FAQs | MS in Public Relations Innovation, Strategy and Management

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About the MSPRISM Program

What was the inspiration for creating the Master of Science in Public Relations Innovation, Strategy and Management at USC Annenberg?

The MSPRISM program was designed by USC Annenberg faculty with insight from industry executives who identified skill gaps that USC Annenberg is uniquely equipped to address. The goal of the program is to advance students’ diverse career opportunities in the field. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have in-demand skill sets, capable of leveraging fundamental PR theory, innovative technologies, and strategic problem-solving to authentically lead in their organizations.

How is this program different from other programs related to public relations?

The MSPRISM program at USC Annenberg is a practice-focused degree that emphasizes public relations innovation and the critical role brand communication plays in the performance of global organizations. The program explores the full spectrum of marketing and advertising concepts and methodologies, delving into brand purpose, data-driven storytelling, multiplatform content development, social media advertising, influencer relations, crisis communication and the impact of emerging technologies. Students develop essential skills needed to excel in management-level positions within brand communication, such as campaign and program planning, development, measurement and evaluation. The program encourages immediate application of key concepts learned to address workplace challenges and opportunities, with an eye toward fundamental principles of leadership, management, ethics, and diversity, equity, inclusion and access. You will learn to identify opportunities for innovation, make data-informed decisions, and prepare to influence the future of the public relations landscape.

Courses are led by USC Annenberg’s remarkable faculty, many of whom are industry experts, and you’ll engage in the virtual classroom with professional peers that come from diverse industries and backgrounds.

How is the program structured?

Our program consists of 12 courses that are two credits each. The courses are taught in 8-week modules. A semester at USC is 16 weeks, so two modules fit into this semester period. Students enrolled in the 1-year track take two courses per module, or four classes per semester. Students enrolled in the 2-year track take one course per module, or two classes per semester.

How will students engage and interact in the online classroom environment?

Our classrooms utilize interactive discussion forums and weekly live classroom sessions to engage students academically and socially. There are several opportunities that will require group work. The goal of the program is to give you a sense of community, the same that you would experience in a classroom, so that you will be able to engage with all your classmates and instructors.

How is DEIA addressed in the curriculum?

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access are interwoven in all aspects of the curriculum. From the case studies and readings assigned, to the diverse backgrounds of the faculty, we are intentionally representing our values in the curriculum. The goal is for all MSPRISM graduates to walk out of the program with the skills to lead diverse public relations teams.

About the Admissions Process

How many students do you accept into the program each semester?

There is not a set cap on the number of available seats in the online classes. We are mindful of the student experience and committed to maintaining small class sizes. Given that there are three start dates each year, we encourage all who are interested to submit their application.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

Your Statement of Purpose should be a 1–2-page essay addressing why you are pursuing your MSPRISM degree, how your professional experience will contribute to the program, how a master’s degree will help you progress in your career, and why the program at USC Annenberg is a good fit for you.

What is acceptable as a writing sample?

We ask that writing samples provide the admissions committee with an insight into your work, and therefore you need to be the sole author of your writing sample. A writing sample should show your critical thinking skills and professional writing ability. Additionally, the writing sample should be polished, substantial, and creative. Applicants may submit up to three (3) writing samples to showcase their writing ability. Examples include: a research paper, business proposal, market analysis, academic essay, published editorial, and creative media scripts. If you have any specific questions about your writing sample, please contact your admissions advisor.


Is there an Orientation for new students? Is it on-campus?

Our program hosts an online orientation for each incoming class. Orientation is 100% online and self-paced. It provides students an opportunity to test-drive the learning management platform that they will utilize for coursework and engage with their peers through discussion forums and live online sessions via Zoom.

Do students in this online program have access to campus resources?

Students enrolled in our online programs have the same access to campus resources as on-ground students. In fact, we encourage you to make the most of your student experience at USC, whether it’s attending campus events, visiting the USC Bookstore or cheering for the Trojans across our conference athletics programs. Enrolled students can receive a USCard (your student ID) which will allow you access to these resources, as well as many other benefits.

What opportunities for career development does USC Annenberg offer?

All students of USC Annenberg’s programs have the opportunity to work with our Career Development office. In addition to meeting with a career advisor, students have the opportunity to network with alumni and find jobs through the USC Annenberg CareerLink.

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