Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Journalism?

Journalists, whether they work for print, broadcast or online media, typically enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree and related work experience. So if you are a fresh graduate who has just finished your bachelor’s degree and are deciding on whether to proceed with further studies or find a job, the latter would be the better option. There are actually a number of reasons for this which would explain why a master’s degree is not necessary at this point in your life.

Let’s look at the other requisites to get a journalism job in this day and age in addition to a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Newspapers, radio and television outfits and online media agencies want evidence of your skills and abilities. They usually put a premium on applicants who have interned at various media organizations and thus have a clear understanding of what the job entails. Depending on the kind of media outfit you are applying for, the employer may ask for a demo reel or a portfolio of articles to showcase your abilities. Since the Internet has become such a vital part of modern-day life—and a rapidly-growing employer of journalists—maintaining a blog or writing for a website will enable you to showcase your writing skills, op-ed pieces and others for potential employers to scrutinize.

Another reason why it’s not a good idea to stay an extra two years after college to earn your master’s degree is because journalism is best learned when you’re out there and gathering news. It’s true that you get some exposure when you’re an intern but that has limits since you’re not going to be sent out to the field to interview the people who make the news. When you are officially employed with a media organization, however, your “nose for news,” resourcefulness in finding your sources and skill in framing your report are all going to be developed further. If you want to be a serious journalist, you can’t do so by sitting in the classroom and listening to theory. You have to go out there and do the job.

You may not also want to carry such a high debt burden which is going to be a very real possibility when you are pursuing postgraduate education in journalism unless you can find a scholarship opportunity that will pay for your tuition in full. Without grants or scholarships, student loans are going to be the major source of your postgraduate funds and payment for this can comprise a very huge chunk of your budget later on.

Now for the other side of the coin: A master’s degree in journalism may be something you want to consider if you already have sufficient experience as a journalist and you want to share your knowledge to other aspiring journalists as a professor in college or university. You may also want to pursue an advanced degree in the field later on if you aspire for a higher position in a media organization and a master’s degree will make your application more competitive. But then again, note that the decision to go back to school happens after you’ve already worked in the field for some time.

Career Spotlight: Journalist

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