About Advertising and Public Relations Programs
Dr. Isabella Cunningham
Ernest A. Sharpe Centennial Professor in Communication
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Advertising & Public Relations
300 West Dean Keeton, A1200
Austin, TX 78712
How to Get Here & Where to Park
The Department of Advertising is located
in the Belo Center for New Media (BMC) 4.338
BMC is located at the northwest corner of Dean Keeton St.
(formerly 26th Street) and Whitis Avenue.
(overview of the entire campus)
Area Map #1 to BMC
(area map - Communication buildings)
The first advertising course was taught at The University of Texas (UT) in 1914. In 1948, both the Department of Marketing and the School of Journalism formally recognized an undergraduate major in advertising. From then until 1960, students who wanted a degree in advertising had two choices: a business-oriented curriculum offered by the Department of Marketing in the College of Business - a Bachelor of Business Administration in Advertising or a communication-oriented curriculum offered by the School of Journalism in the College of Arts and Sciences - a Bachelor of Journalism in Advertising.
Graduate courses in advertising were offered in both departments. A Master's of Business Administration with concentration in the Division of Advertising could be sought as early as 1947. The School of Journalism first offered a Master's of Arts in Communication with concentration in Advertising in 1953. From 1960 until 1974, advertising was one of two sequences offered in the School of Journalism.
During the Fall of 1974 the Department of Advertising was established, in the College of Communication, to meet the increasing needs of advertising education. The MA program was established in 1976 and the Ph.D. shortly thereafter. In 1999, Public Relations was added to the department's undergraduate curriculum. The Department has grown into one of the top programs in the country and continues to strive toward best serving its students and the advertising/pr industry.
How does the advertising program at UT compare to programs at other schools? That is one of the most common questions people ask when considering where to apply. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. It depends how these programs are judged, and who evaluates them.
The following information is provided so you can see that, by any measure, UT offers a top-tier program.
In the United States, over 100 institutions of higher education offer an organized program of study in advertising. Texas Advertising is one of the largest in the nation. In fact, it is one of only a few such programs around the country that are housed in their own department. Most programs are a part of a journalism, marketing, or other department. In fact, UT is the only program that grants a Ph.D. specifically in advertising; other programs offer an emphasis in advertising, with the Ph.D. in “mass communication” or some other more general field of study.
With close to 1200 undergraduates, 200 M.A. students and 30 Ph.D. students enrolled annually, Texas Advertising has one of the largest undergraduate and graduate student populations of any university. Certainly, large size and high quality are two different things. But size, if combined with quality instruction, means many well-trained graduates and an influential force in the advertising profession.
Another indicator of quality is the breadth of knowledge and experience possessed by a school’s faculty. With close to 30 faculty, Texas Advertising has one of the largest advertising faculty in the world. This means the widest possible range of expertise so that students can work with and learn from faculty who are specialists in many different areas of advertising.
Having consistently been ranked as one of the top three advertising programs over the past 20 years by employers and competitors alike, a study published in the Journal of Advertising Education in 2010 ranked the Texas Advertising program as the number one program in advertising in the U.S. Ranking significantly ahead of the nearest competition, Texas Advertising scored 102 points. The next closest program was VCU with a score of 35 points.
Texas Advertising is also unique in one especially notable respect. In addition to offering concentrations in media and digital, the Texas Advertising has built the nationally recognized Texas Creative program. This highly-praised program established in the late 1970s, is well known for producing talented copywriters and art directors that end up in advertising agencies around the world.
An article in Adweek magazine discussed the backgrounds of creative talent and stated, “They’ve come from the leading advertising programs — Art Center, Portfolio Center and University of Texas tops among them — with books filled with highly polished, technically sophisticated ads.” The former two programs are art and design schools that specialize in helping students develop their portfolio, rather than comprehensive advertising programs. Even in that company, UT ranks among the best.
Similarly, an Advertising Age article on advertising education referred to “the schools that are presently highly regarded by agency creatives and industry recruiters — such as Atlanta’s Portfolio Center, the [Pasadena] Art Center, and the University of Texas at Austin.” Advertising Age went on to mention that “though the University of Texas may seem an unusual place to find a top ad program, creatives from New York to Los Angeles have been counting on kick-ass kids from Austin.”
Since the mid-1990s, Texas Creative has been invited by The One Club for Art & Copy, Inc. of New York City to display work of graduating students in its exhibit promoting aspiring creatives. Texas Advertising is one of only a handful of schools invited. Not all advertising students in the graduate program are in the creative sequence; but, the Texas Creative program makes the department unique among ad programs around the country by developing a richly diverse talent pool that covers all aspects of the profession: creative, account management, planning, media, and research.
It may be difficult to objectively rank ad programs, because such rankings are reliant on the perspectives of different groups of people. However, if you look at the pattern — how UT compares to other schools when ranked in a variety of different ways — the Texas Advertising program is consistently at or near the top of each list. If you factor in the breadth of other quality graduate programs at this tier-one research University, along with the reasonable cost, an education in the Texas Advertising program is clearly a terrific opportunity.
Learn about the cost of attending at the "Be a Longhorn" web site. As you can see, The University of Texas at Austin is highly regarded as a major research university, with many of its colleges and departments rank among the best in the nation. In spite of this, it is one of the least expensive universities in the country. Even among state-supported schools, which typically cost far less than private schools, it compares quite favorably.
Graduates of the advertising program at UT include some people with very impressive credentials, and they are employed in a wide range of jobs. A large percentage of them, as you might expect, have gone to work in advertising agencies. They are employed as account people, art directors, copywriters, media planners, media buyers, and researchers. Several have risen to the level of vice president, president, and even Chief Executive Officer of agencies and companies around the world. Texas Advertising alums are currently working at each of the twenty largest agencies in the country, at several of the smaller “hot” shops, and at agencies of virtually every size and geographic location imaginable, including a variety of different countries.
Many have gone to the “client side,” working for the businesses and other organizations that advertise. Others have chosen to work in media. They have taken positions at online media companies, digital services, magazines, television stations, etc., across the nation and around the world. Still others have gone into advertising and marketing related positions, working in commercial production, sales promotion, public relations, event planning, and direct marketing. In addition, Texas Advertising graduates can be found teaching advertising in colleges and universities all around the world. Recently, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have been used to connect alumni, students, faculty, and staff of the Texas Advertising.
Janie Castillo-Flores is the Financial Analyst of the Advertising/PR Department. She coordinates many Department activities, manages the budget and works with the faculty to prepare the course schedule. Janie oversees many projects and supervises the office staff. Also, Janie is a graduate of UT Austin. 512-471-8119
Luisa Cantu is the Graduate Coordinator for the Texas Advertising Program. Luisa works closely with the Graduate Advisor, Dr. Gary Wilcox, to assist the masters and doctoral students throughout their experience in the program. In addition to supporting current AdGrads, from admissions to graduation, she also provides program and admissions information to prospective students. Luisa first joined UT in 2008 and is a proud alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin, College of Communication. 512-471-8130
Damon O'Brien is an academic advisor in the Student Advising Office. Damon works with AdGrads and helps them with planning their academic coursework each semester. In addition, he works closely with freshman students participating in the FIG program, as he leads two College FIG seminars each fall semester.
- David Cox
- Bill Reaves