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Public Relations & Advertising Major

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Public Relations & Advertising

2,249 Master's Degrees Annually
20 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#63 in Popularity (Master's)
$69,480 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Public Relations & Advertising Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many public relations and advertising graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 2,249
Graduate Certificate 101
Doctor’s Degree 20

What Public Relations & Advertising Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to public relations and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Public Relations Majors

Public Relations majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Public Relations Majors

When studying public relations, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for Public Relations Majors

As you progress with your public relations degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a Public Relations & Advertising Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with public relations:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Advertising and Promotions Managers 5.4% $117,130
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes 4.7% $66,040
Communications Professors 10.0% $68,910
Community Health Workers 17.9% $39,540
Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers 8.2% NA
Green Marketers 5.4% $117,130
Health Educators 14.6% $54,220
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers 10.3% $114,800
Public Relations Specialists 8.9% $60,000
Technical Writers 10.9% $71,850

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Public Relations & Advertising?

2,249 Master's Degrees Annually
74% Percent Women
33% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major is dominated by women with about 74% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of public relations majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Public Relations Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 65
Black or African American 339
Hispanic or Latino 263
White 1,086
International Students 309
Other Races/Ethnicities 187

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Public Relations. About 13.7% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Canada
  • India

How Much Do Public Relations & Advertising Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of public relations and advertising students with a master’s degree is $46,800 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $40,750 (25th percentile) and $56,600 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to public relations.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $55,530 to $90,930 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to public relations. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Public Relations & Advertising Major  ( 55530 to 90930 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with public relations may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for public relations careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 1.6%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 5.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.6%
Some College Courses 8.1%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 10.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 57.5%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.3%
Master’s Degree 12.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.7%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.6%
Doctoral Degree 1.4%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.8%

Online Public Relations & Advertising Programs

In 2018-2019, 549 schools offered a public relations program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 86 8
Certificate (1-2 years) 23 3
Certificate (2-4 Years) 5 0
Associate’s Degree 49 6
Bachelor’s Degree 59 13
Post-Baccalaureate 86 8
Master’s Degree 150 37
Post-Master’s 8 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 6 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Public Relations & Advertising Worth It?

The median salary for a public relations grad is $69,480 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 74% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $591,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to public relations.

Major Number of Grads
Communication & Media Studies 5,184
Radio, Television & Digital Communication 1,666
Journalism 1,618
Communication & Journalism (Other) 636
Publishing 233

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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