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Communications and Media Studies

Mass Communication programs are designed not only for students interested in journalism and related fields like publishing, PR and marketing communication, but also for people interested in working in research institutes, think-tanks and those contemplating careers in academia.
BY Pooja Prakash |   12-10-2010

Introduction

I studied at the University of Hartford in the United States where there are three major concentrations in the Mass Communication program: journalism and broadcasting, public relations and integrated marketing communications.

If you are fond of reading, writing, and are very curious and interested in the world and love storytelling, it’s journalism for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in how businesses operate, how mass media operates and want to take a shot at building great brands, then advertising and public relations may be your calling.

Schools may have minimum score requirements but admission committee always take a holistic approach to each application.

Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a fairly new addition to mass communication studies. It's the philosophy of using all of your marketing communication efforts in support of each other to send out a unified, consistent message to customers and other stakeholders. This integration dominates a company’s business-to-business, marketing channel, customer

focused and internally directed communications. IMC is customer centric and viewed as less "cold" than traditional marketing.As an elective it is sometimes offered either by the communication department or by the business school depending on the university policy and curriculum.

Money Matters

Most graduate schools abroad are expensive and average costs range from $15,000 to over $65,000 per year.   

For the vast majority of graduates, getting a paying job in journalism and related fields straight out of college has always been a challenge. While advertising tops the list for high-paying majors, jobs in public relations and marketing pay a lot more compared to traditional jobs in newspapers, magazines and online media.

Anyone who has been in the field for some time will tell you thatjournalists are underpaid for what they do, but very few journalists go into the exciting field of breaking news for the money.

Source: BrainGain Data compiled from university admissions offices

On average, the starting salary for journalism students in the United States is $32,000 per annum. On the other hand, the median salaries for all starters in marketing and public relations in the US hover around $43,000 and $52,000 respectively. The advent of the Internet has also created huge opportunities for writers who can generate content for online sites but the pressure to keep up with breaking news through timely blog posts can be a recipe for stress. News websites, depending on their size, pay roughly the same as newspapers although some online sites pay bloggers per post. The emphasis for news websites is on being current, so bloggers may end up writing three to four posts a day.   

While reporters get the glory of breaking news and having their byline in the paper, editors generally earn more money.The higher an editor's rank, the more he or she will be paid so it stands to reason that a managing editor or resident editor will make more than say a city editor or chief sub-editor.

Reporters at TV stations in large American cities can earn well into the six figures, and anchors in large media markets can earn $1 million or more annually. Star anchors and editors in India are also highly paid and enjoy many perks including stock options.

Timing the Degree

Many students and young working professionals grapple with the big question: When is the time right to apply to grad school?

The amount of aid available to international students varies from institution to institution. Though most universities are generous with financial aid for graduate studies, it is not always possible for international students to get full funding on their I-20’s at the time of the admission.

While some may wish to get a Masters degree immediately after completing their undergraduate studies, others may want to enhance their skill sets by working for a few years. It’s fine to go either way as long you have the strong credentials to apply. Undoubtedly, some schools prefer students to have a few years of professional experience on their resume. It is always beneficial to have real world examples to draw from in completing your assignments.Plus, the school environment is stimulating after a few years of working. Studying with other working professionals will expand your network and be helpful when you enter the job market again.

Your decision to attend grad school will logically lead to the next question:  What should I study and where?

Consider your goals carefully, to answer this question. If, you wish to gain marketable skills, then choose a graduate program from a university that offers the best of what skills you wish to build. For example, if you wish to enhance your knowledge of mass communication or public relations or integrated marketing communication, choose a school like New York University (NYU) that uses an applied approach. If you are considering a doctorate later, then choose a school with a more scholarly program like Stanford University.

The Right School

Choosing the right institution is the most daunting task in the application process. Instead of relying solely on rankings, it is wise to compare the strength of various academic programs and pick the school that best matches your ambitions and career aspirations.

If you are considering a doctorate later, then choose a school with a more scholarly program like Stanford University

There are many factors to consider, some of which may seem obvious location, size of the university, acceptance rates, availability of financial aid, and job placement figures among others. It is also important to remember that the cost of study varies quite significantly depending on whether it is a public or private university.

Some of the top five, high-ranking PR, advertising and journalism schools are:

Source: BrainGainData compiled from university admissions offices

Assembling your Application

The entire admission process presents you with an opportunity to analyze your strengths and weaknesses as a prospective student.The application procedure for most American universities is fairly uniform but there is no denying that the process in itself is quite extensive and exhaustive, and generally requires a significant investment of time and effort.If you apply to more than one institution pay close attention to the instructions on each application you submit as it may vary depending on the institution.

The application procedure is quite extensive and exhaustive, and generally requires a significant investment of time and effort.

The application packet usually comprises the test reports, college essay, letter(s) of recommendation written by teachers and professionals, academic transcripts and financial certification. Additionally, some universities may also seek your CV and work samples and a second essay from those students wishing to apply for scholarships.

Most American colleges have application deadlines in December and January but it is advisable not to wait until the end.

Standardized Tests

If you are applying for your Master’s degree or PhD you’re required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Some schools may have minimum score requirements but admission committees always take a holistic approach to each application.

Very few journalists go into the exciting field of breaking news for the money.

