Graduate Programs in Communications and PR – The Ontario Edition!

October 27, 2006 at 8:04 pm 6 comments

 Much like Linda (who also posted on the topic of PR and communications education), I was a fourth year university student debating what I should do after graduation. As a Communications and English double major, I constantly got the question “what are you going to do with THAT degree?” and I would always answer that I’d hoped to find a career in public relations. So in April I began a frantic job search to prove them all wrong… my degree CAN land me a job in PR. However, I soon realized one thing – I was going to need some practical skills, and thus lead me to this program. As a self-proclaimed geek, I had looked into both Masters programs and post-graduate certificates (on my own time… for fun) so this topic was of great interest to me!

My area of research focused on Ontario colleges and universities that offer Certificate and Masters programs in PR and Communications. These graduate programs give scholars from almost any discipline the versatility to utilize their previous education, interests, and skills to find work in a wide range of Communication fields. Like the Public Relations profession itself, Communications graduate programs in Ontario have experienced a great evolution in a short period of time.
Like Linda, I did not come across any national standards for PR and Communications graduate programs. However, I did find that Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities have established standards for post-graduate programs in Corporate Communications and/or Public Relations. These were created to encourage consistency across all PR college programs in Ontario. The standards ensure graduates are able to: write clear, targeted communication materials, execute public relations plans, and complete all work in accordance with PR codes of professional ethics, standards, and laws. For Masters programs, universities in Ontario set their own program standards and determine their own academic and admissions policies. The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) has also established some recommended standards for PR programs to meet the needs of the industry.

A graduate education in Communications or PR will not necessarily guarantee an individual a job as a PR practitioner. But as the profession of public relations continues to expand, so will the requirements to enter the field and advance within it. This education will open the door to a career in Public Relations, but what happens after graduation is the responsibility of the individual.

So all my fellow PR (soon to be) grads… you can make your versatile education work for you. And best of all, soon you can share your success with the people who asked, “What are you going to do with THAT education?”

Jessica Bowes. 

Edited by: Jesse Phillips

Links for you to enjoy….

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities – PR program standards
The website is from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and describes how Public Relations programs are standardized by the government of Ontario. These standards are discussed as well as, the presentation of learning outcomes, accreditation of programs, and how the standards were developed and are updated.

Why Study PR?  By Eleanor Baird
I thought this was an interesting student-written article investigating whether a post-graduate certificate is really necessary for a career in Public Relations. The author interviews students, professors, and Public Relations practitioners.

Canadian Public Relations Society’s Recommended Standards for Public Relations Education
 This page (from our very own class website) lists the recommended standards in Public Relations education from the Canadian Public Relations Society. These were created to maintain a high standard of education within the profession.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Observations after the first couple of weeks… PR Resources on the Internet

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prclass  |  October 29, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Fantastic blog jessica, you write extremely well.

    I also did the frantic “now what am i gonna do with my life” after i graduated university last year. And of course, i also had everyone i talked to about school ask me what exactly i could do with a degree in communications. at the time i really didnt know what to say., but now i realize that a education in CC/PR can enable a person to do such a diverse range of occupations. so now its more of a question of what am i not going to do or capavle of doing.

    – dustin

  • 2. prclass  |  October 30, 2006 at 1:50 am

    Great blog Jessica.

    Creating some sort of standards among the PR community will ensure consistency in the field. I agree that standards would ensure graduates are able to: write clear, target communication materials, execute public relations plans, and complete all work in accordance with PR codes of professional ethics, standards, and laws. Following the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) recommendations for industry standards is a great start to recognizing the field of public relations as a reputable industry.

    Jasmine Foreman

  • 3. prclass  |  October 30, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Like you, I too had the frantic search for a career after a obtaining a B.A. in Communications and Sociology. Reluctant to go down the path as an educated waitress, I thought college would be the best way to go to obtain the practical skills needed to succeed in the PR world. Most colleges that I consulted requested the same background and achievements, however their program content tended to vary. It may be beneficial to development some type of standard across the board for PR programs, to ensure that all students are receiving the same education to ready them for the field. It’s interesting that different schools offer different PR choices, however, some may lack in areas that are essential to PR, therefore hindering that student’s opportunities.
    Great blog Jess.

    Cheryl Calic

  • 4. prclass  |  October 30, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Hi – here is some background on the Ministry Program Standards

    In Ontario the Ministry Program Standards are put together to ensure graduates of programs will leave with a minimum standard common to all programs. It helps ensure that the Ontario Graduate Certificate has universal meaning across all colleges that deliver a PR program. National standards would be welcome.

    I was on the provincial committee that wrote the standards for post-grad PR programs. There were approximately 15 to 20 Ontario PR stakeholders from various PR sectors invited to three facilitated sessions in Toronto. The process spanned a period of about six months. The publication of the standards took a couple more months. There was someone from corporate, agency, medicine, education, not-for-profit etc. Besides me, there were two other program coordinators at the meetings – one from Humber (Sheridan?) and one from Centennial.

    A facilitator from the MTCU – Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MET at that time) encouraged us to determine the primary skills necessary for a graduate. Over the course of the three sessions we distilled the group’s input into the items that are currently listed. Any new post-grad PR programs that begin have to meet those standards in their curriculum submissions. This does not preclude programs from exceeding those standards or having areas of specialization. Hence some programs appear to be different.

    Every five years our program curriculum is reviewed by an advisory committee of local PR people and they recommend changes which we then implement. This is standard practice in the college sector.


  • 5. Steph Harkin  |  October 31, 2006 at 12:31 am

    Hey Jbo;

    I agree totally with you!!!
    I was also freaking out after university, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself. I constantly had people asking me what I was going to do after university….and I never really could answer them. After finding out about this program, I finally felt complete. I was happy to know that my english degree was able to get me into this program. I agree with Cheryl as well, I think that it is beneficial to have standard education that prepares you for the PR program. I also liked what Dana had to say about every 5 years the program is advised by a committee of PR people. I think that its important because they are the ones that know what is beneficial and what isn’t.

  • 6. Jamie Gill  |  November 1, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    Jessica N. Bowes,

    Like Dustin, Jasmine and Steph Harkin, I agree with you that PR Schools need standards. Like Jasmine said standards are necessary so people have the basic skills, and requirements to work in the PR field. With 2 months into school, it is evident and I am sure Jasmine, Dustin and Steph Harkin agree, we have learned that PR requires alot of work and effort. With this being said, standards are necessary so people can match up to the field of PR and all the requirements it requires.

    Good Job Again Jessica Bowes,

    Jamie Gill


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