Majors & Programs

Public Relations (MA)

Become a force in the field of strategic communication with our Public Relations MA. You’ll learn what it takes to successfully target individuals and communities through the latest social media and emerging communication technologies. With three tracks to choose from in political communication, sports communication, and strategic public relations, as well as the chance to count prior work experience toward your degree, you can tailor your learning based on your career goals and achievements.

In this program, you will have the chance to:

  • Formulate crisis communication plans, master speech writing, conduct polls, and learn public diplomacy;
  • Develop strategic messaging and media plans for campaign events and sports organizations;
  • Become an expert in creating online strategies for brand recognition using social media; and
  • 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. You’ll also have the unique opportunity to travel, taking advantage of our immersive learning experiences in cities such as Los Angeles; Washington, DC; Rosarito, Mexico; Barcelona; and more.

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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.

Starting on your first day at Emerson, you will begin to build a strong network of peers and faculty of varied backgrounds and experience, which will lay the groundwork for internship opportunities throughout the duration of your program, as well as full-time employment opportunities upon completion. Emerson has long-standing relationships with many corporate, nonprofit/charitable, and government organizations throughout Boston, as well as New York City and Washington, D.C., which afford our students outstanding internship and employment opportunities. Students can take advantage of our extensive alumni network as well as professional connections of faculty working in research and consulting.

Career paths chosen by some of our graduates:

  • Campaign managers
  • Chief communication officers
  • Communication strategists
  • Directors of digital strategy
  • Directors of executive communication
  • Directors of financial communication
  • Directors of public affairs
  • Directors of corporate social responsibility
  • Online content managers
  • Organizational consultants
  • Political candidates or public affairs officers
  • Press secretaries or government communication directors
  • Social media strategists
  • Speechwriters

Graduate Alumni & Employers

Emerson graduates become communication professionals in a variety of industries and organizations in the United States and around the world. See below a list of companies and agencies at which our graduates have recently worked.

  • American Red Cross Blood Services
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  • The Boeing Company
  • Boston Ballet
  • Chanel
  • Coca-Cola FEMSA
  • Fidelity Investments
  • FleetBoston Financial
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Mulholland Brothers
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Parker Brothers
  • Polaroid Corporation
  • Porter Novelli
  • spirituality.com, from The Christian Science Publishing Society
  • Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Weber Shandwick Worldwide
  • Whole Foods Market

Graduates of the MA program are at the cutting edge of their fields and finding success in every field. Here are just a few:

  • Megan Baker, social media manager, Samuel Adams
  • William Wemer, director of foundation relations and annual giving, Joslin Diabetes Center
  • Hlynur Gudjonsson, Icelandic trade commissioner for North America and Icelandic consul general for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island
  • Mary Helen Black, director, alumni clubs and associations–external relations, Harvard Business School
  • Dr. Scott Ratzan, vice president, global corporate affairs, Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Phillip Maggi, political consultant, mCapitol Management
  • Ada Renado, marketing manager, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide

Global Connections

Our students think globally. From the very start, you’ll be putting what you learn into practice, 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.

Emerson’s Los Angeles location and Washington, DC, program—along with special courses and workshops—offer you unmatched field learning opportunities in public relations. Students recently participated in GlobCom, an international project which gives students the chance to solve PR issues and be part of a multicultural team, and as Rediscover Rosarito, where students worked on rebranding the city. These are just a couple of examples of the type of immersive real work experience we offer our students.

Other examples of projects include:

  • Public diplomacy and crisis management audits that take place between LA and Rosarito, Mexico
  • Sports communication field study with the Barça football club in Barcelona, Spain
  • 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
  • Internships in global public relations offices in Barcelona, Lisbon, Singapore, Madrid, Paris, among others

Faculty

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. Your program director will work with you one-on-one to suit your education needs and set you up for success for your capstone project. 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.

Learning from teachers who are themselves working professionals in the areas of public relations, advertising, digital media, campaign management, public affairs, public diplomacy, sports communication, and content creation, provides you with direct access to the most timely and progressive strategies and insights in communication management.

 

Your Graduate Program Director