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Public Relations Degree Online BA in Communication Concentration

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Register By: October 22 Classes Start: October 24

Online Public Relations Degree Program Overview

Behind every good communication plan is a strategy to build relationships and influence a wider audience. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations at Southern New Hampshire University prepares you to lead or contribute to furthering your organization's mission, message and public image.

In PR, media is earned, not paid – meaning you'll need to learn the power of persuasion and how it's beneficial to the people and organizations you're representing. When you earn your public relations degree online from SNHU, you can position yourself for a career that makes an impact. From learning a variety of formats for sharing your communications to becoming skilled in tools that can make your job more efficient, a specialized PR degree can give you an edge on the competition.

This bachelor's in public relations focuses on developing your skills in thinking, writing, research, strategic planning and execution. Ethics also play a large role throughout the program as you develop the PR savvy needed to be a responsible communicator.

“Students in the BA in Communication public relations concentration will learn how to cultivate, monitor, and maintain relationships in efforts to promote a positive public image for their clients,” said Dr. Karen Wilkinson, associate dean of communication at SNHU. “They'll learn the art of storytelling in efforts to engage diverse audiences and to enlighten, persuade and inform in support of communication goals.”

Learn how to:

  • Develop and deliver a variety of communications
  • Use communication tools to spread your messages
  • Collaborate with stakeholders
  • Embrace ethical communication plans

Career Outlook

When you earn your public relations degree online, you open yourself up to a range of possibilities within the industry.

Karen Wilkinson with the text Karen Wilkinson“Students in the BA in Communication with the public relations concentration will learn how to support individuals, organizations and modern movements in their efforts to maintain a positive brand identity,” said Dr. Karen Wilkinson, associate dean of communication at SNHU.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) identifies some of the disciplines within PR1 as:

  • Brand journalism and content creation: Write journalism-style stories that don't explicitly read like marketing for an organization, but in fact are.
  • Crisis communication: Take the lead on protecting your organization's image as you respond to the public.
  • Events: From meetings and conventions to galas and ceremonies, you can make your event really work for your organization.
  • Internal communication: Keep employees informed of all of the news, changes and events within a company.
  • Media relations: Work with the media to give them positive stories about your organization.
  • Reputation management: Help control the image of your company – often through online search results.
  • Social media: Create and deliver content that helps your organization engage with its audience.
  • Speechwriting: Write the clear and effective words delivered by leaders, politicians and event hosts.

Wilkinson also adds roles like spokesperson, public information officer, sales, promotions and lobbyist to that list, as well, given the broad applicability of communication skills.

In addition, a PR job may include many of those disciplines, not just one. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), PR specialists – who also may be referred to as communication specialists, media specialists or press secretaries – could have many of the following responsibilities2:

  • Align advertising/promotion programs with an organization’s PR efforts
  • Draft speeches and/or arrange interviews for an organization’s executives
  • Evaluate public opinion of an employer through social media
  • Help an employer communicate with the public
  • Maintain an organization’s image and identity
  • Prepare press releases, graphics and photography for the media
  • Respond to requests from a variety of media

Sammantha Hoyt with the text Sammantha HoytA degree can be beneficial – even if you already have experience in the field, said Sammantha Hoyt '21.

"The program provided me with skills and knowledge that I can apply in my professional career," she said. "Apart from my skills and knowledge, I also have my degree to rely on for additional support with future opportunities that I may be considered for, which is a huge plus."

Employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow through 2030 – adding over 31,000 roles, according to the BLS.2 In addition, PR specialists are among the highest paid when it comes to media and communication occupations: In 2020, the median annual wage for public relations specialists was $62,810, while the top 10% earned more than $118,210.2

The BLS also notes that some of the largest employers in public relations in 20202 were:

  • Educational services – state, local and private
  • Advertising, public relations and related services
  • Government
  • Business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations

Those same employers are also among the top-paying industries for PR specialists, as well.2

Also, according to the BLS, the strongest competition for jobs was in education services – meaning having a specialized PR degree could give you the edge in the resume pile.2

Start Your Journey Toward an Online Public Relations Degree Concentration

Courses & Curriculum

Public relations is fast paced – and you always have to be prepared for change. With your online public relations degree from SNHU, you join a program that positions you for a rewarding career.

Stephen Burkhart with the text Stephen Burkhart"Because of what I've learned here and the amount of networking that you get to do at SNHU – a huge global environment of network here – I have been able to see that my potential is not just a next level at work," said Stephen Burkhart '16. "I have opportunities to reach a global space, and that makes me feel a little more empowered, a little more like I can go out into the world and make a difference."

As defined by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), PR is "a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics."1

Your online degree in public relations can help you learn how to create and nurture the connections that will be so crucial to your success in the industry.

Sammantha Hoyt '21 said she had takeaways from all classes, but one in particular stood out.

"I've found that each class has taught me something unique," she said. "Personal Brand Communications was my favorite course because it encouraged me to dive into my personal brand and lay the foundation for my branding, allowing me to identify my own goals and aspirations."

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shares the important qualities of a PR specialist2 – all of which are covered in SNHU's public relations courses online:

  • Interpersonal skills: Maintaining a good relationship with the public and the media
  • Organizational skills: Being able to quickly switch from one project or client to another
  • Problem-solving skills: Using good judgment while handling sensitive issues
  • Speaking skills: Explaining an organization's position clearly
  • Writing skills: Getting the attention of an audience quickly through succinct messaging

Dr. Karen Wilkinson, associate dean of communication at SNHU, echoes the need for those skills.

"Students will learn oral, written and visual communications," she said. "They'll create messaging solutions for diverse target audiences and apply social media strategies, design principles and cutting-edge technology to deliver ethical and socially responsible communications.”

Your online public relations degree not only explores traditional communication channels, but also trains you to use emerging technologies to communicate effectively. Courses are taught by faculty with years of real-world, hands-on experience.

The courses were also designed by professionals in the industry.

“We worked intently with industry experts, knowledgeable academics and subject-matter experts to focus on the skills and competencies that are needed by successful communicators within the contemporary workplace," Wilkinson said. "Our dedicated efforts were focused on ensuring that our students could hit the ground running as through their studies, they are empowered with the essential tools, knowledge and skill sets that they need to be competitive and to succeed in the real world.”

By working with communication experts, you can gain valuable insights from those working in the field.

Victoria Comis with the text Victoria Comis"The instructors each give their own take on the lessons in each module," said Victoria Comis '21. "It helped me to understand the information better."

You'll end your public relations degree program with a capstone course, which includes the opportunity to create an e-portfolio. In turn, that gives you the chance to show your work from throughout your program to employers when you begin your job search – another way to stand out in the competitive job market.

Curriculum Requirements & Resources

  • General education courses: All online bachelor's degree students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
  • Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
  • Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Depending on your scores, you could earn up to 12 math credits – the equivalent of 4 courses – toward your degree for less than $50 per assessment.

Should you decide that PR is not the communication track you want to take, SNHU also offers a general Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree online, as well as concentrations in business communication, new media and professional writing.

Tuition & Fees

As a private, nonprofit university, we’re committed to making college more accessible by making it more affordable. That’s why we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.

We also offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Online Undergraduate Programs Per Course Per Credit Hour Annual Cost for 30 credits 
Degree/Certificates $960 $320 $9,600
Degree/Certificates (U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)* $675 $225 $6,750

Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually. *Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)

Frequently Asked Questions

University Accreditation

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.

References