Public Relations

Program Format

Online and evenings
(Ankeny and WDM Campuses)
8-week courses

Program Information

128 credit hours
Faculty Profiles


$415/ credit hour

When Can I Start?

6 start times/year
Fall, Spring or Summer Semester


Find out more

Simpson’s public relations program helps students learn tools and techniques to tell compelling stories and engage audiences.  It is more than marketing and selling products; it’s telling an organization’s stories.  It’s about building relationships and managing an organization’s reputation through ongoing, interactive communication.

Public relations is where strategy and creativity meet in video, audio, print, digital and social media - and measurable objectives prove communication strategies are working.

Required Major Courses (44 credits)

COMM 101: Introduction to Communication & Media Studies 4cr.

An introductory examination of the practices and theories that inform the study of human communication as a social and cultural phenomenon. Students consider quantitative, qualitative and critical social-science research into the processes and effects of communication in interpersonal, organizational and mass communication contexts. The course also provides students with a first look at the variety of professional opportunities awaiting Communication & Media Studies graduates. (CIVIC)

COMM 211: Beginning News-writing & Reporting 4cr.

Study of the fundamentals of news writing, including methods of news judgment, news gathering and modern news style. Emphasis will be placed on the coverage of breaking news events. (WRITCOM)

COMM 223: Principles of Public Relations 4cr.

Survey of the history, theory and practice of public relations - focusing on public opinion, media relations, employee relations, community and consumer relations, reputation management and crisis communication. The course will introduce the four-step process used in PR campaigns. Offered fall and spring. (ORALCOM)

COMM 301: Mass Media Law & Ethics 4cr.

Examination of the traditions and problems of a free and responsible system of mass communication. First Amendment theory and selected legal topics in communication, including defamation, privacy, sedition, obscenity, access, contempt, lottery, copyright, governmental regulation of broadcast and new media, and commercial speech. Also, the course considers the application of philosophy and ethics to the work of professionals in mass communication. (ETHICS)

COMM 311: Editing & Design 4cr.

The study of story and photographic editing and modern publication design and production, including instruction in desktop publishing systems. Prerequisite: COMM-211.

COMM 348: Writing for Public Relations 4cr.

Development of communication materials, strategies and key messages that organizations use to reach different publics. Prewriting, preparation and editing will be emphasized. This course will focus on printed materials and electronic media. Prerequisites: COMM-211 and COMM-223. Offered every fall. (WRITCOM)

COMM 356: Public Relations Research 4cr.

An introduction to research methods used in public relations, including industry and organizational research, surveys, polls, focus groups and interviews. The course will introduce methods for recording and interpreting research results and highlight relevant ethical issues. Students will analyze case studies and complete a public relations research project. Prerequisites: COMM 223. (INFOLIT,SCIREASON)

COMM 319: Internship 4cr.

An off-campus practical experience in a communication-related professional setting. The internship offers an opportunity for study in a prepared and monitored individual learning setting. Prerequisite: 4.0 credits of Comm 155 and permission of instructor. Credit arranged. (Repeatable to a maximum of 16 credits.)

Choose One: Production Course 4cr.

  • COMM 221: Video Production - Students will learn to write and report news stories using video technology. Students will learn the components of a traditional television newscast and the skills to produce, write and report for such newscast. In addition students will study and put into practice basic videography and non-linear editing skills. (ORALCOM)
  • COMM 271: Audio Production - An introduction to audio programs that enhance multimedia projects. Students will learn basic functions plus the computer programs that will help them in their learning. Students will learn how to interview, cut commercials, make promos and other experiences in working with sound. Prerequisite: Comm 211.
  • COMM 315: Multimedia Journalism - Experiential, laboratory-type course designed to teach students the basic skills required to produce multimedia journalism packages in a professional setting. Students will work individually and in teams to produce audiovisual content for online display, using a variety of technologies and storytelling techniques to investigate and present subject matter of their choosing. Techniques to be covered include slideshows, podcasts, Web videos, short-form writing and interactive graphics. Prerequisite: COMM 211.

At least 2 semesters of the following courses (each 2 credits) 4cr.

  • COMM 155: Professional Skills Practicum - Experience working in coverged-media environments via assignments for the Simpson College student newspaper, online news service, yearbook, radio, television and integrated marketing communication agencies. Students must ordinarily complete two semesters of entry-level work before being considered for management positions in student media. Students must complete two semesters of this entry-level practicum before being eligible to complete an internship. Prerequisite: COMM-211 or COMM-222. Offered Fall and Spring. OR
  • COMM 156: Public Relations Practicum - Experience working in a public relations-based environment through the connection with the Central Iowa PRSA chapter. Working on PR-related projects, hosting professional speakers, and contributing to the general operation of Simpson's PRSSA chapter. Offered Fall/Spring.

COMM 365: Public Relations Seminar 4cr.

A capstone course focused on public relations campaigns. Real-world case studies will be reviewed in terms of four criteria: research, objectives, programming and evaluation. Students will work in teams to develop campaigns for real or fictional clients. Prerequisites: COMM-348 & COMM-356. Offered every Spring. (COLLABLDR,ORALCOM)

I have already been able to utilize so many different aspects of my PR degree.

Communication is such an important part of what I do – and quite honestly that can be said about most careers out there.

No matter if I am being interviewed about my business, marketing my business or communicating with a client – communications and ethics are two vital components.

Courtney Conlin, current PR Major