Now is a great time to pursue a master’s degree in communications and public relations. The need for organizations to build and maintain their public image will continue to drive growth, and increased use of social media and the need to create positive interactions with clients or customers will consistently add jobs to the market. According to a 2014 report from the BLS, employment of public relations specialists is expected to increase by 6% from 2012 to 2024, which is about average for all occupations. According to an updated report, in 2016, the median annual wages for salaried public relations specialists were $58,020, whereas the lowest 10% earned less than $32,090, and the top 10% earned more than $110,560.
A master’s degree in communications or PR can greatly expand your career options in the field. With a limited number of public relations positions in the workforce, competition is fierce. An advanced degree can prove to be a highly valuable tool. More and more people are choosing to pursue degrees online because of the greater flexibility and affordability of online degrees. However, the quality and credibility of online schools and online degree programs can vary widely, so it is important to do a thorough investigation before making a decision about which online master’s program is right for you. To help you make this decision, we’ve put together a ranking of what we judge to be the best online and distance learning master’s programs in communications, journalism, and PR for 2017. Our online degree rankings are based on several factors: school and program reputation, peer and instructional quality, and overall affordability. Only fully accredited programs were considered for our rankings. If you are not ready for a master’s degree, we also publish rankings for bachelor’s degrees in communication and public relations.
To determine the best online Master’s in Communication and Public Relations programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 4 best online Master’s in Communication and Public Relations programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.