UAB first Alabama University to offer PR Certificate


BIRMINGHAM (Feb. 14, 2017) – University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) students studying public relations and communications will soon be able to earn the new Certificate in Principles of Public Relations mark through the Universal Accreditation Board.

The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations examination will be offered at UAB Spring 2017, making UAB the first university in Alabama to offer the program. The Certificate consists of extra course work completed just prior to, or immediately following, graduation and the successful completion of a computer-based examination.

Earning the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations contributes to the professional development of students as they enter the workplace and helps them stand out among their peers. The Certificate also helps set the stage for students to consider Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and other opportunities for professional growth throughout the course of their careers. The examination tests students’ knowledge of concepts such as:

  • Research, planning, implementation and evaluation of PR programs
  • Communication models and theories
  • Business literacy
  • Ethics and law

Dr. Jacquelyn Shaia, assistant professor, directs the public relations program at UAB and serves as adviser to the school’s John Wittig Public Relations Council of Alabama/Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. That student organization had a 23 percent increase in membership in 2017. 

“The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations demonstrates a student’s dedication to professional learning and knowledge of communication skills required for professional success,” Shaia said. “We stress the ethical practice of public relations and it is our job to thoroughly prepare our students to compete in the workplace. The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations will bolster our students’ resumes to stand out among the competition today.”

 When employers see the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations on a graduate’s resume, they know the candidate understands the fundamental principles of:

  • Researching, planning, implementing and evaluating PR programs
  • Tailoring messaging to a wide spectrum of stakeholders
  • Staying current on PR issues and trends

 The Universal Accreditation Board is a diverse group of educators, military public affairs personnel and public relations professionals who oversee the Accreditation program. Participating organizations include:

Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center, as well as Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees, and has an annual economic impact exceeding $5 billion on the state. The five pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, patient care, community service and economic development. UAB is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Center for Translational Science Award. Learn more at UAB: Knowledge that will change your world.

 UAB’s student chapter is a member of both SPRF and PRSSA.

SPRF is a network of public relations professionals from Alabama, northwest Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi who share a common interest in the public relations profession. Membership in the Federation is automatic for members of the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), the Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization (ECPRO), the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL) and the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM). PRCA is the state's longest operating and largest group of public relations practitioners. The organization exists to further the professional and networking interests of today's public relations and communication professionals in private, public and nonprofit businesses and organizations. The group has approximately 450 members in six chapters - Birmingham, East Alabama (in Auburn), Mobile, Montgomery, North Alabama (in Huntsville), and West Alabama (in Tuscaloosa). SPRF has more than 1,400 members and continues to grow. SPRF is led by a volunteer board of directors and is considered the premiere networking and professional development organization for public relations professionals in the Gulf South. SPRF sponsors an annual professional development conference that rotates between the member chapters.

PRSA is the largest professional organization serving the U.S. public relations community. With a mission to “advance the profession and the professional.” National membership comprises more than 21,000 practitioners and exceeds 11,000 university and college students through PRSSA. The PRSA Alabama Chapter has more than 170 members throughout the state of Alabama and works with several student PRSSA chapters a local colleges and universities in the state to help further student knowledge about the profession.

For more information about the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations, visit