To puruse a Master’s degree in PR or not?

Is it truly necessary to pursue a graduate degree to practice PR? This is one of many questions that was brought up at #EMUSDC2014. The speaker, Luke Capizzo, claimed that he did not study PR in undergrad and had not yet acquired his graduate degree. None of the PR pros at SDC had acquired their Masters. As many professionals prior to have expressed, it is your experience that truly matters in the field of PR. In this rapidly growing competitive society, it seems only logical to attain your Masters and perhaps further. This being the fact, a Master’s degree is now the equivalence of a Bachelor’s degree.

The Student Development Conference answered many questions, but as many do, the answer to “if someone should get their Master’s” is skated around, leaving the ultimate statement: It all depends on you. This question is never clearly answered. As all things should be analyzed, we will dissect the pros and cons of attaining your graduate degree when pursuing public relations. Better yet, let’s perform a SWOT analysis.

Source: bestmastersdegree.com

Source: bestmastersdegree.com

Strengths:

  • Additional education puts you above the rest in competitive PR fields
  • Network with classmates
  • Broaden your skills (just in case you switch career paths)
  • Be confident calling yourself an expert
  • Increase your standard of living with more earnings
  • Become more marketable

Weaknesses:

  • Extra years in college
  • More education equals more debt
  • Delayed experience time

Opportunities:

  • Having additional education and experience is a major plus
  • Everyone else is doing it-hop on the bandwagon and pursue your masters
  • You will be more confident asking for the salary you deserve
  • Educational attainment and experience will not be an excuse in the event of a promotion or raise
  • Less likely to get stuck at a job you cannot be promoted in
  • You can also teach PR with a Master’s (plus)

Threats:

  • You must have the stamina and drive and an employer who understands your schedule and goals for the season. You may put one or the other (school or work) in jeopardy during this process.

Expounding on the SWOT analysis, in competitive PR fields, having additional education gives you that competitive edge over your competition. This may seem minimal, but when a $100, 000 starting salary career is up for grabs the Master’s degree comes in handy. In college you meet many people passionate about their field of study. These are opportunities to network with individuals who are learning the same rules of ethics as you are.

Knowing that you have to attend school an additional two or three years may be discouraging to some, but the end results is for the betterment for your professional career. With the college debt you may already be in, why not walk out with a degree that earns you more money? Your wallet and Sallie Mae will thank you.

By going to graduate school you do have the potential to threaten your career on the experience end. Be sure your academic and professional careers are both being valued by you.

Remember, you did not always need a degree to successfully enter a career path, but now times have changed. Times have the potential to change once more. A bachelor’s degree could be the new high school diploma. Guzman Hook, from U.S. News says that once a person has experience, the Master’s degree will open more doors as opposed to a Bachelor’s.

I am an undergraduate student speaking on this topic, but if you would like additional views from seasoned professionals on this topic, PRSA has a great blog titled “Your PR Career… PR Graduate School.” The blog is a compilation of surveys given to 32 PRSA members who have graduate degrees. They answer various questions concerning the importance of gaining your Masters. If I haven’t persuaded you, perhaps they will!

What do you think? Will you pursue your Masters? If you have already obtained your Masters has it granted you a competitive edge in the job market?

Gabrielle Burgess-Smith
Vice President
EMU PRSSA
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