Public Relations Major

The study of public relations is focused on understanding how various communication channels and platforms are used to effectively communicate. Public Relations at Fairfield is concerned with ethical argument and advocacy, clear writing, understanding interpersonal relationships, and thinking critically about how to shape messages and narratives aimed at specific stakeholders. The study of Public Relations focuses on clear, effective, and ethical communication that creates change and advocates for those with the least access to wider audiences.

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 and crisis management 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 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 11 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, enroll in service-learning courses, 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 as follows:

The 11-course (33 credit) PR Major requires each of the following 7 courses (21 credits):
Public Relations Major Required Courses
COMM 1101Argument and Advocacy 13
COMM 1102Introduction to Public Relations 13
COMM 1130Mass Media and Society3
COMM 2220Introduction to Organizational Communication3
COMM 3324Crisis Communication3
COMM 2299Communication Research Methods 43
COMM 4999Capstone: Research Projects in Communication 23
Plus, PR Majors must choose at least 1 of the following Public-Relations Focused Elective courses (not COMM 4980) from any of the following (12 credits):12
Public Relations-Focused Electives
Public Relations Strategy Development
Public Relations Management and Campaigns
And/or (no more than three Elective courses – 9 credits) from the following:
Media-Focused Electives
Media Institutions
Gender, Sexuality, and Media
Communication and Popular Culture
Consumer Culture
Free Speech: Philosophical Origins to Digital Debates
Globalization, Media, and Culture
Misinformation in Digital Media
News Media and Democracy
Social Media
Non-Profit and Policy-Focused Electives
Interpersonal Communication Theories
Intercultural Communication
Alcohol, Addiction, and Culture
Family Communication
Relational Communication
Family Crisis Communication
Strategic Communications-Focused Electives
Leadership Communication
Organizational Communication and Advertising
Conflict Communication
Healthcare-Focused Electives
Interpersonal Communication Theories
Intercultural Communication
Alcohol, Addiction, and Culture
Health Communication
Communication in Healthcare Organizations
Health Risk Communication
Ethics and Medical Marketing Communication
Total Credits33

COMM 1101 and COMM 1102 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. COMM 1101 and COMM 1102 should be completed before taking the 2000, 3000, or 4000-level courses.


Students complete COMM 4999, the required capstone course, during their senior year.


A course taken as a required course can not “double count” as an elective. 


Students should enroll in Research Methods during their Sophomore year.


  • Under special circumstances, and with the approval from the Department Chair, double majors may "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 (COMM 4980) may 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 (COMM 4339 and COMM 4900) may each be taken twice for credit if the topics of the courses are different.