Public Relations (BA)
Is your public relations career goal to work in the for-profit or the non-profit world? In government, corporate America or for an agency? To live outside the U.S., in Silicon Valley, New York, Chicago or beyond? Or to go for a master’s degree? Whatever the dream, our public relations curriculum will take you there.
From research to strategy to media relations to crisis communications, the communication skills of engaging the public and shaping perceptions are the building blocks of reputation. Our PR program is designed to prepare students for success in an exciting, fast-paced career with high growth potential.
Our faculty are industry leaders who strive every day to educate you on the necessary skills, and get you networking with professionals. You’ll work with real clients, build a portfolio and discover a curriculum that is integrated with related fields, such as communication, social media and advertising. Upon graduation, you will be ready to succeed in a career path designed to fit your unique aspirations.
Students in Strategic Media Relations (PURE 375) pose prior to a media relations workshop hosted by Chicago-based public relations firm, Reputation Partners.
In the Classroom
What to expect your first year
You’ll dive into public relations practice your very first semester.
In our foundational PR courses, including Introduction to Public Relations and Public Relations Writing, you’ll write starter press materials, conduct audience research, and deliver team presentations. In Consumer Behavior, you’ll test your research skills and train on industry-standard media intelligence databases as well as conduct consumer research and monitor the media. This research experience gives you an in-demand skill set early on in your studies.
The first year isn’t too soon to start thinking about internships. We’ll discuss the dozens of opportunities available to you just steps from our campus and remotely, and you’ll begin to understand what it will take to land your first PR internship.
What to expect your last year
Picture yourself working on your third (or fourth or more!) internship while putting the final touches on your online portfolio, filled with work from hands-on courses like Strategic Media Relations, Global PR, PR Writer’s Workshop and your capstone class, Agency.
Your Agency capstone
Agency students have served more than 50 clients, all start-ups from Chicago’s world-renowned tech start-up incubator, 1871. Our 1871 clients are selected through a competitive process. Clients have included Midwest Immersive, BUNDLAR, OjaExpress, DreamOn Education, and even the social media shout-out powerhouse Cameo.
Whether you stay in Chicago or decide to explore the world through any of our special programs in New York, LA, Madrid or beyond, your faculty will help you build your dreams into your study plan and still graduate in line with your goals.
Outside the Classroom
We’re all about learning by doing, whether that means interning at an industry-leading organization or meeting potential employers on a class visit.
Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
We have an active and award-winning chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). PRSSA is a preprofessional student organization that regularly leads cause-related campaigns and hosts regional conferences that bring in industry leaders, giving you a chance to network with corporate PR professionals, event management firms, PR agencies, and more.
PCC Career Day
Each October we host our annual Career Day in partnership with the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC). It’s a day filled with programming, alumni panels and networking opportunities. Many students say Career Day helped them land their first job. We are also profoundly grateful to the PCC and former PCC president/adjunct PR faculty member Dom Calabrese for the Elizabeth Frances Calabrese Scholarships he established for outstanding Columbia communication students.
Beginning your junior year, you’ll have access to internships in Chicago and beyond. Students have interned at Golin, Edelman, FleishmanHillard, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ogilvy Public Relations, Cameo, Happenstance, City of Chicago’s Press Office, Shedd Aquarium, HillRom, Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, and various other agencies, startups, nonprofits, corporations and government entities.
Our full-time internship coordinators can help you find opportunities and professional environments that complement your coursework—you won’t be getting coffee or making copies all day.
Learn more about how Columbia’s Career Center can help you find the right internship.
One Global Public Relations class was featured in the WorldChicago 2019 Annual Report for writing and producing content on professional fellows and programs for a global audience. “We thank them for all of their hard work!” – WorldChicago’s Executive Director Peggy Parfenoff. As part of an Agency class project, one student produced an animated video that was used as b-roll in this CNN story about black entrepreneurs. When tech start-up Happenstance sought to create a new form of audio journalism, our students worked side-by-side with the co-founders to create this video featured on the website.
One Global Public Relations class was featured in the WorldChicago 2019 Annual Report for writing and producing content on professional fellows and programs for a global audience. “We thank them for all of their hard work!” – WorldChicago’s Executive Director Peggy Parfenoff.
As part of an Agency class project, one student produced an animated video that was used as b-roll in this CNN story about black entrepreneurs.
When tech start-up Happenstance sought to create a new form of audio journalism, our students worked side-by-side with the co-founders to create this video featured on the website.
Ebonne Just ’10
Ebonne Just’s PR team has responded to some of the most high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Cardi B.
Our faculty members are active, seasoned professionals who are thought-leaders in their fields. They have created campaigns for leading communications firms and Fortune 500 clients, written books, organized leading industry conferences, contributed articles to academic and trade journals, and worked as spokespeople for corporations and government agencies.