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Journalism Grad School: Is it a good idea?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mikecoppinger, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. mikecoppinger

    mikecoppinger New Member

    Just wanted to get the thoughts of the experts.

    I recently graduated with a degree in communication and journalism concentration from George Mason University. I interned at several top outlets and have been freelancing a great deal since I graduated in August.

    Do you think graduate school is a good idea?

    Many people, including my journalism professor, have told me it is only necessary if you need to make connections. Others have told me it is useful simply to become a better journalist.

  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    What do you want to do?

    Twenty years ago, I would have been more encouraging. These days, I'm not so sure what good it does. This is a very changed business. Get a masters in business.

    Only reason I wish I had one now is most teaching gigs require at least a masters - so I don't think I'll ever be able to teach full time. But I love my current gig/adjunct situation so I won't look to teach full time unless something falls apart. Which I hope like hell doesn't happen.
  3. ADodgen

    ADodgen Member

    I loved grad school. Loved the experience, definitely became a better photojournalist. That said, my answer to the OP's question is a definite, unqualified no. Not worth the money.
  4. azom

    azom Member

    If you want to teach, yes. If you want to write, no.
  5. Screwball

    Screwball Member

    In all the jobs for which I have applied, no one ever has asked me where I went to school. Editors and producers want to see your work, not your diploma.

    Your prof is right that connections can help, but you should be well on your way with your internships and freelance assignments. The only thing I would add is that the grad program might be worth it if you can't pick up web design, video, etc. skills needed by a multimedia reporter ... but that's a pretty steep price for lessons you probably can get elsewhere, for less than the cost of tuition.

    I teach journalism grad school too.
  6. dkphxf

    dkphxf Member

    The experts? That's pretty high praise. Anyway...

    I went to journalism grad school after majoring in English in undergrad. I had plenty of internship experience but going to grad school helped improve my writing. However, there was a bit of research and theory you had to pile your way through. I didn't like those things during the time, but I can see the benefits now. I was able to get a teaching assistantship, which waived tuition for me. That definitely saved some money and that may be an option for you.

    However, if you have the journalism background -- and you're happy with it -- then I would say get into the business and go back to school later if you think you need the help. There are positives either way you go. Grad school is a great place to make connections and maybe even having that school on your resume may help. But I don't think it's necessary in your position if you're happy with where you have.
  7. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Go for political science and get into policy development and analysis.
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I completely disagree. That brand name - and the education it has provided someone - is extremely valuable on both a resume, in terms of connections, and in terms of actual education and preparation (I'm not cynical enough to think otherwise, although most are, it seems).

    Yep. Either get the undergrad degree in journalism and then go get a masters for this, or else get the undergrad in something wonky and then go to Northwestern or (preferably) Columbia for that masters.
  9. valpo87

    valpo87 Guest

    This is interesting because I have thought about going to earn a Master's Degree in English to be a professor. But I enjoy the sports writing and photography business at the same time. I'll have to look into it more but maybe I can get some comments on the creative writing concept?
  10. mikecoppinger

    mikecoppinger New Member

    Thank you everyone for the thoughtful feedback. It's been a great help.
  11. Crash

    Crash Active Member

    That's what I'm doing. Plus, if you give up on journalism, there's plenty of room in the public policy and public administration sides for people who can write and communicate. Especially since the smartest public policy wonks are often the ones who struggle most to put a coherent sentence on paper.
  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I have a few grad school applications in now for the spring. No top-tier schools, but I wasn't a top-tier student either. But I feel like I can contribute more to public policy than a typical response on the politics board when it was open.
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