Answer: Yes, there are currently 32 online master’s in marketing communication, integrated marketing communications, and public relations programs available at schools throughout the United States.

Marketing, integrated marketing communications (IMC), and public relations (PR) form the foundation of an organization’s relationship with its client base, as well as with the public at large. While marketing concerns the promotion of a company’s products and/or services to current and possible customers, public relations is defined as the communications that help organizations maintain a strong reputation and brand identity, and to navigate important situations with stakeholders. While these fields are distinct, they work together to ensure the success of a company or organization. Sound and ethical marketing practices are part of a good PR strategy, because they enhance consumer trust, while effective PR campaigns uphold a company’s reputation, which is essential for marketing initiatives to be successful.

Recently, more organizations have begun considering marketing and public relations to be part of an entire integrated marketing strategy, which has led to the creation of integrated marketing communications as a discipline. As a result, there has been a growth in graduate programs in integrated marketing communications that incorporate multiple elements of marketing and public relations, from direct advertising to social media, customer and stakeholder relations, brand development, and sales. Many of these IMC programs are offered online and are designed for working professionals interested in advancing their careers, and for students who want to have flexibility in their schedule as they build skills and experience in marketing and public relations.

Online master’s in marketing, integrated marketing, and public relations communication programs prepare students to develop integrated marketing and public relations communication plans, to handle the communications around corporate crisis situations, and to conduct research on consumer preferences and behavior that they can apply to an organization’s media and messaging. Students of these programs also learn about new communication technologies and how to use them strategically to connect with customers and the public. Graduates of these programs can work as marketing and PR specialists and directors, as well as directors of consumer affairs.

Due to the overlaps between marketing, IMC, and PR, master’s in communication programs in marketing often cover concepts in public relations, and vice versa, and there are many programs that allow students to specialize in both fields. For the purposes of this FAQ, we refer to these programs collectively as master’s in marketing and public relations communication; however, some schools do offer distinct master’s in communication programs that emphasize one over the other.

Note: Currently, only master’s in communication programs with a specialization or significant coursework in public relations are included on this page; master’s in public relations programs are not included at this time.

Examples of Online Master’s in Marketing, Integrated Marketing, and Public Relations Communication Programs

Currently, there are 32 online master’s in marketing communication and public relations programs (including master’s in integrated marketing communications programs) in the United States. Below are brief descriptions of several of these programs to give students an idea of what they entail:

  • Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies offers an Online Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations & Corporate Communications. This program includes courses in communications planning, public relations writing, and communications research, as well as classes in mobilizing audiences, corporate communications strategies, crisis communication, personal branding, media relations, leadership in communication, and communications planning.
  • Johns Hopkins University’s Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Advanced Academics Programs offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public and Media Relations. This program prepares students to develop and implement comprehensive media and PR campaigns at corporations, non-profits, and government agencies through courses in PR principles, media relations, strategic communication program management, and crisis communication.
  • Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications has an Online Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications that trains students to help organizations build strong brand identities. Students take core classes in consumer insights and behavior, statistics and marketing research, marketing management, integrated marketing communications strategy, and financial accounting, followed by electives such as digital and social marketing, brand communication and equity, and integration management.
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Gies College of Business and College of Media offer a Master of Science in Strategic Brand Communication that teaches students how to create and deliver effective brand messaging through new media technologies. Students take classes in business management, consumer insights, promotional strategies, data analytics, strategic media management, and strategic global branding.
  • The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications offers an Online Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications with a specialization in Integrated Media Communications (Advertising and Public Relations). This program combines classes in advertising and marketing with courses in PR strategy, and covers concepts in strategic communications in advertising, international and multicultural public relations, creative concepting, global advertising, crisis management, theories of organizational communication, and social media theory and practice.

