Grad School Hub - Most Affordable Online Programs-01

Advertising yourself for upper-level promotions in today's frenzied media industry might be more successful after adding an online master's in public relations to your résumé byline. Attending a graduate PR program online can be ideal for an ambitious, assertive "people" person to build relationships and deepen corporate communication strategies in a flexible 24/7 format.

Public relations master's study provides an advantageous angle over competition for management jobs focused on generating positive buzz that protects organizational reputation. Labeled the second best creative career by the U.S. News & World Report, public relations has proven powerful in marketing brands to consumers. Becoming computer-savvy is extremely important for PR managers since Business2Community reports 75 percent of buying customers are influenced by social media. Several Master's in Public Relations online schools offer bargains while maximizing your editorial calendar time and sharpening tech skills for press pizzazz.


At Grad School Hub, our staff has conducted a degree round-up using the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator to alert the us about cheap online master's in public relations offerings. Our market research began by filtering only public and private nonprofit four-year universities with advanced degrees in public relations or strategic communications on the Internet. Google was consulted to search for any programs omitted from the database. We pitched an initial pool of 19 schools that had regional accreditation recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Next, we arranged the institutions based on 2016-17 data for mean in-state graduate tuition and kept the 15 most affordable. Below we've published our "press release" with the most affordable public relations master's online programs costing under $35,000 annually from highest to lowest price.

Ranking Low-Cost Online Public Relations Master's

15. Syracuse University

Online Master of Science in Communications: Public Relations Specialization

Syracuse, NY


Average Graduate Tuition: $34,632 per year

Linked to 137,358 LinkedIn alumni, including media greats Bob Costas, Jeanne Moos, and Eli Saslow, Syracuse University is a private, nonsectarian RU/VH media school founded in 1870 that's earmarking $1.28 billion to serve 22,484 Orange downtown and online via 2U. Syracuse was recognized for America's fourth-best information studies by the U.S. News & World Report, 159th top value in Money magazine, and 84th best faculty in Washington Monthly. Directed by Dr. Lorraine Branham, the Newhouse School's Online Master of Science in Communications grants the Public Relations Specialization in just 15 months. The 33-credit, non-thesis program includes two weekend immersions in Syracuse, Seattle, or Washington DC. Online courses from multimedia storytelling to digital communications have led to 100 percent job percent at Coca-Cola, Edelman, Pandora, and others.

14. Drexel University

MS in Communication: Public Relations Concentration Online

Philadelphia, PA


Average Graduate Tuition: $32,184 per year

Hosting bi-weekly PRSSA Chapter meetings in the Creese Student Center, Drexel University is a private, nonsectarian arts and science institution opened in 1891 that's endowed for $722 million to educate 24,189 Dragons face-to-face on three Philadelphia campuses and 4,669 post-grads online via Blackboard. Drexel is America's 84th best college in The Wall Street Journal and 127th best research university on Forbes with the 177th best alumni employment outcomes according to the CWUR. The College of Arts and Sciences has four yearly starts for the MS in Communication with a Public Relations Concentration Online. Chaired by Dr. Susan Stein, the 45-unit major mandates minimum "B" averages for courses like digital publishing, telecom regulation, persuasion, and press writing with an optional six-month internship.

13. George Washington University

Online Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Strategic Public Relations

Washington, DC


Average Graduate Tuition: $28,800 per year

Gifting $193.6 million in annual financial aid, including the $20,000 GSPM Scholarship, George Washington University is a private, research-intensive CUWMA member that's serving 27,159 Colonials from 130+ nations in 71 disciplines on its 43-acre Foggy Bottom campus and online through Blackboard. GWU was deemed America's 74th best investment on PayScale, 64th top university in Times Higher Education, and 13th best public affairs school by the U.S. News & World Report. The Graduate School of Political Management launched the Online Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Strategic Public Relations for updating PR playbooks. Organized by Dr. Lara Brown, the 33-credit, 11-course program builds impressive portfolios with courses like integrated marketing, capstone projects, and optional global perspective residencies from Brussels to Brazil.

