Public Relations Major

The study of Public Relations at Fairfield University focuses on clear, effective and ethical communication that creates change and advocates for those with the least access to wider audiences. The study of public relations is not simply about press releases or “spin,” but instead about understanding how various communication channels and platforms are used to effectively communicate. Public Relations at Fairfield University is concerned with ethical argument and advocacy, clear writing, understanding interpersonal relationships, and thinking critically about how to shape stories aimed at specific stakeholders.

By completing a major in public relations students will be able to:

  1. Apply the principles of primary and secondary research to public relations situations.
  2. Apply basic public relations theories and principles to practice.
  3. Create effective public relations plans across media platforms utilizing clear and effective writing.
  4. Deliver clear and effective presentations.
  5. Create ethically sound and socially responsible public relations plans.
  6. Synthesize broader liberal arts knowledge in the service of public relations plans.
  7. Identify optimal means of communication across various media platforms and channels, audience and situational contexts.
  8. Critically evaluate the work of others for clarity, appropriate style, ethical soundness and sensitivity.

The major in Public Relations is a demanding 33-credit course major for undergraduate students that will engage students in the study of strategic communication and prepare students for a broad range of careers. The Public Relations major consists of eleven three-credit courses. All public relations majors complete a set of seven required courses known as public relations foundations. Public relations majors must also complete one writing course, one ethics course, and two electives. With the aid of the communication faculty, students have the ability to focus their studies in several areas of interest and to develop a personalized trajectory that best suits their theoretical and applied interests. Public Relations majors are strongly encouraged to complete minors related to their areas of interest, to continue their foreign language beyond the intermediate level, to study abroad, and to pursue internships that allow for applied learning of theoretical material.

Students are encouraged to meet with faculty advisors to design a comprehensive academic plan that takes advantage of the varied offerings in the Communication Department as well as from complimentary majors, minors and programs across the University to fulfill their public relations major.

The requirements are detailed below:

Public Relations Foundations
CO 0101Argument and Advocacy 13
CO 0102Introduction to Public Relations 13
CO 0130Mass Media and Society3
CO 0201Persuasion3
CO 0220Introduction to Organizational Communication3
CO 0324Crisis Communication3
CO 0309Research Projects in Communication: Capstone 23
Writing Component
Select one of the following:3
News Writing
Business Writing
Issues in Professional Writing
Other approved course in English Writing
Ethics Component
Select one of the following:3
Ethics of Communications
Ethics of Media and Politics
Ethics in Government
Special Topics in Applied Ethics
Ethical Theory
Advanced Topics in Ethics
Other approved course in Applied Ethics or Philosophy
Elective Courses
Select two courses from the following: 36
Media-Focused Electives
Ethics of Media and Politics
Media Institutions
Information Technologies: Economics, Law, and Policy
Gender, Sexuality, and Media
Communication and Popular Culture
Consumer Culture
Comparative Media Systems
Social Media
Media Audiences
Technoculture and Information Society
Fundamentals of Programming
CS 0141
World of Publishing I
News Writing
News Writing II: Digital Design
Journalism Editing and Design
Writing the Feature Story
Photojournalism
Issues in News Writing
Literary Journalism
Digital Marketing
Web Development
Non-Profit and Policy-Focused Electives
Ethics of Media and Politics
Interpersonal Communication Theories
Intercultural Communication
Alcohol, Addiction and Culture
Family Communication
Relational Communication
Grant and Proposal Writing
Public Administration
Political Parties and Interest Groups
American Public Policy
Media and Politics
Corporate Communications-Focused Electives
Leadership Communication
Organizational Communication and Advertising
Conflict Communication
Fundamentals of Programming
CS 0141
Business Writing
Technical Writing
Issues in Professional Writing
Persuasive Writing
World of Publishing I
Principles of Marketing
Consumer Behavior
Advertising
Digital Marketing
Marketing Research
Global Marketing
Marketing Channels
Business-to-Business Marketing
Media Strategy
Public Relations
Web Development
Healthcare-Focused Electives
Interpersonal Communication Theories
Intercultural Communication
Alcohol, Addiction and Culture
Health Communication
Ethics and Medical Marketing Communication
Communication in Healthcare Organizations
Risk Communication
Total Credits33
1

CO 0101 and CO 0102 are the foundational courses in the public relations major. Students should plan to take both courses during the same semester, preferably during their first or second year. CO 0101 and CO 0102 should be completed before taking the 200- and 300-level courses.

2

Students complete CO 0309, the required capstone course, during their senior year.

3

A course taken as a required course can not “double count” as an elective. Students can select electives from one focus or multiple foci.

Notes:

  • No course that counts toward the Public Relations major can be applied to "double count" for the University core.
  • With the approval from the Department Chair, double majors can "double count" up to two courses from their second major as public relations electives. Some second major and minor programs may also choose to "double count" public relations courses to satisfy the second major or minor requirements. Students should consult those second major or minor chairs for approval.
  • Internships (CO 0399) can be counted toward the major only once. Although two internships can be completed for academic credit (up to 6 credits), only 3 credits will count toward the Public Relations major.
  • Independent studies do not count toward the Public Relations major.
  • Special topics courses (CO 0329, CO 0339, and CO 0349) can each be taken twice for credit if the titles of the courses are different.