Online master’s in marketing and public relations communication programs often use a combination of asynchronous and synchronous instruction so that students benefit from interactions with peers and faculty while also completing some course modules according to their own schedules. In addition to fulfilling course requirements, students are typically required to complete a master’s thesis or a capstone project that either examines an issue in marketing or PR, or develops a strategic marketing or PR communication plan to address an organization’s need. Online programs in marketing and PR may also require students to pass a comprehensive exam or complete an internship experience in a relevant setting.

Example Curriculum and Courses in Online Master’s in Marketing and Public Relations Communication Programs

Below is a sample curriculum for an online master’s in marketing and PR communication program. Students should note that programs vary in the content, titling, and sequencing of their courses. Furthermore, programs that focus primarily on PR or marketing communication may have different courses than those listed below, which are based off a course of study for a master’s in marketing and PR communication program. Therefore, the curriculum provided below should only be used as an example.

Curriculum ComponentCourse Titles and Graduation Requirement Descriptions
Core Courses
  • Brand Identity and Reputation Management
  • The Principles of Public and Media Relations
  • Strategic Communications Planning
  • The Principles of Advertising and Marketing
  • Integrated Marketing Communications
Elective Courses
  • Digital Media Campaigns
  • Crisis Communication
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Global Advertising
  • Multicultural Concepts in PR and Advertising
Graduation Requirements
(Potential Capstone Options)
  • Master’s Thesis or Applied Project/Strategic PR or Marketing Communication Plan
  • Comprehensive Examination
  • Practicum/Internship

For a comprehensive list of campus-based, online, and hybrid master’s in communication programs with a specialization in marketing, IMC, and/or public relations, as well as further details on the course content and curricular structure of these programs, please reference our Master’s in Marketing and Public Relations Communication Programs page.

Note: MastersinCommunications.com classifies programs based on their curriculum, including both core and elective classes. For a program to be classified as a master’s in marketing and public relations communication program in our directories, it must either have a clear specialization in one or both fields (i.e. IMC, public relations, advertising and public relations…), or have at least three to four courses that are relevant to marketing and/or PR. These courses cover concepts such as public relations writing, digital marketing strategy, integrated marketing communications principles, crisis communication, strategic communication for corporations and non-profits, media campaign planning, social media marketing, brand development, and reputation management. Finally, in order to be classified as an online program in our directories, a program must allow students to complete most or all of their classes and graduation requirements online or remotely, and require two or fewer campus visits annually.

Online Master's in Public Relations and Marketing Communication (IMC) Degree Programs

To learn more about the programs listed below, click on the program name to visit the school profile page.

Ashland University

(Ohio)

Drake University

(Iowa)
Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Program(s):

Eastern New Mexico University

(New Mexico)
Department: Department of Communication
Program(s):

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

(Pennsylvania)
Department: Communication, Journalism and Media Department, School of Graduate Studies
Program(s):

Fordham University

(New York)
Department: Gabelli School of Business
Program(s):

Franklin University

(Ohio)
Department: Ross College of Business
Program(s):

Johns Hopkins University

(District of Columbia)

Marist College

(New York)
Department: School of Communication and the Arts
Program(s):

Mississippi College

(Mississippi)

Missouri State University

(Missouri)

Northeastern University

(Massachusetts)

Northwestern University

(Illinois)
Department: Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Program(s):

Southern New Hampshire University

(New Hampshire)
Department: College of Online and Continuing Education
Program(s):

St Bonaventure University

(New York)
Department: Jandoli School of Communication
Program(s):

Stephen F Austin State University

(Texas)

Syracuse University

(New York)

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

(Arkansas)

University of Denver

(Colorado)

University of Florida

(Florida)
Department: College of Journalism and Communications
Program(s):

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

(Illinois)
Department: Gies College of Business and Sandage Department of Advertising (College of Media)
Program(s):

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

(Nebraska)

University of Southern California

(California)
Department: Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Program(s):

Webster University

(Missouri)
Department: Communications and Journalism Department
Program(s):

Western New England University

(Massachusetts)