12. American University

Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Online

Washington, DC


Average Graduate Tuition: $28,422 per year

Established by Methodist Bishop John Fletcher Hurst in 1892, American University is a private, doctoral Congress-chartered research hub that's endowed for $576 million to serve 13,200 Eagles in 240 clubs, including the PRSSA, at its 84-acre Ward Circle campus and online via Blackboard Collaborate. American was ranked the 10th most politically active by The Princeton Review, 139th most affordable on WalletHub, and 84th most service-oriented in Washington Monthly. Headed by Dr. Jeffrey Rutenbeck, the 2000 EDSF Innovation in Higher Education Award winner, the ACEJMC-accredited School of Communication provides the Master of Arts in Strategic Communication Online. Rolling admission into the 30-credit, 10-month program has four tracks: Advocacy & Social Impact, Digital Strategies & Analytics, Public Diplomacy & Global Affairs, or Corporate Communication & Reputation Management.

11. Western New England University

Online MA in Communication with a Public Relations Concentration

Springfield, MA


Average Graduate Tuition: $24,120 per year

Occupying a 215-acre, 24-building Knowledge Corridor campus in Springfield's Wilbraham suburb with eLearning available, Western New England University is a private, doctoral-granting liberal arts institution that's endowed for $33.9 million to serve 3,955 Golden Bears. WNE is applauded as America's 339th best small college on Niche, 289th top university by Times Higher Education, and 250th best school on the Social Mobility Index. Based in Emerson Hall, the College of Arts & Sciences awards the Online MA in Communication with a Public Relations Concentration directed by Dr. Douglas Battema. The 30-credit, 10-course curriculum allows asynchronous access to content from strategic publicity to communication crises before the large-scale independent study project and PRSA certification.

10. Southern New Hampshire University

MA in Communication – Public Relations Online

Manchester, NH


Average Graduate Tuition: $18,810 per year

Granted the 2007 New England Higher Education Excellence Award, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit NEASC-accredited institution that's endowed for $16.7 million to deliver the "Summa Optimaque" to 73,177 Penmen total in Manchester, Salem, Brunswick, and online using Blackboard. SNHU is named America's 23rd top online university on Niche, 211th most diverse school by College Factual, and 22nd most adult-friendly educator in Washington Monthly. Post-grads with minimum 2.75 GPAs submit $40 applications to pursue the School of Arts & Sciences' MA in Communication with New Media & Marketing or Public Relations Online concentrations. Overseen by Dr. Steven Johnson, the 36-credit, non-GRE degree condenses courses like reputation management into 10-week terms for quickly reaching the real-life capstone campaign.

9. Quinnipiac University

Online MS in Public Relations

Hamden, CT


Average Graduate Tuition: $17,730 per year

Publishing The Quinnipiac Barnacle each month since November 2013, Quinnipiac University is a private, nonsectarian business-oriented master's college that's endowed for $388 million to enroll 9,150 Bobcats in 79 academic programs at its Hamden, North Haven, Mount Carmel, and online campuses. QU is crowned America's 263rd best value on Forbes, seventh best media school by LinkedIn, and 172nd most affordable elite college in Washington Monthly. Hosting the state-of-the-art Ed McMahon Center, the School of Communications holds the CEPR certification for its Online MS in Public Relations. Managed by Dr. Mark Contreras, the 36-credit, non-thesis program culminates with an applied capstone after virtual courses like branding strategies and investor relations. Quinnipiac also presents the MS in Interactive Media Online with Media Design, Social Media, and UX Design concentrations.

