Grad school or not?

Not to belabor the obvious, but it’s a tough time to find a job in any field.  If you’re about to finish your undergraduate studies and you want to be a journalist, should you bag the job search and apply to graduate school?

The short answer is, it depends.  I’ve never thought journalists need to have masters degrees, even though I do have one myself.  I went back to school for a couple of reasons after working for several years in TV news.  I wanted to learn from Ed Bliss, and I thought I might want to teach some day, so an MA seemed like a good thing to have.

A masters can definitely be helpful if your BA is in something other than journalism. In grad school, you can learn the skills you’re expected to bring to the job on day one, and you can make contacts in the business who can help you find that job.

One good reason not to go to grad school: it’s expensive–almost $40,000 in tuition and fees alone at USC’s Annenberg, for example.  If you’re already carrying a heavy load of student loans, it may be too much of a burden to take on the cost of grad school.

But what if you didn’t have to pay full price? According to Columbia J-school”s  Sree Sreenivasan, there’s “very generous funding” available for that school’s nine-month masters program in specialized journalism. The application deadline is Sunday, Feb. 1.  Are any other programs offering funding? And even if they are, is it worth it to get an MA in journalism?

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