Analyze audiences and craft persuasive messages for a variety of traditional and emerging media platforms, including websites, social media, news sites, blogs, video and photography sites, and more.
In the advertising and public relations degree you’ll be prepared to create persuasive messages for a variety of traditional and emerging media platforms, including social media. Analyze audiences, write copy, select media platforms, and manage campaigns. The degree combines courses in communication, advertising, public relations, and marketing to prepare you for the overlapping roles of advertising and public relations professionals.
The fields of advertising and public relations are rapidly changing now that the Internet and mobile devices like smart phones and tablets have influenced the way professionals create messages. Unique opportunities and exciting challenges lie ahead in the advertising and public relations field. The major combines advertising, public relations, and marketing to address the overlapping roles of communication professionals.
Students are prepared to create persuasive messages for a variety of traditional and emerging media platforms. They learn to analyze audiences, write copy, select media, and manage campaigns. The major also features a senior thesis and one semester of work experience gained through an internship and/or cooperative education.
Plan of study
Students develop skills through a core of required communication courses, which cover communication theory, visual communication, public relations, advertising, writing, campaign planning and management, media planning, public speaking, and digital design. A professional core of three marketing courses, chosen by the student, provides a deeper understanding and appreciation of marketing. Electives and liberal arts courses complete the curriculum.
Students conduct original research on a subject of their choosing. Two faculty members serve as advisers and guide each student on how to investigate a topic, select a research method, implement the project, and present their findings. Students often present their research at conferences.
Students are required to complete one block of internship experience or cooperative education, giving students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to a professional work environment. There are many opportunities, including positions with advertising agencies and public relations firms as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education assists students in identifying and applying to internship or co-op positions.
Students in the Advertising and Promotion Management course won a class competition to conceptualize and design a billboard for The Dream Factory, a local nonprofit agency that helps dreams come true for children living with critical or chronic illnesses.
Advertising and public relations, BS degree, typical course sequence
Sem. Cr. Hrs.
An introduction to the practice of public relations. Topics include history, research areas, laws, ethics, and social responsibilities as they relate to the theory and practice of public relations.
The public speaking course is designed to equip the student with knowledge of the theories and principles necessary for formal public speaking. Informative and persuasive speeches are the focus with emphasis on organization, evidence, language use, strategy, delivery, and effective use of media aids. Public speaking is generally offered each semester.
Principles of Advertising
An introduction to principles and practices of advertising. Topics include advertising theories, ethics, regulation, consumer research, media planning, message strategy, and campaign planning strategy.
Digital Design in Communication
In an increasingly visual culture, and culture of online user-created content, non-designers are called upon in the professional realm to illustrate their ideas. Graduates entering the workforce will encounter situations where they will benefit from possessing a visual communication sensibility and vocabulary to communicate effectively with a broad range of audiences, including professional designers. Creative approaches to challenges, such as visual thinking, are also shown to improve students’ comprehension and problem-solving abilities. Digital Design in Communication is an opportunity for undergraduates to receive an introduction to principles of visual message design from a critical rhetorical perspective. They will also get the opportunity to apply these principles to a variety of visual products such as advertisements, logos, brochures, resumes, etc. A variety of computer software applications are available to support the research, writing, visualization, and design of messages.
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical): College Algebra
This course provides the background for an introductory level, non-trigonometry based calculus course. The topics include a review of the fundamentals of algebra: solutions of linear, fractional, and quadratic equations, functions and their graphs, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic and rational functions, and systems of linear equations.
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry)
First Year Writing
The history and development of U.S. media, theoretical aspects of mass communications, the composition of media audiences, law and regulation of mass communications and how the media affect and are affected by society are presented.
Public Relations Writing
This course covers a variety of forms of writing for public relations, including news releases, newsletters, backgrounders, public service announcements, magazine queries, interviews, coverage memos, media alerts, features, trade press releases, and public presentations. Students will write for a variety of media including print, broadcast, and the web.
Intercultural communication provides an examination of the role of culture in face-to-face interaction. Students may find a basic background in communication, anthropology, or psychology useful.
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles)
Principles of Marketing
An introduction to the field of marketing, stressing its role in the organization and society. Emphasis is on determining customer needs and wants and how the marketer can satisfy those needs through the controllable marketing variables of product, price, promotion and distribution.
Copywriting and Visualization
An opportunity for undergraduates to learn the verbal and visual skills utilized in the creation of advertising messages. To create an effective strategy for an advertising campaign, the advertising copywriter/art director team needs to combine linguistic and visual metaphors into a persuasive message. Students will develop creative advertising messages by researching and writing a creative brief and then implementing the plan by transforming concepts into actual advertising messages and campaigns.
An introduction to developing, executing, and managing media plans for advertising and public relations. This course covers the characteristics and uses of advertising media, media terms and calculations, media strategies and tactics, and media plan development and implementation.
