9 Best Online Master’s of Journalism Graduate Schools

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Updated: March 13, 2024, Reading time: 37 minutes

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Studying graduate courses online may be best suited to those studying journalism. As journalism is more and more frequently being completed in an online setting, studying journalism in an online setting will especially suit students who are looking to expand or enter their journalistic careers.

Journalism is a field that’s here to stay; however, it’s changing. More and more journalistic outlets are trending towards online sources; although, the skills needed are the same, whether you are writing for online publications or you’re on the television screen reporting the news. Online journalism programs are convenient and provide a flexible way for the working professional to increase their resume… and their wallet!

Quick audio summary:

Gaining a competitive advantage in today’s world of professional journalism requires writers to be relevant technologically. Learning the ins and outs of cutting-edge technology, using digital media, and interacting with data visually can all be enhanced more directly through an online journalism degree.

Online interviews and videography are now combined with the talent of writing and traditional journalism.


Journalism Defined

A graduate degree in Journalism can either be a Master of Science or a Master of Arts. The difference lies in the concentration track. Most MS in Journalism degrees concentrate on business reporting or data journalism. An MA in Journalism is the usually offered pathway for professionals looking to learn advanced techniques in reporting, writing, and even publishing their works.

Publishing though now goes beyond print, so for many programs, emerging technologies in publishing like web design, social media content management, and video reporting are included in the MS and MA tracks. curricula The degree is usually offered online or in a blended learning format and can be taken full-time or part-time.

Most MS or MA Programs are offered by a university’s College of Arts and Science, College of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC), or College of Information and Communication. Some universities have a dedicated School of Journalism within their campuses.

Look into these universities, as well, as it shows not only the school’s dedication to the craft but a dedicated SoJ. That means it’s a hub for everything mass media, from the academics to the faculty to the technology, the internship opportunities available, research, and the technologies used or being used. And to some extent, it may also help a graduate land a job after graduation.

Journalism is Changing

According to U.S. News and World Report traditional journalism is changing as “increasing numbers of Americans are watching network and cable television news, and online radio is continuing to secure new and loyal listeners.” The article goes on to say that this bodes well for future journalists however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a -6% decline in media and communication jobs from 2021 to 2031.

An online master’s in journalism focuses students on analyzing and investigating current events and sharing those events with the public. Those who work in journalism can cover news locally, become public relations professionals for corporations or travel the world to cover international events.

Nonprofit fundraising, public relations, video editing, or technical writing and editing are other avenues of employment for those with degrees in journalism.


These top school rankings are compiled mostly based on the availability of journalism-related IT and Business courses or concentrations.

Schools with a traditional approach to graduate-level journalism are not considered in this list (for example, courses solely centered on theory, ethics, advanced news writing or storytelling, and the like. These are courses that a graduate student already knows, assuming they work in media or have a bachelor’s degree in media-related courses).

For this school search, we considered the following points when choosing a quality program for an online Journalism Master’s degree program:

Best Online Master’s of Journalism Graduate Schools

Best Online Master's of Journalism Graduate Schools

Arizona State University – Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


Tempe, AZ

Online Master of Science in Business Journalism (Online)

Journalism was first offered by the Arizona State University (ASU) in 1931. It wasn’t even a program then, just a few courses for supplemental education. The Division of Journalism was then founded after almost two decades. Walter Cronkite rose to prominence in broadcast media after helming CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981.

Three years later, ASU gave him the honor of naming its School of Journalism and Mass Communication after him because of his exemplary work in Journalism – from wire service reporter to news reporter and editor, to a chief correspondent for the Nuremberg Trials, to national news anchor.

Standout Features:

ASU’s Cronkite School of JMC offers a wide array of immersion programs that graduate students can choose for their culminating project in the program. The long list includes experiences in the various hubs of Cronkite News.

For sports and media exposure, go to its LA bureau, for immigration and minority issues, the Borderland bureau is the place, while politics and governance are for Cronkite News – Washington.

The Digital Audiences Lab is also an interesting choice for students interested in data-driven journalism and mass communication. It exposes students to the digital measurement of audience metrics and how to engage them using new media and content strategies. For aspiring strategists, whether private or public (political), Cronkite’s Public Relations Lab is the way to go.

Cronkite’s PR Lab has housed students who have created campaigns and other forms of communications to many business and media giants and federal agencies such as Disney, U.S. Department of State, Walmart, Univision, NASA, and McDonald’s, to name a few.

