Feb 06, 2023  
USC Catalogue 2020-2021 
USC Catalogue 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Strategic Public Relations (MA)

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Studies toward the Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations require 40 units of prescribed courses and approved electives in the student’s field of study. Students may take, with prior approval, two of their electives outside the school. No more than 12 units of 400-level course work may be applied toward the Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations.

Students who earn a GPA of below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation and must improve according to established terms if they are to remain in the school. In the case of courses offered on Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) basis, faculty review of competence will be substituted for grades.


Normally, full-time students in the Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations can complete the program in four semesters.

Foreign Language/Research Tool Requirements

There is no foreign language or research tool requirement for the master’s degree.

Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (GSP)

Journalism and strategic public relations graduate students are required to complete an online tutorial about Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (GSP) and pass the GSP test before the end of the fall semester of their first year. Students who fail to complete the GSP tutorial and pass the test within the stated time frame will not be allowed to progress in the program and will be dismissed from the School of Journalism.

Note: Students with disabilities may register with the Disability Services and Programs office (DSP) so the DSP staff can assess the nature of the students’ disabilities and recommend the appropriate accommodations to be provided for each student.

Master’s Thesis/Comprehensive Examination

MA in Strategic Public Relations students have the option of completing a master’s thesis or taking a comprehensive exam. The thesis option takes two forms: (1) a professional project presenting the results of an extensive public relations project completed by the student; or (2) a research thesis presenting the results of primary research undertaken by the student. In either case, students must establish a guidance committee of three faculty members. The chair must be a full-time faculty member in the School of Journalism. The second member will usually be a full-time Journalism faculty member but may be a person connected with USC in other positions who has specific knowledge of the student’s topic. In the latter case, the chair of the committee will submit for the director’s approval a detailed presentation of the qualifications of the proposed committee member that justify his or her inclusion. In exceptional circumstances, this committee member may come from outside USC. A detailed presentation of qualifications will be required. The third committee member should be a full-time USC faculty member from outside the School of Journalism. The committee is ultimately subject to the approval of the school dean.

Students must secure approval of the professional project or thesis prior to enrollment in PR 594a. Students who elect the thesis option are required to enroll in PR 594a  (2 units), PR 594b  (2 units), normally during their second year of study. The 4 units will count toward the approved elective units.

The comprehensive examination option allows students to complete the degree by passing a comprehensive examination in their last semester of course work.


*Students electing the thesis option are required to enroll in PR 594a  (2 units) and PR 594b  (2 units) and must complete 18 units of approved elective courses. Students electing the comprehensive examination option must complete 22 units of approved elective courses.

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