Melanie Cherry (left), associate director of the Public Relations and Advertising (BA) program, accepts award
Associate Director of the Public Relations and Advertising (BA) program Melanie Cherry (left) accepts USC Annenberg's award for Outstanding Education Program from Broadway and Wicked star Brittney Johnson, who emceed the 25th annual PRWeek Awards.
Photo by Erica Berger

USC Annenberg Public Relations named top program in U.S. by PRWeek

USC Annenberg’s public relations program has been named the 2024 PRWeek Outstanding Education Program. Widely regarded as the communications industry’s highest accolade, the PRWeek Awards were announced on March 14 in New York City.

Lauding USC Annenberg graduates’ track record of success across a wide range of sectors, including tech, fashion, entertainment, music, sports, and government, PRWeek judges cited the program’s consistently high job placement rates with students securing positions at agencies such as Edelman and Weber Shandwick and top brands such as Dior, Disney, WNBA and Apple.

“Our public relations and advertising programs are focused on helping bridge the gap between the classroom and the industry,” said Gordon Stables, director of the School of Journalism. “It’s a part of everything we do here to prepare our students for their careers after graduation and why we have such close ties with our industry partners.”

The panel was also impressed by the program’s innovative curriculum, faculty of seasoned academics and professionals, and research collaboration spearheaded by the USC Center for Public Relations.

“Pupils get core theory, real insights, experience and case studies from brands they want to work for,” the judges noted.

"We continuously innovate our curriculum to align with industry developments, offering opportunities for students to engage with and learn from leading PR professionals,” said Melanie Cherry, associate director of the Public Relations and Advertising (BA) program. “Plus our students immerse themselves in a dynamic learning environment in the global media and creativity hub of Los Angeles.” 

In addition to a bachelor's degree program, USC Annenberg also offers two graduate degree programs in the field: an MA in public relations and advertising (PRA) and an online MS in public relations innovation, strategy and management (PRISM). 

The demographic, economic and geographic diversity of the PR program’s student body was cited as a strength alongside the school’s Star Award-winning PRSSA chapter and student-run communications firm, PRSC, whose clients have included Apple TV+ and NASCAR. Since 2020, students have received recognition such as the Institute for Public Relations’ Makovsky Best Master's Thesis of the Year Award and PRSSA’s Global Marketing Award.

“We are very proud of the outstanding quality of our student population, and the diversity they represent,” said Burghardt Tenderich, co-director of the PRA (MA) program and director of the PRISM (MS) program. “The majority of our graduate students are from communities that are underrepresented in our industry of practice. This is another reason why our highly qualified alumni are sought after by top employers, whether in-house, agency or non-profit. As an academic unit, we are committed to making our industry more representative of the communities it serves.”

Submissions for the PRWeek Awards are chosen by a panel of judges including PR education professionals and senior PR leaders from agency, corporate, nonprofit and government teams. USC Annenberg finished ahead of the four other finalists.