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USC Annenberg launches new master’s program in public relations and advertising

To reflect the sweeping transformation across the global communications landscape, USC Annenberg has developed a new Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising program that will position students at the leading edge of these dynamic industries.

The inaugural class will enroll in Fall 2020 as the new graduate degree program succeeds the MA in Strategic Public Relations.

“With the once rigid siloes between PR and advertising eroding, USC Annenberg is launching a degree program that wholly embraces the interconnected nature of these disciplines,” said Willow Bay, dean of USC Annenberg. “Given our world-class faculty, unrivaled network of leading professionals and our position in the media capital of Los Angeles, we are uniquely equipped to drive these fields forward through a curriculum that prepares students with the cross-functional expertise needed to advance the causes of individuals, companies, nonprofits and brands.”

To align the program’s learning outcomes with the demands of rapid change, the school assembled an advisory council comprising faculty members and industry leaders with deep knowledge in areas such as PR, advertising, marketing, corporate communication, data intelligence and strategic storytelling.

“Our foremost goal with designing this program was to ensure our students learn how to turn actionable insights into integrated campaigns across paid, earned, shared and owned media,” said Professor of Professional Practice Burghardt Tenderich, who led the council. “That’s why the program deliberately doubles down on research — big data analysis paired with small data analysis — and multiplatform content creation covering writing, shooting and editing audio and video, and coding apps and websites.”

Tenderich said students can expect to build a highly applied foundation across persuasive writing, advocacy, ethics, leadership, business and strategy. They will also acquire the skills and tactics needed for sustained success in organizations of all types through required courses in areas such as brand storytelling, audience-insight mining, and understanding transmedia audiences.

In addition, students can opt to pursue elective courses, including those in brand activation and influencer relations, as well as specializations that develop their expertise in computational methods, coding and programming, economics and investor relations, sports and entertainment marketing, civic engagement, and lifestyle branding. Their experience in the program’s research and content creation labs will be further enhanced by the state-of-the-art capabilities offered by USC Annenberg’s Media Center and Digital Lounge.

Michael Nyman, CEO of Acceleration Community of Companies and a member of USC Annenberg’s Board of Councilors, served on the program’s advisory council and praised the school’s innovative approach.

“Disruption has impacted virtually every industry, calling for change in the way professionals work,” Nyman said. “USC Annenberg is responding in a transformative way so our students have the necessary skills, experiences and context necessary to be successful in the wide-ranging businesses that encompass the expansive fields of public relations and advertising.”