USC Annenberg launches new online master’s program in public relations innovation, strategy and management

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With the global public relations (PR) market expected to grow by more than $25 billion by 2027, it is clear organizations are increasingly relying on the industry to ensure their brands thrive in today’s complex communications landscape. The rise of digital technology has further accelerated this demand in areas like multiplatform content creation, social media advertising and influencer relations.

USC Annenberg has created the new Master of Science in Public Relations Innovation, Strategy and Management (MSPRISM) to equip professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to lead across the full spectrum of PR, marketing and advertising functions. While building a foundation in critical thinking, ethics and data-driven decision making, MSPRISM students learn to develop and deploy compelling, accurate and effective communication campaigns that incorporate technological advances. 

Applications for admission are now being accepted for the Fall 2023 semester here. Students may earn their master’s degree on a one-year or two-year track, with courses and admission entry points offered in the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. 

“Agility and comfort with relentless change are a must for PR practitioners,” USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay said. “We’ve designed the MSPRISM program for those who are eager to evolve and lead the industry as emerging technologies continue to expand the ways communication can impact nearly every facet of an organization’s business.”

Through courses focusing on areas such as multiplatform content creation, brand purpose communication, influencer relationship management, Web3 technologies and social media advertising, MSPRISM students build their capacity to formulate actionable insights based on research and forward-looking, holistic communication approaches. Students also explore the fundamentals of business, finance and economics, allowing them to enhance collaboration with leadership within their organizations and to effectively communicate with stakeholders. 

Students will develop ethical, collaborative leadership skills and purpose-driven approaches to the PR and branding professions. Students will learn to support diverse perspectives in persuasive storytelling and content creation, and to collaborate with and manage teams with diverse backgrounds. 

“Public relations professionals are increasingly expected to manage communications across multiple channels, to strategize and respond to crises, and to counsel the C-suite,” said Burghardt Tenderich, professor of professional practice. “The MSPRISM program prepares them to lead authentically in their organizations by applying modern communication concepts with strategic problem-solving.”

The MSPRISM program was designed by USC Annenberg faculty with input from industry executives, including from the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations Board of Advisors. These top public relations, marketing and communication leaders will continue to provide programmatic guidance and will connect with students directly through online and in-person networking events.

“Communicators are leading the drive for true impact, connecting and amplifying stories and brands,” said Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO and founder of WE Communications and a member of the Center for Public Relations’ advisory board. “In order to counsel and lead in organizations, practitioners must be able to mine data, conduct strategic analysis, and influence behaviors in new ways. Those critical skills and more are front and center in the new, practice-focused MSPRISM curriculum at USC Annenberg.”

MSPRISM’s streamlined 24-unit curriculum, developed in partnership with USC Online, consists of 12 courses specifically designed to provide a pathway for working students to earn their master’s in as little as one year.

“USC Annenberg has long been the premier institution for studying public relations and a top destination for communication professionals seeking to advance their careers through our online degrees,” said Neil Teixeira, assistant dean of digital learning and online programs. “Now, with MSPRISM, professionals from across the globe can earn their PR master’s online and develop the strategic and technological skills needed to lead organizations through the next wave of digital and AI-fueled transformation.” 

USC Annenberg offers 15 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels with 300 faculty members teaching 2,300 students, and an alumni network of more than 22,000 members. A national leader in communication and media studies, USC Annenberg is also consistently ranked among the top global institutions by QS World University Rankings. More information on the MSPRISM program can be found here.

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