Graduate Programs

Graduate Programs


Strategic Public Relations


Graduates of the fast-track master’s degree in strategic public relations are a new generation of communications professionals who are able to function at the highest levels of management and apply sophisticated strategic thinking to accomplish organizational objectives.

The selective professional program is 30 credit hours, including 6 hours of approved elective courses in areas such as nonprofit management, business management and marketing. Courses are taught by full-time faculty and experienced public relations professionals. Students take weekend classes (Friday evening and all day Saturday) as a cohort through four semesters. Continued full-time public relations employment is encouraged during the program.

One of the program’s unique features is a two-week study abroad experience in China, an expectation of students while they are enrolled in Strategic Public Relations in a Global Environment. The study tour, led by a full-time faculty member, visits Shanghai and Beijing for meetings with international and Chinese PR firms, in addition to media organizations. The cost of the study abroad experience is not included in the program’s tuition.

Admission requirements include an academic background in public relations (university or professional accreditation program) and appropriate public relations experience. Applicants also need to take the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) General Test. Learn more about the GRE and see a list of GRE testing centers.

Read the program description in the VCU Bulletin.

Additional information also is available in the Robertson School Graduate Handbook (pdf).

Program Mission Statement

The Master of Science in Mass Communications (Strategic Public Relations) is a leading-edge professional education program that prepares students at various stages in their public relations careers to function at the highest levels of management and apply sophisticated strategic thinking and problem solving to accomplish organizational objectives. It prepares students for increased leadership responsibilities in developing, implementing and evaluating effective communication campaigns in an environment of dynamic change and globalization.

Student Learning Objectives

  • Students graduating from this program will demonstrate higher level skills of the public relations management function, including strategy development and critical thinking
  • Students graduating from this program will communicate clearly and effectively in written and spoken forms appropriate to strategic public relations practices and audiences
  • Students graduating from this program will demonstrate the ability to conduct research and evaluation to support strategic public relations decision-making
  • Students graduating from this program will effectively apply tools and technologies appropriate to managing the process for strategic public relations


  • MASC 671 Strategic PR in a Digital Environment (3 credits)
  • MASC 672 Strategic PR Research and Evaluation (3 credits)
  • MASC 675 Strategic PR Management (3 credits)
  • MASC 676 Public Relations Ethics and Law (3 credits)
  • MGMT 651 Organizational Communication (3 credits)
  • MASC 682 Strategic Media Relations (3 credits)
  • MASC 683 Strategic PR in the Global Environment (3 credits)
  • MASC 694 Strategic PR Campaign Design and Implementation (3 credits)
  • Electives are drawn from courses in the School of Business (6 credits)

About The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture

The Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University has approximately 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students, and is ideally situated for students who want to pursue communications careers. VCU is an urban university in Virginia’s state capital. Besides being the seat of state government, Richmond is a major center for the communications industry. The graduate strategic public relations program builds on the School’s already strong undergraduate public relations program. The School also has a graduate master’s program in Multimedia Journalism.


To apply, contact June Nicholson, Director of Graduate Studies, by email at or phone (804)-827-0251. She will provide additional information.

To apply online, complete the application form available at the VCU Graduate School Website. Note that this program has a summer admission only. Pay the online application fee. Send official, sealed transcripts for all graduate and undergraduate work to the VCU Graduate School. Make sure that your official GRE scores also are sent to the VCU Graduate School. Deadlines for admission are January 15 and March 15 for preferred consideration. The School will admit other students on a rolling admission after those deadlines until the class is filled. Classes begin in July.

Send to the Director of Graduate Studies:

  • an updated resume
  • a personal statement of educational and professional objectives
  • three official graduate references, using the graduate reference forms available on the VCU Graduate School Website
  • portfolio material from your undergraduate and/or graduate and/or professional experience
  • unofficial or official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work
  • GRE scores

International applicants without a degree from an English-language university must also submit TOEFL scores.


June Nicholson
Director of Graduate Studies
Robertson School of Media and Culture
Virginia Commonwealth University
Box 842034
901 W. Main Street
Richmond, VA 23284-2034

The Judy VanSlyke Turk Scholarship

The Judy VanSlyke Turk Scholarship was established in the Robertson School to honor Dr. Turk’s leadership as director of the School from 2002-2010. It was awarded for the first time in 2012.

Applications for this approximately $1000 scholarship will be posted by spring 2014 and due in summer 2014. Students who apply must have completed the application process and have been admitted to the strategic public relations graduate program.