Degree Specializations

As the PR practice is growing in scope, there’s an increased need for specialists who are experts in specific skills or practices. Students enrolled in the degree program have the opportunity to take two paths in their Annenberg study: a broad PR education peppered with special electives here and there; or, adopt concentrations or “specializations” in their second year of study.  

Regardless of the path they select, all strategic public relations students take six required courses in lockstep during the first year. The program offers six specializations in two different flavors: skills and practice areas.

Skills Specializations

Computational Public Relations

Students will focus on quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis in courses offered by Annenberg and other USC schools, including engineering and business. Students will learn how to utilize Big Data as well as Small Data to mine for actionable insight and to conduct measurement and evaluation studies. They will also learn how to work effectively with data scientists.

Digital, Interactive and Converged Communication

Students will acquire advanced digital skills that include social media management, search engine optimization and multimedia content production — all essential skills for today’s and tomorrow’s practitioners. The coursework combines required PRA courses with Annenberg electives (such as JOUR 563 Transmedia Branding and JOUR 553 Coding and Programming for Storytelling), as well as upper division courses from the advertising minor, and a variety of applicable courses offered across campus.

Practice Specializations

Corporate and Business Communication

Students will become familiar with key topics in business and the global economy. Graduates will be able to analyze how macroeconomic developments impact their organizations. As an alternative to an MBA degree, this emphasis prepares students for public relations, investor relations and related careers within the corporate communication team of major corporations. In addition to the PRA core, students choose from a broad variety of courses offered by the Annenberg Media, Entrepreneurship and Economics, M{2}E, program. In addition, they will be able to choose courses offered by the USC Marshall School of Business.

Sports and Entertainment

Students focus on the industries that define Los Angeles and that no university other than USC is better equipped to offer: a sports mecca and the entertainment capital of the world. Practitioners in sports PR engage with world-class athletes, professional and NCAA teams and sports marketing organization. Entertainment PR practitioners promote films, recording artists and other celebrities as well as the exciting event that are the hallmarks of this industry. Students will to select courses from a broad variety of Annenberg classes complemented by classes offered by the cinematic arts and business schools.

Civic Engagement

Students in this emphasis will develop an awareness of public issues and strategies for advocacy communication with non-profits, NGOs, community organizations and social movements. They will be prepared for work in corporate social responsibility and service organizations to promote volunteerism. In particular, students will explore the opportunities and challenges for civic engagement communication presented by digital and social media tools. 

Lifestyle Public Relations

Students will be prepared for careers with organizations that concentrate on fashion, food and travel, tourism and hospitality industries:

  • Fashion: How PR practitioners support designers, clothing and accessory companies as well as the multi-billion dollar footwear and apparel industry. 
  • Food: From Stoli to Starbucks, professionals in the food PR industry cover everything from the farm-to-table movement to celebrity chefs and the hottest trends.
  • Travel and Tourism: Everything from hospitality to cruises and resorts, glamping to museum tours fall into this realm. This specialty also prepares students for coveted event planning positions.