Advertising/Public Relations, B.A.

Program Code: ADPR_BA

Program Description

This major is designed to provide a balance of theory, research, and practice. The course sequence provides professional skills courses in conjunction with applied theory and critical evaluative courses. Students develop an understanding of the role and effect of advertising and public relations within the business, social, and political arenas. Students develop abilities and skills that prepare them for a wide range of professional opportunities that include: media planning and relations, research, and client services. Analytical abilities are equally stressed throughout the curriculum. Critical thinking skills, creative problem-solving, and the need to justify decisions are developed. Theory and practice from a wide range of disciplines including business, behavioral sciences, and applied statistics are used to equip the students to make informed decisions in a dynamic environment.

An important aspect of the program is the examination of the ethical implications of strategic communication practices used in the marketing, advertising and public relations arena. Students will develop a framework that will help them to understand and evaluate supporters and critics of strategic communications practices.

Advertising Option

Available at the following campuses: University Park

All courses in the advertising option emphasize the critical importance of integrated communication. The objective of the curriculum is to prepare students for entry-level opportunities in the advertising profession and to prepare for eventual managerial roles where an understanding of integrated communication concepts is essential.

The program reflects an integrated marketing communications approach to the design implementation and evaluation of advertising messages. In addition to mastering the core professional courses, students are expected to have an understanding of the convergence of mass communication theory and practice and are encouraged to select from courses in communication theory, communication law, mass media history, ethics, and the impact of advertising and public relations on society.

Public Relations Option

Available at the following campuses: University Park

The public relations curriculum prepares students for the challenges of public relations practice in a highly competitive, technological, multicultural, and global environment. In their course of study, students study the role and function of public relations in building cooperative mutually beneficial relations between organizations and their constituent publics through understanding, credibility, and trust.

Students complete a core set of courses that includes news writing, introduction to public relations, public relations methods, mass communication research, and public relations problems (campaigns).

Because of the critical importance of journalistic writing skills and an understanding of news media ethics, public relations majors are encouraged to take additional journalism courses to fulfill their communication electives.

Advertising and public relations students are encouraged to choose a minor from outside the Bellisario College of Communications. The majority of majors select minors in business, English, sociology, psychology, political science, information systems and statistical analysis, foreign language, and speech communication.

What is Advertising and Public Relations?

In general, advertising and public relations are similar because the goal is sharing a message with an audience. At its simplest, advertising relies on paid messages to typically to sell a product and public relations typically uses unpaid channels to sell an idea. Students who major in advertising/public relations at Penn State have a wealth of opportunities thanks to a degree that allows them to build on many of the same core skills before focusing on the advertising or public relations track. In each area, students can combine classroom instruction with hands-on work through partnerships or real-life client projects. Advertising students learn the art of persuasive storytelling via multiple mediums and how advertising affects mass media and how consumers are influenced by ads. Public relations students gain an understanding of brand building, research and strategic planning to position a message to make an impact through various channels.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You’re creative, curious and like sharing ideas and information with others.
  • You like to write and talk, or if you’re comfortable with social media, advertising/public relations will play to your strengths.

Design, digital storytelling and video skills are also valuable in the field as professionals regularly utilize a variety of tools to do their jobs. In addition, the field thrives on collaboration but also allows room for self-directed workers to succeed.

Entrance to Major

This program currently has administrative enrollment controls. Administrative Enrollment Controls are initiated when limitations of space, faculty, or other resources in a major prevent accommodating all students who request them. Students must follow the administrative enrollment controls that are in effect for the semester that they enter the university.

First-Year Students Entering Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, students must satisfy the following requirements:

  • 40-68 graded Penn State credits (excludes transfer and AP credits)
  • completed with a grade of C or better: ENGL 15 or a University equivalent (courses that are in catalog and degree audit as approved equivalents), ECON 102
  • earned a minimum cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.25

Students Who Entered Prior to Summer 2021

Students who entered the University from Summer 2018 through Spring 2021 should view the administrative enrollment controls in the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin archive. Students who entered the University prior to the summer 2018 semester should view the administrative enrollment controls for the semester that they entered the university on the Academic Advising Portal.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising/Public Relations, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 26
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 35

10 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 6 credits of GS courses; 4 credits of GQ courses.

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Students must select at least 72 credits in courses outside the Bellisario College of Communications. 

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Common Requirements for the Major (All Options)

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
COMM 160Basic News Writing Skills1
ECON 102Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course3
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
STAT 200Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course4
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 3 credits of COMM courses (other than COMM 100)3
Requirements for the Option
Requirements for the Option: Require a grade of C or better
Select an option21

Requirements for the Option

Advertising Option (21 credits)

Available at the following campuses: University Park

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
COMM 320Introduction to Advertising3
COMM 420Research Methods in Advertising and Public Relations3
COMM 421WAdvertising Creative Strategies3
COMM 422Advertising Media Planning3
COMM 424Advertising Campaigns3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Public Relations
Crisis Communications in Public Relations
International Mass Communications
Cultural Aspects of the Mass Media
Ethics and Regulation in Advertising and Public Relations
Media Effects: Theory and Research
Advanced Advertising Campaigns
International and Intercultural Strategic Communication
Client/Agency Relations
Graphic Applications in Print Communications
Research Project Courses
Internship (3 credits)
Independent Studies
Foreign Study--Mass Communications
Public Relations Option (21 credits)

