When I was asked in 2011 to guide the creation of a graduate degree in public relations, I had to first ponder, “Who really needs a master’s degree in PR?” I also needed to find out, “Does an advanced degree in public relations matter in the job market?” The honest answer is, “Yes and no.”
No, because organizations looking for entry-level public relations people don’t usually require advanced degrees. Yes, because if the student’s undergraduate degree was NOT in public relations, the advanced degree will give them the background, experience and credentials to be competitive. And yes, because if the graduate student is already a few years into a career, the master’s provides opportunity for advancement which may not have existed without it.
As they were enhancing their career opportunities, graduate students who have completed Hofstra’s Master of Arts in Public Relations did some amazing work this spring. Their capstone thesis papers were insightful and outstanding, taking on significant research topics including Symbolic Images and Lasting Impressions: Can emojis influence millennials’ brand perception and affinity?; Domestic Violence in the NFL; Social Media, Millennials and an Unpredictable Industry: Achieving brand engagement as a musician in the post-internet era; and Putting the “Social” in Social Media: How human connection triggers engagement.
Alternatively, some graduate students spent the semester creating and implementing PR campaigns for nonprofit clients, who were happy for the help. The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Nassau-Suffolk Services for Autism, and the Long Island High School for the Arts were among those who invited and received expert enhancements to their outreach and branding efforts.
All these capstone projects are filled with insights and revealing research, and I’ll be featuring some of the best of them in the coming weeks.
With Hofstra’s spring 2017 Commencement just hours away from this writing, I’m quite confident the students who’ve earned their MA in Public Relations are well-prepared for an advanced career in a field filled with diverse opportunities. Like our undergraduates, they’re focused and prepared, and I’m proud to have played a small role in their success. Your thoughts?