University of South Florida


Tampa, FL

Online Master of Arts in Digital Journalism and Design

The College of Arts and Sciences houses the University’s Department of Journalism and Digital Communication. Known for producing quality and successful journalism graduates who have gone on to build careers in current affairs stateside and abroad, the Department also boasts highly evolved journalism and communication programs that reflect and adapt to the field’s technological and digital advancements. 

Standout Features:

Because of the program’s heavy emphasis on emerging communications technologies like digital storytelling and visualization, a standout requirement for admission to the program is a passing mark of at least 80% in a digital skills evaluation exam. The essay requirement is tech-driven as well.

Compared to the usual personal statement essay required of graduate school applicants, the Department requires an 800 to 1000-word essay that explains how this program will benefit the applicant’s future career, particularly the marriage of web-based communication technologies and the fundamentals of journalism.

USF has a career-services portal dedicated to its students and alumni called Handshake. Students, especially newcomers, are encouraged to create an account and exhaust the portal’s features for internship and job-hunting. Registered users can upload their CV, search for employers and job posts, know about any upcoming job fair events within the university or the community, and many more.

University of Georgia – Online Learning


Athens, Georgia

Online Master of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication—Emerging Media

The University of Georgia has a prideful history of being the first educational institution in the US to be a designated state university in 1785, thus “the birthplace of public higher education in America,” as it says on its official website.

UGA is home to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, which currently offers a wide array of JMC programs that intersect with the emerging technologies in the field while keeping true to the field’s fundamentals.

Standout Features:

The program only opens and closes every summer term, which means applicants need to turn in their requirements by March, and those who turn in their requirements by early May will be put on the waitlist pending availability. With due diligence and full-load coursework, the program can be completed in as little as three semesters or one entire academic year. 

UGA’s Grady College is home to the prestigious Peabody Awards, which recognize exemplary works in broadcasting, investigative journalism, in-depth documentaries, and news specials globally. It is also affiliated with other renowned media and press institutes and centers that focus on media research, development, and recognition. These include the Peabody Media Center, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the New Media Institute, the Center for Health and Risk Communication, and the James M. Cox Jr. Centers for International Mass Communication Training and Research Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management, and Leadership. With such esteemed in-house R&D facilities dedicated to the further cultivation and evolution of mass media, aspiring media practitioners are on the right track with any JMC program from Grady College.

Harvard Extension School


Cambridge, MA

Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies – Journalism

Harvard Extension School is the Ivy League university’s rendition of an open university. It caters to professionals or adult students living and juggling the multiple facets of adulthood, whether it’s a job, a family, or other priorities.

From its 2000-course catalog to its graduate degrees in 26 fields of study (from the sciences to the liberal arts) and its 46 certificate programs, all of which can be taken in a hybrid or blended format with very minimal in-campus attendance required, the Extension School has got every adult student covered, no matter the challenges in time and schedule.

Standout Features:

Admission to the program is rigorous and true to the Harvard style. Aside from the usual requirements such as a bachelor’s degree program, applicants must take two prerequisite courses before application – Proseminar and Feature Writing or News Reporting.

But before enrolling in the Proseminar course, a Critical Reading and Writing Skills (CRWS) online test is required. Either that or a passing mark of B or higher on courses EXPO 42a/b/c will be accepted as a prerequisite to the Proseminar course. Completion of the two prerequisite courses will count towards earning an ALM, Journalism graduate degree.

Harvard Extension University has recently introduced its Academic Gap Year program and Undergraduate Certificates program in response to the pandemic’s academic disruption. While the mechanics of each program differ, both have the same goal of bridging the gap among students (and even adult students) affected by the pandemic. They can either enroll in a semester-long Harvard online course or be interested in a Harvard brand of upskilling through undergraduate certificates that will only require three credits or just one course in various areas like web programming, mass communications, or the humanities many more. Note that none of the programs can be credited towards a full degree at the university.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln


Lincoln, NE

Online Master of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communications – Integrated Media Communications

The University of Nebraska in Lincoln is situated in a community that is the best of both, or all, worlds – a midwestern vibe intersecting with a growing industrial and business hub thanks to the manufacturing, agrarian, technology, health care, and finance sectors. It is nestled in thriving urban metro areas amidst extensive greenery space.

It is no wonder that all these external influences have helped shape the various programs offered at UNL. The programs are founded on the traditional path and sprinkled with enough contemporary elements to keep them abreast with the changing times. 

