Hofstra PR Master’s Program: First of its Kind on LI
Hofstra University’s new public relations master’s degree program, the first of its kind on Long Island, is gaining steam.
The master’s program grew out of the Hempstead school’s successful undergraduate PR program, noted Jeffrey Morosoff, the graduate program director.
“There aren’t too many other programs like this, especially in our area,” Morosoff said. “We saw this as an opportunity.”
Hofstra officials got state approval for the new educational program, which took about two years to assemble, in April 2013. Most graduate programs had already made decisions on which students to accept for the fall 2013 semester, but not wanting to wait until fall 2014 to start the PR master’s program, Morosoff and his team scrambled to promote it and generate applications for fall 2013.
From a field of about 50 applicants, they selected 19 for the program’s inaugural class. Three additional students were added for the current spring semester, bringing the 36-credit program up to 22 students. The inaugural class is expected to graduate in the spring of 2015.
Morosoff said the program has already admitted 13 new students for the upcoming fall semester, and he ultimately expects to admit a total of 30 for fall 2014 – pushing the total number of students in Hofstra’s PR master’s program past 50.
While the response has been strong, some PR professionals question the need for a PR master’s degree. An advanced degree is always beneficial, many insiders note, but for those hoping to break into the PR business, it might be overkill – and, in the eyes of hiring decision-makers, less valuable than good old-fashioned experience.
“Having a master’s wouldn’t necessarily have a bearing on whether we hire somebody,” said Don Miller, executive vice president of Mineola-based HLD Communications. “We really take into account somebody’s work history, their writing abilities and certain other skills necessary for public relations.”
Someone with an advanced degree will probably be seeking “an advanced salary,” Miller added, a constraint for many small- to midsized PR firms with finite compensation ranges.
Morosoff said he’s well aware what a master’s degree will and won’t do for grads.
“The profession doesn’t demand a master’s, especially at the entry level,” he said. “I would never encourage a student who’s earned a bachelor’s in public relations to get a master’s, because I don’t believe two degrees in public relations is overly beneficial.”
In fact, only one student in Hofstra’s graduate public relations program has a bachelor’s degree in PR, according to Morosoff – the rest hold bachelor’s degrees in other subjects and are looking for “a whole new career path that gives potential for advanced management positions,” he said.
Those looking for higher-level public relations positions at large corporations are most likely to benefit from having an advanced PR degree, Miller added, since these companies must often deal with large-scale crisis communications and public policy issues – among the subjects covered extensively in Hofstra’s master’s program.
“Every course is taught at a more advanced level in the master’s program, but management is really the standout,” Morosoff said. “Students have to do more critical thinking and learn the structure.”
As the public relations graduate program continues to grow, Morosoff said he hopes Hofstra will eventually be able to provide the program entirely online, much as it does with its MBA program.
“We want it available both in the classroom and online,” Morosoff said. “That way, you have someone from Long Island taking classes alongside someone in Denver or China.”