of report - Commission on Public Relations Education

Educating for Complexity:
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Why We Did This
Overview of the Report
Types of Degrees
Research Results
Phase 1: Analysis of secondary sources and
online audit of websites
• Increase in master’s programs (from 26 in 2000 to
75 in 2011, and still growing)
• Range of program titles
• Lack of uniform standards including number of
credit hours
• Inconsistent cumulative/capstone experiences
Research Results
Phase 2: Quantitative survey of educators and
• Four knowledge categories identified: strategic
management, business, theoretical knowledge (including
research methods), globalization
• Comprehensive project requirement
• Practitioners and educators split on whether a master’s
degree is important in hiring
• Completing the degree makes graduate eligible for
research positions/equivalent of three years’ experience
Research Results
Phase 3: Qualitative in-depth interviews with
• Employers value characteristics of applicant more than
knowledge or skills
• Employers view a master’s as preparation for entry-level
• Suggested a “better brand” needed for graduate programs
• Interpreted “split” between practitioners and educators as
reflection of varying graduate program quality
Master’s Degree Curriculum
• Standards for content areas, not specific
• A master’s degree in public relations should
consist of a minimum of 30 hours
• Standards are applicable to:
– Master’s degree programs that are specifically
called public relations degree programs
– Programs in which public relations is a track,
sequence or concentration
Master’s Degree Curriculum
Should focus on knowledge and skills in the
following areas:
• Strategic public relations management
• Basic business principles and processes
• Communication/public relations theory and
research methods
• Global influences on the practice of public
• Ethics
Master’s Degree Curriculum
Should also gain a mutual understanding of
business principles and processes:
Economics and finance
Understanding strategic business outcomes
Admission Standards
• Academic ability
– Standardized entrance exams such as the GRE
– Exceptional undergraduate GPAs
– Integrated reasoning and/or analytical writing
ability tests
• Knowledge of public relations
– Experience
– Academic and professional credentials
Delivering the Master’s Degree
The traditional model remains the most
prevalent and widely preferred by educators and
practitioners due to the benefits:
• Academic services and professors are available to
provide support
• It is easier to structure courses for both students
and faculty
• Revenue for the university
Delivering the Master’s Degree
However, traditional courses also pose some
• Students must spend two-plus years on campus
• Most programs force students to quit working
while pursuing a master's degree
• International students struggle because relocating
limits work opportunities
• Many universities are already operating over
Delivering the Master’s Degree
Online, blended and web-facilitated programs
address such problems and provide key benefits:
• Can increase enrollment and reach new markets
• Hybrid learning effectively expands course content
and supports knowledge analysis
• Hybrid education still enables students to form
bonds with peer groups and professors
Delivering the Master’s Degree
Online and web-facilitated programs also have
• Face-to-face connections are rarely made, which
limits team-oriented learning
• Students lack the benefit of a campus, professors
and academic services
• Students must rely on self-discipline to complete
course work
Delivering the Master’s Degree
At a minimum, a master's program must ensure
that future practitioners are able to:
Contribute to the profession
Transmit knowledge
Conduct research
Apply theories in everyday work
Requires rigorous curricula no matter what delivery
Resources Needed
• Educators prefer faculty to have academic
• Practitioners thought too many educators lack
professional experience
• Faculty should have a blend of practical
experience and theoretical understanding
• Faculty should also remain professionally
Resources Needed
• Universities encouraged to recognize that an
individual faculty member may not possess every
desired criterion
• However, faculty hired for full-time positions
– Preferably have a Ph.D
 A master’s degree and professional experience should be the
minimum acceptable credentials
– Have professional credentials from a widely
recognized professional society
– Be engaged in ongoing professional development in
both academic and practitioner environments
Resources Needed
Financial, facility and marketing support for public
relations master’s programs:
• Increased autonomy for facilities and budget
• Utilize opportunities to attract greater funding from
the private sector
• Academic units should support global initiatives such
as travel grants for international faculty and students
• Use marketing techniques to attract top students to
public relations master’s degree programs
• Educate employers about the value of the master’s
Resources Needed
Further resource considerations:
• Internships, work experience and practica are
essential components of professional graduate
• Employers have ever-increasing expectations of
master’s degree graduates’ ability to use
• Graduates student research should enable an
understanding of using such tools and systems
Resources Needed
• Both educators and practitioners should commit
to a more effective interface with each other
• Practitioners believe too many full-time faculty
lack professional experience
• Collaboration in preparing practitioners to teach
can help improve interface
• Programs should leverage educator and
practitioner collaboration to increase the number
of successful research programs
Global Perspective
• There needs to be a global understanding of
public relations master’s education
• Countries all over the world have contributed to
the development of public relations
• The Commission includes members from North
America, Europe, Australia and Indonesia
• The Commission’s previous reports and standards
have been adapted all over the world
• Professional and academic graduate programs
engage students and practitioners in furthering their
education for career or academic purposes
• Standards create common core elements to ensure
consistency throughout public relations graduate
programs that results in credibility and validity
• Programs can leverage educator and practitioner
collaboration to increase relevance
• Educators and practitioners worldwide should
consider this report and alter their graduate
programs as needed
Commission Members
• Dean Kruckeberg, Ph.D., APR,
Fellow PRSA, Co-Chair University
of North Carolina at Charlotte
• Frank Ovaitt, Jr., APR, Co-Chair
Institute for Public Relations
• William Briggs, Ed.D. California •
State University Fullerton
• Kathy Cripps, APR Council of
Public Relation Firms
• Louis Capozzi, APR, Fellow PRSA
New York University
• Denise P. Ferguson, Ph.D., APR
Pepperdine University
• Rochelle Ford, Ph.D., APR Howard
Elizabeth Goenawan Ananto,
Ph.D., IPRA Fellow Trisakti
Karla K. Gower, Ph.D. University
of Alabama
Emanuele Invernizzi Università
Stephen D. Iseman, Ph.D., APR,
Fellow PRSA Ohio Northern
Colleen M. Killingsworth, ABC,
APR CK Communications
Alexander V. Laskin, Ph.D.
Quinnipiac University
Commission Members
• Thomas R. Martin College of
• John L. Paluszek, APR, Fellow PRSA
• Maria P. Russell, APR, Fellow PRSA
Syracuse University
• Hongmei Shen, Ph.D. San Diego
State University
• Deborah Silverman, Ph.D., APR
Buffalo State College
• Gerald Swerling University of
Southern California
Elizabeth Toth, Ph.D., APR, Fellow
PRSA University of Maryland,
College Park
Katerina Tsetsura, Ph.D. University
of Oklahoma
Judy VanSlyke Turk, Ph.D., APR,
Fellow PRSA Virginia
Commonwealth University
Jean Valin, Fellow CPRS, APR Valin
Strategic Communication
Susan Balcom Walton, APR
University of North Dakota
Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR,
Fellow PRSA Boston University

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