How Three Simple Words “Masters Degree Preferred” Pushed Me to Earn My Communication Masters

Lisa Messinger

Lisa Messinger, Student & Alumni

The description for the managing editor job I applied for a number of years ago at an external communication division of a high-level government agency stated “master’s degree preferred.” I applied for the job because the description happened to sound like my exact previous career steps, including a brief stint already at that time as a recruited managing editor, and I was offered the job just as government job freezes during the recession caused the offer to then dry up. The “master’s degree preferred” line, however, stuck with me, as well as having seen an increasing number of external strategic communication managerial jobs that I was otherwise qualified for state instead, “master’s degree required,” including, recently, a number of executive positions at my current employer iHeartMedia, Inc. (2016), the media company with the largest reach in the United States.

That would be an impetus, after much research, into my applying only to the Communication Masters Program at the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. The result of that comparative research provided the other reasons: the Brian Lamb School of Communication Online Master of Science degree, because of its rigorous nature overseen by the school, I was told by my admissions counselor, would not be differentiated from any other master’s degree nor identified as an online degree. In fact, I have seen the diplomas given to my classmates and that is the case. The work involved in the 20-month accelerated program also supports that: our critical thinking skills (I can attest as a professional writer and editor producing work for two decades) are pushed to the max. For me, that meant well beyond anything I have previously done, including writing seven nonfiction published books and editorial directing quite a few others by some of the top physicians in the country. In addition to other major papers, team and individual cutting-edge projects, we produce a minimum of three and often quite a few more (I always post at least five) cited discussion post papers a week on topics we are studying in our textbooks and academic papers we are reading and then debate back and forth on with our classmates. In a sea of online education programs that are spreading like wildfire and difficult to discern whether they represent helpful, valid degrees or not, the Online Master of Science from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University readily stood out because of the school’s stellar and longstanding reputation (2016).

I chose the master of science in communication online program from Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication because my eyes grew wide at the even more lustrous salaries offered from much broader management, director, or vice president positions at large media organizations like my current employer. I knew this degree was a way for me to even further distinguish myself. However, something else also happened along the way as I entered higher education again for the first time in a few decades, especially at a university where it became clear that learning is much more critical than earning. My writing, which had propelled me as a young reporter and still nationally syndicated columnist, came gurgling to the top, accompanied by much more sophisticated critical thinking, organization, and depth than I had ever given it. Ideas for possibly national agenda-changing books that I had long considered but wasn’t sure I could complete kept me up at night, as did readings from jarring books we read (Friedman, 2007), or I sought out (Khanna, 2016,), about how the entire workings of the communications working world were changing globally forever.

I am glad to be able to fall back on the increased earning power I have hard-earned in this 20-month exceptional master of science in communication online program and that may enhance the managing editor duties I still perform daily. I am equally as excited, though, that what also emerged from the wise aforementioned reasons I chose the Brian Lamb School of Communication program are horizons that I never even would have been able to conceive had I not completed this mind-altering journey.

Brian Lamb School of Communication: Our reputation. 2016. Retrieved from
Friedman, T. L. 2007. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York, NY: Picador.
iHeartMedia, Inc.: About us. 2016. Retrieved from
Khanna, P. 2016. Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization. New York, NY: Random House.

Learn More

Lisa Messinger is a student in 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.