Grad Degrees: Business or PR

Q.  Currently wrapping up my last year of college and my fifth internship, I can definitely say that I want to go into PR. I was wondering though, in regards to continuing education, what are the pros and cons of going to graduate school for a masters in a public relations/communications versus business school for marketing.   -AF

A.  Although I have neither, I have become a proponent of both advanced degrees for certain individuals.  Your decision should be based on  what the advanced degree might contribute to your long-term career goals.  If you are committed to an PR career and do not see yourself in a senior management position, you should gravitate to the communications degree (and it isn’t necessarily essential for your your long-term success).  If you eventually want to run a company or serve in a senior position within an agency or corporation, you would be better off getting an advanced business degree.  The business degree also will be better for a marketing position, although I contend there will be more PR opportunities available over the next 10 years than marketing positions. 

Until the current bleak job market, most undergrads opted to go to work for a year or two and then pursue graduate degrees.  Unfortunately, the rules have changed, and getting an advanced degree has become a popular option while waiting for an improved job market.  In your case, five internships is impressive and should enhance your chances of landing a job.  A key advantage of getting a job before heading to graduate school:  most agencies and corporations will help pay tuition for your advanced degree.  

2 thoughts on “Grad Degrees: Business or PR

  1. Ron, I think this is a great answer. As it is with great answers, they provoke even more questions. Here are mine.

    I’ve heard that the PR (or communications) undergrad. and business postgraduate is the strongest package. What if I wanted to pursue my postgrad. in PR. Would that shut all my doors to senior management? If not, do you know of any limitations that may arise?

  2. You’re right; most people do it the other way around. A graduate degree in communications will position you well for PR jobs, but initially might limit your opportunities in general business. Fortunately, communications professionals increasingly are moving into senior management at most corporations, plus a handful of PR practitioners have ended up as CEOs.

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