Majors & Programs

Public Relations (MA)

Become a force in the field of communication with our Public Relations (MA) to learn what it takes to successfully target individuals and communities through current  social media and emerging technologies. 

Historically named the first communication program in the United States, our Public Relations degree provides students with the cutting-edge knowledge to succeed in a broad array of industries such as news agencies, community organizations, the nonprofit sector, financial institutions, and more.

Our location in the heart of downtown Boston, one of the leading academic, technological and innovative cities in the US, and our practical approach to education will allow you to finetune your skillset and gain the industry expertise needed to leverage your career.

In this program, you will have the chance to:

  • Develop effective public relations campaigns and strategies
  • Maintain a positive reputation and continuously build brand identity
  • Match media types, writing style, and effective messages targeted to specific audiences
  • Leverage the latest technologies in the industry
  • Understand the role of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and other forms of diversity in the workforce
  • Distinguish between the needs of communication across a broad array of industries
  • Apply concepts of user experience design to websites, apps, online content, videos, and mobile communication

Our Public Relations (MA) program is incredibly versatile—complete it part-time or full-time, anywhere from one to three years. Courses are offered primarily in the evening, allowing working professionals to participate in our program and leaving time for students to participate in internship and networking opportunities.

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Can’t commit to a full master’s program? Our 16-credit graduate certificate program allows career changers or professionals looking to re-tool in the industry with the credentials and experience necessary to compete for today’s top jobs. Learn more about the Public Relations Certificate.


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Program Summary

Summary

With the ability to communicate effectively comes the power to bring about positive change. At Emerson, you will learn to analyze and gain meaningful insight into communities, cultures, institutions, and lifestyles, as well as your target audience’s beliefs and values.

Throughout your course of study, you will gain valuable, real-world experience by conducting public opinion polls and organizational social media audits, formulating crisis communication plans, writing speeches, and creating digital content. By investigating the ways in which different types of messaging can engage and persuade, you will leave the program with the skill set and strategic insight required to be a compelling advocate for better business practices, improved policies, and social justices.

Finding Your Starting Point (Advanced Standing)

Are you a working professional in the field of communication?

Industry professionals now have the option to turn relevant professional experience into up to 8 credits of advanced standing toward program requirements. Upon approval of advanced standing, your Graduate Program Director will work with you to personalize your program curriculum and ensure that you maximize your remaining coursework. Advanced standing values your professional experience as well as shortens the time to completion and decreases the overall cost of tuition.

To apply, you will need to complete a portfolio to reflect your professional experience in three skill areas: communication, management, and knowledge.

You have two options to apply for advanced standing:

  1. Submit your portfolio at the time of application. We will review your application for both admission and advanced standing placement at the time of application completion and you will receive both decisions at the same time.
  2. Submit your portfolio to your Graduate Program Director within 30 days of the first semester. The Graduate Program Director will work directly with once you have enrolled.

Students who are granted advanced standing will be required to complete the remaining 28–32 credits at Emerson College in order to satisfy degree requirements. Please note that advanced standing credit advances a student’s position within the program but credits are not transferrable to another institution.

Careers & Connections

Making Connections

In a marketplace flooded with information, every organization wants its message to be heard above the noise. That’s why there is such a high demand for skilled communication professionals who can craft and execute compelling communication strategies. Our graduates of the Public Relations program have pursued careers in a wide variety of industries and occupations. No matter your focus area—pharmaceuticals, health and fitness, political campaigns, entertainment, hospitality, financial services, technology, or government organizations—a Public Relations degree will have a sustained value during any economic cycle.

Graduates go on to become:

  • Public Relations strategists
  • Spokespeople for corporations
  • Directors of digital strategy
  • Directors of executive communication
  • Directors of financial communication
  • Directors of public affairs
  • Online content managers
  • Social Media strategists

Alumni Spotlights/Quotes

Emerson’s tight-knit community allows students to build personal and longstanding relationships with their fellow classmates and tap into an interactive and engaging alumni network. Sample alum:

  • Megan Baker: Social Media Manager, Samuel Adams
  • William Wemer: Director of Foundation Relations and Annual Giving, Joslin Diabetes Center
  • Mary Helen Black: Director, Alumni clubs and Associations–external relations, Harvard Business School

Global Connections

Our students think globally. From the very start, you’ll be putting what you learn into practice. Emerson has an ever-expanding global network and international study opportunities. In Boston and all over the world; our students have been part of programs in Iceland, Canada, Chile, and Barcelona. Students have the opportunity to work with State Department grants on strategic communication, politics, and advocacy, such as 2016's election project with international journalists, and the U.S. Embassy in Nepal. 

Other examples of projects include:

  • Campaign work at the Iowa Caucus, California and New Hampshire primaries, Republican and
  • Democratic Conventions, Canadian and Mexican elections
  • Nation-branding seminars in Iceland
  • Health communication workshops in Australia and New Zealand

With the ability to communicate effectively comes the power to bring about positive change. At Emerson, we believe that real-world experience gives our students an edge that will set them apart for the rest of their future endeavors. Our extensive network of Emerson peers, faculty, alumni, and corporate organizations in Boston, NYC, and Washington D.C., allow students to take advantage of outstanding internship and employment opportunities.

Establish yourself as a creative, innovative force. Be a compelling advocate. Build your success, the Emerson way.

Faculty Spotlight

Emerson College is committed to high-quality, high-touch education, and our faculty are rich in public relations expertise. As a student in the Public Relations program, you will have great access to your professors and have the opportunity to collaborate with them during your time at Emerson and beyond.

Your Graduate Program Director

Your Graduate Program Director, Linda Gallant, will serve as your primary faculty advisor, guiding you on course selection to ensure that you will both achieve your learning objectives and satisfy the program requirements. You will also receive program and department news from your program director along with any on- and off-campus opportunities that might be of interest to you.