Thanks to the multitude of public relations scholarships available today, there's no longer a reason to let your financial circumstances stand in the way of a budding PR career.
A wide variety of professional associations offer free tuition money in the form of scholarships to support qualified college students pursuing a public relations degree to become media or communications specialists. In these programs, you'll develop the practical skills needed to effectively craft press releases that will create or maintain a favorable public perception of your represented organization. With our society's increased emphasis on social media and customer relations, you'll likely find your PR degree a good investment with solid job prospects.
Below we've highlighted 20 of the most lucrative public relations scholarships available to help you follow your outspoken passions into the media spotlight.
1. BCA Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 15th
Since 1998, the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) has hosted an annual scholarship program to provide $1,000 to undergraduate students and $500 to graduate students who are pursuing a degree in public relations, communications, or journalism. Eligible candidates must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, be planning a career in Baptist communications, be enrolled in an accredited U.S. institution, and exhibit professional potential. Applications should be accompanied by an official transcript, current resume, three reference letters, and a one-page essay describing why the applicant deserves to receive the scholarship.
2. Betsy Plank PRSSA Scholarships
Deadline: June 5th
In honor of the first woman to lead the Public Relations Student Society of America and receive three of the Society's top honors for professionals, the Betsy Plank PRSSA Scholarships are awarded each year for up to $5,000 to junior and senior undergraduate students preparing for a career in public relations. Recipients will be chosen based on their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, practical work/internship experience, and commitment to the public relations field. For consideration, applicants must deliver a signed application, one letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor, and a 300-word statement outlining their PR goals.
3. Dawn K. McDowell Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
Through the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), the Dawn K. McDowell Memorial Scholarship is presented annually by the Foundation for the Advancement of Education to honor a past NSPRA President who passed away from cancer in 2006 at the youthful age of 50. Eligible candidates must be employed full-time in a professional school public relations position, have significant responsibility for managing communications of a school system or educational agency, be state chapter members in good standing, and have never participated in the NSPRA Seminar. Recipients will have the full costs of registration and travel covered for pursuing professional development at the current year's National Seminar.
4. Dr. Bob Davis, APR, CPRC, Scholarship
Deadline: February 20th
With the mission of supporting the development of students wishing to enter the public relations field, the Dr. Bob Davis, APR, CPRC, Scholarship is granted annually for $1,500 through the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA). Candidates must be incoming juniors or seniors, be currently enrolled full-time in an upper-division public relations degree, be attending an accredited university in Florida, have membership to an FPRA student chapter, and carry a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students will write a 800-word essay describing the most important issues affecting public relations today and how valuable a PR education is for addressing them.
5. Dr. Joe McAdoo Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 6th
Each year, the Southwest Missouri Public Relations Society of America (SWMO PRSA) offers the Dr. Joe McAdoo Memorial Scholarship for $1,500 to an undergraduate student beginning their junior or senior year with a declared major in public relations, communications, or another closely related field. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at the College of the Ozarks, Drury University, Evangel University, Missouri State University, Missouri Southern State University, or Southwest Baptist University with good academic standing. In addition to the tuition funding, recipients will attend the chapter's annual professional development seminar free-of-charge.
6. Gary Yoshimura Scholarship
Deadline: January 26th
Sponsored by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in honor of a consummate professional who worked in corporate public relations at Philips Electronics before passing away at just 42 years old in 2000, the Gary Yoshimura Scholarship is awarded annually for $2,400. Eligible applicants must be pursuing a post-secondary degree in public relations, have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, be PRSSA members, exhibit financial need, and be enrolled full-time at an accredited U.S. institution. Along with the completed application, all candidates must attach an official transcript, at least one letter of recommendation, and a 1,000-word essay describing how they've overcome a personal or professional challenge.
