on emerging technologies and communication platforms, SNHU’s public relations degree program delivers excellent value. The school’s cheap tuition rates are among the most affordable in the United States, and students taking as few as two courses per term can complete their degrees in as little as 15 months. Making the program more accessible to a broader base of prospective students, GMAT and GRE scores are not required for admission.


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7

Webster University

Value Score 5.24
Average Tuition $12,300
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 41%
Number of Online Programs 21
Part-time cost per credit hour $685

Based in the beautiful St. Louis neighborhood of Webster Groves, Webster University’s master of arts in public relations program helps students develop an advanced and highly specific skill set. Learners focus on strategic analysis, critical thinking, leadership, and the ability to identify current and future trends. Among the program’s key learning outcomes is student comprehension of the relationship between research and communication.

This online master’s degree in public relations program is composed of a minimum of 36 course hours, one-quarter of which is comprised of a broad and engaging range of unique, highly focused electives. Ethics, globalization, and entrepreneurship all form program coursework focus components, and the school’s military-friendly policies have long made it an excellent options for servicemen and women looking to enhance their educational and professional credentials. Admissions take place on a rolling schedule, making prospective students eligible to begin studies at the start of the next academic term. All coursework can be 100% completed online.


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8

Marist College

Value Score 4.59
Average Tuition $13,500
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 85%
Number of Online Programs 7
Part-time cost per credit hour $750

Poughkeepsie, New York’s Marist College is a top-ranked liberal arts and sciences institution that has offered a comprehensive integrated marketing communication master’s degree program since 2012. With a strong focus on established and emerging digital, social media, and interactive marketing channels, Marist prepares students for success in careers in sphere of branding, strategic marketing, and product placement across a complete range of media channels.

Students can leverage part-time and full-time study options to create flexible schedules, and all coursework may be completed 100% online. The program has no on-campus requirements, and all online students are eligible for the same affordable tuition rates that put graduates in a strong position to realize excellent returns on their educational investments.

Marist College’s master’s in public relations online is ideal for working professionals looking to continue their educations while maintaining their current careers, as well as those seeking a career change or advancement opportunities. The program culminates with a capstone project that integrates a strategic, multi-channel focus on previously completed coursework.


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9

George Washington University

Value Score 2.93
Average Tuition $27,810
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 26%
Number of Online Programs 27
Part-time cost per credit hour $1,545

There are many recent examples of how social media presents businesses and public figures with new public relations challenges, particularly in the area of crisis management. George Washington University’s master of professional studies in strategic public relations program equips students with the skills necessary to manage public relations emergencies while developing advanced knowledge of the relationships between government, technology, and communications. While the program is not solely designed for students interested in working in politics, program coursework does offer excellent opportunities to those eyeing careers in government, political campaigning, and PR for public figures.

This online master’s degree in public relations can be completed 100% online, and is particularly popular with journalism professionals looking to pivot into new career paths. Given GWU’s strong reputation and Washington, DC-based location, students enjoy outstanding networking opportunities and are well-positioned to make a successful transition into both entry-level and management-level PR careers.


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10

Ithaca College

Value Score 2.28
Average Tuition $19,248
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 2%
Part-time cost per credit hour $802

Ithaca College’s master of science in communication innovation is uniquely designed for established communications professionals who want to be on the forefront of the industry’s future. This intensive, 24-month program features an asynchronous structure, providing excellent flexibility while requiring students to take only one course at a time throughout the academic year. Ithica estimates that an enrolled learner's weekly time commitments range from around seven to 10 hours.

Beyond online coursework, students in this program also participate in a total of five weekend-long intensive and immersive courses at various locations around the country. In the past, these opportunities have been hosted by leading companies including Disney, Facebook, BitTorrent, and ABC News.

With fewer than 10 applicants accepted per admission cycle, admission to this online public relations master’s program is highly competitive. According to the school, Ithaca looks for candidates with strong potential to make a major impact in the industry when evaluating applicants.


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