I distinctly remember when I first considered going to graduate school. It was in 1990, and I thought it would be great symmetry to have received my bachelor’s degree in 1982 and then to earn my master’s degree in 1992. As it turned out, I didn’t quite start in time to attend commencement in 1992. I actually started more than two decades later and graduated in 2016 with a Master of Science in Communication from Purdue University. The degree was a long time coming, and it was definitely worth it.
1.) I learned the latest tactics and strategies in the field.
For me today, as a senior practitioner in the field of public relations, earning my master’s degree was time and money well spent. In the first place, having been out of school for so long, earning my degree online was a fantastic way to learn the latest theories, strategies and tactics in this field while still working full time. I have already been able to put a good deal of what I learned into practice, and my newfound knowledge has made me a better communication professional.
2.) I worked alongside like-minded communication professionals.
Second, it allowed me to re-energize myself through engaging with the faculty and fellow students on a regular basis over nearly two years. We helped each other learn and challenged each other’s thinking every week as we studied important concepts such as two-way symmetrical communication, the Barcelona Principles, the Excellence Project, and on and on. Taking time to think about our profession and discuss it with enthusiastic colleagues helped me get excited about public relations all over again.
3.) I earned my degree from a nationally ranked, trusted name in higher education.
Third, it was an astoundingly affordable degree from a top-notch university. The out-of-state tuition cost was well below that of many other online communication programs I considered, and the cost today is the same as it was when I started in 2014. Also, as demonstrated in several recent studies like the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings of Top U.S. Colleges (Korn & Belkin, 2016), Purdue is one of the highest-rated public universities in the nation. When the CFO at work learned I had graduated from Purdue, all she said was, “Wow, Purdue. Impressive.” That meant a lot.
Earning my master’s degree allowed me to fulfill a goal I had set for myself more than a quarter of a century ago. Even though it took a long time to get to it, over the years I never lost sight of that goal. Then, when the opportunity finally presented itself to me in the form of the online program at the Brian Lamb School of Communication, I knew the time was right to go back to school. This investment in myself and in my future was absolutely the right move for me. It wasn’t easy to do, but it was well worth it. I am very proud of what I accomplished at Purdue, and I couldn’t be happier that I did it!
Korn, M. & Belkin, D. (2016, September 27). The Top U.S. Colleges. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-top-u-s-colleges-1475030404
John Hoffmann is an alumni of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.