Available at the following campuses: University Park

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
COMM 260WNews Writing and Reporting3
COMM 370Public Relations3
COMM 420Research Methods in Advertising and Public Relations3
COMM 471Public Relations Media and Methods3
COMM 473Public Relations Campaigns3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Introduction to Advertising
Crisis Communications in Public Relations
International Mass Communications
Cultural Aspects of the Mass Media
Ethics and Regulation in Advertising and Public Relations
Media Effects: Theory and Research
Advanced Advertising Campaigns
International and Intercultural Strategic Communication
Client/Agency Relations
Graphic Applications in Print Communications
Internship (3 credits)
Independent Studies
Foreign Study--Mass Communications

Learning Outcomes

Professional Values and Competencies

Individual professions in journalism and mass communication may require certain specialized values and competencies. Irrespective of their particular specialization, all graduates should be aware of certain core values and competencies and be able to:

  1. understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press for the country in which the institution that invites ACEJMC is located, as well as receive instruction in and understand the range of systems of freedom of expression around the world, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and assemble and to petition for redress of grievances;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of gender, race ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications;
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society;
  5. understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;
  6. demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;
  7. think critically, creatively and independently;
  8. conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work;
  9. write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve;
  10. critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;
  11. apply basic numerical and statistical concepts;
  12. apply basic tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

University Park

Brenda Johnson
Administrative Support Assistant  
204 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-1503
bmj11@psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

The Advertising and Public Relations options of the Advertising/Public Relations major is under administrative enrollment control. Please review entrance to major requirements found at https://bulletins.psu.edu/undergraduate/colleges/bellisario-communications/advertising-public-relations-ba/#howtogetintext.

Advertising Option: Advertising/Public Relations, B.A. at University Park Campus and Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMM 160*1ECON 102 (GS)*#†3
ENGL 15 or 30H (GWS)*#†‡3General Education Course (GN)3
PSYCH 100 (GS)*†3General Education Course (GH) (Inter-Domain)3
General Education Course (GN) (Inter-Domain)3BA Knowledge Domain (IL Cultures)3
Foreign Language4Foreign Language4
PSU 91 
 15 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Course (GQ)3COMM 320*13
General Education Course (GA)3BA Knowledge Domain3
General Education Course (GN)3BA Knowledge Domain (US Cultures)3
General Education Course (GH)3BA Other Cultures3
Foreign Language4Non-COMM Elective3
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
STAT 200 (GQ)*†4COMM 420*3
COMM 421W*3COMM 370, 373, 410, 411, 417, 418, 425, 426, 427, 468, 495, 496, or 499*3
CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C (GWS)3ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D (GWS)3
Elective3General Education Course (GA)3
Elective3Elective3
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMM 422*3COMM 424*3
COMM 370, 373, 410, 411, 417, 418, 425, 426, 427, 468, 495, 496, or 499*3Any COMM Course (except COMM 100 or COMM 120)*3
Elective3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 13.5 13.5
Total Credits 120

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Public Relations Option: Advertising/Public Relations, B.A. at University Park Campus and Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMM 160*1ECON 102 (GS)*#†3
ENGL 15 or 30H (GWS)*#†‡3General Education Course (GN)3
PSYCH 100 (GS)*†3General Education Course (GH) (Inter-Domain)3
General Education Course (GN) (Inter-Domain)3BA Knowledge Domain (IL Cultures)3
Foreign Language4Foreign Language4
PSU 91 
 15 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Course (GQ)3COMM 370*13
General Education Course (GA)3BA Knowledge Domain3
General Education Course (GN)3BA Knowledge Domain (US Cultures)3
General Education Course (GH)3BA Other Cultures3
Foreign Language4Non-COMM Elective3
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
STAT 200 (GQ)*†4COMM 420*3
COMM 260W*3COMM 320, 373, 410, 411, 417, 418, 425, 426, 427, 468, 495, 496, or 499*3
CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C (GWS)3ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D (GWS)3
Elective 3General Education Course (GA)3
Elective3Elective3
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMM 471*3COMM 473*3
COMM 320, 373, 410, 411, 417, 418, 425, 426, 427, 468, 495, 496, or 499*3Any COMM Course (except COMM 100 or COMM 120)*3
Elective 3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 13.5 13.5
Total Credits 120

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.

Career Paths

An advertising/public relations degree prepares students to enter careers in business, communications, mass media and other fields that value effective communicators and storytellers. Graduates can find opportunities from coast to coast and with companies or organizations of nearly any size and industry. The advertising/public relations degree’s versatility prepares students to have an immediate impact in helping a brand, company or organization tell its story.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT POTENTIAL CAREER OPTIONS FOR GRADUATES OF ADVERTISING/PUBLIC RELATIONS

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Most undergraduates initially enter the professional world, but the multifaceted skill set associated with an advertising/public relations degree provides a foundation for success in graduate school. Undergraduates leave well-versed in the research necessary to carry out campaigns and the importance of analytics in measuring success.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRADUATE STUDIES

Accreditation

The Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications is evaluated regularly by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, consistently meeting the high standards of the organization dedicated to excellence in professional education in journalism and mass communications. For undergraduate students, accreditation most practically means that upper-level professional classes in each major will be conducted in rooms with 20 or fewer students.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ACCREDITING COUNCIL ON EDUCATION IN JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS

Contact

University Park

DEPARTMENT OF ADVERTISING/PUBLIC RELATIONS
22 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-1371
fus1@psu.edu

http://bellisario.psu.edu/departments/department-of-advertising-public-relations