The M.A. in Strategic Public Relations is a 16 to 20-month program designed to educate the next generation of innovators and leaders in public relations and strategic communication. Graduates are sought by Fortune 500 companies, fast moving start-ups, public relations and digital agencies, communication consultancies as well as government organizations and the non-profit sector.

The program takes a highly applied approach that emphasizes strategic thinking, problem solving and specific skills to qualify graduates for a successful career in the exciting, rewarding and fast-growing public relations and other communication professions.

Public relations – also known as strategic communication – is among the fastest growing professions in the United States and abroad. At USC Annenberg, we think of public relations as advocacy communication, meaning the use of communication skills and tools to advocate on behalf of any brand, organization, social cause, entertainment property, celebrity, or candidate. Successful public relations professionals are creative, skilled strategists, counselors, managers and communicators. They know how to analyze problems, weigh options, develop solutions, advise senior management and implement programs that achieve organizational goals. The M.A. in Strategic Public Relations equips graduates with the conceptual and practical tools needed to be a leader in this dynamic field.

During the first year M.A. students build a solid foundation in strategic thinking, writing, ethics, content development and highly applied research and analysis. In their second year, students customize the program by selecting from among a wide variety of specialized courses focusing on such specific areas of practice as entertainment, crisis management, politics, sports, content creation, social media, etc. In this way the program helps students  identify -- and then pursue -- the specific industry or specialization about which they are the most passionate.

Graduate Leadership Seminar

Golin CEO Fred Cook leads the USC Center for Public Relations.
Golin / Logan Futej
Graduate students in the SPR program with a GPA of 3.5 or higher will have the opportunity to vie for one of 12 spots in the Graduate Leadership Seminar, led by Golin CEO and PR Studies professor, Fred Cook. The coursework will largely follow his book, Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO.

Students must obtain at least two faculty recommendations and endorsement by the advisement team, and a panel of PR faculty will review the applications to narrow the selected course participants to a dozen. The course will only be offered in the spring semester of each school year.