The University of Florida online Master of Arts in Mass Communication concentration in Public Interest Communication is a first-of-its-kind program designed to produce graduates who want to be able to make people care and use strategic communications to drive social change.

What is Public Interest Communication?

Once viewed solely as non-profit public relations, public interest communication has exploded as an interdisciplinary, systems-level discipline with strategic benefits that reach beyond the communications function of an organization. Public interest communication embraces the vision of creating science-based, strategic communications designed to advance the human condition. It is critical to achieving significant behavioral or social change on an issue that transcends the particular interests of any single organization. The University of Florida’s program offers you the opportunity to develop the skills, strategies, theory and techniques required to build movements and drive positive social change using strategic communication.  This interdisciplinary program includes both academic and practical work and draws from practice and scholarship in public relations, journalism, advertising, psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology and neuroscience. The course work  places an emphasis on working across organizations and sectors, systems-level thinking, strategic planning and the core skills critical to any effective social change effort. Courses are designed to teach students how to:

  • Identify and target issues that can be addressed with public interest communications
  • Develop strategic communications campaigns that can drive positive social change
  • Use systems thinking to identify a specific approach to driving change.
  • Advocate and advise in the use of visual collateral that can best reach the target community  
  • Conduct research to underpin strategic communications aimed to drive social change
  • Create detailed project management and budget plans
  • Measure and assess strategic campaigns

Quick Facts

36 credit hours
100% online via recorded lectures & live office hours
Fall Semester starts in August
Spring Semester starts in January
Summer Semester starts in May

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester
Priority Deadline: April 1
Final Deadline: June 1
Spring Semester October 1
Summer Semester February 1

# 1

Public University

Wall Street Journal 2023

Interested in learning more?

University of Florida Online Master’s Concentration in Public Interest Communication

The online Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Interest Communication includes 36 credit hours— 33 hours of coursework plus three final credits in a capstone course. The program curriculum is guided by an Advisory Board of top industry experts, with courses taught by industry professionals and University of Florida faculty.  Courses are 16 weeks in length and are offered three semesters per year in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. Full-time students are able to complete the master’s concentration in as few as 16 months.

Unique Learning Experience

UF CJC Online programs are designed for students who crave:

  • Courses that challenge them to grow as communicators through hands-on assignments where they receive detailed constructive feedback from peers and instructors
  • The flexibility of online courses where pre-recorded lectures and live online meetings allow students to engage with their courses from anywhere in the world
  • Networking opportunities with peers, alumni, instructors, and guest lecturers
  • Professional growth and advancement opportunities
  • Creative storytelling skills
  • A transformative student-centered learning experience
  • Personalized attention from highly engaged faculty
  • An affordable and respected graduate degree from a top-10 public university

Graduates of the Public Interest Communication master’s concentration will be able to:

  • Create an effective strategic communications plan
  • Use systems thinking to identify a theory of change
  • Build stories that drive belief and behavior change
  • Apply scholarly theory to specific campaign contexts
  • Use visuals strategically to build support for campaigns
  • Measure and effectively evaluate social change campaigns
  • Apply project and budget management to campaign development

With a Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Interest Communication degree, you’re ready for management positions in any entity that provides an essential communications contribution to driving social change. These may include private foundations, nonprofits and international relief organizations, public relations and advertising agencies and corporations engaged in social responsibility and advocacy efforts.

  • Communications executive for foundation
  • Outreach coordinator for a nonprofit
  • Program Officer at an NGO
  • Senior account executive for an agency
  • Communications director for performing arts organization
  • Public policy director
  • Elected official

Tuition and Fees:

$484.48 per credit hour
Total Cost: $17,441
36 Credit Hours
100% Fully Online 

Application Deadlines: 

Fall Semester: April 1

Spring Semester: October 1

Summer Semester: February 1

I was feeling like a “Jill of all trades, master of none” and decided to pursue my masters in digital marketing to better hone my craft as a marketer. What started as a journey to validation and professional development, became a worth-while investment and opportunity to expand what I thought was possible as a digital marketer. I really enjoyed the structure yet flexibility, passion from the professors about the subject matter and the program’s dedication toward a diverse program that is virtual and interactive.

– Cassandra Gaddis, Social Media Strategist UF MA ’16

Public Interest Communication Program Information

Start Your Application Now