First NJ Students to take PRSA Certificate Test

Three University communication students will be the first in New Jersey to take the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations test through the University Accreditation Board (UAB).

Killian Ferdine, Jessica Rinaldi and Brittany Bogdan, all senior communication majors, will take the test.

Kristine Simoes, a specialist professor of communication and the President of the Public Relations Society of America New Jersey section (PRSA NJ), said that she has been telling her public relations students about the certificate and the three girls wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

“This certificate enables these emerging professionals a more competitive edge in the job market,” said Simoes.

Simoes and Mary Harris, a specialist professor of communication, faculty members from Seton Hall University, Dr. Kathleen Donohue Rennie and a PRSA member have been preparing the three students for the test.

“This is the first time this exam prep course is being offered with the support of two major universities,” said Simoes. “[Seton Hall University] and [the University’s public relations] programs are nationally accredited by PRSA which is rare as they are two of just 40 or so in the country to have earned such distinction.”

The Certificate in Principles of Public Relations is viewed as a Pre-Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), Simoes said. She explained that people who are seeking an APR can use the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations as a stepping stone towards it.

The students’ five week preparation for the test, which they must take within six months, has begun. Every couple of weeks the students meet on a Saturday morning with Simoes and Donohue at either the University or Seton Hall University, according to Rinaldi. “So far the exam [preparation] has been great,” said Rinaldi. “We have a study guide that we go through chapter by chapter, talk about potential exam questions and then are expected to study on our own time.”

Simoes said she and Harris had to prepare handouts and specific materials for the students on topics that are going to be covered on the exam. Some of the topics include; the history of public relations, media relations, ethics and law, business literacy, social media, related public relations theories and research methods, Simoes explained.

Each student is able to study and take the test on their own schedule; meaning they take the exam whenever they want as long as it is six months after graduation. Simoes said the students also had to pay a registration fee and attend the prep course.

Ferdine is planning on taking the exam in August. “…Although [the classes] feel really short, [they] have been very helpful,” she said. “The first class Dr. Rennie from [Seton Hall University] told us to get a binder, so I did. It now weighs about 10 lbs.”

Ferdine added that she is taking this exam because she wants to learn as much as she can. “This was another way for me to make myself even better and take steps toward being an essential and indispensable asset in my future endeavors,” she said.

There are certain requirements students must have before they can take the test. According to, students must take the test within six months of graduation from an accredited college or university whose area of study is in public relations or a related area, and they must be members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) or a member of another Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) participating organization.

Students can apply for the test by filling out an application and attaching the amount of the fee. If someone fails the test, they are given 90 days after his/her examination results are received to take it again along with an additional $100 fee, according to

Rinaldi was skeptical about taking the exam because she was unsure if employers would even know what it was. However, after she spoke to Simoes and Harris, she realized that the Certificate in Public Relations Principles will be beneficial.

“I am grateful to have been given this opportunity and glad I chose to take the exam. I am learning from some of the greatest professors and hope to be as successful as them one day. They are an inspiration to many,” said Rinaldi.

PHOTO COURTESY of Kelly Brockett