New York University, MS Degree In Public Relations & Corporate Communication
New York University had lofty goals for its MS Degree program in PR and Corporate Communications. It sought to become the top graduate program in PR, have the best faculty, and elevate the practice of PR as a social science. With rigorous courses, practical experience, and 29 PR pros involved in the program, NYU is well on its way.
The accredited program features faculty that have written books including The Practice of Public Relations (Fraser Seitel), How to Manage Your Global Reputation (Michael Morley), and Reputation Management (John Doorley and Helio Fred Garcia). Its academically rigorous coursework includes core classes on writing, history, and media relations; more in-depth concentration courses for the specific PR and corporate communications tracks; studies on law and ethics; and a Capstone program where students prepare a researched report on an issue in PR and communications.
The program stresses a practitioner-oriented curriculum and ethical behavior, working with students so they can gain a solid grasp of the key elements of the PR industry and, once professionally involved, work to elevate the ethical and professional standards of PR. Twice a year, the program organizes and hosts the Public Relations Master Practitioner Series where professionals speak on key issues facing the industry. Past topics include “The Golden Age of PR: Effective Use of Public Relations” and “The Growing Role of Social Media in Elections.”
“Awards, work, faculty, [and] practical experience make this a winner,” said one judge.
Students work in teams to meet real challenges from clients. NYU's location comes into play as the school engages such local clients as the American Ballet Theatre, UN Global Compact, NBC Universal, Kiehl's, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Outside pros are also involved with NYU's program, adding another level of support from the industry. MS&L annually donates $2,500 for professional development activities to the program's student organization, PR League. Representatives from companies including Ketchum, Edelman, Johnson & Johnson, Food Lion, and Publicis PR Group all serve as faculty members.
The students lend NYU's PR and corporate communications program a certain appeal as well, with a Fulbright Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa, and five Lagrant Scholars all part of the program. During their time at NYU, students are encouraged to contribute to PR research and work on PR and corporate communications challenges.
“The program is a key link to the PR industry,” said one judge, while another called it “an example for others to follow.”
James Madison University
An international reach and a focus on real-world campaigns are two ways James Madison University (JMU) provides a solid liberal arts education and practical PR base to its School of Communications. Nine faculty members conduct courses devoted primarily to PR, and students can earn up to six hours of credit for internships. Current PR majors have fulfilled these credits at companies including Burson-Marsteller, NFL Films, and J. Walter Thompson. JMU's program also incorporates case studies into its curriculum and offers ways for students to get hands-on experience with new technologies, such as Qualtrics and WebSurveyor. The program introduced several international-focused PR courses in the past year, including the Global PR Project, in which students collaborate with their peers from countries including Germany, India, Portugal, and South Africa. The James Madison Middle East-Europe Study Abroad program also helps students increase their global knowledge, with briefings from international PR pros. In 2008, more than 40 such briefings took place. “Study abroad, real-world campaigns, and focus on writing make this stand out,” said one judge.
Univ. of Alabama PR Program, Spring 2008
Established in 1974, the University of Alabama's PR program works with faculty, professionals, and alumni to provide students with analytical and critical-thinking skills, professional skills, and hands-on experience. The PR faculty includes seven tenured and tenure-track professors, publishing 13 peer-reviewed journal articles, two academic books, and two scholarly book chapters in the 2007-08 academic year. Alumni and other pros also attend PR Day each year, where students can hear presentations and have their résumés and portfolios critiqued. A Capstone Campaign course, praised by the judges, is required so all PR students will work with real clients to develop, present, and carry out campaigns. In the spring 2008 semester, clients included the Alabama Rural Health Program and the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce. Students in PR writing classes also provide support to real clients, including the Humane Society of West Alabama, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. The school's program is “the best kept secret,” said one judge. “[It's] a solid program with good industry support,” said another.
• Georgetown University Masters of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications
• James Madison University
• New York University, MS Degree In Public Relations & Corporate Communication
• University of Alabama PR Program, Spring 2008
• University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication, Public Relations Studies Program
Open to any PR undergraduate or graduate curriculum taught in the fall 2007 or spring 2008 semester. This award recognizes achievement in lesson plans that educate the next crop of PR professionals. Entries were judged based on the ability for professors to use both real-world case studies and instructive scenarios to educate students about new media, media relations, crisis communications, and other tactics.
Sponsor: Padilla Speer Beardsley is a full-service communications firm with headquarters in Minneapolis and an office in New York. Our 110 employee-owners offer expertise in marketing communications, investor and corporate relations, employee communications, crisis management, new media, market and opinion research, and interactive and graphic design. The firm is a founding partner of the Worldcom Public Relations Group. Online at www.psbpr.com.