The George Washington University (GW) offers an online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program through its Graduate School of Political Management. The degree can be completed entirely online without any required in-person visits to campus. GW uses Blackboard, a learning management system, to deliver online courses. Through Blackboard, students can access course materials, participate in class discussions, watch recorded lectures, download readings and other resources, and communicate with peers and instructors.
The Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program is comprised of 30 credits and can be completed in as few as 18 months of study. It offers four start dates throughout the year, allowing students flexibility as to when they enroll and begin taking classes. Coursework introduces students to the principles of public relations, providing them with a foundation in strategic techniques and best practices for today’s ever-changing media, communication, and public relations landscape. Through the use of digital tools and contemporary practices in areas ranging from corporate social responsibility to personal reputation, students learn how to become advanced public relations professionals.
The ten-course curriculum examines topics from across the public relations industry, including public policies, audience behavior and segmentation, public affairs, social media, message creation, and more. These classes teach students how to build public trust and leverage key messages to both internal and external audiences in fields such as government and politics, associations, private business, or nonprofits.
Courses include Media Relations in a Digital World, Strategic Public Relations: Principles and Practice, Research Methods for PR and Public Affairs Managers, and Ethical Standards in Public Relations and Public Affairs. The curriculum also includes coursework in strategic communication, with classes such as Strategic Marketing Communications, Issues Management and Crisis Communications, Sustainable Communications, and Fundamentals of Business and Finance for PR Professionals. Consequently, the overall course load of GW’s online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program is very similar to a Master’s in Strategic Communication program.
Students in the online program can also select coursework from GW’s online Master’s in Political Management program to learn more about digital communication. For example, students might take courses in Digital Strategy or Maximizing Social Media in lieu of upper-level courses in the Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program.
The George Washington University offers optional residency programs for online students. The program hosts a weekend event on-campus once a year that allows students to network with fellow students, faculty members, and alumni in Washington D.C. Additionally, students may participate in one of six Global Residence programs in locations such as Canada, China, Hong Kong, Germany, and South Africa.
The George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations
Department: The Graduate School of Political Management
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses asynchronous instruction
Campus Visits Required: No (students may attend an optional week-long residency in D.C. near the end of their studies)
Program Length: Program can be completed in as few as 18 months
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone Research Project in Public Relations & Public Affairs
Credits Required: 30 credits (10 courses)
Example Courses: Strategic Public Relations: Principles and Practice; Strategic Marketing Communications; Media Relations in a Digital World; Research Methods for PR and Public Affairs Managers; Issues Management and Crisis Communications; Political Socialization and Public Opinion
Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0
Testing Requirements: GRE not required if GPA greater than 3.0 – applicants with a GPA below 3.0 may take the GRE or submit a professional work example to be considered for admission
Start Dates: Four starts per year (Fall, Spring, Summer I & II)
State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states