Standout Features:

The college puts the utmost importance on students having control over their degrees and curricula. Aside from having the flexibility to chart half of their curricula through 5 elective courses, prospective students can sample a maximum of two courses (equivalent to 6 credit hours) to see if Journalism, Mass Communications, and its related disciplines are the pathway for them.

The even better news is that if the two chosen programs are aligned with their chosen CoJMC concentration, these can count toward the degree. The college also acknowledges that many of its enrollees are part-time adult learners, and dropping out is possible. To prevent this, CoJMC allows students to take a break for a maximum of 3 semesters.

Students will be relegated to the inactive list, but reactivation can be done upon request. maximum residency within a program is five years. Now, that’s flexibility

The University of Nebraska is an affiliate of Nutech Ventures, a non-profit office that fosters, cultivates, and licenses the patents of research of UN students, particularly the Lincoln and Kearney campuses. They house patents for physical innovations and patents for software and digital products made by UNL or UNK students, professors, interns, researchers, and other members of the UN community. It is distinguished as among the top 100 academic and research institutions globally to receive US patents.

New York University – Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute


New York, NY

Online Master of Arts in American Journalism (Online)

New York University (NYU) is home to the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. The Department was named after Carter, a longtime benefactor of the Journalism Department who also taught philosophy and journalism during his stay as an adjunct professor.

The institute serves as a hub for cultivating aspiring media practitioners both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Whatever the platform, the focus, or the beat, one can find a program that fits at NYU.

Standout Features:

Only the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute would require applicants to submit a 1500-word personal statement that revolves around a specific theme specific to the degree. In addition, as rigorous as it seems applicants are also required by NYU to submit three writing samples featuring any written work, whether published or not.

An article, an essay, a blog, or even links to any form of video journalism or multimedia work will be considered. Any form of citizen journalism can be submitted for consideration for one’s application.

The MA in American Journalism program facilitates the American Journalism Online Awards (AJOA), which recognizes journalists and news outlets for their contributions to news, other relevant topics, awareness, and conversations pressing today’s current affairs. The content may be of any beat as long as it’s noteworthy, and it may be published or posted on any platform, whether in print, on television, or even on social media, including social media places you’d never think the AJOA would look for nominees (Tik-Tok, Twitter, Podcasts, and the like).

Ball State University


Muncie, IN

Online Master of Arts in Journalism 

Ball State University is a publicly funded research and educational institution with a designation of R2 – High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification. The school officially opened in 1918, after the Ball brothers bought the land on which the university currently stands. It used to be known as the Indiana State Normal School – Eastern Division until 1961.

In the same year, one of its first colleges was the College of Architecture and Planning, shortly followed by the Center for Radio and Television, now known as the College of Communication, Information, and Media. Today, BSU has nine colleges, including a University College, which mostly caters to incoming undergrad first-year students through advisement and sample academics.

Standout Features:

The personal statement required of the MA in Journalism applicants has a very specific format that is rarely seen in other contemporary programs. In 500 words, applicants must answer five questions and tie everything together cohesively to form a personal statement.

The questions are usually about the reasons to pursue graduate studies, the interesting concentrations and courses, professional and academic objectives, the faculty members, and the most interesting modern issue in Journalism.

Popular talk show host David Letterman is an alumnus of BSU. He has always been a committed and proud alumnus of the university and he initiated a namesake scholarship fund way back in 1985 to be granted to students who are majoring or minoring in telecommunications. The twist of the scholarship is that while it is based on meritocracy, the merit is not based on grades but rather on creative projects submitted as part of the student’s scholarship application. The creative project could be on any topic delivered via any platform and media. His continued presence as an alumnus of  BSU has also brought other media personalities to hold lectures and talks at the school. The main building of the College of Communication, Information, and Media is also named after him.

University of Colorado – Boulder


Boulder, CO

Online Master of Arts in Journalism Entrepreneurship

The University of Colorado – Boulder recently founded the College of Media, Communication, and Information. When it opened in 2015, it was a perfect time for the college and its students as the time reflects the peak of transformation happening in and out of mass media.

It was a perfect time to open a hub to cultivate young minds to investigate and engage audiences through their stories and support adult learners in their goal of upskilling and improving themselves professionally and in the way they see and communicate significant events or topics.

Standout Features:

Among the programs surveyed for this list, only UCB’s MA offering has a mandatory Media Technology Bootcamp prerequisite to take the entire program. It tackles the various media used by journalists and other media practitioners to publish their deliverables, from the traditional print media to the paperless, virtual space of blogs, social media, web pages, and other new platforms.

