FAQ: What Is a Public Relations and Communication Degree?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 4, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Public relations and communication degrees teach professionals about important topics in written and verbal communication, ethics, relationship building and marketing strategies. Professionals with public relations and communication degrees can work in a variety of careers and can choose from programs spanning from an associate degree to a doctorate. If you're interested in speaking with and building relationships with the public, a public relations and communication degree may be a good choice for you. In this article, we explain what this degree is, what it requires, the courses it includes and address other frequently asked questions about this degree.

What is a public relations and communication degree?

A public relations and communication degree is a hybrid program that combines the study of public relations with other general communication studies. It's well-suited for individuals interested in communication styles, informing the public and helping spread awareness for causes, people and products. Depending on your career aspirations, a public relations and communication degree may be a great fit.

Students with this major often focus on sharing information and speaking with large communities. This can include learning how to draft and deliver press conferences, managing social media accounts and communication and collaborating with journalists. Students may pair their public relations and communication degree with a specific communications specialty such as:

  • Emergency management

  • Advertising

  • Politics and law

  • Public official management

  • Speech writing and delivery

  • Healthcare

Related: What Can You Do With a Public Relations Degree?

What are the requirements for a public relations and communication degree?

The requirements for a public relations and communication degree can vary depending on the academic institution you wish to attend and the degree type you choose. You can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's or a doctorate degree. The requirements to pursue any of these degree programs often depend on the college you want to attend. Some colleges have academic requirements, such as a high GPA or standardized test scores, as well as a tuition cost for attending the program.

To understand the requirements for the program you want to pursue, search the college's website or contact the admissions office for more information. Many of these programs require students to complete an internship prior or soon after graduation from their undergraduate program, which is something you may need to plan for.

Related: How To Choose a College in 6 Steps

What are the typical courses?

The typical courses you take as a public relations and communication major can depend on the specialty you want to follow. Generally, students with these majors take courses such as:

  • General education core classes

  • Media relations and writing

  • Organizational communication

  • Social media

  • Public relations

  • Strategic communication and planning

  • Cross-cultural communication

  • Interpersonal communication

  • Communication theory

If yo u choose a specialty, you can choose courses based on the career you want to pursue. For example, if you want to work in the healthcare field, you may decide to take classes in that subject—both general knowledge courses and classes that examine the intersection of public relations and health. Public relations and communication majors often participate in more specialized classes as they continue their education.

How long does it take to complete a public relations and communication degree?

It can take anywhere from two to eight years to complete a public relations and communication degree, depending on the education level you want to achieve. Many professionals who work in public relations and communication pursue bachelor's degrees, which take four years on average to complete. However, the time it takes to earn a degree often depends on the individual. Full-time students can usually earn their degrees faster than part-time students.

Which careers can you pursue upon completion of the degree?

Upon completion of a public relations and communication degree, you can work in a variety of industries such as politics, healthcare, marketing, public outreach and content creation. You can also find employers in corporate, non-profit and private sectors. The variety of career options and choices can give you the freedom to find a career that's the perfect fit for you. Here is a list of seven careers that you may pursue:

1. Social media marketing coordinator

National average salary: $38,517 per year

Primary duties: Social media marketing coordinators manage all the social media platforms of a company to create and maintain a brand image. These professionals create social media accounts for their clients and post regular content to build interest in the company's brand. They also strategize social interactions to promote sales.

Read more: Learn About Being a Marketing Coordinator

2. Publicist

National average salary: $43,042 per year

Primary duties: Publicists focus on earning attention and advertisement for their clients who may be a brand, company or celebrity. Publicists collaborate with news outlets to share information about their clients and gather public attention for them. These professionals may also write public statements for their clients or on their behalf.

Read more: Learn About Being a Publicist

3. Fundraising manager

National average salary: $50,842 per year

Primary duties: A fundraising manager oversees campaigns and events that their organization runs to raise money for special causes. They may use communication, leadership and strategizing skills with their expertise in public relations to increase the amount of donations to their organization. Fundraising managers can work for management companies, religious organizations, scientific research firms and educational services.

4. Marketing communications manager

National average salary: $59,430 per year

Primary duties: Marketing communication managers use their social media and advertising knowledge to promote an organization and its products. Marketing communication managers oversee the creation of products and campaigns to promote the company for which they work, such as brochures, fact sheets, commercials and logos. These professionals manage a team of marketers and supervise and approve all promotional content for the company.

5. Brand manager

National average salary: $62,970 per year

Primary duties: Brand managers monitor marketing trends to ensure that a certain product or public official is promoting values that their audience still resonates with. Public relations and communication majors who become brand managers can work for companies, private organizations and public officials or celebrities. Brand managers work to manage the brand of their clients by promoting values and managing any issues the public may have with their clients.

Read more: Learn About Being a Brand Manager

6. Employee relations manager

National average salary: $70,359 per year

Primary duties: Employee relations managers coordinate communication between companies and their employees. This can include training and overseeing daily operations and issuing performance reviews. Employee relations managers seek to improve the relationship between employees and the company, allowing for efficient daily operations and a happy workplace.

7. Director of communications

National average salary: $77,300 per year

Primary duties: Directors of communications focus more on their interpersonal and communication knowledge than their public relations skills. A director of communication oversees both internal and external communication within a company, ensuring employee satisfaction, high productivity and efficient daily operations.

What is the work environment like for public relations and communication majors?

The work environment for public relations and communication majors often depends on the career they pursue after graduation. Many professionals in this industry work in office settings, occasionally traveling for speeches, community outreach or research. Though it depends on the type of employment you seek, you can expect to work on a team of professionals with both similar and complementary skills. For example, you may work on a team as a fundraising manager, working alongside speech and content writers, advertising professionals and finance experts.

Related: 46 Public Relations Jobs

What skills do you learn from this degree?

Professionals with public relations and communication degrees often learn a variety of skills. Here are some skills you can learn from this degree and how or why these professionals use these skills throughout their careers:

  • Written and verbal communication: Public relations and communication professionals use written and verbal communication skills to speak publicly, draft press statements and recognize communication patterns in others.

  • Interpersonal: Because many of these professionals work directly with the public, it's beneficial to have interpersonal skills. Some interpersonal skills you can learn and eventually use when working with the public include active listening and motivation.

  • Research: Because public relations and communications professionals work in a variety of fields, they use their strong researching abilities to understand their clients' brands and goals.

  • Social media: Many of these professionals rely on social media to spread awareness, advertise for their clients and reach a wider audience.

  • Ethics: Many fields that public relations and communication professionals work in require a strong ethical code, such as in politics and healthcare.

  • Multicultural perspective: These professionals use multicultural perspective skills when working with diverse communities in order to better communicate and understand the needs of the public and their clients.

  • Time management: Many public relations and communication professionals work with multiple clients at once, so they need time management skills to address each client's needs and to meet deadlines.

  • Basic computer knowledge: Some of these professionals work remotely or reach audiences online, so basic computer knowledge is helpful.

  • Creativity: In order to have an advantage in advertising, politics and marketing, these professionals use their creativity skills to discover new ideas for communicating.

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