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25 Best Colleges for a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

Ranked below are the top 25 colleges that offer a bachelor's degree in public relations, based on the median salary of this major's graduates one year after college. The top-ranked school is Syracuse University, with a median salary of $44,600 for PR majors. Alumni of the public relations program at Brigham Young University graduated with a median $10,648 of student debt, the lowest median debt out of the schools ranked in the top 25 for salary. Students who graduated with a Bachelor's in Public Relations from one of the top 25 schools had median starting salaries between $37,000 and $44,600.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Syracuse (NY) Syracuse (NY) $51,853 $27,000 $44,600
#2 #2 Spokane (WA) Spokane (WA) $43,210 $24,912 $44,400
#3 #3 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $56,225 $19,100 $43,800
#4 #4 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $48,459 $22,698 $42,800
#5 #5 Kenosha (WI) Kenosha (WI) $43,550 $27,000 $42,600
#6 #6 Fort Worth (TX) Fort Worth (TX) $46,950 $20,250 $42,100
#7 #7 Oxford (OH) Oxford (OH) $34,896 $22,750 $42,100
#8 #8 Dallas (TX) Dallas (TX) $54,492 $18,407 $41,900
#9 #9 Des Moines (IA) Des Moines (IA) $41,396 $19,000 $41,900
#10 #10 Malibu (CA) Malibu (CA) $53,932 $24,224 $41,700
#11 #11 State College (PA) State College (PA) $34,858 $24,438 $41,700
#12 #12 Detroit (MI) Detroit (MI) $27,991 $26,215 $41,400
#13 #13 San Jose (CA) San Jose (CA) $19,676 $15,000 $41,000
#14 #14 Austin (TX) Austin (TX) $37,580 $19,930 $41,000
#15 #15 Orange (CA) Orange (CA) $52,724 $23,000 $40,700
#16 #16 Provo (UT) Provo (UT) $5,620 $10,648 $40,300
#17 #17 Hamden (CT) Hamden (CT) $47,960 $27,000 $39,900
#18 #18 Columbus (OH) Columbus (OH) $12,649 $30,612 $39,900
#19 #19 Athens (GA) Athens (GA) $30,404 $19,816 $39,400
#20 #20 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $48,066 $20,250 $39,300
#21 #21 Coral Gables (FL) Coral Gables (FL) $50,226 $16,250 $38,700
#22 #22 Cedar Falls (IA) Cedar Falls (IA) $19,480 $20,500 $38,500
#23 #23 Kingston (RI) Kingston (RI) $30,862 $23,000 $38,500
#24 #24 Ithaca (NY) Ithaca (NY) $43,978 $21,250 $38,100
#25 #25 Tallahassee (FL) Tallahassee (FL) $18,786 $15,907 $37,000

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Public Relations degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Syracuse (NY)
Median Salary $44,600
Median Debt $27,000
Annual Tuition $51,853
Graduation Rate 82%

Students pursuing the 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Public Relations through the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University will learn about the principles and processes used in the development of public relations campaigns. The curriculum covers the managerial functions involved in a public relations program as well as foundational graphic design, writing, and oral communication skills. An emphasis is placed on utilizing social media in public relations, and on developing a strong ethical foundation along with an awareness of multiculturalism and diversity.

The 38-credit public relations major includes 32 credits of required program courses, such as Public Relations Principles and Concepts, The Ethics of Advocacy, Communications and Society, and Diversity and Media Issues. Three credits of electives and a three-credit capstone course complete the major requirements. Students are encouraged to fulfill the electives requirement through an internship or another specialized course. In the capstone course, students will create an ePortfolio that can be useful for career development and assessment.

Unique opportunities for practical experience are available through the Newhouse School, including a faculty-sponsored visit with industry experts in New York City, study abroad programs, and the chance to gain real-world experience through the student-run PR firm or other campus publications. 

Visit Syracuse University's website.