7. HPRA Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 23rd
Annually, the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) in Los Angeles offers five scholarship awards for $2,000 apiece to outstanding students of Hispanic descent who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in public relations or related communications fields. Qualified candidates must reside or attend school in California, be enrolled full-time in a four-year accredited college, have junior or senior-level status, and carry a minimum major GPA of 3.0. Applicants must provide an application form, current letter of recommendation, official college transcript, writing samples, and a two-page personal statement explaining their involvement in the Hispanic community and/or future career aspirations.
8. John D. Graham Scholarship
Deadline: June 12th
Funded through Fleishman-Hillard in honor of the agency's chairman and PR industry pioneer, the John D. Graham Scholarship is presented for $3,000 annually to an outstanding undergrad currently enrolled in their junior or senior year of an accredited public relations or journalism program. Applicants must be seeking a career in public relations, show academic achievement, demonstrate leadership abilities, have practical internship or work experience in PR, and possess good writing skills. Applications must be accompanied by a PRSSA advisor's signature, three letters of recommendation, an official transcript, and one-page resume.
John D. Graham Scholarship
220 East 42nd Street 12th Floor
New York, NY 10017
9. Kirk Sutlive Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Administered by the Georgia Press Association since 1986, the Kirk Sutlive Scholarship is designed to provide up to $2,000 for junior or senior-level undergraduate students who are majoring in public relations at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. Eligible candidates must have resided in Georgia for at least two years, exhibit financial need, have a career interest in newspaper journalism, and be recommended by a college professor. As part of the application, students will need to enclose a college transcript, anticipated budget plan, school photograph, tax return, and samples of their previous work.
10. LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship Program
Deadline: February 27th
On an annual basis, the LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) sponsors a large scholarship program that provides $2,500 each for 20 undergraduate students and 20 graduate students who are attending four-year accredited U.S. institutions with a major in public relations, marketing, or advertising. Applicants must represent an ethnic minority group, have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, be enrolled full-time with at least 12 units per term, and carry a minimum overall GPA of 2.75 or better. Scholarship recipients will also be given the valuable opportunity to participate in a two-day professional development workshop in Chicago that June.
11. May C. Randazzo Scholarship Fund
Deadline: April 14th
In honor of a beloved public relations manager at Graphic Controls who passed away in 1997 at just 57 years old after a brief illness, the May C. Randazzo Scholarship Fund is administered through the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of the PRSA to deliver $1,000 awards to outstanding junior and senior-level undergraduate students. Eligible candidates must be attending a four-year college in Western New York, have a declared major in public relations, have a high level of scholastic achievement, exhibit unmet financial need, and be actively involved in community service. Awards are paid directly to the recipient's university in two equal segments at the beginning of each semester.
12. Ofield Dukes Multicultural Student Award
Deadline: June 12th
Also offered through the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), the Ofield Dukes Multicultural Student Award was created in 2011 to honor the legacy of a PR leader and provide a $1,000 scholarship for high-achieving students of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native America, Alaskan Native, or Pacific Islander ancestry. Qualified candidates must be entering their junior year of undergraduate studies, be pursuing a career in public relations, have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and have a commitment to social responsibility. Selection is based on academic achievement, community service involvement, writing skills, letters of recommendation, extra-curricular achievements, and leadership abilities.
13. PenSPRA Public Relations Scholarship
Deadline: March 13th
In order to encourage graduating high school seniors to enter the field of public relations, the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association (PenSPRA) offers the annual Public Relations Scholarship for $1,000 to three students from Eastern, Central, and Western Pennsylvania. Eligible candidates must be accepted at a two or four-year institution, have maintained a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, be graduating from a public school, and be interested in studying public relations or journalism in college. Applications must include a transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a 250-essay describing career goals.
14. Philip N. McCombs Scholarship Fund
Deadline: December 31st
Named in memory of the founder of the San Francisco Public Relations Round Table (SFPRRT) for over two decades, the Philip N. McCombs Scholarship Fund provides awards for $1,500 to $3,000 annually to full and part-time students pursuing a degree course in public relations or any other communications-related field. Applicants must have at least sophomore standing, be taking at least two public relations courses, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5, and show a keen interest in PR through involvement in professional activities. Students must be endorsed by a faculty member in public relations with a letter of recommendation to be eligible.