The MA program also stands out as one of the few programs that offer a web design course as part of the core curriculum and not only an elective. This, along with the course in data journalism, is in perfect alignment with the media boot camp and the objective of the program to produce ready-to-work (or ready-to-go-back-to-work) graduates armed with the knowledge and expertise in emerging technologies in the field. 

UCB’s College of Media, Communication, and Information serves as the hub for several research centers that aim to raise the barometers for journalism and media excellence through research, lectures, and other forms of study. Among these centers is the Center for Environmental Journalism, Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media, Media Enterprise Design Lab, Center for Communication and Democratic Engagement, Media Archaeology Lab, and Nature, Environment, Science and Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts. With varied and well-rounded centers of research excellence, all these are promising training grounds for both students and graduates of the CMCI.

University of Alabama


Tuscaloosa, AL

Online Master of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies

The University of Alabama is one of the top-ranked universities in the country. Its online programs, in particular, have always ranked in the top 10 of various school-ranking publications. The College of Continuing Studies – Bama by Distance guarantees that the programs earned through the Bama by Distance route are at par and equates to a degree earned in-campus because of the singularity of faculty for both on-campus courses and online courses. 

Standout Features:

The program can be completed anywhere from 1.5 years to a maximum of 6 years, a year longer than its contemporaries, and works well for adult learners.

Applicants without a degree related to journalism or mass communications may still apply to the program provided that they have relevant experiences in the field, including the academe, research, production, and others. Even work experience in data science or analysis, web programming, or video editing may be considered for application.

UA’s College of Continuing Studies houses the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) for adult learners aged 50 and above. OLLI is a membership-based program where students study whatever they want to study, and there are no prerequisites, no grades to meet, and projects to complete. It’s a risk-free and stress-free way to learn from a quality learning institution like UA. Aside from learning, social events and travel opportunities are also available just to mix things up. And speaking of mixing things up, the courses also change every semester. Now, who says learning isn’t fun?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Master’s of Journalism degree worth it?

One can research and read how experts and old-timers in the field weigh in on this longstanding debate. On the one hand, some see value in J-schools, especially at the graduate level. They believe it can open the door for more professional opportunities, better pay, and a wider professional network. But to what end? At what cost? This is what the other end of the spectrum is all about.

According to these folks, they see no value in going to school to be a journalist for two reasons: one, the inverse proportional relationship of rising tuition cost and stagnant median salary, and two, classroom training, according to these folks, is useless. The real and substantial training happens on the ground, whether in the newsroom or on the field.

Regardless of the arguments, an aspiring student can still find value in attending a journalism graduate school (more on that in the next section), especially if it’s online. For one, there is a certain level of optimism from graduate students to change the way traditional journalism, or journalism as a whole, reaches the masses, and this is one of the key takeaways of a master’s in journalism.

The optimism springs from the fact that the graduate-level curricula of many journalism schools have been revamped over the last decade. So, don’t be surprised to see courses like feature writing, strategic communication theory, data science, computer science, web design, mass communication law, advanced public relations writing, or multimedia arts within a journalism program.

Journalism programs also educate about media research, interactive media, public relations, media journalism, integrated strategic media, and multi-platform journalism.

Several quality J-schools across the country have the perfect balance of engaging and relevant curricula and manageable tuition fees. One has to research and dig deep to find those and not be swayed by radical thinkers out there.

What are the added benefits of a Master’s degree compared to a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism?

In any line of work, more education is always better. It gives an individual an extra layer of knowledge, expertise, an expansive professional network, and, best of all, confidence. In journalism and media, while a bachelor’s degree alone is usually sufficient to get into entry-level positions in related industries, a master’s degree may give that extra step to move into mid-level positions.

A master’s degree in journalism also allows the student to focus on certain specialties or concentrations that will either up one’s current skillsets from college level to professional level (e.g., writing, reporting) or acquire new and relevant skills like social media management, online reporting and news producing and probably even designing a news website. 

With more intensive writing, reporting, and multimedia arts programs, students pursuing an MA in Journalism are expected to have a more polished and more curated portfolio filled with their best written, photographic, or visual reporting.

In the age of digital reporting, when an applicant has an MA degree, more than the degree itself or the alma mater, prospective employers will be more focused on the applicant’s portfolio. These may include online content like blogs, photojournalism pieces, investigative reporting, video blogs (vlogs), visual journalism pieces (yes, this is different than photojournalism), and the like.

