Natalie at the University of Missouri – Columbia asked:
Hi Natalie -
The quick answer to your question is No! You cannot say that in all areas and at all times, a Master’s degree is necessary to succeed in today’s job market. But, of course – the quick answer is not always the best or most complete answer. Check out my post “What you going to do with that graduate degree?” for the long answer :-).
To your specific question as this relates to the field of Public Relations: No, a Master’s degree is not necessary, but in some cases it can be very beneficial:
- If your undergraduate major was Public Relations, you probably do not need a Master’s in the field to start your career.
- If your undergraduate major was PR, English, Communication, Business (okay, virtually anything) AND you have public relations internship experience, you probably do not need a Master’s degree to start your career.
- If you have been involved in your campus chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, have done PR for a student organization or non-profit group, and take a couple of courses in PR related topics (like crisis communication, social media communication, research, etc.), you probably do not need a Master’s degree to start your career.
- If you have absolutely no experience or training of any kind in public relations and want some before starting your career, AND you can afford it financially, you might want to consider a Master’s degree before starting your career.
- If there is specific training you want (or need) in order to become a legitimately qualified candidate, you may need to get a Master’s degree before beginning your career.
Remember this, though – a Master’s degree does not necessarily mean more money or easier access to employment in Public Relations (or many other fields, for that matter).
Do your research. Make sure you understanding the hiring dynamics of the profession you wish to enter, and then tailor your career decision making and job seeking strategies accordingly.
When it comes to hiring time, PR employers are much more interested in your combination of relevant skills, experience and education, than they are in your level of education alone.
And, PR is a communication field. They expect you to be able to tell them why you are a good candidate and why you want the job. You have to communicate to them persuasively!