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Curriculum

Public Relations Curriculum

The online Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a specialization in Public Relations and Communication Management includes 33 credit hours: 30 hours of coursework plus three final credits in the capstone course. Program curriculum is guided by APCO Worldwide and an advisory council of top industry professionals. All courses are taught by leading faculty of the University of Florida and industry experts.

Students can complete the curriculum in as few as six semesters, preparing for an exciting career in public relations, communications, or consulting. View the full degree plan as a PDF here.

Unique Learning Experience

  • Students generally take between one and three classes per semester.
  • Each semester is 12 weeks, with three semesters per year (Spring, Summer, Fall).
  • Full-time students can complete the curriculum in 18 months.
  • All classes are online with recorded lectures, allowing students to view classes at their pace during the week.
  • Each week, students must meet weekly objectives and complete assignments.

Courses

PUR 6005 Public Relations Theory
The purpose of the course is to develop an understanding of the theoretical body of knowledge in public relations and its application to professional practice. By the end of the course, students will possess comprehensive knowledge of major areas of public relations theory and how those areas have been developed through empirical research. Students will then apply abstract theoretical models and concepts from public relations scholarship to their own public relations practice with the goal of increased effectiveness.

MMC6936 Strategic Writing for Public Relations
This course exists to teach students to write and think in order to be successful in the public-relations workplace. Its curriculum will cover and include not just writing to and for the media, but also approaching and building and maintaining relationships with members of the press corps.

PUR 6934 Measurement & Evaluation
As a PR professional, it is important to know the value of the work you are doing. Measuring and evaluating communications/PR activities will not only show the impact of your efforts, but should also highlight how you are supporting the objectives of your business or organization.  It can offer “proof” of the benefits of public relations activities, or challenge the value of time-worn practices that no longer provide an organization value. Evaluation is how smart organizations learn, improve, and succeed.

This course will teach you research and evaluation techniques that ensure the right things are being measured and evaluated. You will learn to tell stories with the data, and how to apply methods that influence others or inspire change because of the data. You will learn how to move beyond using data to define success and failure and instead mine the data for insights that drive outcomes and impact.

You will learn by doing through the use of media monitoring tools, case studies, and data from “real world” events, campaigns, and programs.

PUR 6934 Strategy & Messaging
Strategy is the foundation of all the work we do in public relations, and quality writing is lucrative in today’s information-filled world. Using strategy to create compelling messaging helps PR professionals reach their audiences, raise an organization’s profile, elevate campaigns, and respond to business needs.

In this course, you will learn the intricacies of strategy and messaging in a methodical, hands-on way. We will cover topics such as research, planning, evaluation, messaging, public interest, persuasion, and reaching diverse audiences as you create a strategic communications plan for a campaign. You will create and tailor messaging and choose appropriate tactics to reach audiences directly. This approach will provide you with practical knowledge, skills, and experiences that you can apply to the public relations workplace.

MMC 6727 Social Media Metrics & Evaluation
Throughout the course, you will be empowered to work first-hand with native social media data using Excel. You will develop skills to assist you in assembling an analytics report in PowerPoint or Keynote that will be delivered to the class as if it were doing a real-life presentation to managers and business executives. In addition, we will practice report delivery at different points in the course so that you are able to gain confidence in speaking and answering questions about social analytics.

This course was developed to help you a.) understand the need and importance behind social media analytics and b.) to teach you how to leverage the data made natively available by Facebook and Twitter to evaluate social marketing campaigns. Three-quarters of this course will be spent working first-hand with data in Excel. After working with the data, you will learn how to identify key data points, create charts and graphs to visualize your analysis, glean insights and make actionable recommendations based on those insights. You will then learn how to put together a robust deliverable that highlights key findings from your analysis and provides sufficient detail for stakeholders to gain a thorough understanding of social performance.

PUR 6616 Corporate Reputation & Communication
This course examines the fundamental roles that communication plays in corporate reputation affairs, including its production, conceptualization, dimensions, topics and attributes, monitoring, measurement, evaluation, management, effects, valorization, and valuation. The course prepares students involved in corporate reputation consulting, as well as those who are in strategic planning, market research, competitive intelligence, and general management. Through interactive projects and assignments students explore the various roles communication plays in reputation building, maintenance, change, repair, defense and evaluation.

MMC6936 Intercultural Communication
Our increasingly globalized world has revealed a greater need to effectively communicate across cultures. Today, people from across cultures – some of which were once considered distant and isolated – can instantaneously connect with each other using digital, mobile, and internet technology. With this shift, countries have become increasingly dependent on one another for economic and political security, and uncertainty can often be assuaged using intercultural communications techniques.

