In 1971, Howard University became the first historically black college or university to offer a public relations course. Within 10 years, a full sequence of courses was offered to students, and by 1986, the Department of Journalism began offering public relations as a major sequence. Students who major in public relations take courses intended to provide them with strong writing, presentation, research and strategy thinking skills. Both academic and industry professionals teach students to think strategically to ensure they are well equipped to become industry professionals able to take a comprehensive, analytical approach to solving the issues, problems and challenges they will face as public relations practitioners.
Unlike many universities, public relations majors not only build their knowledge base through a broad range of liberal arts courses, they are also required to have a minor, which allows them to develop a specialty to help them focus their careers upon graduation. After completing their mandatory courses, they begin to concentrate on courses within the public relations field. After completing an introductory course, they take the following courses: Public Relations Writing I, Public Relations Writing II, Advanced Public Relations and CapComm, which is the Department of Journalism’s student-run advertising and public relations agency. In addition, students are required to complete a supervised 120-hour internship providing them with “real world” work experience. In the past, students have obtained internships at organizations such as the World Bank, Washington Wizards, Black Entertainment Television, USA Today, Fleishman-Hillard, Edelman, Marriott and a host of corporate and nonprofit organizations, public relations agencies and trade associations.
Many students from Howard University’s public relations sequence have achieved notable accomplishments, including the PRSSA Golden Key Award and the prestigious Daniel J. Edelman/PRSSA Award. Public relations faculty members have received numerous national and international awards such as the Public Relations Educator of the Year and PR Week’s Top-30-Under 30 Award. In addition, alumni of the public relations sequence have worked at major agencies, including Edelman, Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman Hillard, Ketchum Public Relations and Hagar Sharp. Other public relations graduates have embarked on communications careers at government agencies, the White House, AARP, Congressional Black Caucus, The Gap, Kraft Foods, Mobil Oil, MCI, Sony Records, Reader’s Digest and Johnson Publishing.
In addition to being the first historically black college or university to offer a public relations course, Howard University was also the first to have a chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The chapter is named in honor of D. Parke Gibson, a practitioner who popularized target marketing toward African Americans. Today, it is a thriving student organization offering students opportunities to build relationships with public relations practitioners; understand current theories and procedures of the public relations industry; obtain internships, scholarships and awards; as well as practical experience gained by serving clubs, organizations and companies in need of strategic communications assistance.
PRSSA Advisor, Dr. Tia C. M. Tyree, provides Jarrod Jackson with a PRSSA Certificate of Membership.
Each student must present a well-organized, comprehensive and professional portfolio demonstrating effective advertising or public relations projects completed since attending Howard University. The portfolio can be a traditional or electronic body of work, including, but not limited to, class work, homework, personal projects and assignments from internships and jobs. The intent of the portfolio is to provide students with the opportunity to prove they have acquired the professional competencies of their respective industries. Portfolios are assessed against 19 criteria by selected Department of Journalism faculty, professionals and the CapComm Lab instructors.
CapComm Lab | Graduation Scheme | Career Opportunities | Faculty