Article | 23 Apr 2015

To master or not to master?

Posted in PR and Communications, Marketing, Alice’s Blog,

Will it help my career? I recently commented in an article about the value of doing a postgraduate degree or not and I wanted to explore the question further. I often see candidates who ask me if they should Master in marketing, PR or advertising.

 It is hard to give a definitive answer as its very personal and I am a firm believer that success in any job requires that right attitude and values, and an alignment of company culture and personality.

Many sectors do require additional postgraduate qualifications, so it is best to do some research and find out what is expected – you could talk to people who are already in your chosen industry and see what they recommend.

A Masters degree is a big commitment both in terms of time and money. It is worth asking yourself whether the Masters will help you now or in the long term.

The cost of a master’s degree – unlike undergraduate degrees – depends mostly on course type, duration and the ranking of the university. Some courses cost as little as £3,000, while others cost almost £15,000 a year, full-time. Universities aren’t particularly keen to fund post-graduate degrees, with only a handful of opportunities of financial assistance available for a small selection of students each year. You will need to weigh up the financial implications before committing to the course. Don’t forget, you will have probably accrued a significant debt as a result of your initial degree.

Of course, Masters can be done full-time or part-time. If you choose the part-time option, then you will be able to work alongside your studies, which will help your financial situation considerably.

If you decide that a Masters is the way forward, then investigate the courses on offer and the relevance they have for your career. Competition between the academic institutions is increasing as they seek to offer prospective students real value and practical experience in their postgraduate studies.

Students on a Marketing and Communications, Advertising or PR Masters learn how to pitch to panels of industry insiders. They will provide feedback on technique as well as the ability to respond to a brief. Students will learn to use research to become an expert in a given area, and to communicate these findings to others quickly and effectively. This will make for a broad and deep knowledge of your chosen area of the sector.

Aside from this, universities strive to provide relevant industry contacts – including guest speakers who come ready to share the latest information with students.

Thus, it can be argued, that the work you complete during your masters builds into a portfolio that can be shown to recruiters and prospective employers. Many universities are able to prove that their students typically enter the workplace in a variety of communications, public relations and consultant roles, and have a strong foundation on which to progress their careers to the top. It should also be noted that postgrads tend to go in on a higher salary – though, this is not a given and will depend on the individual employer.

So, to sum up – a Masters might be a good idea, but it is also something that you can chose to pursue a little further down your career path. You might decide to work and earn, gaining valuable experience and clear some of those debts first, before heading back to the classroom. But researching the proposition is key – understand what you are taking on and whether or not it is of real benefit to you as an individual.