Journalism - Public Relations B.A.

Are you friendly, outgoing, and a problem solver? Do you like to write? Can you think on your feet? Do you pay attention to what's going on in the world? If so, you might want to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree with a Public Relations concentration.

This major, offered by The Media School in the College of Arts and Sciences, provides a strong foundation in journalism as well as public relations coursework. The degree focuses on the principles, concepts, application of best practices, and research regarding the development and management of effective communication campaigns.

The Media School also offers a Certificate in Journalism and several media minors for students majoring in other subjects. Some of those minors are Public Relations, Media and Creative Advertising, Media Law and Ethics and Media Persuasion. Check the Media School section in your bulletin for more information about the certificate and minors.


Getting started

A good starting point for the Public Relations concentration is MSCH-C 101 Media, an introductory course about the role all forms of media pay in our lives today. A prerequisite to many upper-level journalism courses, MSCH-C 101 is required for all Media School degrees.

Other good options are MSCH-C 250 Story Lab I, which is the first of two Story Labs and is a hands-on course that teaches fundamental storytelling skills in both the written word and multimedia, and our introductory public relations course, MSCH-C 208 Principles of Public Relations.

Tracks and concentrations

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree complete a set of core courses that cover the basics of the field such as how to tell stories through words, pictures and other forms of digital media and how to apply media law, ethics and statistical methods. Beyond that a concentration in either News Reporting and Editing or Public Relations is required to build on and refine that knowledge.

As a Journalism Public Relations student, your concentration will provide you the opportunity to develop, practice and launch a public relations campaign. 

Upper level coursework

As part of the core, MSCH-J 300 Communications Law and MSCH-J 410 The Media as Social Institutions will help you understand the protections that exist both for you and for those you cover, as well as the intrinsic responsibilities of the journalism profession to inform with honesty and sensitivity.

In the concentration, you'll learn about the theories and principles relevant to public relations research and strategic planning, you'll develop public relations writing skills, including different approaches to a variety of audiences and media, and you'll put together a public relations campaign for a non-profit organization. You'll also have the chance to study such things as the functions of public relations management and how social media can be used as an effective component of an organization's communication strategy.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

To achieve a breadth of knowledge and expertise and to refine their critical thinking, analytic reasoning and problem-solving skills, Journalism Public Relations students must also study a subject outside the major. This second area of concentration could be directly related to your career goals or simply be an interest you'd like to pursue. You might do a minor or certificate. Or you can complete the coursework for another major within the College of Arts and Sciences and, in the process, earn a second degree.

Some popular choices are:

Journalism Public Relations students sometimes earn multiple minors, too, or combinations of minors, certificates, majors, or degrees. Your academic advisor can help you decide how best to combine your various interests.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

Perhaps you have an idea for a special project or a desire to investigate in more depth something that was touched on in one of your classes. Maybe you want to go abroad and do research while you're there. You can work with Media School faculty to accomplish these goals through independent study and experiential learning courses. Talk with your academic advisor to learn more.

You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experiences (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.

Get to know your instructors and interact with them inside and outside the classroom. They want to share their knowledge and expertise and they love helping enthusiastic students meet their aspirations.

Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments and how the course helps you work toward your goals.


The Media School's Ernie Pyle Scholars program is an honors program for Bachelor of Arts in Journalism students. This is a highly selective program, admitting about 15 incoming freshmen each year.

Ernie Pyle Scholars take several journalism honors courses and have access to the many professionals who visit the school as speakers or guests. They also travel as a group to visit media organizations and network with alumni in places such as Chicago and St. Petersburg, Florida. Participation in the Summer in London program is a highlight of the program, too.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

The Media School administers a number of scholarships to qualified Bachelor of Arts in Journalism students, awarding more than $350,000 each year. Many of these scholarships are intended for students with strong academic records and an interest in professional news work.

Other scholarships are wider in scope and open to students with broader journalistic interests, such as public relations or broadcast. Some are restricted to residents of a specific geographic region. All scholarships are meant to provide recognition of student excellence in academic and journalistic pursuits.

In the past, some Journalism Public Relations students have also won scholarships and other awards through the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Other options for pursuing scholarships and awards through IU include:


Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their first year.

It is very common for students pursuing careers in media to complete multiple internships before or shortly after graduating. The Media School website offers some helpful resources for thinking ahead to this very important form of preparation for your professional life:

  • Get advice from IU Bloomington students who have completed internships in media fields.
  • View lists of internships with specific organizations recently held by IU Bloomington students in many areas of media.
  • Explore The Media School's Semester in Los Angeles program.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As corporations and other organizations extend their reach globally, the importance of multilingual communication as an essential professional skill only increases.

The Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree requires two years (four semesters) of study in a single foreign language of your choice. By doing so, you establish a basic ability with the language that you can choose to develop further as a minor or second major.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Many Journalism Public Relations students go places like England, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Australia, France, Israel and the Czech Republic. You might spend a few months in the summer overseas or prefer a semester or even a year-long program. Some programs include internships along with academic work.

Media School students have a unique opportunity to extend and apply their coursework through field experience by choosing a travel course, a semester-long class that includes a travel component during spring break or the summer.

The Media School facilitates an eight-week Summer in London program, which includes a journalism course, a media internship and a variety of activities and events that give students a chance to participate in British and European culture.

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Media School faculty, academic advisors, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Getting involved in student organizations will not only make your time at Indiana University more enjoyable, but it will also allow you to hone your skills, gain leadership experience, and network.

Opportunities in public relations exist in almost any of the 750+ student organizations on the Bloomington campus. Get involved with their communications teams to get some hands-on experience. You might try Union Board, IU Student Foundation, or the IU Dance Marathon.

You may want to join Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), a student chapter of a national organization. It provides members with a variety of activities, from conducting skills development workshops, sponsoring speaker visits, and organizing field trips to hosting informational sessions with professionals on critical public relations topics.

The Media School offers other opportunities for students to get involved. Some examples include:

Explore beINvolved to see which other student groups look interesting to you, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. For instance, under the United Way umbrella, there are many local non-profit organizations that welcome student involvement in their communications operations, helping with social media, newsletters, and event planning.

The organizations below can also help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations or submit the form on the Media School Community Projects website to receive information on specific media-related opportunities. Projects range from short-term to semester-long.

Service learning courses and alternative spring breaks are also a way to give back to the local community and beyond. Several of the upper level public relations courses work directly with local nonprofits to conduct research or create public relations campaigns.  You might also help create promotional videos for the National Park Service at Gulf Islands National Seashore during spring break or help produce media projects highlighting positive stories from the Bloomington community as part of the city's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.

Professional organizations

Professionals rely on organizations to enhance their careers, and student chapters of national organizations seek to provide the same support through workshops and programming.

Membership in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), a national organization with a student chapter on the IUB campus, is sure to provide you with professional connections.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

In accordance with the professional values and competencies described by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, The Media School's Journalism program values:

  • Freedom of speech and of the press and of assembly, in the United States and around the world
  • The history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications
  • The importance of embracing all forms of diversity in mass communications
  • The diversity of peoples and cultures in a global society
  • The impact of excellent presentation of images and information
  • Ethical principles and the pursuit of truth, accuracy, and fairness
  • The ability to think critically, creatively, and independently
  • The importance of research in journalism and mass communications
  • The skill and experience to write correctly and clearly in a variety of forms
  • The ability to evaluate works for accuracy, fairness, clarity, and appropriate style
  • The role of numerical and statistical concepts in the transmission of information
  • The effective application of appropriate communications technologies

These values enable students to gain practical skills in writing, editing, critical thinking, and visual communication. Students also gain experience in strategic communications planning, problem-solving, understanding audiences and media, and in the application of social science research for communication management.

The degree explores, as well, the importance of ethics, integrity, diversity, persistence, adaptability and the rights and freedoms of people here in the U.S. and around the world.

All of these skills and qualities are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work.

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take initiative
  • Being detail-oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with a College of Arts and Sciences Media School career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Journalism Public Relations students should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q 296, College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Media provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go.

The job market

Effective communication and writing skills are crucial for all occupations. Whether in the public or private sector, informed communication campaigns are essential for all industries. The Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree with a Public Relations concentration prepares students to manage and implement effective communication strategies, transferable to many different career clusters.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors. Students with the Journalism Public Relations degree are well prepared to work in public relations and advertising agencies, as well as in corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Graduates with a B.A. in Journalism Public Relations have become public relations coordinators, account coordinators, media relations specialists, marketing specialists, freelance writers, media analysts, and more.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center's First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Public Relations faculty, the academic advisors, career coaches and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, nonprofits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree with a Public Relations concentration will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as business administration, marketing and advertising, media arts and sciences, and more.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies have advanced their careers with top advertising and public relations organizations.

You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:

Alumni connections

Visit the Media School's alumni page to connect with IU alumni in the field of public relations.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.

Is it for you?

The Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a Public Relations concentration attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following qualities:

  • Strong verbal and writing skills
  • Ability to manage and prioritize numerous projects at the same time
  • Interest in all forms of media
  • Outgoing personality and flexibility
  • Awareness of current trends and issues
  • Analytical and creative thinking

Learn more

Contact any of the academic advisers in The Media School and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address