Theories of Communication
An introduction to human communication theory, including a history of the field and major theories from the intrapersonal, language, interpersonal, small group, public, organizational, mass, visual, and computer-mediated communication contexts. Theories based both in the humanities and the social sciences are covered. This course should be taken during the student's second year.
Quantitative Research Methods
An introduction to the methods and ethics of scientific, scholarly communication research including methods of locating, analyzing, critiquing, and conducting communication research. The course focuses on empirical research methods and leads to the development of a research project proposal suitable for implementation in senior thesis in communication. This course should be taken during the student's third year.
Cooperative Education (summer)
One semester of full-time paid work experience in a professional setting related to the communication major.
LAS Immersion 1, 2, 3
Professional Core Course
Qualitative Research Methods
Introduction to the methods and ethics of qualitative and critical research. Students are introduced to interviewing, participant observation, naturalistic study, and ethnography. They also develop a disciplined ability for the critical appraisal of public discourse, cultural phenomenon, and designed objects. Both qualitative and critical research methods rely on the researcher's observational, analytic, and critical skills, and seek to understand the behaviors, beliefs, values, attitudes, assumptions, rituals, and symbol systems that characterize relationships between the source, message, media, and audience of specific communication acts. Students will also investigate the processes of rhetorical action. By the end of the course, students will have developed a research proposal suitable for implementation as the senior thesis in communication. This course should be taken during the student's third year.
Campaign Management and Planning
This course introduces students to the managing and planning of advertising and public relations campaigns. It takes a team project approach thereby helping students learn how to work together in class as well as in a competitive agency. Service-learning will be used to expose students to community causes.
Senior Thesis in Communication
A guided research seminar culminating in a major project that brings together the communication students’ communication studies and substantive work in his or her professional core. Focuses on designing, conducting, and completing an independent research project. The progress of each project is shared with the class for discussion and critiques.
Communication, advertising, and public relations majors create a portfolio comprised of projects, papers, and related professional materials; Journalism majors complete a senior project. Near the end of every semester, the department hosts a portfolio review day when department of communication seniors present their portfolio or project work in a public space for review and comment by faculty, staff, and peers. The presentation constitutes completion of the course.
Professional Core Courses
Total Semester Credit Hours
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
Professional core courses
Students choose three of the following:
A hands-on course focusing on developing marketing strategies for entering and competing in foreign countries. Topics include foreign market opportunity assessment, developing commercialization and entry strategies, understanding foreign customers and distribution channels, and communicating value through advertising and promotion in different markets.
Internet marketing is critical to an organization's overall strategy. This course focuses on tactics and strategies that enable marketers to fully leverage the internet. Topics include the overall internet marketing landscape, technologies, customer segmenting and targeting, search, analytics and emerging internet-marketing platforms.
A study of the determinants of buying behaviors. Emphasis is on identifying target markets and customer needs, internal and external influences on lifestyle and understanding the buying decision process.
Selling concepts, tools, strategies, and tactics are discussed as they apply to both external and internal customers. Students learn and experience some of problems faced and rewards earned by those in professional sales. Customer relationship management/partnering with customers and truly seeking to meet their requirements are discussed as key to long-term success.
Advertising and Promotion Management
An in-depth view of tools of promotion management: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, personal selling, direct marketing and internet marketing as well as new and alternative media. Basic concepts of how to use print, broadcast, internet and out-of-home media are studied. Planning, budgeting, creative strategy, and the roles of advertising agencies are also covered.
Seminar in Marketing
Current issues in marketing are the focus of the course. Topics have included direct and database marketing, pricing, advanced marketing research and other current issues in marketing based on student and faculty interest.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
Strong performance in English and social studies is expected
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in advertising, marketing, communications, liberal arts, and science
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Advertising, business/marketing, communications, public relations, or liberal arts
Every student is assigned a professional academic adviser and a faculty mentor in the school of communication. The professional adviser assists with course planning and registration; the faculty mentor provides advising on career development and planning, including information about research opportunities, graduate school, and jobs. Peer mentors, who are upper-level advertising and public relations students, are also available to answer questions about classes, clubs on campus, student-run activities, and other matters from the student’s perspective.
Nearly all of the school's 23 faculty members hold the highest degrees in their fields. Many have won awards for teaching, and all have been published within their areas of expertise.
Upon graduation, students are well-qualified for positions in business, government, and the not-for-profit sectors. The major also prepares students to pursue graduate studies in a variety of fields. The school of communication offers an MS degree in communication and media technologies. Visit the program website or refer to the Graduate Bulletin for more information.
Accelerated 4+1 MBA option
An accelerated 4+1 MBA option is available for students who wish to earn a BS in advertising and public relations and an MBA. The program is offered in conjunction with Saunders College of Business and allows students to obtain both degrees in five years of study.