8. Webster University

Master of Arts in Public Relations Online

St. Louis, MO


Average Graduate Tuition: $12,690 per year

Affiliated with 88,000 alumni like media masterminds William Broad, Leyna Nguyen, and Marsha Mason, Webster University is a global private, non-profit Catholic school opened by the Sisters of Loretto in 1915 that's maintaining a 47-acre St. Louis campus, over 50 extension centers, and a virtual Canvas classroom. Webster is named America's 103rd best value by WalletHub, 203rd best opportunity college on the Social Mobility Index, and 363rd top master's institution in Washington Monthly. Headquartered in the 66,000-square-foot Sverdrup Complex, the School of Communications directed by Dr. Eric Rothenbuhler confers the Master of Arts in Public Relations Online. Redesigned in June 2017, the 36-credit, team-based major mandates minimum "B-" averages through courses from speech writing to market research. Also consider Webster's M.A. in Communications Management or Media Communications.

7. University of Maryland University College

Online Management Master's Degree with Public Relations Specialization

Adelphi, MD


The University of Maryland University College makes its 18-month online Master's in Public Relations affordable with interest-free monthly plans, federal grants, and funds like the $1,000 Fall Term Scholarship.

Average Graduate Tuition: $11,718 per year

Honored for its 70th year by Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., the University of Maryland University College is a public, "Military-Friendly" distance learning center that's endowed for $19.1 million in Prince George's County to educate 68,996 Terrapins online via LEO and at 53 locations from Baltimore to Djibouti. UMUC was ranked America's 357th most liberal college on Niche, 363rd best buck in Washington Monthly, and 39th best B-school by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The IACBE-accredited School of Business created the Online Management Master's Degree with the Public Relations Specialization for APR credentialing. Chaired by Dr. Rudy Watson, the 36-credit degree develops broad leadership acumen with courses like financial decision-making and global PR theory. Another option is the UMUC Management Master's Degree with Marketing Specialization Online.

6. California Baptist University

Master of Arts in Public Relations Online

Riverside, CA


Average Graduate Tuition: $11,430 per year

Achieving nearly 21K Facebook likes, California Baptist University is a private, faith-based liberal arts school with over 30,000 journals in Annie Gabriel Library that's endowed for $41 million to enroll 9,157 Lancers in 11 schools online via Blackboard Learn and on its 160-acre Inland Empire campus. CBU was declared America's 84th best online graduate school by the U.S. News & World Report, 182nd top value on WalletHub, and 249th best master's service institution in Washington Monthly. Chaired by Dr. Mary Ann Pearson, the Department of Arts & Sciences awards the Master of Arts in Public Relations Online in 12 months full-time. The 33-credit, WASC-accredited program synthesizes seven-week courses from digital communications to media law before the capstone paper.

5. Lasell College

Online MS in Communication: Public Relations

Newton, MA


Average Graduate Tuition: $10,800 per year

Formed by Edward Lasell as Auburndale Female Seminary in 1851, Lasell College is a private, coeducational master's GNAC member that's endowed for $22.4 million to inspire 1,800 Lasers who are "Ignorant of Defeat" atop its 41-building western Massachusetts campus and online via Moodle. Lasell is crowned America's 375th safest college on Niche, 274th most popular communications school by College Factual, and 135th top baccalaureate institution in Washington Monthly. Hosting the Graduate Communication Series with journalists like Caryl Rivers and Harvey Jassem each term, the School of Communication & the Arts offers an Online MS in Communication specialized for Health Communication, Integrated Marketing, or Public Relations. The 36-credit major coordinated by Dr. Janice Barrett infuses eight-week distance courses like public opinion with optional Washington DC trips and internship placements, such as Dunkin Brands.

4. University of Florida

Master of Arts in Mass Communication with Public Relations Specialization Online

Gainesville, FL


Average Graduate Tuition: $10,770 per year

Known for the Sunshine State's largest student-run PR firm, Alpha PRoductions, the University of Florida is a public, land-grant AAU graduate school that's giving over $500 million financial aid dollars to 94 percent of the 50,645 Gators enrolled on its Gainesville, Hialeah, Orlando, Jacksonville, and eLearning campuses. UF is congratulated for America's 58th best degrees by Times Higher Education, 18th most valuable tuition in Money magazine, and 19th best communications programs on Niche. The ACEJMC-accredited College of Journalism has annual deadlines of November 1st, April 1st, and July 1st for the Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a Public Relations Specialization Online. Advised by Dr. Diane McFarlin, the 33-credit, non-thesis program has turned graduates with minimum 156 GRE scores into PR directors with Boeing, Universal Studios, Rakuten, and more.

