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!
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.
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:
- Offering a flexible schedule and format so that students can still take on professional work, typically in a 100% online program and/or hybrid format,
- Provides quality coursework designed to educate working professionals in the abilities to sharpen their skills in the field of Journalism, preparing graduates for management positions and the like,
- Displays proper accreditation,
- Offer the degree at a more manageable cost than the Ivy League universities or its contemporaries, yet carry a reputation of quality learning and engaging curricula (no fly-by-night J-schools here).
- Offers federal financial aid,
- Provides opportunities for specialization options,
- Taught by qualified journalism educators who are experts in mass media journalism,
- Notability among academic organizations, ranking databases, statistical reports, and journalistic resources,
- Offers affordable online Master’s in Journalism degree options,
- Stellar student reviews.
Best Online Master’s of Journalism Graduate Schools
Arizona State University – Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
: Tempe, AZ 85281
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.
- ASU Online runs a Master of Science in Business Journalism program best suited for journalists who want to expand their knowledge and skills in business reporting, or inversely, business professionals who would want to add journalism or business communication to their skill sets.
- The program requires 30 credit hours for completion. The study plan is rigorous and mandatory but is designed for the optimal delivery of courses that revolve around financial reporting and analysis, business and economic issues, managerial accounting, statistics and economics, data journalism, organizational communications, and media law. The program culminates with a 3-unit applied project.
- Admission to the program requires an undergraduate or graduate degree in similar fields like mass communications, journalism, and even business. A GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is also required. Other admission requirements include the application fee, transcripts, and a personal statement.
- The program is delivered purely online. The program also allows multiple enrollments (fall, spring, and summer terms); thus, students can accelerate their studies.
Standout Features of ASU’s Online MS in Business Journalism
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.
The University of Memphis
: 3720 Alumni Ave, Memphis, TN 38152
Online Master of Arts in Journalism and Strategic Media
The College of Communication and Fine Arts is the creative hub of the University of Memphis. It benefits from its location, being situated in the birthplace of several music genres like rock n’ roll, gospel music, and jazz.
Aside from music, visual arts and communication arts are also thriving forms of media, both in the college and in the community, mostly because of the city’s great artistic vibe and influence.
- UoM’s MA in Journalism and Strategic Media is geared towards students or professionals with aspirations to focus on advertising, strategy or public relations, or journalism education.
- The program requires 33 credits for completion. The required courses, which comprise 12 units, include theory, research, and portfolio building. The remaining 21 units can be completed through any of the four specializations: Integrated Strategic Media, News and Storytelling, Mass Media Research, and Visual Media.
- Students who would progress to a post-grad or doctoral degree must deliver and defend a master’s thesis for completion. On the other hand, students who would treat the program as a terminal degree must accomplish a professional project. Like a thesis, the project will be defended, from the proposal to the final deliverable.
- Admission requirements include transcripts, a bachelor’s degree in any program, a personal goal statement, a passing GRE mark, a GPA of at least 3.0, and an updated CV.
Standout Features of University of Memphis’s MA in Journalism and Strategic Media
The program curriculum has four tracks or concentrations mentioned above, each with a different focus but revolving under one theme – strategy and visualization. Whatever concentration a student chooses, they will be exposed to how visualization and mass media engagement affect strategy and vice versa.
This will greatly benefit professionals in the communication, political strategy and campaign, and advertising fields.
Former NBA superstar and Orlando Magic point guard Penny Hardaway helm the University’s basketball team, the Memphis Tigers. He has led the team to NIT championships since 2018. The team has won the title twice, in 2018 and 2019.
University of South Florida
: 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620
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.
- The Master of Arts in Digital Journalism and Design is a flexible graduate program delivered in two ways: fully online or in a blended learning format. The blended format is offered in all three USF campuses – Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota. The Department of JDC is located on the main campus in Tampa.
- The program offers two tracks to suit student priorities and preferences: The Applied Track, which gears students to be technologically ready once they step back into, or into, the workforce, and the Academic Track, which focuses on the traditional, fundamental journalism and communication courses like theory, seminars, etc.
- The program requires 33 course credits for completion with a 12-unit core requirement that consists of Mass Communications Ethics, Theory and Law, and a Multimedia Reporting course.
- There are 11 elective courses to choose from to fulfill the 15-unit elective requirement. The electives reflect the two tracks mentioned above. For the Applied Track, electives include Video Storytelling, Digital Media Technology, Web Publishing, and Photojournalism. For the Academic Track, electives include Media Management, Issues in Media, and International Communications.
- The program culminates either with a thesis for those who pursue a doctoral track after the MA program or an Applied Research Project for those treating the program as a terminal degree.
Standout Features of USF’s MA in Digital Journalism and Design:
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
: Office of the Vice President for Instruction, Athens, Georgia 30602
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.
