Why Should I Study a Master’s in Communication?
There are many reasons why you should consider studying for a master's degree in communication. Listed below are the most common.
Bachelor's degrees are great for providing you with all the tools, knowledge, and skills to get entry-level graduate work. However, most of the knowledge you will learn will be surface level as the degree juggles research, communication, and other transferable skills you will acquire as part of any degree. They are also general overview degrees. It is not until master's level that you acquire the specialist skills that will make you an expert and competitive in the employment marketplace for niche job roles.
Master's degrees get down to the much finer details and a deeper level of knowledge of your subject and the key issues of the day.
The main point of a master's degree is to choose a niche rather than a general overview of a subject. You will typically not find a general communications master's degree simply acting to advance your broad skills; however, some may exist.
Ideally, you need to understand where your interests lie and what your key strengths are, as well as your intended career area. This is where you will look at the wide range of communication's master's degree niches available and apply accordingly.
While any degree will help you learn to research and problem solve in ways that High School education does not, master's degrees take it to the next level. You will be presented with complex issues in a field, expected to develop complex arguments and back up your assertions. You will also learn to research deeper, problem solve and think creatively to develop your research skills.
Presentations feature much more strongly, as do seminars - both of which are better for encouraging one-to-one and group engagement. You will learn to analyze what other students are thinking and saying, take on board their findings, and develop your cognition and argument techniques.
New technologies are often not available to undergraduate students, often because of the expense, sometimes because of the time taken to learn those skills. They may be way beyond the time and scope of a typical bachelor's program - if not the ability of the typical bachelor's student. Such technologies are more often open to master's students first, usually before they become mainstream use in other areas of education.
Emerging technologies in industry and commerce require skilled employees and it is usually to masters and other graduate students with the opportunity to acquire these skills first. Universities invest as they are often leading the way in developing those technologies.
Due to the proliferation of bachelor's degree graduates in the last couple of decades, many professional careers require master's graduates. With your advanced research and technical skills, knowledge, and having chosen a specialism, you will often be first in line for learning new skills, new responsibilities, and promotions. Looking to move department? Train in new technologies? You may have a glass ceiling when your qualifications are limited to a bachelor's degree.
Those who crave their own departmental projects will also have a greater chance of being presented with that opportunity.
A master's degree in communications will not just open more doors in your industry or company, they will also allow you to jump ship entirely - either to a non-competitor in a similar industry or into another industry entirely.
A graduate program will increase opportunities for your future, for a new career, and personal development. Some new roles may require technical skills not available at the bachelor's level. Of course, making yourself more competitive in the workplace and jumping ship will almost always lead to higher pay.
Drawbacks and Reasons Not to Study a Master's in Communication
A master's degree is a huge commitment that you should never enter into lightly. It is an investment in your future with long-term consequences. As such, you should always weigh up the pros and cons and conduct a mental cost vs benefit analysis.
Few people will have their master's degree study fully funded, even those who successfully apply for scholarships, bursaries, and other funding. Tuition alone can cost tens of thousands depending on where you study, residential status, online or offline. None of which includes the cost of living and the lack of other income - remember, most master's degrees are full-time programs.
For several years not only will you accumulate debt, if studying full time, but you could also potentially have lower income due to your program time necessities. Long term, you must think about whether this investment is worth it.
A master's degree will give you those vital advanced skills for career development or change, as with everything there is no guarantee that this will happen. So many other factors come into play - not least of all jobs market competition, your experience, and even the number of openings. How niche is this skill? Is there enough demand for the niche to warrant studying for a master's degree? You may end up accruing a vast amount of debt with little to show for it.
While money isn't everything, the cost of graduate study vs the potential earnings should be a major factor in the decision. Even if you get a relevant job, tens of thousands of dollars invested in your career will not necessarily translate into a higher salary or one worth the investment. If the sector you want to move to has a lower average pay, you may struggle to keep up payments on your loans.
Times are changing. Businesses focus more heavily now on practical skills and experience than university education. While it is true that a master's degree in communication will develop your research and technological skills, in the fast-paced world of communications, some businesses crave on-the-job practical experiences that they currently lack. What you may need is professional skills training available through your current employer which will not cost you any money, you can do it while working and during normal working hours, and will provide your employer with those skills you seek.
Consider whether you may be educating yourself out of employment opportunities. In the past, few people were rejected for employment for being "overqualified" but now, in a competitive employment market, many graduates report hearing just this. If you don't get the career option you desire with your master's degree, you might need to reconsider. Those alternative pathways may require a bachelor's degree leaving you with a great level of academic achievement than you actually need.
It must bear repeating that any master's degree is a huge commitment. As mentioned above, it is essentially your full-time job when studied at a full-time pace. Some students say it is the workload and intensity of a four-year bachelor's degree crushed into 1-2 years. There is more work, more study, more expectations, and generally more stress and pressure.
Plus, more independent research and study will be expected of you. If you struggled with the academic workload of a bachelor's degree, those struggles will be compounded here.
Bachelor's study is a mix of social activity and academic work where you mix with peers and work on both individual and group projects. These elements will not go away but because there is more independent work and more work generally, the social element of your bachelor's will dry up quite quickly. You will spend a lot of time working on your own, even when working on group projects. It is an isolated existence compared to undergraduate study.
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