This award recognizes and encourages graduate study and scholarship in public relations through an annual award for an outstanding Master’s thesis. The winner of this award receives a $2,000 grant. The winner’s faculty advisor receives a $1,000 cash grant.

Criteria
Entries are judged on their contribution to the advancement of research-based knowledge in the field of public relations and the degree to which the research is relevant or has an impact on the profession.

Entries should test or develop theory within the public relations context; systematically test an applied public relations principle, case study, or practice; analyze a legal, historical, or societal question in the field; or critically review an issue relevant to public relations practice, research and/or teaching.

Judging
Papers will be reviewed by a blind panel of judges including Institute for Public Relations Trustees, industry leaders, and Orangefiery executives.

The potential significance of the study, quality of the research method, and written presentation will be judged among other criteria.

To apply, please send the following materials to info@instituteforpr.org

  • Application form (click here to download)
    • Since the judging is blind, it is important to include the final title of the thesis or project in the application form, and that same title in the paper.
  •  Thesis or written project
    • Please submit the paper as a single PDF document
    • Please omit any identifying information, including author name, advisor name, the educational institution, or other identifiers. Papers with identifying information will be disqualified.
  • Executive summary of thesis or project
    • (Note: The executive summary is the basis for judging in the first round)
    • Please submit this as a separate file from your thesis or project
    • The summary should provide a synopsis of your thesis or project and may not exceed 1,000 words.
    • This summary should include:
      • Significant citations
      • Research questions and hypotheses
      • Brief description of the method including sample size and characteristics
      • Summary of key findings and implications for the practice


Other Application Requirements

  • The thesis must be authored as part of a Master’s degree (i.e., MA, MS, MBA, MJ, MPR, etc.) awarded by an accredited college or university. It must be a new thesis, started in the past two years. It must be written and completed in the agreed-upon time frame.
  • Entries should conform to the scholarly study and legal research methods.
  • Research should have applicability beyond the confines of a given campus.
  • The thesis must be authored by one student. Group papers or projects are not allowed.
  • Applicants have the option to submit their paper for blind-review for the PR Journal.

Visit the Orangefiery website here.

2021 Winner

Corinne Zilnicki, San Diego State University

Zilnicki’s study, “Lying Through One’s Tweets: How False Rumors Deter Public Compliance During Crises” investigates how misinformation (false rumors) can affect individuals’ processing of information, attitudes toward compliance, and intentions to comply with governmental guidance during a crisis. Read her thesis here.

Past Winners*

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*Northwestern Mutual sponsored the Best Master’s Thesis of the Year award through 2010. Makovsky sponsored the award 2017-2020. Orangefiery took sponsorship of the award in 2021.