Public Relations Major
Declaring the major
Minimum grade requirement
Upper-level major courses/Minimum GPA
Upper-level MC requirement
Required communication elective (for students under 2006–08 and earlier undergraduate catalogs)
Optional communication electives (for students under 2010-12 and 2008–10 undergraduate catalogs)
PR major course sequence
Declaring a minor
Choosing a minor
Suggested course plan for the major (2010-12 and 2008-10 catalogs)
Sample PR course checksheet (2010-12 and 2008-10 catalogs)
Public relations is a proactive, strategic function that strives to mesh the interests of an organization and its publics. Public relations professionals build and maintain those relationships that are essential to the organization’s success—or failure—by applying strategic thinking and effective writing. In fact, according to PRWeek’s 2006 Career Guide, effective writing was rated the top skill needed by college graduates entering the public relations field. Strategic thinking was rated as the second most important skill.
As a public relations professional, you could work in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, as well as in government. You also could work in a variety of industries, such as transportation, sports, entertainment, education, technology, environmental, energy/public utilities, politics, health care, travel/tourism, financial, or advocacy groups such as child welfare or animal rights. Depending on your job, you might address particular areas of relationship building, such as community relations, consumer relations, investor relations, employee relations, government relations, media relations, and issue and crisis management. Or you could work for a public relations firm that represents a variety of clients or that specializes in a particular area.
The kind of work you do will include research (e.g., surveys, focus groups, communication audits); planning and implementing strategic campaigns; writing, designing, producing, distributing newsletters, white papers, billing or paycheck inserts, brochures, in-house magazines, fliers, bulletins, posters, annual reports, speeches, presentations, news releases, tip sheets, pitch letters, fact sheets, media kits, video news releases, online communications (such as websites, web casts, podcasts, blogs), and premiums (such as T-shirts, key chains, coffee mugs, mouse pads); and organizing and producing (from the guest list to the napkins, menu, speakers, and centerpieces) award ceremonies, dinners, or community, media, or legislative special events.
Our PR program is one of only 13 university programs in the nation to be Certified in Education for Public Relations (CEPR) by the Public Relations Society of American, the leading professional association. The PRSA Certification report in 2003 described the PR program as “one of the most successful in the country.”
To be assigned an adviser you must officially declare the major (see below). Once you have an adviser assigned to you, you must complete the following steps before making an appointment with him or her:
- Carefully read the requirements for the major, minor, Core, special requirement, and second major/minor that are listed on this web site.
- Attend a group advising session. The times/dates of these sessions will be posted outside the APR office and around Reese Phifer Hall three weeks prior to class registration. You will be advised at the session and your advising hold will be lifted so you may register when your registration time slot opens. Thus you do not need to make an appointment with your adviser, unless you have additional questions.
- For advising after the semester in which you officially declare the major, make an appointment with your adviser at least three weeks prior to class registration. Faculty advisers will post available advising appointment times outside their office doors.
- Be prepared for your advising appointment. Have your courses chosen for the upcoming semester, and prepare a list of any questions you might have.
- You will be able to register for courses once your registration time slot opens. Students who are on academic warning or suspension must see Mrs. Daria (418-B Phifer) or Mrs. Sims (418-D Phifer) to have their advising holds lifted.
To officially declare the advertising or public relations major, go to 412 Reese Phifer to complete a major form. Once your major form has been completed, you will be assigned an APR adviser.
- For students under the 2010-2012 undergraduate catalog, at least 120 semester hours are required for graduation, with at least 31 semester hours in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (i.e., APR/JN/MC/TCF courses). No more than 36 of these hours may be in the College. For students under the 2008-2010 and earlier undergraduate catalogs, at least 124 semester hours are required for graduation, with at least 30 semester hours in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (i.e., APR/JN/MC/TCF courses). No more than 36 of these hours may be in the College.
- You may count toward the 120-hour graduation requirement no more than 21 hours in any one subject outside your major or minor.
- At least 80 hours in courses outside the departments of advertising and public relations, journalism, and telecommunication and film are required, with at least 65 semester hours being completed in the liberal arts and sciences.
- A 2.0 GPA or better and “C-” or better in all major and minor courses are required for graduation.
- Taking an average of 15 hours per semester is recommended in order to graduate in 8 semesters.
- 6 semester hours in English composition (FC). First-semester freshmen must begin English composition and continue taking the required English courses each semester without interruption.
- 6 semester hours in either computer science (C) or one foreign language (FL).
- 12 semester hours of courses approved for the humanities (HU) and fine arts (FA), to include 3 hours of FA and 3 hours of literature (L). Students in APR will take COM 123 as part of the HU requirement, must complete a 6-hour sequence in literature (EN 205/206, EN 207/208, or EN 209/210), and must earn a “C-“ or above in these three courses.
- 12 semester hours of courses approved for the history and social and behavioral sciences (HI & SB) to include 3 hours approved for the history designation. APR students are required to take EC 110 as part of this requirement and earn a “C-“ or above in it. PR students must complete EC 110 prior to enrolling in APR 332 PR Writing.
- 11 semester hours in natural science and mathematics (N & MA) to include 8 hours of natural sciences and 3 hours of math. APR students will satisfy the core requirement with MATH 110 or equivalent or higher. Some minors, such as general business, require MATH 112. PR students must complete the math core prior to enrolling in APR 322 Advertising Copywriting.
- 6 semester hours in 300- and 400-level courses, preferably in the student’s major, approved for the writing (W) designation. The W designation must be satisfied on this campus.