3. Ball State University

Online Master of Arts in Public Relations

Muncie, IN


Average Graduate Tuition: $8,386 per year

Teaching 22,513 Cardinals from 68 countries to fly, Ball State University is a public, coeducational RU/H institution with two Campus Technology Innovator Awards that's utilizing its $192 million endowment for 140 graduate degrees in Muncie, Fishers, Indianapolis, and online via Blackboard. BSU was deemed America's 201st top research university in Forbes, 128th best communications school on Niche, and 142nd best educator by the Social Mobility Index. Adhering to Quality Matters standards, the College of Journalism offers the Online Master of Arts in Public Relations. The 33-39 credit curriculum admits cohorts with minimum 3.0 GPAs into asynchronous courses like social media analytics with two specializations: Corporate Communications or Education Communications. Ball State also grants a low-residency Master of Arts in Emerging Media Design and Development online.

2. Liberty University

Master of Business Administration in Public Relations Online

Lynchburg, VA


Average Graduate Tuition: $8,051 per year

Publishing books like Dr. Schwartz's Savvy Social Media Guide on the Academic Press since 2008, Liberty University is a private, Christian teaching institution and PRSSA Chapter location that's receiving $445 million in federal financial aid for 110,000 Flames studying in Lynchburg and on Blackboard. Liberty was noticed for America's 35th best international programs by the IIE, 229th top communications degrees on Niche, and fifth best online education on Located in Green Hall, the ACBSP-accredited School of Business offers the Master of Business Administration in Public Relations Online. Directed by Dr. Emily Knowles, the 45-credit managerial degree has optional Virginia intensives between accelerated, seven-week courses like media technologies and conflict resolution. Since 1985, Liberty has delivered Online M.S. in Marketing and M.S. in Strategic Communication programs too.

1. Montana State University Billings

Online Master of Science in Public Relations

Billings, MT


Average Graduate Tuition: $5,276 per year

Proclaiming "Growth Happens Here," Montana State University Billings is a close-knit public, co-educational master's institution founded in 1927 that's enrolling 4,365 Yellowjackets with 50+ clubs, including Et Vasa Ordinem, on the 110-acre Rimrock campus and through the Internet on Desire2Learn. MSUB was chosen for America's 68th best graduation rate in Washington Monthly, 224th highest-paid media grads on College Factual, and 89th best for vets school by Military Times. Headed by Dr. Samuel Boerboom in McMullen Hall, the Department of Communication & Theatre initiated the Online Master of Science in Public Relations. Mandating overall GPAs over 3.0, the 30-credit, three-term PR adventure sharpens media prowess in the four specializations of Health Communication, Political Communication, Media and Society, and Public Relations Theory.

Other Master's in Public Relations Online Degree Offerings

New York University

MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $39,936 per year

University of Denver

Online Master of Arts in Communication Management: Public Relations Concentration

Average Graduate Tuition: $45,288 per year

Georgetown University

Master's in Public Relations & Corporate Communications Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $46,272 per year

Johns Hopkins University

Online MA in Communication, Concentration in Public and Media Relations

Average Graduate Tuition: $50,410 per year

Full Sail University (Only possesses national accreditation from the ACCSC)

Master of Arts in Public Relations Online

Average Graduate Tuition: $16,401 per year

Which Careers Benefit From a Master's in Public Relations Online?

