Journalists provide a valuable service to society. From light hearted entertainment to digging up crimes and tragedies, they act as the eyes and ears of people. Ideally, they are trusted to deliver the facts about issues that would otherwise go unnoticed. When it comes to postgraduate courses, there are several entry requirements aspiring journalists need to observe. In this article, we’ll go over the main forms of postgraduate study, the entry requirements you’re likely to encounter and how you can get around them.
Graduate certificates take six months full time to complete, or up to one year part time. Graduate diplomas are twice as long at one year full time and two years part. In most cases however, this is the only difference between the two. For journalism, you’re likely to encounter similar entry requirements for both depending on the specialism, as these tend to be geared toward particular aspects of journalism. Take the Graduate Certificate in Broadcasting (Radio) from ECU, for instance. This requires applicants to attend a special audition to see how fit they are for the craft. This is kind of like a job interview, but bear in mind they’re assessing you not only on your personality, but how well you can gain and hold the attention of an audience. To that end, it’s worth recording yourself speak and hearing where you may pronounce words strangely or where you put strange inflections. You could also ask a friend to listen to your speech to see if it’s fit for broadcasting.
Of course, this sort of thing can get fairly esoteric. What’s common across all these programs is the necessity of a cognate bachelor’s degree. In other words, you must be coming from any degree with tangentially related skills like clear written and oral communication or research. So, disciplines like law, philosophy, general communications or otherwise are well-suited.
For journalism, you’ll also encounter CV requirements. What they’ll normally be looking for here is vaguely related volunteer/ work experience. They’re not looking to see if you’ve spent the last ten years running a paper; they just want to see you’ve been able to juggle other things outside study. More importantly, related things. To this end, taking part in various writing competitions, writing for your university’s student run magazine or joining relevant clubs are all ways of expressing this.
These can be pretty flexible when it comes to prerequisites. A prime example is the Master of Journalism from Monash. This has three separate paths to entry, with increasingly higher requirements. What’s the pay-off for taking a harder entry path? You can knock up to a year off your degree, which is quite respectable. So what’s the ask? Well, to get that coveted one-year master’s degree, you need not only an honours degree in cognate discipline, but a high-passing GPA (60%). It’s not too bad really, but consider this. Honours adds a whole other year anyway, so you’re essentially still paying the full two years by utilising this pathway. So, if you’ve only got a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline and your GPA isn’t horrible, you can still knock six months off the degree. Ultimately, it’s a net gain of six months by taking the easier option!
Another element of note is entry via experience. If you’ve got work experience that the faculty deems equivalent to the university degree they’re asking for in any given pathway, you can get in without even a bachelor’s degree.
So roughly speaking, if you’re trying to substitute work experience for a bachelor’s degree, you’re looking for at least three years of journalistic experience and four if you’re trying to circumvent the honours requirement. Great to keep in mind if you’re an old hand at this, but if you’re a budding journalist looking to break in, your best bet is probably to look for that middle pathway (bachelor’s degree in cognate discipline with 60% GPA to take six months off the course).
If you’re not proud of your GPA and this isn’t an option for you, don’t worry. Most universities will let you in with a graduate certificate, which will still have you completing your master’s degree on time. This is because completion of a graduate certificate can take six months off the master’s degree, which is equal to the certificate’s duration.
Hopefully you’ve gained slightly more insight into how prerequisites for postgraduate journalism courses work and how best to utilise them. Wherever you choose to go with your degree, we wish you the best of luck!