A common question that PR grads hear towards the end of their bachelor’s degree is “Are you going to go back to school?
Students are constantly trying to weigh the ROI of higher education. There seems to be a trend that more and more students are choosing to go back to school.
Statistics show that 2016 will have more people receive graduate degrees than ever before and the number is climbing. An expected 851,000 students will be getting master’s degrees between 2016 and 2017.
This is quickly becoming the new norm for most of the United States. So, will most PR grads need go get their master’s in order to find the better jobs in PR? Who knows. But whatever the case, here are a few helpful things to think about for those that are considering a master’s degree.
Experience vs. Degree
The experience vs. education debate practically goes back to the time of the dinosaurs. But with advancing technology and opportunities, going over some of the pros and cons of a master’s degree couldn’t hurt.
Below is a chart that summarizes the thoughts of 32 PRSSA members who got their graduate degrees.
Pros of a master’s degree Cons of a master’s degree
|· Specialized skills
· Personal growth
· Better networks
· Higher salary
· 66% think that it makes you more marketable
|· Delays professional experience
· Time and money costs
· Choosing the wrong program
· Balancing family, school, and work
· 33% aren’t sure if it has made them more marketable or not
(Students should weigh the pros and cons for their own individual situation)
Although this list isn’t all-inclusive, it provides a good base. But there are also professionals out there that didn’t get their master’s degrees and they think that is a good option too.
“The field is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020,” said Kathryn Hawkins, a prominent writer for Bankrate. “However, as with the computer engineering industry, hands-on experience is more important than graduate degrees for job seekers.”
Pick The Right Acronym
After students weigh their personal pros and cons, they should into what program they would like to study. Here are a few thoughts about some programs that the pros recommend.
MS/MA Public Relations: If students are looking for leadership options in agency work, then sources show that many big firm leaders have received an MS or MA in public relations.
MBA: Multiple online sources share that if you are thinking about working in corporate communications, marketing or business, then an MBA is probably the way to go. The consensus is that this degree most consistently provides higher credibility and more opportunities.
MPA: Are you thinking about health or government PR? How about Non-profit sectors? A degree in public administration tends to open up leadership opportunities behind these doors.
Find Your Why
The program that students choose has to be the right fit for them.
“I started doing my research on different graduate programs…and came across Georgetown University’s Masters in Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications,” said Richlyn Neal, a graduate student from Georgetown University. “This program seemed to be the perfect fit for me and so far it is!”
When it comes down to it, every student needs to have their own why for getting a master’s degree. Whether for personal or professional reasons, finding the why behind those decisions will help point them in the direction that they really want to go.
Hudson McKay is a student at Brigham Young University and currently serves on the PRSSA board as vice president of member services. When he’s not writing online marketing campaigns or blog posts, you can find him climbing up mountains, being with friends, and crunching on as much flavored ice that he can get his hands on.