J-schools are no longer just training schools. Many of them have invested in revamping their curricula to include new methodologies for news researching and writing, and new technologies that improve the way news is delivered to a target audience.

Those who brave the journey of graduate-level J-school also benefit from being exposed to new media such as digital reporting, digital videography or content management, and even data journalism. Thanks to these, a new breed of journalists is born – hard-hitting, investigative, tech-savvy, and precise while walking above the line of ethics.

And speaking of ethics, a master’s in journalism, especially in this day and age of paperless reporting and citizen journalism will fortify one’s sense of ethics, integrity, and credibility.  There is no harm in reiterating or stressing the importance of effective oversight in journalism, a valuable soft skill already taught at the undergraduate level.

At a time when everybody gets to say, feature, or create whatever they want to in their media (or channel, or vlog, or wall, whatever one wants to call it), ethics in journalism is more important than ever, and yet, it is a dying ethos. But it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to be reinforced. 

All these benefits are achievable through online Master of Arts in Journalism programs. The right program has a good mixture of courses that balances the fundamentals with the innovations in the field, has flexibility in terms of course concentrations so students can pursue the specialization that they truly prefer, has a faculty with experienced and esteemed professionals in the field, and has demonstrated a value-for-money approach, in short, affordable.

What should a prospective graduate student look for in an online Master’s degree in Journalism?

Whether it’s an MS or an MA track, every graduate program in Journalism will have courses on Journalism Theory, Communications Theory, Law and Ethics, and the like. But what sets these programs apart is, first, the mode of delivery. Online or hybrid formats are the most conducive for the largest demographic of graduate students – adult or professional learners.

These are the ones that balance school work, professional work, family life, and other priorities. A program that can be attended on a full-time or part-time basis is also beneficial for these student types.

Second, some programs will allow students to choose from two or multiple tracks or concentrations, while other programs are fixed with the concentration paths available for students. Regardless of the case, Master’s in Journalism programs should reflect the changing landscape of media, or as they call it, New Media.

It should also offer courses on Emerging Technologies to explore the new platforms available to journalists, reporters, and broadcasters. Data Science and Analytics courses are also helpful for news researchers and writers to create precise, accurate, and evidenced-based stories and features beyond the basics of newsgathering.

Whereas before, the news was all about the “who, what, when, where, and why,” now it can create conversations and topic points and attempt to answer questions like “how,” “what now,” or “what preceded it,” or “what’s next,” or “what can we learn from this moving forward.”

Courses on Social Media Engagement, Audience Metrics, or Audience Data Management are also equally beneficial to students looking to expand their horizons beyond the traditional platform of the press. Any course with the words “Social Media” is worthy of looking at and enrolling into. Courses on Web Design, Web Publishing, Coding, and Programming are also advantageous but don’t expect to see these courses often in a curriculum.

The bottom line is, that courses on social media, data journalism, and emerging technologies are the ones to look out for, and if these are offered only as electives, it is strongly suggested to enroll in them. Knowledge of today’s digital media production tools is essential for success.

With the world of mass media changing from print to paperless, from censored to unfiltered, and from professional journalism to citizen journalism, an aspiring media journalism practitioner or one whose aim is to upskill should have ample exposure to digital journalism and the technologies that go along with it to keep up and stay ahead.

What are the job outlook and prospects for graduates of Master of Journalism Degrees?

Graduates with an MS or MA degree are looking at a wide array of career options. Let’s start with the newsroom. A master’s degree is almost certainly a shoo-in for a managerial or directorial job, or even a news chief or a chief correspondent for a particular genre or beats like business, economics, international news, or sports.

Those whose concentrations are advertising, branding, marketing, strategy, and even visualization look at 6-figure median annual salaries in these fields, a good return on investment.

Those who built experience in data journalism are in an advantageous position at any news bureau or organization, even think tanks, especially federal researchers, as these positions are definitely in demand – a data extrapolator who can write is a must-have for any research organization.

Those who took classes in coding, and web design combined with entrepreneurial journalism are in a perfect position, skills-wise, to start their own e-commerce business. It could be an online nontraditional news organization similar to Buzzfeed, Cracked, or Gawker.

Combining what they already know about content management, search engine optimization (SEO, which is covered in courses like Social Media Management or Engagement), web design, and ethics (yes, ethics, this needs to be upheld, consider learning how to fact check as well), they can start monetizing their site through ads and clicks and even transcend the content to another platform like video sharing platforms and social networking sites.

Key Takeaways

Additional Resources:

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