If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely asked yourself if getting a master’s degree in public relations is worth it. When I graduated from college in 2015 and PR jobs were scarce, many of my peers were considering pursuing a master’s because they felt it was their only option.
When I wrestled with this exact question, I found myself talking to PR veterans, family and Google. Veterans dissected my real goals for going to graduate school, family asked how more schooling would benefit my career and Google shared that getting a master’s isn’t exactly necessary. Thanks a lot, Google.
Whether you decide to pursue your master’s or focus on professional development, be encouraged that you’re not the only one. While I wish you could predict your destiny after reading this post, I can only offer up my experience and share the advice I was given.
1. You’re going to look more marketable.
When I spoke with past professors and professionals who have master’s degrees in PR, they all agreed that getting your master’s can make you more marketable. Let me be clear: A master’s degree will not get you a job. What it will do is provide a platform to tell a story. As PR professionals, we’ve been taught how to create compelling stories. If you do pursue a master’s, you’ll be able to show up to a job interview or hold a conversation with a leader in your company and explain what led you to make that decision for your career.
2. You’re enhancing your knowledge.
A lot of PR professionals decide early in their careers that they’re not going to get their master’s because they hated school. Learning isn’t always fun or easy, but the benefits are rewarding. With the world of PR always evolving, it’s important for professionals to realize that learning new skills for what works in the now is crucial for career success.
For me, I am excited to pursue my passion for public relations. I will begin my online master’s program at Ball State University in early 2019. When I first began looking for a program, I read about all of the classes I would be taking. While some are similar to what I took in my undergraduate program, I know they will be different and more current. With a profession that is constantly on the move, you benefit yourself by continually learning.
3. You’ll have an advantage for a career switch.
Getting your master’s in PR won’t automatically prepare you to be head of communications for a large company, but it will give you the confidence to strategically plan how to use your master’s. When I first asked myself why I wanted to get my master’s, the answer was easy. Ever since I was a college student, I knew I wanted to teach PR classes. As I met with professors and professionals, I knew that the only way I could be successful in higher education is if I obtained a master’s degree. Pursuing my master’s will put me on track to be where I want to be in 15 years – it’s not a free ticket to teaching. Whether you want to be in higher education or are a journalist wanting to make a career move, having your master’s is a steppingstone to hundreds of opportunities.
4. You’ll have flexibility depending on your program choice.
As a full-time PR professional, I don’t necessarily have the time to drive to classes several times a week after work. As I was researching programs that would best fit my needs, I was surprised to see so many master’s programs that can be completed online. We millennials are so lucky to reap the benefits of technology! As a future Cardinal, I appreciated how BSU allows students to do everything online. Practicality and flexibility are prized by most prospective students, and institutions are smart to acknowledge that. If you are determined to pursue a master’s in PR, there is no reason why you can’t fit something into your schedule.
Will a master’s in PR give you an immediate promotion? Probably not. Will it give you a huge raise? Not necessarily. What a master’s in PR will do is expand your knowledge about your profession and connect you with talented individuals who can help guide your career. Is a master’s degree worth it for you? Maybe and maybe not. For me, I’m excited to pursue my education and realize that completing the program will bring me one step closer to reaching a long-range goal.