15. PRPLI Student Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 25th
Since 1990, the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI) has offered a Student Scholarship Program to award up to two $1,000 scholarship annually to full-time juniors, seniors, and post-graduate students currently studying public relations, communications, and/or marketing. Qualified applicants must have permanent residence in Nassau or Suffolk County on Long Island, be enrolled in an accredited four-year college, aspire to work in the public relations field, and have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Priority will be given to candidates who have internship experience in a public relations capacity at a business, non-profit organization, or government agency.
16. Randall G. Smith Memorial Scholarship
In memory of the founder of the Orange County Public Affairs Association (OCPAA) and one of the county's most influential non-elected officials who passed away in 2003, the Randall G. Smith Memorial Scholarship is presented each year for up to $2,000 to let his generous spirit live on. Eligible applicants must be enrolled full-time with at least 12 units per semester at Santa Ana College, have at least sophomore status, and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Preference is granted to students who demonstrate Smith's passion for governmental relations by pursuing a degree in public affairs, political science, public relations, or communications.
17. Ron Culp Scholarship for Mentorship
Deadline: June 12th
Named in honor of a partner at the global PR firm Ketchum and leader of the agency's Corporate Practice in North America, the Ron Culp Scholarship for Mentorship is distributed through the PRSSA annually to provide $1,000 to a college student entering his or her senior year in recognition of their mentoring of others. Candidates must be current juniors, be majoring in public relations or journalism, be attending an accredited four-year U.S. college, and have good standing in a PRSSA chapter. Individuals must be nominated by someone who has experienced first-hand their mentoring abilities and dedication to public relations.
18. Sally Heet Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 18th
Established in 1896 in memory of a good friend of Puget Sound PRSA who was a long-time public relations practitioner and influential press secretary on Capitol Hill, the Sally Heet Memorial Scholarship provides a $3,500 tuition award annually to an outstanding public relations student. Qualified candidates must be enrolled full-time as sophomores or juniors, be matriculated in a college in Washington state, show academic achievement with a minimum GPA of 3.0, and exhibit an aptitude for public relations through internships or extra-curricular activities. Applicants are asked to allow one to two weeks for their college to process official transcript requests and meet the deadline.
19. Stephen D. Pisinski Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: June 5th
Developed by Allison & Partners in memory of a 25-year public relations agency veteran in 2002, the Stephen D. Pisinski Memorial Scholarship is awarded through the PRSSA annually for $1,500 to encourage student members to reach their fullest potential in PR leadership. All applicants must have a declared major in public relations or communications, be in their junior or senior year of undergraduate studies, have PRSSA membership, and carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.3. Completed applications should enclose a current resume, official transcripts, two writing samples, two letters of recommendation, and a 1,000-word essay stating their career goals in public relations.
20. Vernon C. & Mary H. Schranz Public Relations Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
Annually, the Vernon C. & Mary J. Schranz Public Relations Scholarship is granted for $1,000 to an outstanding undergraduate public relations major who exhibits exceptional potential for leadership in their prospective field. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at Ball State University in Indiana, carry at least 12 hours of coursework or two hours of internship, have a minimum overall GPA of 2.6, and have a history of completing outstanding medic service on or off-campus. For consideration, eligible students must submit copies of one to three samples of their published and/or academic work.
Vernon C. & Mary H. Schranz Public Relations Scholarship
2000 West University Avenue
Muncie, IN 47306
If you're a creative and outgoing person who thrives under pressure, can communicate clearly, and always remain well-versed in popular culture trends, then you could be the perfect fit for a career in public relations. However, you'll likely need to pay your dues first by completing a post-secondary degree program and fine-tuning your skills with practical practice. Take advantage of these great public relations scholarships to lower the financial burden of tuition while preparing for a fast-paced career in shaping public options.