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Could a postgraduate journalism course be for you?

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Journalists uncover and illuminate the issues of society. A postgraduate degree could be the perfect way to sharpen your skills for the job.

Journalism is a profession required by society to discover its best and worst elements. It lets the public see things they otherwise wouldn’t see and allows them to reflect on the current state of affairs. Journalists help people understand their communities as well as themselves through their efforts. With the advice to follow, you may come to understand better whether or not postgraduate study could be the best way for you to progress or start your career in journalism. Here’s what journalism entails both professionally and academically, how the job prospects and salary are, and the courses you can take to get involved.

What does journalism entail?

Journalism is about constantly staying on top of trends, news and all manner of topics that people find interesting. To this end, journalists must regularly meet with PR professionals from companies across the spectrum, generate hundreds of new ideas on a weekly basis to bounce off their editor and put the ones that make the cut into print. The specifics of what you’ll write about and how you’ll write it come down to your specific area of journalism and publication.

Postgraduate journalism courses offer a bounty of useful information, with units in topics like:

  • Photojournalism
  • Mobile journalism
  • Politics and the media
  • News and power
  • Audio storytelling
  • Advanced professional writing
  • Climate change communication

To enter a postgraduate journalism course, it’s preferred that you either have a prior undergraduate degree in journalism or a degree in one of the humanities or social sciences disciplines. Having at least a credit level GPA is also often a requirement (65%), particularly for master’s programs. If you don’t have any of these, it’s still possible to enter through an unrelated discipline and insufficient GPA via graduate certificate.

Overall, journalism is best suited to those with impeccable writing abilities. Journalists must be able to produce voluminous quantities of work to a high standard on a weekly basis. It can demand very long hours and unusual levels of commitment in order to get that scoop or be the first to publish a particular breaking news story. If you’re this very sort of insatiable literary whirlwind, you ought to give journalism a look.

What are the job prospects?

Journalists are in a curious position. Traditional, bespoke ‘journalism’ jobs at established newspapers are few and far between, but this doesn’t necessarily mean journalism is professionally barren. No, it’s quite the opposite. The ability to write well and frequently is applicable to all manner of new media, such as in blog or social media posts, which can be utilised by just about any company with a concept of what marketing is. The rigorous research skills developed throughout a journalism degree are equally useful, as an ability to discern fiction from falsehood and everything in between puts them in a place of professional flexibility.

Some intriguing non-magazine/ newspaper jobs available to journalism graduates include:

  • Advertising copywriter
  • Digital copywriter
  • PR officer
  • Market researcher
  • Multimedia specialist

What’s the salary like?

According to Payscale Australia, journalists make AU $53,247 on average per year. This can range from $39,541 at the junior level to $80,256 at a more senior level.

Where should I study it?

There are a variety of postgraduate study options for aspiring journalists.

  • Graduate certificates are a time-efficient way of gaining a rudimentary understanding of journalism over the course of six-months full time study. This equates to one year part time. Students can expect to learn a lot about the craft despite the timeframe, with units in useful topics like multi-platform content production, investigative journalism, documentary, media communications and more. Although some universities only offer this as an exit option for early leavers from master/ graduate diploma programs, others permit entry. They can go from fairly broad to highly specialised, such as the Graduate Certificate in Broadcasting (Radio) from ECU.
  • Graduate diplomas offer a similar spattering of units, with the added benefit they’re one year full time instead of six months, giving students more time to explore the breadth of options many institutions offer.
  • Master’s degrees provide a more comprehensive understanding of the field, taking two years of full time study to complete or roughly four years part time. Institutions like UTS even offer a Master of Advanced Journalism, containing units in advanced journalism, digital journalism and beyond, data and computational journalism and a large journalism project to cap it all off. This make them a great way to gain the necessary skills for a profession in the field.

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what’s available to aspiring journalists in terms of day-to-day career, postgraduate study opportunities and solid courses. Whatever your aspirations and wherever you take them, we wish you luck!