Do I Really Need a Degree in PR?

A popular debate and highly opinionated discussion lies around the topic of whether we need a degree in Public Relations in order to be successful in the industry. After a few weeks of carrying out my #GirlBossMonday interviews, it became clear that some of the CEOs and founders of these PR and communications companies didn’t have any formal education in public relations prior to starting their own businesses.

This poses the question, ‘Do I really need a degree in PR?

This also got me thinking: Am I going to come out of university in debt up to my eyeballs studying hard for a degree that someone else can walk into the same job without? Should I quit while I’m ahead and apply for full time jobs and work my way up from there? I could, but I have no intention of doing so.

Education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world

In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable in this life than education. As Albert Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Aka: never stop learning.

Surely four years of studying PR (maybe five if I complete a Masters) would be more worthwhile to an employer compared to someone without a qualification in the subject? But what if this person has five years of experience in a PR role where I only have one year along with my degree? Is it more valuable to an employer that someone have extensive hands-on experience and be familiar in the role?

If it wasn’t for my PR degree, when interning, I wouldn’t understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. By completing my PR degree at LJMU I am gaining insight into all business matters that not many people have the access to. Taking modules in marketing, finance, web development, HR, and of course communications.

From taking these modules, I feel that I have a rounded knowledge of business and am learning everything needed to perform at the top level in a PR role. It also means that I can be flexible with my choices after university as I have knowledge in many different business areas so I am not just offering services in PR. I could touch into marketing, social media management and even some human resource management.

My PR degree

To me, PR is one of the best degrees anyone can do. There are so many job opportunities as every brand, company or organisation needs PR.

My degree has opened me to so many opportunities, so many internship experiences, has made me fall in love with the subject and envision the type of life I want for myself and allowed me to plan for that future.

Without my PR degree I wouldn’t have the contacts that I do, the internship experience, the opportunity to work in London for a year, and of course, I wouldn’t have started this blog.

Post graduation

It is widely accepted that having a university degree allows you to start further up the company hierarchy and also allows you to start off on graduate salary. However, just because you have a degree does not automatically mean you are entitled to a higher wage or esteemed position in a company.

I am often told by the older generation – mainly taxi drivers and customers in the bar I work in – that there are no jobs out there for us once we graduate and that we’ll more than likely end up working in McDonalds. While there is nothing wrong with working in McDonalds (I once worked here for four weeks before realising I wasn’t prepared to eat McDonalds every break for the foreseeable future) graduates must realise that having a degree is not enough to walk into a job. However, having a degree in Public Relations will give you a head start over someone who does not. Of course employers value a university degree, but the degree alone will not guarantee you the job. In PR you must be prepared to work hard and show that you have what it take to succeed.

Your work ethic and self-motivation are one of the most important things that employers look for. If you really want to work in this industry then where are your examples of work experience? Where have you shown initiative? How can you show me your passion for PR? 

Of course employers value a university degree, but the degree alone will not guarantee you the job. In PR you must be prepared to work hard and show that you have what it take to succeed.

In the PR industry, experience and contacts are everything.

 

3 Comments

  1. February 9, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    This topic has been one of the most debated since I started my PR degree.

    Having completed my 3 years with a year working in the industry and now being halfway through my masters, I would agree that yes, you do need a PR degree.

    While it’s not a requirement and some people are able to enter the industry through the merit of experience or qualification in a related field, I agree that a degree in PR allows you to have a wider knowledge base for strategic approach.

    That being said, it’s also true that despite having a degree the job that you’ll get following graduation will most definitely be entry level.

    I would also say that it’s almost impossible to get a job in PR without industry experience alongside your studies. It’s all well and good knowing the ‘why’ but your employer will expect you to know the ‘how’ without them having to invest too heavily in training.

    Great post.

    • orlaghclaire
      February 10, 2017 / 12:35 am

      It’s great to read so many different opinions on the topic, as there are success examples for both sides of the argument.

      However, I do think that a university degree will always give you an edge when it comes to applying for jobs and even job performance.

      Thank you for sharing your views on the topic Lauren! I think it will be a long time before the debate is every really settled as I think more work needs to be done in defining what PR really is.

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