In a public relations (PR) program, students acquire marketable skills in print, visual and multimedia communications. They also learn how these skills can be used to interact with the media and the general public on behalf of a company or an organization. Programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, such as those found at the high-ranking universities below. In addition to classroom work, program features include on-campus public relations firms and the chance to acquire some real-life professional experience.
1. University of Southern California in Los Angeles
School Highlight: Bachelor's and master's degree programs in public relations stress hands-on experience.
Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) tied for the 25th-best ranking among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. USC offers Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations programs. Students take classes at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and gain hands-on experience working with the on-campus public relations firm, TriSight Communications. Students can also join the USC chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. USC is home to the research-focused Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center, which has earned recognition for its work in identifying best practices, new ideas and standards in public relations.
2. University of Texas at Austin
School Highlight: Texas was one of the first schools to offer a public relations major.
In 2015, designated the University of Texas (UT) in Austin as the 17th-best public school in the country. Although the university has more than 38, 000 undergraduate students, it still boasts an 18-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. UT's advertising and public relations program is one of only a few programs in the U.S. that's housed within its own department. Since 1999, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations has offered an undergraduate major in public relations.
UT is also home to one of the nation's nine initial chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), which helps nurture relationships between students and professionals in the PR field. It also hosts its own student-run public relations agency, Texas Tower, through which students gain experience working on PR projects for nonprofit organizations.
3. Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY
School Highlight: Syracuse is the home of Hill Communications.
Syracuse University tied for 58th on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national universities in 2015. Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Public Relations programs are offered through the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Students gain skills in handling communications for government, corporate, consumer, economic and media entities. Those looking for career opportunities and professional advice can take advantage of the Newhouse Alumni Career Advisory Network. This group consists of nearly 4, 000 alumni who have volunteered to assist up-and-coming communication and public relations professionals.