Is A Degree In Public Relations Worth It? According to experts

The data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects a 7 percent increase in demand for PR specialists by 2030, alongside a reported median annual wage of approximately $62,810, the importance of pursuing a degree in Public Relations (PR) appears undeniable.

But since the sector depends so much on practical expertise and creative thinking, questions remain about whether academic programs effectively prepare students to succeed in this field.

To answer this question, we reached out to 8 professionals in the field to understand the true worth of a PR degree.

And here’s what they said:

Best To Do Major In Journalism

“No, because the way they teach PR in school does not translate well to the real world. I got my degree in PR and most of the things I learned were marketing-related. It would be best to be a journalist major ( the reporting side) to practice your writing/storytelling skills in AP style guide and take some PR classes as electives.

I don’t think I would have a full understanding of the news cycle if I didn’t take my reporting or production classes. My PR advising plan was mostly IMC classes and even in my PR writing class they still never separated PR from marketing so when I graduated, I was expecting PR to be more like what I learned, making PowerPoints and SWOT analysis and audience segmentation with an added press release when needed. 

So when I realized that most of what I learned was a waste of time and not what a pr professional does on a day-to-day basis I was really disappointed in my college for not setting me up for success. Which is why I recommend being a journalist/reporting major and to take a PR writing class as an elective to gain that knowledge and experience because those courses were so hands-on and I gained so much real-world experience in the classroom that were easily transferred to professional skills.”

Thanks to Marie Hearvy, PR, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Yes, A PR Degree Worth it

“The nature of the question begs…in lieu of what? Just heading right into the workforce? My answer is YES a PR degree is worth it, but not necessarily because of the subject matter itself. Young people need maturation time to learn to think critically, problem solve, gain confidence in their knowledge, develop hard and soft skills, live independently, and become more multi-dimensional humans. Signed, a 25-year Publicist, and The Mother of A College Freshman.”

Thanks to Heather Jones Owner, Heather Jones Consulting

Degree Doesn’t Matter

“Nope – I own a PR agency and have spent the past 15 year as a regular on National TV myself. Some of the best publicists I know do not have a degree in Public Relations. They know the industry, have the heart and hustle, and have walked the walk.”

Thanks to Lauren Elizabeth, Founder and CEO of Leverage with Media PR.

Unless Required For A Specific Position

“Would a ‘maybe’ suffice? I have a Masters which I obtained 30 years after my Bachelors, thinking it would elevate me in the PR world, but it hasn’t. Unless required for a specific position, I don’t know that it matters. Results do…and for that you need experience…and to get that experience, you likely need at least a Bachelors in this current job market. It is, however, important to keep current in the industry–but this changes from minute to minute.”

Thanks to Wendy J. Gordon, Public Relations-Principal at Flash Public Relations

PR Degree is Too Narrow

Not really. It’s better to major in English or Journalism. Something more general.

“You may want to not work in PR one day. Major in something more broad to give you a better, more well rounded education. PR is too specific and narrow. It’s better as a minor, not a major.”

Thanks to Margo Schafer Pelak, Sr. Director Marketing

Depends on The School

“Depends where you go to school and your willingness to chase good internships and practicums. I feel like college was very, very helpful to my communication career. My adjunct professors that were actively working in the field were a huge resource and still are LinkedIn connections. Getting involved in study abroad and doing tour work and playbill editing for my college theater itself was also a huge leg up as an arts and entertainment focused comms student.”

Thanks to Anna Marie CEO & Founder at Renaissance Artist Collective

PR is Too Difficult To Devise In A Curriculum

“No, it does not! I have been in the field for 5 years with a bachelor’s in PR, and I can say that the things we studied in classes were too basic. You can learn them anywhere on the internet. PR is all about thinking of something new, finding unique ways, and cracking what’s in the trend – that’s not something you can learn in university and it’s too difficult to devise in an academic curriculum.

Well, I’m not against degrees, but honestly, PR is too specific to be studied as a major degree. Sure, you can take a subject, do courses, but real learning happens in the agency, with real projects, trial and error, and I don’t think a degree was a requirement in most PR roles.”

Thanks to Muneeba Abid, freelance public relations specialist at Upwork

A Degree is Required in Large Corporations

“Well, I think in big companies like Google or Microsoft, having a PR degree matters more. These companies often deal with complex communication challenges and high-level stakeholders so it’s not just about what you’ve done but also about what you know academically.  

Having a degree means you’ve studied the theories and know things from the inside, not just what you’ve ‘cracked’ by trying dozens of things.

Also, let’s not forget about the networking opportunities that come with being in a college. You get to connect with professors, classmates, and potentially industry professionals through internships or guest lectures. These connections can open doors and help you land job roles in different companies.

So yeah, while real-world experience is important but having a PR degree adds another layer of expertise and credibility that can really pay off, especially in big corporate settings.”

Thanks to Tanya, PR and communication specialist at Prime Time 

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