Master’s Degree in Communications Management or Public Relations! Which is Right for You?

Master's Degree

If you are interested in becoming a communication specialist, you may need to pursue a master’s degree to advance. Career paths such as media, public relations and marketing can require graduate degrees. So how do you decide which degree to choose?

Keep reading to learn how a master’s in communication management (MCM) degree compares to a master’s degree in public relations. 

What does a master’s degree in public relations cover?

A master’s in public relations focuses on public relations and developing strategic media relationships. Although there is some overlap, it has a narrower focus than a master’s in communication management.  

The main goal of a master’s in public relations is to teach you how to manage a brand’s reputation and build relationships with media professionals, so the brand you represent gets story placements. The degree covers ethics, public relations management, investor relations, media relations and crisis communication. You learn how to do research, plan a campaign and create case studies

Examples of courses you may take include principles of public relations, crisis management, corporate public affairs, multimedia content for public relations, international public relations and public relations writing. 

What does a master’s in communication management cover? 

A master’s in communication management offers more broad coverage that includes studying multiple areas. This includes public relations, communication, media studies, marketing and other topics. The main goal is to learn how to communicate effectively and share your company’s message. 

Some of the concentrations you can choose are internal communication, marketing and content strategy. Another option is to select a strategic organizational communication degree that teaches you how to solve an organization’s problems through risk mitigation tactics, critical assessment models and social contexts. 

Examples of courses you may take include social media advertising, political advertising, organizational leadership and change management, essentials of business management, writing for strategic communication, media strategies and digital design. 

What are the benefits of a degree in organizational communication?

As you evaluate the options, it is important to understand the benefits of pursuing a graduate degree in a particular field. A strategic organizational communication degree offers the benefits of learning more in your area of interest, developing new skills and applying the knowledge on the job. Good communication is essential for the success of any business.  

An MCM degree with this type of focus helps communication professionals understand the impact on an organization’s effectiveness. You learn what to do during a crisis and how to manage a company’s reputation. You discover how to become a stronger speaker and writer. You develop problem solving skills and figure out how to handle difficult people.

This degree allows you to build leadership skills while challenging you.  

How long does it take to complete an MCM degree? 

The average time it takes to get an MCM degree is about two years. Some students are able to complete the degree faster, and others need more time. Flexible programs allow you to take courses at your own pace. 

When figuring out how much time you need for a master’s degree, consider your other responsibilities. Budgeting your time is just as important as budgeting money. If you work full-time or have family obligations, it may take longer to finish a degree. Time is one of the things that cannot be returned once it is used, so it is important to use it wisely. 

What are the career path options?  

Whether you choose a master’s in communication management or public relations, you have different career path options and job opportunities. First, for-profit and non-profit corporations hire many people with both these degrees and always need additional talent. Second, companies dedicated to marketing and communication, such as content agencies, also need people with these degrees. 

If you earn a master’s in public relations, your career paths may be more limited because it is a specialized field. You are likely to find work in public affairs, media relations and public relations. Some common jobs include event coordinator, social media manager, media relations manager, communications coordinator and corporate spokesperson. 

If you earn a master’s in communication management, your career choices are broader and not limited to public relations. You may work in business, government, entertainment, healthcare, nonprofits and other sectors. You can find work as a communication professor, corporate trainer, communication manager, organization leader, consultant and strategic planner.  

Pursuing a master’s degree is a big step that can have a tremendous impact on your future. It can affect your career, family and other aspects of your life. You should approach it seriously and figure out which degree is best for you. Both the master’s in communication management and the master’s in public relations offer benefits. Consider both options as you make a selection and decide if graduate school is right for you.

Master’s degree article and permission to publish here provided by Alexis Fraser. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on December 7, 2022.