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Hi all,

I'm going down to the last minute with my decision. I'm deciding between Berkeley's Masters of Journalism program and Rutgers-Camden's Creative Writing MFA. I'm ultimately interested in pursuing some type of career in journalism, with a preference for longform, reported stories and working at magazines, websites, other platforms that do that type of storytelling.

So, both programs appeal to me. Ultimately, I think Berkeley Journalism would offer a more direct path into the journalism industry via the network of alums/profs/peers from Berkeley, the ability to build a solid portfolio of journalistic clips, a concrete skill set that would make me more employable, an internship program that's required, etc. But, it costs a lot of money and has minimal funding to offer, so I'd be looking at somewhere around $40k to $50k in debt by the time I completed the two-year program. And I'd be entering an industry that doesn't pay much, especially at the entry-level jobs I'd likely be working at for the first few years. Basically, I don't know if the debt is worth it, especially, since j-school is not the only way to break into the journalism world.

Rutgers-Camden's MFA is fully-funded, so total tuition remission, healthcare provided, and a $26,000/yr TA stipend. In addition to journalism, I also write poetry and creative nonfiction, which would be my main focus at Rutgers. Their program is super flexible, so it's possible I could try to do the work of longform journalism along with pursuing poetry and some other interests of mine. They have awesome professors and it seems like a great program. It's just that an MFA doesn't really lead to an concrete professional paths, and the one it most often does lead to--academia and being a professor--is both an oversaturated market and a path I'm not that interested in. It would offer me the time to focus on my writing and seek out freelancing opportunities, to try to break into journalism that way. But, ultimately, I worry that an MFA won't really get me any closer to the type of journalism I want to pursue.

Any thoughts from anyone? I'm still really on the fence. In particular, anyone who has some background in journalism, j-school, an MFA program, or creative writing. I gotta decide by tomorrow!!! Eeek!!!!

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I don’t know much about Berkeley J school, but my initial reaction is GO TO RUTGERS. Because the MFA is a relatively soft degree you have the freedom to get out of it what you want! And after school you can pitch yourself as having focused on feature/profile writing in your nonfiction MFA. I would think this would seem basically equivalent to a Journalism Masters to potential employers. Also, it’s free. And they pay you to go. This seems no-nonsense to me. Finishing a graduate degree in writing and being debt-free is a very different experience from finishing a degree in writing and being $60k in debt (and probably having to work throughout the experience to pay your living expenses.)

Edited by clvlndrx

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