How My Master’s Degree Prepared Me

When people ask me if they should consider a post-graduate degree, I almost always say yes. In many ways, my career success can be directly attributed to my masters degree from Georgetown’s Communications, Culture and Technology (CCT) program.

It’s no coincidence that this February 28th’s xPotomac will be hosted at Georgetown University’s Copley Formal Lounge. My former program is sponsoring the event because it includes many new media and communications elements that their students are studying now.

Even though I graduated in 2000, CCT taught me several core skillsets that I use today at work. In addition to a deeper understanding of communications, I also learned quite a bit about technology and how it impacts media. Further, I learned technology diffusion theory, which is how new tools are adopted by cultures and society. In fact, my masters thesis focused on global wireless Internet adoption.

On a sociological level, we learned how technologies impact cultures and individuals alike. I remember one class where we studied dystopican science fiction literature and movies, and analyzed how they represent deep fears presentented by the technological future.

Now the program has evolved quite a bit in 14 years as has technology itself. Today’s student should benefit from these evolutions.

The CCT Program prepared me for what I write about, how I help companies and nonprofits succeed, and the career I’ve had to date. These results drive my enthusiastic response to friends and colleagues who are considering post-graduate education. If it’s a good program in someone’s field or area of interest, I don’t think they can go wrong. While the theories may seem esoteric, in my experience people will soon see how they impact their sector.

In many ways, this ability to read market dynamics provides a great differentiator. I intuitively understand why things happen, and how to approach them. It saves time, and I think more strategically.

A good professional masters program also offers a chevron for job opportunities. Before I went out on my own, Georgetown was mentioned in almost every interview I had by the potential employer. I never received that kind of attention for my Literature degree from American University.

By the way, I know these things aren’t cheap. The eraning gap between a bachelor’s degree and amaster’s degree is not that great anymore. I paid for my own graduate degree, but I think it was worth it. Just some reasons why I encourage folks to go for more schooling if they are so inclined.

What is your experience with graduate school? Did you avoid it, or do you want to go?

The featured image was taken yesterday at Georgetown University’s CCT Design Technology Studio.


  • I often think about this question and my MBA. I went to Thunderbird, the top school in the world for an international MBA. Almost nothing i learned in the classroom is applicable today.

    What is applicable? The network of people I went to school with and who have graduated from the school.

    Clay Shirky wrote this last week. I agree.

    • I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Per my Facebook comment, I think CCT would remain relevant because of its focus on the evolving zeitgeist.

  • Geoff- this is very timely for me. I am awaiting an admissions decision from the MBA program at Drexel. Prior to completing my application, I weighed the decision for more than a year- researching and polling friends and colleagues about their experiences in an effort to determine whether or not it made sense for me to get my MBA. I’d say that a majority of folks questioned, “Why?” Why do you want to go back to school? What do you think you’ll learn? My answer:

    ‘The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.’

    Maybe it’s because my mother is a public school teacher with more than 30 years of experience, but I understand this concept and the importance of life-long learning as a mindset and a habit; a graduate degree is the not the end-game, it’s the next chapter in the journey.

    So, I made the decision and I applied. Now, let’s see if I get in?
    (fingers crossed).

    • Drexel is a great school! I think you will have a good time. West Philly is pretty cool, too. And I agree, once you have learned your thinking evolves. That is timeless.

  • Although I now wish more “real-world” classes were included in the creative writing program, I know my writing abilities were in no small part formed and grown during the three years I spent in it. I also learned a lot about analyzing/critical thinking and editing, so…I guess it was a good investment.

  • I graduated with my BSME about a year ahead of my wife graduating with her BSN. I took the GMAT and got accepted into an MBA program. However, I talked to prospective employers, and you are right – the differences in salary did not justify the additional stress of college while working almost full-time and the additional costs.

    Having then transitioned from engineering, to software development, to entrepreneur, I can say the Master’s degree really would not have helped in my case.

    Not to say I haven’t been interested in going back over the last few years – either going the business intelligence route (University of Denver had one for awhile) or even sociology.

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