Intercultural communications is a dynamic, ever-changing field, which has been studied by a number of academic disciplines. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the field and provides students with foundational knowledge that they will practice applying to strategic communications through a semester-long blog project that will include peer review AND problem-solving discussions on topics in the news. Students will create the blog using various intercultural communications methods related to a specified global problem; the first term will focus on migration and refugees, for example.

As a functional part of the course, students will learn how to tailor their communications for a target audience using best practices and research findings, and apply it to real-time communications methods through the blog. Through discussion posts, students will also learn the value of staying on top of major news events and contemplate how they can contribute to the world dynamic through their understanding of intercultural communications.

MMC 6949 Professional Internship
There are two components of this course. The first component is participating in an internship, which will allow you to complete projects related to your career goals under the supervision of a web design practitioner in the field. By the end of the internship, you should be aware of trends in the field, the skills necessary to be employable after graduation and the importance of networking. The second component of the course is attending the lecture, where you learn job-search skills specific to the web design field such as writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, networking and negotiating a salary. By the end of the course, you should also have a fundamental understanding of using career research tools, proposing ideas to non-technical co-workers and creating e-portfolios to showcase your work. Specifically, the course will connect your internship experience to your job search so you feel confident marketing your skills after graduation.

PUR 6409 Issues and Crisis Management
The challenge of mitigating issues and managing crises are essential skills for leaders in the communications profession and in business. This graduate course will focus on issues and crisis management from the point of view of business managers and consultants. To anticipate issues and manage crises successfully, managers need to combine strategic thinking with awareness for the importance of value-based management in preventing and managing corporate crises.

The course emphasizes real-world application by examining theory and analyzing crisis communications case studies to learn from real examples of strategy and execution. Students will gain an understanding of crisis communications management, including awareness of crisis situations, planning, flexibility and awareness of the needs of key publics.

By the conclusion of the course, participants should have developed a deeper understanding of the range of issues and potential crises facing organizations and an enhanced appreciation of communication strategies and tactics that can be brought to bear in such situations.

PUR 6608 International Public Relations
International public relations is practiced by all types of private, public, not-for-profit, activist, and non- governmental organizations that progressively engage in building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders in many locations worldwide. This online graduate course includes content and discussions on global issues affecting the public relations profession, the professional, the specialized practices, and the engagement of stakeholders, simultaneously at home, host, and transnational levels. Also, this course aims to introduce and analyze the main concerns affecting the management of the public relations function, such as transnational crises; coordination and control mechanisms (i.e., integration and localization balance); professionalism levels; trends; and the practitioners’ social roles, responsibilities, and competencies. Despite the emphasis on the global, the readings and debates of this course clearly address the subjects of diversity and multiculturalism, which are also relevant for the practice and study of public relations in complex national and regional environments.

MMC6936 Measuring Change
Good communication strategists make a habit of confronting important questions about the campaigns that they develop. Before a campaign begins, they want to know the best strategies for changing behavior in the target audience. During the campaign, they investigate whether its components are functioning as planned. After the campaign, they ask whether it had the intended impact. To answer these questions reliably, strategic communication developers work alongside evaluators who carry out research before, during, and after campaigns are developed and launched. Funders, policymakers, and the public often want to know if a campaign “worked” in the past or will work in the future. Evaluation affords us the opportunity to answer those questions with some certainty, rather than simply guessing or assuming based on anecdotal experience. This course takes a broad look at the role of research and evaluation in strategic communication campaigns, and provides a foundation and tactics for working productively with evaluators. Students will become familiar with evaluation phases (formative, monitoring, and summative) and the types of research designs that evaluators use to measure campaign impact. We will consider why evaluation is ultimately important to successful campaigns and establish a set of tools for conducting and leveraging research as part of strategic communication practice.

VIC 6316 Brand Management
This course is organized around the brand management decisions that must be made to build, measure, and manage brand equity. The course will begin with an overview of the content and context of brand management decisions to provide the “big picture” for the course. Next, students will discuss the strategies and tactics for building and measuring brand equity. Specifically, students will address direct and indirect measures of brand equity, brand positioning and its marketing value, as well as approaches in choosing brand elements and developing supporting marketing programs. The last phase will focus on the management of brand equity, including the introduction of new products, corporate perspectives, and brand management over time and geographical boundaries. A variety of journal articles will be presented throughout the semester to broaden students’ understanding of the fundamental theories and important issues in brand management.


program-relations

Quick Facts

33 credit hours
100% online
Partnership with APCO Worldwide
recorded lectures & live office hours
Fall Semester: August-November
Spring Semester: January-March
Summer Semester: May-August
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University-of-Florida-Merit

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester
July 1

Spring Semester
November 1

Summer Semester
April 1

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