The Department of Communication Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University currently offers a four-year baccalaureate degree in the professional field of public relations.
The Bachelor of Public Relations is respected nationally and it attracts students from across Canada - and beyond. With the support of hundreds of employers across the country, our co-operative education program ensures that our undergraduate students develop the solid professional skills and knowledge required to begin careers in public relations.
Public Relations Today
The modern public relations role as approached at the Mount, is a management function within organizations - profit-making, non-profit and government that assists organizations to develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with their publics. These publics may include employees, volunteers, the community, the media, government, clients/consumers, members, financial donors and so on.
Public relations practitioners are the critical link between organizations and their publics and must take on the role of organizational conscience as the concept of social responsibility becomes increasingly important to organizational survival. The modern public relations professional provides strategic counsel to management and the BPR provides the foundation for this role.
Whereas modern public relations is a managerial role, taking its place alongside more traditional management functions such as finance, human resources, research and development, and marketing, there is also a distinctly technical side to the development and implementation of communication tools and tactics designed to build relationships and convey messages.
PhilosophyThe public relations department of Mount Saint Vincent University holds the following beliefs about public relations as a field of practice and study:
- public relations is a management function that uses communication strategies to help achieve organizational objectives.
- social responsibility forms the basic premise for the practice of public relations.
- public relations consists of a process of research, planning, implementation and evaluation.
- public relations requires a combination of both professional and technical skills.
- the practice of public relations is concerned with the development and nurturance of long-term, mutally beneficial relationships between an organization and its internal and external publics.
- public relations draws from a multi-disiplinary theoretical and practical base.
Further, we believe the following about education for the professional field of public relations:
- the purpose of education for public relations is to foster the growth of professional practice where its practitioners have in common a shared foundation in the theories, ethical foundations, and practices of public relations.
- public relations is a social science and the theoretical aspect of education for the disipline is approached as such.
- education for public relations must have a broad base in the arts and sciences.
- education for public relations recognizes both the technical and managerial aspects of the practice.
- education for the professional practice of public relations requires diverse approaches which may include traditional classroom lectures and discussions, laboratory experiences, seminars, self-directed reading and writing, guided client work, open learning, independent work experience and co-operative education.
- basic undergraduate education for the practice of public relations must prepare students to contine their formal education at the graduate level.
- education in public relations is a life-long process.
ObjectivesFollowing completion of the requirements for the Bachelor of Public Relations (Co-operative Education) degree, the student will have:
developed an understanding of the function of the public relations practitioner in the individual practice setting, and of the lace of the profession in society.
developed critical analysis and decision-making skills that can be applied in the management of
public relations situations.
developed the practical skills required of the modern public relations practitioner including writing, public speaking audiovisual development, broadcast media production, managing and so on.
begun to develop a professional identity in the field.
developed the ability to work independently and in groups to meet specific objectives
In the mid 1970s, members of the Canadian Public Relations Society began to work with faculty at Mount Saint Vincent University to establish the first professional degree in public relations in Canada. Research conducted by the society into the needs in the marketplace indicated that university-educated professionals would be in high demand in the latter half of the 20th century.
The first group of students entered the program in 1977, and four years later 24 students made up the first graduating class. Co-operative education was part of the program from early on as an option, but in 2001 the department introduced a co-operative education component as a requirement of the degree.
More than 1,500 students have graduated to date and are pursuing rewarding careers in public relations. Many have used their BPR (Co-op) as an entry point to graduate programs in business and public administration, law and communications. While other Canadian universities have introduced public relations curricula with degrees in Applied Arts or Communication, the Mount remains the only one to give a Bachelor of Public Relations (Co-operative Education).