- The only available track or concentration for this program is the Emerging Media track, which embraces the fundamentals of both journalism and mass communications as it intersects with data, web design and publishing, social media engagements and analysis, and other new technologies relevant to the vast field of mass communications particularly journalism and current affairs, product branding and marketing, interactive media, advertising and political campaigns, and other forms of mass media visualization and storytelling.
- It is a well-rounded program suitable for professional journalists, communicators, and strategists looking to upskill emerging technologies and incorporate data and new media in their professional portfolio and deliverables.
- The program requires 33 credit units for completion. 30 credit units or ten courses are part of the required core, while students are required to take one elective course, which equates to 3 credit units, to complete the required coursework.
- Unlike other MA in Journalism curricula, the MA in JMC curriculum at UGA is focused more on “behind-the-scenes” work – production, design, research, and project management while incorporating new media advancements like web-based technologies and social media. Digital Media Storytelling is part of the required core, perfect for journalists evolving from the pen-and-paper technique to the online space.
- The elective courses include courses on analytics, audience engagement, and digital and social media space strategies. The entire program culminates in a capstone project demonstrating a student’s application of new media design and production in fields like product R&D, campaigns, social media engagements, or other client-based deliverables. A thesis is not required.
- Admission to the program requires a GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale, a bachelor’s degree in any program but preferably in a related program (including IT-based programs), a $75 application fee (which is waived for military veterans), an updated CV, a statement of purpose, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
Standout Features of UGA’s MA in Journalism and Mass Communications:
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
: Harvard University, Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138
: (617) 495-4024
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.
- The HES’ Master of Liberal Arts – Journalism track is just one of the 26 tracks being offered by the open university. It is a 48-credit hour program or a 12-course program, with one course requiring on-campus attendance.
- Of the 12 courses required for completion, 4 are required courses: Proseminar, The Constitution and Media, News Reporting for various platforms, and Feature Writing. The three journalism electives are required, and students can choose from the 20+ other journalism courses offered by HES. Some examples include Foreign Correspondence, Podcasting, Food Writing, Book Review, Photojournalism, Audience Engagement, Op-Ed Writing, Media Law, and the Art and Craft of Interviewing to name a few. Courses on Writing for the Humanities (EXPO 42a), for the Social Sciences (EXPO 42b), or the Sciences (EXPO 42c) may also be taken as journalism electives. An internship is also accepted.
- For the required four general electives, any course offered by HES is available, but it is highly encouraged to seek the assistance of one’s academic advisor to make sure the choices are still aligned with the Journalism track, albeit from different subject areas. The program culminates with a capstone project. As for the lone in-campus program, this can be either journalism or a general elective solely delivered face-to-face.
Standout Features of Harvard Extension School’s ALM, Journalism Program:
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
: 1400 R Street, Lincoln, NE 68588
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 sprinkled with enough contemporary elements to keep them abreast with the changing times.
- The MA in JMC – Integrated Media Communications is geared towards professional learners looking to start a career in the client delivery business – advertising, campaign or management strategy, organizational communications, product marketing, social media engagement, and public relations.
- The required coursework is 36 credit hours, 12 of which should consist of the required courses on Advertising Issues and Strategies, Advertising and PR Research, Branding, and the capstone project, which culminates the program. A thesis is not required to graduate from the program.
- Students can choose to major in either Communications or Marketing. For their chosen track, nine credit hours or three courses are required. The remaining 15 courses can be completed through electives offered by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications with these concentrations: Advertising and PR, Broadcasting, Journalism, and Sports and Media Communication.
- Students can freely design their curriculum, as well as the format of delivery. Since the program utilizes a blended mode of delivery, some courses are offered both online and in-campus and while some are just offered in-campus. The good news is many of the on-campus courses are offered both at UN-Lincoln and UN-Kearney campuses.
- Students who choose the Communications track will have to attend the three required courses face-to-face at the Kearney campus.
- Admission to the program requires a $50 application fee, transcripts, a completed application form, three letters of recommendation, a CV, a personal statement, and a portfolio focusing on research, visualization, presentation, branding (if applicable), and other related skill sets. The program starts thrice a year, every January, May, and August.
Standout Features of the UNL’s MA in Journalism and Mass Communications:
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 towards 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
: 20 Cooper Square, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10003
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.
- The MA in American Journalism program is the only online program offered by the Journalism Institute. It prides itself in bringing together rookies and experienced journalists as they learn the ins and outs of the practice from an American media and press point of view. America is the beacon of freedom of press and expression and is the perfect perspective to study uncensored, unfiltered content, regardless of the platform or topic.