A score between 900-1100 in the GRE and 280 on the TOFEL computer-based test is considered to be a qualifying score for most schools. If you are not satisfied with your score you can retake the test again but repeating the test too many times is not a good idea. Most schools take the highest scores from multiple test sittings, and if there is an improvement in the scores, it is interpreted as a sign of a student’s commitment and ability to put in hard work.

Try to get a good score but remember that the standardized tests and outstanding grades are only a small part of the application. It is rare for US colleges to take only grades into account while offering you a seat.

Personal Essay

The toughest part about applying to graduate school is writing the admissions essay, also known as the personal statement. The essay is your voice and must reflect your personality.Think of it as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills in order to convince the committee that you will be a unique addition to a diverse classroom. In your essay, talk about your educational background, your immediate academic interests and long-term professional goals. Share your worldview and highlight any involvement in community service or achievements. Honesty, originality and brevity are the vital constituents of an impressive essay.

The essay is your voice and must reflect your personality.

Give yourself enough time to complete your essay as it is not something you can finish and keep aside in a day. It is best to use simple language and adopt a natural tone in your essay avoiding hyperbole.

Recommendation Letter

Recommendation letters are meant to provide insight into your academic and professional achievements and should ideally talk about your interests and enthusiasm. Choose your recommenders carefully as they should have adequate knowledge about your intelligence, integrity and interests to write you a good recommendation. They must know you for a period of time, and should be able to assess your work capacity and growth as student or co-worker.

Official Transcript

Honesty, originality and brevity are the vital constituents of an impressive essay.

You will need to send an official or attested copy of all of your previous academic records, often referred to as official transcripts to all the institutions you are applying to for admission. Official copies are usually sealed and signed by the college registrar. In case an official transcript is not available, universities generally accept photocopies of mark sheets that are attested and certified by an agency like the United States India Education Foundation (USIEF).

Affidavit of Support

You may be asked to provide proof of funds which is usually a copy of the latest income tax return from your family, relatives or sponsors. Some universities ask for this as part of the application process, while others will need it before issuing the I-20 form to allow you to obtain entry into the United States.

Financial Aid

Choosing the right institution is the most daunting task in the application process. Instead of relying solely on rankings, it is wise to compare the strength of various academic programs and pick the school that best matches your ambitions and career aspirations.

For those applying for financial aid, there are additional forms to fill out, discussing your family’s financial situation. Avoid anonymous information sources on the Internet to gather scholarship information. Usually, a college website contains all the necessary information, and is your most reliable resource.

The amount of aid available to international students varies from institution to institution. Though most universities are generous with financial aid for graduate studies, it is not always possible for international students to get full funding on their I-20’s at the time of the admission. Scholarship and tuition waivers are merit-based and students have a better chance of securing funding after having spent a semester or a year at the university. It is best to start the program in the fall term (August) as it is the beginning of the academic year and there is greater availability of scholarship funds.

Types of Funding

Fellowships:These are publicly or privately funded grants like the prestigious Fulbright-Nehru or Rhodes scholarships. They are very competitive and difficult to get unless you are an outstanding candidate and impress the scholarship committee at an interview. A full scholarship pays for a student’s entire tuition and living costs while studying abroad, whereas a partial scholarship covers only a certain part of the total expenses and requires additional funds from the student.

Give yourself enough time to complete your essay as it is not something you can finish and keep aside in a day. It is best to use simple language and adopt a natural tone in your essay avoiding hyperbole.

Graduate Administrative Assistants (GA’s) are appointed to perform various types of duties other than those related directly to teaching or research. Most commonly, these duties relate to supervisory or administrative functions at the university. You can easily find these positions in your own department or outside your departments in the bursar’s office, library, university labs and the like.

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA or TA) positions are usually controlled by the department and are offered to students to support the department's undergraduate teaching program. Graduate teaching assistants work under the direct supervision of regular faculty members and their work  could include teaching a class with faculty supervision, running a lab course, holding office hours, grading papers and exams, or some combination of these activities.

Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) positionsfor students come from faculty members who have external funding from a grant or through the universities internally sponsored programs. A student appointed as a GRA provides research assistance and works under the direct supervision of the principal investigator, who quite often is his or her professor. If you want to advance your career in research, you should identify a faculty member who works in your field of interest and get to know him or her. 

Teaching assistants and research assistants typically work 20 hours a week in exchange for a full tuition-fee waiver and stipend to offset living expenses.

Communications Leads to Multiple Opportunities

The path to the workforce isn’t smooth for all students. But graduates majoring in communication with specific occupations in mind relating to media, public relations (PR), advertising, marketing communication and creative writing may be the biggest winners of the opportunities that are available in economies like India, which is witnessing the phenomenal and unprecedented explosion in communication technology and media.

While reporters get the glory of breaking news and having their byline in the paper, editors generally earn more money.

A career in communications is not for the faint-hearted or for anyone hoping to make big money straight after university. You have to put in years in the trade to enjoy a fatter paycheck.However, masscommunications graduates do enjoy exciting and intellectually satisfying jobs in news media outlets, advertising or public relations agencies, publishing houses and research institutes. Most top schools will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to enter the field but after that you are on your own. It takes a lot of passion, patience and perseverance to survive in the cut-throat field of communication brilliance.

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Comments:
farah
02 June 2014


samia rahman
i want to admit in colambia university & complete my masters degree.please give me a chace to proof myself to giving scholarship.
12 November 2011


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