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Better funding VS Better opportunities?


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This year, I applied to a handful of Master's degrees in Media Studies (and related fields) and I've managed to bring it down to two choices. Now, however, I am at an impasse.


University of Denver


  • In my hometown, so I have the option of living at home to lower costs
  • GREAT funding package, looking at less than $10,000 in debt total, possibly none if I work my ass off over the summers
  • The program seems really excited to have me


  • This will only be the program's second year. No reputation within the field, and the university itself is well known for the region, but not nationally
  • More emphasis on practice and skill acquisition than on media /communications theory, which I'm more interested in
  • Located far away from LA, NYC, and all other hubs of media activity, so might be difficult to network


The New School


  • Located in NYC, so great networking opportunities
  • Well known, well respected program
  • Very flexible curriculum with much more opportunity to study theory AND emerging media practices


  • NYC is a super expensive place to live
  • Not as much funding, at least $40,000 in debt total


I should also mention that I currently have no student debt from undergrad. I appreciate how good it feels not having debt over my head, but I also think that it makes it a bit more feasible to take some on for grad school. 


I greatly appreciate any thoughts or advice!

Edited by Chreen
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The current plan is to work after I get my master's. I could see myself getting a PhD at some point, but I think I'm gonna want to be in the industry for a bit first.

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Taking on the debt might not be so crazy considering your field, but keep in mind that you would be taking a substantial risk. Have you done research on exactly the type of jobs you want? I'd check out the Denver program well and good. Did you go and visit the New School? Are you looking to end up in New York? What type of funding have they given you? Double check your finances including upfront moving costs. Good luck.

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So I was in a similar dilemma. I had to choose between my one masters program (regionally recognized) offering me half tuition scholarship (and roughly little to no debt) and another program wasn't really offering me anything and would require me going into debt some 40k. The second option was a top 10 university in the US and top 25 internationally. I weighed the decision heavily. I ask many professors and industry people. All I kept hearing was that your job prospects at the second, more prestigious school are pretty much set and that it's a top university for a reason (i.e what you - OP- mentioned in your post: contacts, students, closer to opportunities, alumni). They also stressed though that the school has to fit you and your goals and that is what you should aim for...cause in the end that is where you will succeed and that is where the money will be worth.


If in the end you expect you will be making a good deal after you graduate to cover your debt, then I'd go with NY. I, like you, do not have undergrad debt so I was a little more flexible in my options as well. I decided to go with the more prestigious university because of the reasons stated above and the fact I expect I'll be making enough to cover my debt. You also have to think of it in the long-term: that is this debt will be financed over 10-20years...and if you will be expected to make enough, it will be a relatively small investment over that period of time. Thats how saw my decision. Obviously, I am not sure about the media field, its prospects, career, etc, etc. If the debt is justifiable because of location, contact, job prospects, career advancement, etc, etc...than it might just be worth it. If not, than choose your second option. But in the end, be confident in your decision. 


Hope that helps.

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