Ask about industry links and work experience placements, as well as the credentials of past students.
Far more people want to be journalists than there are vacancies in the industry. It’s not compulsory to do a journalism postgraduate course, but it can definitely give you an edge on the competition. Some courses even involve a regular work experience placement, which could turn into a full-time job if you play your cards right.
What types of postgraduate journalism courses are available?
As well as general ‘journalism’ courses, it is common to find courses that specialise in a particular type of journalism; this will be clear from the course name. Examples include:
- broadcast journalism
- multimedia journalism
- digital journalism
- international journalism
- sports journalism.
Broadcast courses will teach you how to report for television and radio, as well as teach you about video and audio equipment and how to use it. Multimedia courses may cover several different formats such as television, radio, online, newspapers, magazines, social media and photography. It is no longer usual to find courses that focus specifically on print.
Many postgraduate journalism courses include formal placements with employers, which can be a bonus for those in search of structured work experience. If your department has links with industry (such as lectures by professionals working in the field) this can be another plus.
How long does it take to get a masters in journalism?
Courses can take up to one year, if you do it full time, or two if you study part time. Students on one-year courses usually work towards qualifications such as an MA or PGDip (postgraduate diploma).
Are shorter courses available?
Some courses are much shorter (from a few weeks to six months) and run by specialist training colleges. Be wary of these. Journalism qualifications are big business, but not necessarily worth anything in the industry. Nonetheless, if they're accredited by one of the organisations listed below, they could be a better bet than a longer, unaccredited course at a well-known university.
How do I choose the best journalism masters or postgraduate diploma for me?
Your best bet is to talk to recruiters in the industry and find out for yourself. Also look for accreditation from one of the following industry bodies:
- National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
- National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)
- Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC).
If you want to assess the value of a qualification, ask about industry links and work experience placements, as well as the credentials of past students.
How can I fund my journalism course?
If you do decide to take a postgraduate course you may be able find relevant bursaries and grants on TARGETjobs' postgraduate study section. Alternatively, you can study part time while working to fund the investment in your future. Some employers in the industry may be willing to support training for a valued employee.
A Professional and Career Development Loan might be appropriate. The Journalism Diversity Fund is also available for candidates from underrepresented groups who wish to join an NCTJ course.