An online Master's in Public Relations can teach the ever-changing tools of the media trade for climbing PR firm ranks and reaping job stability in volatile markets. Mastering the art of churning out compelling communications is helpful in diverse PR disciplines from product marketing to speechwriting. Besides getting master's-preferred jobs, graduates can also pursue specialized credentials. For example, the Public Relations Society of America grants the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) distinction for those scoring at least 62 percent on a 132-question, computer-based exam. The International Association of Business Communicators lets members with 11+ years of experience take the $400 Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) certification exam. Those interested in politics could even take the Public Affairs Council‘s 25-credit Certificate in PAC and Grassroots Management Certificate via webinars. Here are five careers where public relations master's online degrees pay off:

Public Relations Manager- PR Daily reported that companies spend 10.2 percent of revenue on average for public relations, so having good management over these resources is essential. Public relations master's online programs equip managers for editing press releases, strategically answering media inquiries, promoting the brand, sponsoring corporate events, coaching executives for interviews, designing ads, and keeping client images clean.

Account Executive- For B2B and B2C campaigns, public relations firms hire account executives who actively promote the profile for three to five clients simultaneously. Completing an online PR master's would help develop account pitches, nurture client relationships, liaise with the media, seize positive news-making opportunities, manage promo events, coordinate market research, oversee publications, distribute viral stories, and set campaign budgets.

Corporate Spokesperson- Eloquent speakers who have completed cheap online master's in public relations programs might take the spotlight to convey positive media messages on organizations' behalf. Corporate spokespeople give press conferences, set up interviews, tell journalists quotes, present products to investors, clarify information, craft smart news releases, provide damage control, and assuage doubts of business policies as brand ambassadors.

Social Media Director- Fans of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube could turn their Internet obsession into CNN Money‘s 42nd best job with a master's in public relations online. Social media directors oversee an organization's account activity, publish targeted posts, set brand awareness goals, hire content writers, create blogging schedules, develop PR videos, respond to online consumer complaints, and analyze quality Web traffic.

Chief Public Relations Officer- Influential names like the Yankees' Bob Fishel and BuzzFeed's Christina DiRusso could inspire C-Suite dreams of Chief Public Relations Officer jobs after an online master's in public relations. CPROs head the communications department to establish PR strategies, hire personnel, approve promotional materials, track news coverage, address reputation crises, pursue sponsorships, and inform executives of media happenings.

How Much Do Public Relations Master's Online Graduates Make?

Cheap online Master's in Public Relations tuition can spawn epically good ROI with six-figure salaries significantly higher than the mean graduate wage of $78,000 cited by the Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce. Projections of a 37 percent salary bump for $17,000 more each year are actually low-balling the earnings potential for PR master's degrees. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that public relations managers receive an average annual salary of $123,360, or $59.31 per hour. Wage estimates range from $59,070 to $205,110 in the upper 90th percentile. Marketing managers make slightly more for mean profits of $144,140 yearly. Advertising and promotions managers earn slightly less for $117,810 on average. On, the median pay for Chief Public Relations Officers is $213,231. Other big income averages include $126,883 for speech writers, $114,230 for communications editing managers, $108,550 for lobbyists, and $117,254 for creative directors.

What is the Hiring Outlook After Online Public Relations Master's Programs?

Investing in graduate school may improve hirability since the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that the December 2017 unemployment rate dropped from 2.0 percent for bachelor's degree holders to 1.8 percent for master's graduates. Specifically, an online PR master's can push professionals into a management niche poised for faster-than-average 10 percent growth according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of America's public relations managers will balloon from 73,500 to 81,100 for 7,700 new openings by 2026. The hiring of brand marketing managers will jump by 10 percent for 22,100 positions created this decade. Public relations gurus interested in market research will experience the biggest job gains for 23 percent growth. Forbes magazine predicts that Detroit, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles will remain 2018's best cities for PR jobs. Online Master's in Public relations program aren't location-specific, so post-grads can conveniently relocate for dream media jobs.

Additional Sources:

U.S. News & World Report
College Navigator
Council on Higher Education Accreditation

See also: 5 Most Affordable PhD in Marketing Online Programs

GSH Staff

July 2018

This concludes our ranking of the top 15 most affordable online master's in public relations for 2018.