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.

Outside the Classroom

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Chicago as our classroom

Chicago is a global center of the public relations industry. From major agencies like Golin, Edelman, and Ketchum to smaller boutique firms across the city, the public relations industry is located minutes from Columbia’s campus. That translates into close alumni and faculty connections that you can depend on for internships, jobs, and field experiences.

Chicago Labs: Reputation Partners from Columbia College Chicago on Vimeo.

Public Relations Student Society of America

We also have an active and award-winning chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Collaborating with your creative public relations peers will contribute to your professional success in the future. PRSSA is a preprofessional student organization that regularly hosts events and regional conferences that bring in industry leaders, giving you a chance to network with corporate PR professionals, event management firms, PR agencies, and more.

Career Day

Each October we host Career Day for our students and alumni. Here you’ll take part in a day filled with programming, alumni panels, and structured networking opportunities, making this event an important professional development opportunity for students at any level in our program.


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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. We don’t require an internship to graduate, but we highly encourage you to land multiple internships beginning your junior year.


Employers recognize the high quality of our programs, and that’s why so many of them hire our alumni. You’ll find our graduates working for top companies and brands like Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, CBS, CULT Denim, Discover Financial Services, Dress Barn, Edelman, Eileen Fisher, Flutter Eyewear, The Grossman Group, Golin, HBO, Marine Bank, McDonald’s, Shedd Aquarium, Silk, SkirtPR, Walmart, WCIU, and many, many more.

Ebonne Just ’10

Ebonne Just’s PR team has responded to some of the most high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Cardi B.

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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.

View all department faculty.