Feb 28, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Public Relations and Advertising (MA)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by School

Few industries have been as radically transformed by new technologies in the past 20 years as the public relations and advertising professions. Now increasingly converged fields of practice and study, they remain central to the success of organizations of all types, whether business or purpose-driven. The Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising offers students a broad perspective across a changing global communication landscape and a deep grounding in foundational courses across disciplines such as persuasive writing, strategy, business fundamentals, advocacy, digital content creation, improvisational leadership and storytelling backed by data intelligence. Through a combination of conceptual courses, research and content creation labs plus electives, specializations and study abroad opportunities, this highly applied program prepares students to become a leader in one of the most dynamic global industries.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to utilize strategic and critical thinking principles, quantitative and qualitative analyses, multi-platform content creation methods and ethical reasoning models to conceptualize and execute effective communication campaigns across all forms of media. In addition to the core competencies of public relations and advertising, graduates will work in other digital communication fields that include social media management, influencer relations, digital brand activation, etc.

Studies toward the Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising require 36 units in total, 27 of which are required, foundational courses. The remaining 9 units may be taken as PR and Advertising specializations, Annenberg electives or at other USC schools. No more than 9 units of 400-level course work may be applied toward the MA in Public Relations and Advertising.

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.


Normally, full-time students in the MA in Public Relations and Advertising can complete the program in four semesters.

Foreign Language/Research Tool Requirement

There is no foreign language or research tool requirement; however, prior knowledge of digital media and research tools is beneficial. 

Master’s Thesis/Capstone

The Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising culminates in either a Thesis or Capstone option. Students may choose between two options: a) the 4-unit thesis/professional project option, which entails one of three approaches: a traditional academic thesis (generally reserved for students who intend to pursue a PhD); a research project (a strategic campaign plan or a white paper); or a video thesis. Alternatively, students may select b) a practicum to craft a digital capstone portfolio that tests overall program knowledge. A passing grade in the capstone portfolio is required for graduation. 


*Students electing the thesis option are required to enroll in PR 594a  (2 units) and PR 594b  (2 units) and must complete 11 units of approved elective courses. Students electing the comprehensive examination option must complete 15 units of approved elective courses. MKT 526  Advertising and Social Media: Strategy and Analytics and MKT 567  Marketing Metrics for Business Decisions are elective options.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by School