For students under the 2008–10 undergraduate catalogs: The APR department requires MC 101, JN 150, APR 260, APR 231, and either a foreign language or computer science sequence. Student must receive a “C-” or above in MC 101, JN 150, APR 260 and APR 231.
For students under 2006–08 and earlier undergraduate catalogs: The APR department requires MC 101, APR 231, and either a foreign language or computer science sequence. Student must receive a “C-” or above in MC 101 and APR 231.
Special requirement courses will broaden your background and allow you to sample a variety of upper-level courses. To meet the special requirement, a student takes 12 hours of 300- and/or 400-level courses in any areas of study outside of APR, JN, MC, TCF and the student’s minor. A student having a second major or minor may use 300- and/or 400-level course hours from that second major or minor to double-satisfy hours in the special requirement. Otherwise, special requirement courses must go beyond coursework required for Core or the minor. When choosing special requirement courses, the student should remember that at least 65 hours of the total 120 hours required for the degree must be in liberal arts and sciences courses (such as courses in the College of Arts and Sciences, communication studies, and economics). Check for prerequisites before registering for these courses.
“C-” is the minimum grade requirement in major courses and prerequisites in order to continue in your major.
You must have a 2.0 GPA or higher in order to enroll in any course in the major numbered 300 or above. And you must earn “C-” or better in these courses in order to graduate.
APR 300 Visual Communication
JN 311 Reporting
APR 332 Public Relations Writing
APR 419 Advanced Public Relations Development, APR 415 Online Magazine Writing or APR 432 Public Relations Management
APR 433 Public Relations Campaigns
Check the public relations course sequence for your catalog year for prerequisite information:
After you have 61 hours, have completed MC 101, and have at least a 2.0 GPA you are eligible to take two (2) upper-level MC courses. Either MC 401 Mass Media Law and Regulation or MC 407 Mass Communication Research is required. You might want a MC 400-level course to re-use in a W designation, but only some MC courses have W designations.
To fulfill the MC requirement only, you may take both MC 401 and MC 407 or select either MC 401 or MC 407 and one of the following:
MC 403 Survey of Communication Theory
MC 405 Mass Communication Ethics
MC 409 Mass Communication History (W)
MC 411 International Mass Communication
MC 413 Communication and Diversity (W)
MC 415 Mass Communication Processes and Effects
MC 417 Mass Communication and Public Opinion
MC 421 Political Communication (W)
MC 425 Media Management (W)
MC 495 Special Topics.
For public relations majors under the 2006–08 and earlier undergraduate catalogs, you must choose one elective in APR/JN/MC/TCF (3 hours). You may choose up to two other communication electives (6 additional hours), if you’d like to have a total of 36 hours in the major.
For public relations majors under the 2010-12 and 2008–10 undergraduate catalog, you may choose up to two communication electives (5 additional hours), if you’d like to have a total of 36 hours in the major.
A certain number of general electives is needed in order to fulfill graduation requirements. This number is variable for every student, depending upon the number of hours required for minors, hours transferred, and hours taken in the major (such as Core requirements).
Although you may take general electives at any time, we advise you to save your general elective hours for your junior and senior years, when such courses can be chosen to enhance your major and minor areas of study.
General electives should not be confused with communication electives (see above). General electives fall outside of courses offered by the College of Communication and Information Sciences, with the exception of communication studies (COM) courses.
Advertising and public relations students are required to have a minor. To declare the minor, go to 412 Reese Phifer to receive the major/minor form. Once the department that houses the minor has completed the form outlining the minor curriculum, you must return it to 412 Reese Phifer for it to become official. For specific questions about coursework in the minor, see an adviser in the department that houses the minor.
Selecting a minor can be a tough decision. We suggest choosing a minor that complements your major, that prepares you for your future employment goals, or that simply interests you. Minors that complement the advertising and PR majors include English, creative writing, art (with studio areas such as graphic design/digital media and photography), general business, management, psychology, English, political science, sociology, and history. You may choose a minor that enhances your major with a relevant area of study, such as a foreign language, African-American studies, women studies, American studies, philosophy, and international studies. Or perhaps you might select a field where you might find employment as a technical writer, such as the natural sciences, computer science, theater, health care management, etc.
If you have a second minor, one of your two minors must be in the College of Arts and Sciences. The second minor in A&S will have courses at the 300 and/or 400 level that may be used to double-satisfy the special requirement and the W Core requirement. Thus, completing a second minor within a four-year college career can be easily achieved with good planning. You will broaden your educational experience, and your resume will look more impressive.
If you have a second major, the first consideration is where your “home” department will be (and thus which UA college will confer your degree). If your home department is APR, then your second major may be in the College of Arts and Sciences or another UA college, or you may double major in communication studies within the College of Communication and Information Sciences. The second major courses at the 300 and/or 400 level may be used to double-satisfy the special requirement and the W Core requirement.
If your home department is elsewhere, then your second major in advertising will include the full sequence of major courses (all of which require a “C-” or above), including campaigns, the 400-level MC requirement (6 hours with “C-” or above), the 12-hour special requirement (can be satisfied by upper-level courses in your first major), the literature sequence, EC 110 (requires “C-” or above), COM 123 (requires “C-” or above) and the math core requirement.
Double-majoring usually requires at least five years of coursework in the fall and spring semesters, or a full load of coursework in summer terms within a four-year college career. However, this financial and time investment in your education can bring more job opportunities upon graduation.
Independent study is an analysis of advanced theoretical issues in commercial persuasive communication, under the supervision of an advertising or public relations faculty member. For more information, click here.