University of South Carolina


Public Relations: What to Expect

Public Relations majors have a wide range of opportunities at the University of South Carolina. Through challenging and engaging coursework, you are able to develop valuable skills that translate over into the work place. You will develop strong writing and account management skills through interactive classes and extensive writing assignments. Public Relations majors are also encouraged to participate in The Carolina Agency, our student-run advertising and public relations agency. You also have the opportunity to earn academic credit by participating in supervised internships. These real-life experiences will help prepare you for entry-level positions upon graduation.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications with a major in Public Relations:

  • Introductory Advertising and Public Relations
  • Research
  • Law and Ethics
  • Graphic Design
  • Public Relations Writing and an additional writing course
  • Public Relations Campaigns
  • PR Management

A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. During Maymester, SJMC students travel to Munich, Germany for a unique and cultural experience. Print Journalism, Electronic Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising, and Visual Communications majors team up across traditional curriculum boundaries to produce stories across all media – old and new. Spring Break trips include Community, Culture and Communication in Jamaica and Public Relations Campaigns in Spain. SJMC also offers Freedom’s Messenger, a summer trip to various capitals across Europe. SJMC students can also enjoy semester-long study abroad experiences in England, Ireland, and Australia. Study abroad trips offer SJMC students academic courses, which will satisfy University graduation requirements. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. SJMC has a number of student organizations that can help enhance your experiences while at the University. The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is a professional organization that allows you to gain experience and network with professionals. The Society of Professional Journalists and the International Association of Business Communications are two additional organizations that offer students helpful resources and networking opportunities. You can also gain experience in the field through the annual Bateman case competition of PRSSA, competing with students from other universities across the country. You can also get involved in campus media through The Daily Gamecock, Carolina News and The Carolina Reporter. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding students. Each year the School of Journalism and Mass Communications awards a handful of scholarships to entering freshman. These include the Joseph W. and Dorothy Shoquist Fund, Journalism Scholarships, Rocky D. Harwood Scholarship, School of Journalism and Mass Communications Alumni Freshman Scholarship, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Freshman Scholarship. The School of Journalism and Mass Communications offers more than 65 additional scholarships each year.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Freshman students interested in an exciting and ever-changing career in the field of journalism and mass communications will benefit from the first-hand experience of professors in the fields of advertising, broadcast, print, public relations, and visual communications, all while taking a journalism section of University 101 and Journalism 201, an introduction to Mass Communications. The Journalism and Mass Communications Community hosts events including a welcome reception, etiquette dinner, discussion nights, and an interactive blog.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The School of Journalism has a searchable database of internship opportunities for their majors. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Advertising majors at the University of South Carolina have had a wide range of exciting and unique internship opportunities. Students have interned at leading public relations firms all over the United States, worked with a variety of political campaigns, and even interned with start-up non-profits.

Student Spotlight

Public Relations major Chelsie Paulson didn’t have to leave the state’s capital to find an outstanding internship opportunity. Chelsie interned in the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office of Andre Bauer. Her primary focus was on implementing an honorary system for our state’s centenarians. The Centenarian Society is South Carolina’s way of honoring its oldest citizens for their longevity and service to the state as well as a vehicle to publicize the demographic changes occurring due to the Baby Boomers. Her tasks included updating media databases, drafting press releases, interviewing centenarians, event planning, and interacting with local and national media. “Working on this project has allowed me to understand that you can do many things while interning somewhere, but the skills you acquire are what you take from the experience,” she said. Chelsie also had the opportunity to be a guest on two radio shows including The Teen Forum Talk Show and a local radio show on WOIC.

While interning at the State House, Chelsie also learned an important lesson in crisis communications. “During the time of the Governor Mark Sanford’s Appalachian Trail scandal, I was forced literally overnight to turn into a professional communicator,” she said. “I met and spoke with reporters and staffers from such noted national media as Fox News, Hard Ball with Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck Show, CNN, The Early Show, New York Times, NBC, ABC, Larry King Live, World News with Charlie Gibson, NPR, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Good Morning America.” Chelsie also was able to expand her experiences by working with non-profit organizations such as Samaritan’s Feet and Alonzo Mourning Charities. Chelsie offers some advice for current Public Relations students. “Make the most of college. There are an abundance of opportunities offered on campus and in the state’s capital. It’s almost impossible to not get involved, there are many avenues that suit anyone’s goals,” she said.  Chelsie’s experience proves you don’t have to go too far to land amazing opportunities. “My internship experience in Columbia is a great way to reveal that you don’t have to travel to New York City, Washington D.C., or Los Angeles to inherit a valuable experience. There is an abundance of opportunities right here in our state’s capital!”

Career Opportunities

What can you do with a major in public relations? Public Relations students most often seek staff writer positions with corporate, institutional or non-profit organizations, either in external communications or internal communications. Employment opportunities also exist in account management with public relation firms. Other opportunities include graphic design, event planning, media planning, writing, and editing. The average salary for Public Relations majors in the first five years after graduation is $38,000 - $42,000 for large cities and $28,000 - $32,000 for small cities.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

You don’t have to go far to put your degree to use! Kim Jamieson graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations from USC in 2006 and received her Masters of Mass Communication from USC in Journalism and Mass Communications in December 2008. She is currently serving as a Public Relations Specialist at Chernoff Newman in Columbia, S.C.  What began as an internship turned into a job she loves. Kim stays busy with a wide-range of responsibilities including comprehensive media monitoring and media analysis for clients, coordinating event logistics, scheduling interviews, and drafting media advisories, press releases, and articles. “One of the most exciting parts of my job is the variety if offers,” Kim said. “New projects come up on a regular basis and I have the opportunity to be a part of a wide array of events and causes. It’s really fun!”

While at Chernoff Newman, she has worked with renowned chefs including Food Network’s Bobby Flay and Alexandra Guarnaschelli, and Top Chef Richard Blaze. She also had the opportunity to ride in a Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected Armored vehicle. “Standing beside a vehicle whose tires are taller than you is exciting,” she said. Kim’s involvement in student organizations such as Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in addition to her curriculum as an undergraduate and graduate student helped prepare her for her position. She encourages current students to get started early and network. “You can’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Meeting people and asking questions is the only way others will know that you are in the job market,” she said.  “I always tell students that ask me how to get a job to take their resumes everywhere they go. In undergrad, I worked at a drive-thru Starbucks and I literally would hand my resumes out the window! From that, I went on two interviews.”

About the School of Journalism and Mass Communications

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina is one of 113 programs approved by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The School’s curriculum begins with a strong liberal arts base that expands into cutting-edge journalism and mass communication. The School’s primary focus is on educating students in developing professional skills in all areas of mass communications. Undergraduate students are able to specialize in one of five programs of study: Advertising, Public Relations, Electronic Journalism, Journalism and Visual Communications.

Points of Pride

  • We are the headquarters for the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association, the South Carolina Scholastic Broadcasters Association, and the Southern Interscholastic Press Association.
  • We are recognized as one of the leading journalism programs in the nation, offering the first nationally accredited degree program and the only nationally accredited graduate degree program in mass communications in South Carolina.
  • Our facilities include television studios, digital stereo radio control rooms and studios, and the Associated Press broadcast news service, plus complete photojournalism studios and print production facilities for electronic editing, graphics, and photocomposition. We also jointly operate Newsplex, a $2 million multimedia newsroom of the future, with Ifra, a German-based consortium of news publishers and news technology vendors.

Additional Resources.
Public Relations Website
School of Journalism and Mass Communication Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin