Will a post graduate qualification in Journalism give you an edge? MediaNation helps you work it out.
Thinking of taking a post graduate qualification in Journalism? You are not alone. It’s one of the most popular questions we are asked by the users of this site. The answer we give invariably starts with ‘it depends’.
The first thing you need is a little context. Higher Education in the UK is a market like any other. That means only one thing to the potential consumer of Higher Education courses – buyer beware!
According to the most recent study of post graduate trends by HEFCE, up until 2013 there had been a rise in students taking up post graduate studies as universities rushed to capitalise on the post graduate boom.
But this same report also found evidence of a decline in post graduate numbers for the first time in 10 years. Perhaps we are being overly cynical here at MediaNation, but is this why the government announced its intention to create a student loan system for postgraduate masters degrees in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement? It’s like a H.E. version of the government’s Help to Buy scheme for the property market. Help to Buy propped up the Housing Market. Your student debt will similarly help to prop up an over-expanded H.E. sector.
But if you’re happy with that, and you are keen to go ahead and sign up for a post graduate journalism course, you need to ask yourself if you REALLY need it.
If you have already successfully completed an accredited journalism undergraduate degree and have work experience, we’d say no – not unless you want to specialise in a particular area or medium.
If you have a non-journalism degree or an unaccredited journalism degree, then it could be worth your while – providing the PG course you are interested in is accredited or has a great reputation among employers and alumni.
Of course, you could avoid the H.E. sector completely and go for one of the increasingly popular Fast Track courses offered by organisations like Press Association, News Associates, and Journalist Works.
Aside of accreditation and reputation, there are a few other boxes you’ll want to be sure your PG course ticks. Here’s our handy five-point checklist:
- Check out the backgrounds of teaching staff – you want staff with substantial current and/or recent experience in the sector. Make sure they have good industry contacts, too. And make sure they have some kind of social media presence. No Twitter, no go!
- Watch out for courses stuffed with theory but light on practice
- Make sure there are formal and informal work experience/placement opportunities – and we mean ‘real’ work, in a workplace, with working journalists
- Make sure you’re getting multi-media, multi-platform training
- Grill them about what grads do when they leave – there’s very little formal data out there but good course leaders should have some idea of where the people they taught ended up
One final piece of advice: in your PG course research you may come across shocking claims made by some university PG Journalism course providers. Without stats or substantiation they crow about how fabulous they are, how unrivalled their grad employment record is and so on. Be sure to set your marketing bullshit detector to max! Did we say Higher Education in the UK is a market…