Back to School, Back to School


graduate school, textbooks, purdue university, master of science in communications, online communications programsTomorrow is the first day of school for kids across the U.S., but I started classes two weeks ago. I’m officially a graduate student at Purdue University. If all goes well, in 20 months I’ll have a Master of Science in Communication.I was am a little bit nervous about starting a graduate school program and a new job while moving to a new country. Well, there’s no turning back now!I applied — and was accepted to — two very different online programs. For me, the big selling point for Purdue was the pace of the program: It’s 10 eight-week courses all in a row, with basically no breaks except a couple weeks in December.The other communication program, from a slightly more prestigious/well known institution, mirrors its in-person classes in a more traditional three-semester-per-year structure. Taking one class at a time — which I think is about all I can handle with my full-time job — would have put me at completing the program in 2019. That would have meant I’d be in school almost the entirety of our Jordan tour.graduate school, textbooks, purdue university, master of science in communications, online communications programsFun with school supplies.Ultimately, the asynchronous Purdue program is a better fit for me, especially living and working overseas. (Not to mention tuition is about half the cost compared to the other program.)Is a master’s degree necessary for my career? No. I’ve been working in journalism and communications — in the U.S. and abroad — for 10 years now. I have no doubt that I could continue to do so with or without a graduate education. But having “learned on the job” for most of my career (I majored in English literature in undergrad), I’m looking forward to learning in a more structured and formal (virtual) classroom setting.As Kail likes to remind me, economic theory holds that education is all about job-market signaling. And in today’s job market, more and more potential employees possess not only bachelor’s degrees, but master’s degrees. A bachelor’s degree today is like a high school diploma 20 years ago: It’s the minimum requirement for many jobs. With government employment, which seems more likely for me given Kail’s career track, an advanced degree can directly translate into a higher salary — and in many cases is required to apply for certain jobs.So while having a master’s degree won’t automatically land me a job or higher salary, it definitely won’t hurt my career prospects. And I’m sure I’ll learn some things that will help me be better at my current job.Wish me luck! Do you have an advanced degree?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

11 thoughts on “Back to School, Back to School

  1. Good for you!! I got my master’s in a similar way – I think it was 12 8-week night classes. I only took one at a time (I couldn’t do more than that while working full time) and I learned a TON! Congratulations! 🙂


    1. Well after my first week on the job I’ve been thinking, I’ve made a terrible mistake! ;)I do not think I will regret taking the classes, learning some things and getting a degree. It’s early yet to tell how “useful” the content is, from a practical perspective, but one thing I have noticed and appreciated is the variety of perspectives of my “classmates,” who mostly work in communications functions in a variety of industries. So hearing their thoughts on the readings, approaches to problems and specific examples from their own workplaces and organizations has been enlightening.One other thing I just discovered that seems cool — and maybe something you especially would be interested given your penchant for programming/coding — is Udacity, which offers online certifications in a variety of subjects. It’s a different take on MOOCs because they’re more technically focused:


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