What do you as an applicant bring to the table? Highly selective programs are attractive to college graduates with liberal arts degrees. They may require demanding essays, and they usually ask for writing samples. It also helps to have experience (even unpaid) in advertising, creative writing, journalism, marketing or public relations. Even though neither specific coursework in communications or marketing nor test scores are generally pre-requisites for admissions, it is definitely helpful to demonstrate strong writing skills and a basic understanding of demographics and statistics.
What technology do you want to use to become a better journalist, editor, or publisher? Programs may specialize in or favor particular technologies that you will have to familiarize yourself with and, throughout the course of the program, become an expert in. Make sure the technology and coursework align with your interests. For example, if you are interested in video, you might want to consider a master’s program in journalism that trains you how to use video and web-based tools to become a better reporter.
Do you want to become a social media director? Then you might want to consider a master’s program in subjects such as integrated marketing communications or strategic communications. These programs teach you how to design websites, choose social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, develop campaigns to bring customers to your site and platforms and use analytics to measure the effectiveness and return on investment of your social media mix.
Do you want to use social media tools to be a successful marketing manager, but also be able move into other aspects of marketing such as advertising or brand management? Then you need a program that teaches you about advertising practices and strategies, market research, consumer behavior, product management and communications strategies for print, radio, and television as well as social media. You also need to know how to determine the effectiveness and return on investment for your entire marketing strategy.
What support does your program provide after graduation? The degree program is a springboard towards your career. Ideally, the program you choose should also offer continuing education through live and virtual courses and events after you graduate. There should also be a robust, well-connected alumni network that will be interested in helping you grow. While these will be useful after you graduate, remember that your master’s is also about building your own network. The contacts that you will make in your program and through continuing education will help you build a network that supports you for life.