What can I do with a masters in communication?
February 18, 2010 7:47 AM   Subscribe

I am thinking about grad school right now, and I am trying to decide what to go for. Can anyone tell me the sort of jobs that require, or prefer a masters in communication?
posted by helios410 to Education (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What field are you in now?
posted by ghharr at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2010

I'm not sure exaclty what you mean by master's in communication, that could be a number of things. I have a master's in mass communication, though, and I do public relations work for a goverment agency.
posted by dortmunder at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2010

Journalism. Various positions in journalism, but pretty much just that.

Given that the journalism ship is not only sinking at the moment but may actually be on fire as well, I'm not sure I can recommend this as a career option.

You may find the odd position in a corporate communications department, but most of those people either don't have an advanced degree or have something like an MBA or Masters in Public Relations or Corporate Communication. The Masters in Communication as such is designed to get people into journalism.
posted by valkyryn at 7:54 AM on February 18, 2010

There is no future in journalism. If that's your interest, I'd just move along to something else.
posted by dfriedman at 8:01 AM on February 18, 2010

I was considering this path for myself as well, and can echo the sentiments of other posters that say to rule out journalism as a serious option. Most working journalists do not have master's degrees anyway.

There are two other paths you could walk with this degree though. Either public relations (which is what I do as well) or teaching college level courses.

Only high-level p.r. jobs require advanced degrees. In general they help but are not required for this line of work.

To teach college, I'd suggest you consider pursuing a doctorate. If you're into that career path for the long term, you'll need a Ph.D to get a good, lasting gig. Many universities will let you teach courses with just a master's, but obtaining a tenure track position would be difficult, I think.
posted by jeffmshaw at 8:19 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you need to work in the opposite direction. What type of job do you want to do? What type of degree does it need?

Also, what's your undergrad degree in? Is there a reason you're not pursuing that?
posted by desjardins at 8:19 AM on February 18, 2010

Corporate communications. Marketing. PR. Maybe working at an agency? Mostly management positions in those fields.

I have an MA in communications. It hasn't really helped my career (yet). Hasn't hurt, though!

I already had, um, many years of communications experience when I started the MA program. If you don't already have experience, I don't know that an MA would be all that useful.

Also: I disagree with valkyryn: I don't believe that an MA in communication is designed to get people into journalism. The program I took did not have much to do with journalism, and my fellow students work in marketing, corporate communications, non-profit communication, gov't jobs. I think I know one who was a journalist (and I believe he's become a consultant since graduation).

Of course, much depends on the program. Mine was at Royal Roads University.
posted by Badmichelle at 8:25 AM on February 18, 2010

Could be anything from PR, Media relations, higher level editorial positions at places like Reuters or Bloomberg, corporate communications of all sorts, advertising etc.

But as others have pointed out work experience and contacts are more important in most of these fields. Also, if you're going to do a degree like that you should really also be learning a second and preferably third language fluently, to broaden your job prospects. Chinese and Spanish would be my picks.
posted by the foreground at 8:36 AM on February 18, 2010

First of all, an MA in communication is not necessarily a journalism degree. I teach in a comm department, and here journalism is an entirely separate department. This kind of thing can vary a lot, so you would just need to look at the specific program goals.

That said, a communication degree can cover a wide range of areas, which can be helpful or difficult, depending on how focused your career goals are. I have one MA student right now who has worked for several years in non-profit advocacy groups, mostly doing training, public speaking, and some event coordination. She is in grad school so she can advance to higher-level positions, perhaps as communication director, etc. Another student is interested in multimedia documentary storytelling, as an outgrowth of her side business as a wedding photojournalist. We also have a number of MA students in my department who work in the local hospitals and are studying health communication, again as a way of advancing in careers they already have a foothold in. Finally we have MA students who are planning to go on to the Ph.D., so their programs are more research-focused.

I agree with the other posters that it would be more helpful if you could say more about what you want to do, and then we could say if a comm degree would be a good fit for you.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:48 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I guess I was probably working off the idea that the various flavors of "Communications" degrees are more rigorously defined than other posters indicate.

Fair enough. As with many degrees, the specific character of your program and where that takes you will depend more on where you go to school than the name of your degree.

Still though, a communications degree is going to send you into either journalism, marketing, PR, corporate communications, or something similar. Working in corporate America, I can tell you that none of our marketing, PR, or corporate communications people have an MA in Communications. YMMV.
posted by valkyryn at 10:08 AM on February 18, 2010

Have you thought about the industry you want to work in, after you get your Masters? You can get a degree (for example) in health communications which may end being a more lucrative field (in the still-relatively-strong health care industry) as opposed to more traditional journalism/publishing work.
posted by pants at 1:44 PM on February 18, 2010

Avoid journalism like the plague. Please. A master's degree won't help you there anyway. Everybody I know in radio/print/tv got where they are by clawing their way up from the bottom, and they're all getting axed.

I'd agree with commenters above in that you should flip-flop your approach. Figure out what you want to do and then figure out what degree (if any) you need to get there. And, yes, that's one hell of a task. Good luck!
posted by 2oh1 at 11:24 PM on February 18, 2010

What do you mean by communication(s)?

Generally, you could work for a marketing firm.

But seriously - don't get a MA in anything without knowing if it is going to increase your salary in a specific position enough to justify the cost. In general, most MAs don't do this.
posted by k8t at 4:36 PM on February 19, 2010

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