Q. I have a B.S. in marketing and after graduation I started working in an in-house PR function at a small fashion company. Now I want to work for a PR agency specializing in fashion. Since my educational background is in business should I pursue a master’s in strategic PR? Is it worth the time and money? –MD
A. Although I advocate getting as much education as possible, I have talked with a large number of people who obtained advanced PR degrees and some of them question the bottom-line value of those degrees—especially in the short term. Some saw no jump in their salaries or status. Advanced degrees appear to play a bigger role in differentiating individuals as they are considered for more senior positions in corporations and agencies. Perhaps other readers–especially academics–will be able to provide additional counsel. An MBA still carries far greater weight with business executives no matter how many PR-related degrees you have. Most organizations have not yet placed a proper premium on advanced PR degrees. I hope this changes as more highly talented PR graduate students start to prove the value of their additional education.
Your situation is somewhat different than PR graduates since your B.S. is in marketing. If your comfort level with PR principles is sufficiently high, an MBA might be the right course of action for you. If you feel you need a stronger knowledge base in PR and want to make a career in this profession, then the advanced PR degree might be the right approach. You are doing the right thing by working in the industry for a couple of years before pursuing an advanced degree. This allows you to put the material you’re studying in context with your professional experience. Your work experience provides insights that help you focus on where you want to take your career long term.