The column-lined Reese Phifer Hall on The University of Alabama campus.

Public Relations Program Named No. 1 in Country by PRWeek

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama was recently recognized for offering the nation’s top public relations program.

The UA Department of Advertising and Public Relations was named the Most Outstanding Education Program by PRWeek during the 2020 PRWeek Awards in late July. It is the department’s ninth recognition as a finalist for the award, and first selection as the top program.

“This honor is indicative of the continued excellence of our advertising and public relations department,” said Dr. Mark Nelson, dean of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences. “It is a testament to our dedicated faculty and staff, who go the extra mile to ensure the success of our students. We are proud to have such a quality academic program with outstanding experiential learning opportunities.”

The department finished ahead of the four other finalists, Boston University College of Communication, NYU School of Professional Studies, Syracuse University/Newhouse and Pennsylvania State University.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by PRWeek as the most outstanding public relations education program in the nation,” said Dr. Damion Waymer, department chair for advertising and public relations. “It is evidence of The University of Alabama having one of the best student-run agencies in the nation, a decorated faculty, award-winning students and a highly-regarded Industry Immersion program that gives students exposure to top companies and agencies.

“We have always believed that we have a very special public relations program, and it is great to be recognized officially in this regard!”

Additionally, two UA students studying advertising and public relations were top five finalists for the Most Outstanding PR Student Award. Maribeth McClenny from Tallahassee, Florida, was named an Honorable Mention, and Annie Hollon from Flower Mound, Texas, was a finalist.

This is the fourth consecutive year at least one UA student has been a finalist, including back-to-back winners of the award in 2018 and 2019.

The judging criteria for submissions consider each program’s faculty contributions to public relations in teaching, research and service to the industry, and the program’s initiatives in connecting current and former students to industry in three areas of job and internship placements, speakers and events, and consulting and experiential learning.

Submitted entries for the PRWeek Awards are chosen by a panel of judges including PR education professionals and senior PR professionals from agency, corporate, nonprofit and government teams.


Rand Nelson;