#2
Spokane (WA)
Median Salary $44,400
Median Debt $24,912
Annual Tuition $43,210
Graduation Rate 86%

Gonzaga University is a Jesuit, Catholic institution located in Spokane, Washington. Their undergraduate academic catalog includes 16 degrees through 49 majors, among which is a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. The program curriculum includes fundamentals of communication, research, and corporate procedures combined with journalistic proficiency. The bachelor's degree requires a minimum of 128 credits, with 39 credits dedicated to the major in public relations. The major includes three lower-division program courses, eight upper-division program courses, and two program electives. Some of the required program courses are Public Relations Principles, Strategic Communications, Writing for Public Relations, and a capstone course where students create a portfolio and write a thesis.

Students will also participate in internships at local organizations to gain real-world experience in areas such as campaign planning, corporate communication, and nonprofit organization advocacy. The department's computer labs also feature software applications that simulate modern media environments to allow students to gain practical experience. Graduates should be able to effectively manage communication between the media, the public, and organizations.

Visit Gonzaga University's website.

#3
Los Angeles (CA)
Median Salary $43,800
Median Debt $19,100
Annual Tuition $56,225
Graduation Rate 92%

The University of Southern California offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations through the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The program curriculum focuses on areas that are important in the public relations field: communication, effective writing, strategic thinking and planning, and research and analysis. The bachelor's degree requires completion of USC's general education program, which includes eight core literacy courses and two global perspectives courses.

The public relations major requires students to complete two lower-level program courses, five upper-level program courses, and 12 upper-level public relations and/or journalism electives. Some of the required courses are Effective Writing for Strategic Public Relations, Business and Economic Foundations of Public Relations, and Advanced Strategic Public Relations.

Graduates of the program should understand the laws of freedom of speech, the role that professionals play in shaping communication, and how diversity relates to mass communication. They should also be able to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills and communicate effectively.

Visit University of Southern California's website.

#4
Washington D.C.
Median Salary $42,800
Median Debt $22,698
Annual Tuition $48,459
Graduation Rate 80%

Located in Washington D.C., American University's School of Communication offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations & Strategic Communication (PRSC). Students in this program will have access to internships and opportunities that will allow them to gain real-world experience and explore the communication, public relations, and public diplomacy fields.

The curriculum is focused on developing students' ability to think strategically, write persuasively, and understand the tools needed to distribute their messages effectively. The PRSC major accounts for 45 hours of the 120-credit hour bachelor's degree. The major includes nine hours of core requirements, 12 hours of professional requirements, 12 hours of PRSC courses, nine hours of electives, and a three-hour capstone course. Some of the required courses are Writing for Communication, Communication and Society, and Public Relations. In their capstone course, students will apply what they've learned to complete a project for a real client. Graduates are expected to understand how to conduct research and create messages that are strategically and effectively delivered to the public. 

Visit American University's website.

#5
Kenosha (WI)
Median Salary $42,600
Median Debt $27,000
Annual Tuition $43,550
Graduation Rate 64%

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Carthage College has academic programs in over 50 fields of study. The school's Communication and Digital Media (CDM) Department offers a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations that places a heavy emphasis on ethical issues and communication through digital and electronic media. The curriculum aims to equip students with exceptional communication, creative thinking, problem-solving, and organizational skills. The bachelor's degree requires 138 credits with 48 credits devoted to the public relations major.

The major is composed of 12 credits of fundamentals, 28 credits of program core courses, and eight credits of program electives. Some of the program core courses include Principles of Public Relations, Communications Management, Public Relations Campaigns, and Public Relations Senior Seminar. The senior seminar is a capstone course that allows students to demonstrate their proficiency in the public relations sphere. Students are encouraged to fulfill elective credits by participating in an internship to gain hands-on experience in the field. The school's prime location in the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor provides ample opportunities, and department faculty help students find internships that are appropriate and complementary to their education.

Visit Carthage College's website.