The Canadian Public Relations Society

Advancing Public Relations Education in Canada: Pathways to the Profession

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

By Jill Rutherford

In between finishing a Master’s degree and running her own public relations consultancy, Colleen Killingsworth, MCM, APR, ABC, FCPRS, kept especially busy leading the development of a program to advance public relations education in Canada as Presiding Officer of CPRS’ National Council on Education.

Launched in June during the CPRS National Conference in Saint John, Pathways to the Profession is a comprehensive program that will formally recognize public relations and communications management education programs in Canada. It was developed over the course of the past three years by the National Council on Education, in conjunction with academic and professional public relations communities across the country.

The program outlines performance measures, course content and a course framework that schools can follow, and is organized along five specific pathways to the PR profession: technical, career, management, leadership and scholar. The goal is that the recently published guidelines for curriculum development and program design will help educational institutions in Canada produce the next generation of public relations practitioners. Pathways also aims to help public relations programs adequately incorporate current best practice standards into their curriculum – and identify emerging trends – in order to best prepare students for the demands of their ever-changing profession.

Pathways to the Profession offers an educational standard for public relations programs which Canadian post-secondary institutions can follow,” said Colleen. “For years we’ve heard about the importance of having a standard approach to educating up-and-coming public relations professionals. Not only will the Pathways help facilitate consistent educational standards across the country, it also shows the commitment of our colleagues to advancing the practice of public relations in Canada.”

Post-secondary institutions that meet Pathways’ criteria can apply to be recognized by the National Council on Education for a term of five years. Institutions are encouraged to self-select one or more pathways that best reflect their course offerings in order to help students select the educational path that best suits their career goals.

Pathways to the Profession offers an outcomes-based approach consistent with the best practice standards and benchmarks that are a hallmark of the curriculum in our four-year Bachelor of Communication – Public Relations degree,” said Jane McNichol, Chair, Public Relations Program, Mount Royal University. “As the profession continues to evolve from an applied art to a strategic management function, the Pathways framework bolsters the academic discipline as we prepare our students to face the challenges of a transforming work environment.”

Much like accreditation provides more senior practitioners with the opportunity to showcase their expertise and depth and breadth of public relations knowledge, Pathways also provides public relations students and recent graduates with the opportunity to take a Public Relations Knowledge (PRK) exam. This exam is an opportunity for students to demonstrate to potential employers their body of knowledge of public relations and communications management and that they are prepared for entry-level positions within the industry.

To learn more about this exciting new step in the development of public relations education in Canada, please visit or contact Colleen at


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