- The program requires eight courses as laid out in the program’s curriculum, which rounds out to 30 to 32 credit hours depending on the chosen electives. Of the eight courses, five are part of the required core and mandatory to be taken in the following order: Reporting the News, Investigative Reporting, and or Feature Writing (both should be taken after Reporting the News) Long-Form Narrative. Law & Ethics can be taken at any point during the program.
- Students can choose any three from the following elective courses: Broadcast Newsroom, the Working Journalist, Multimedia Storytelling, Media Startups, and News Innovations and Audio Storytelling. Only the course on the Working Journalist earns the student two credit hours. All other courses, whether required or elective, make up four four credit hours.
- Since the program is purely online with a good estimate of students being employed while studying, NYU has prepared some sample pathways for program completion. For example, with a full load of coursework, including the summer term, the program can be completed in one entire year at the very least. Full-time or part-time enrollment is allowed, and the program can be completed within a maximum of 5 years.
- Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree in any program, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and the application fee. The receiving office is not the Arthur L. Carter of Journalism Institute, but rather the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Standout Features of NYU’s MA in American Journalism:
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
: 2000 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN 47306
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.
- The MA in Journalism degree from BSU has two delivery modes – it can be taken purely online or in a blended learning format. The program gears professional students to be armed with advanced reporting and writing skills and knowledge of data science, analytics, and management. These would help them develop and implement social engagement plans, data-driven reporting, and journalism and have better research results beyond the who, what, when, where, and why of journalism.
- The program requires 36 credit units for completion and two tracks or concentrations that students can choose from – Reporting and Storytelling and Media Analytics and Management. There are three required courses: Journalism and Communication Theory, Journalistic Judgements and Sociology of News, and Media Audiences and Content Strategy. A course in any of the 7 Research Method courses is also required.
- For the Media Analytics and Management track, some of the courses include Database Systems and Analytics, Operations Management, Electronic Commerce, Social Media Analytics, and Engagement and Data Management. For the Reporting and Storytelling track, courses include Data Journalism, Visual Storytelling, Data Visualization, Emerging Technologies, and Social and Cross-media Storytelling. Whatever track the student pursues, courses on data, new media, and emerging technologies are present in either curriculum.
- The program can be attended either on a full-time or part-time basis. Classes start thrice a year – spring, summer, and fall terms. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in any program, a GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale, an updated CV, a personal statement with a very specific format (see next section), a 2500-word writing sample, transcripts, and the $60 application fee.
Standout Features of BSU’s MA in Journalism Program:
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 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 that 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 in the school. The main building of the College of Communication, Information, and Media is also named after him.
University of Colorado – Boulder
: 1505 University Ave., 178 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309
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.
- The MA in Journalism Entrepreneurship program from UCB is a 30-unit program designed to hone journalists’ reporting and news writing skills in the field’s two of the most quintessential and yet impactful fields – Business Journalism and Sports Journalism. These are also the two concentrations students can choose upon applying to the program.
- Newly admitted students to the program must take the Media Technology Bootcamp course at the start of the fall term in August. This course may be taken on campus or online. The course serves as the foundation and exposure for emerging technologies in mass media, particularly journalism.
- Classes begin every month of the specific term (e.g., for the Spring term, classes begin every January, February, and March). This means that a full-time student can complete the program in as little as 1.5 years.
- Admission to the program requires a 500-word statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, a CV, transcripts, the application form, and the application fee of $50. GRE scores are not mandatory.
- Transfer students can have a maximum of 9 credit hours (or three courses) credited towards the degree as long as it has a grade of B or higher. The fee is exclusive of other semestral fees like the technology fee, career services, transportation, workbooks, etc.
Standout Features of UCB’s MA in Journalism Entrepreneurship Program:
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
: Box 870388, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
: (800) 467-0227
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.
- The program requires 31 credit hours, with the 13 credit hours spent on required courses. These are foundational courses like Theory, Issues, Research Methods, and History of Journalism and Communication. The 15-hour or 5-course elective allows students to find their forte or specific interest in subfields like Sports Journalism, Digital Media Production, Business Journalism, Law, and Diversity.
- A comprehensive exam or professional project is required for completion instead of a thesis for the online MA program. A requirement for the acceptance of the capstone project, assuming the proposal has been approved, is a detailed blueprint of the project, an initial or dry run of the proposed project, and a reflection paper about the project from the point of view of the student. A concrete or complete deliverable is not required for the capstone project. Those whose proposals have been declined by the committee will have to take the comprehensive exam instead.
- The course of Graduate Studies Orientation, one of the program’s required courses, must be taken during the first year of study. The course name may be misleading, but it is more than just an orientation. It exposes students to digital media. Students will be taught how to use WordPress for blogging and online publishing.
- Admission to the program requires transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a CV, and a writing sample.
Standout Features of UA’s MA in Journalism and Media Studies:
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, 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 the student 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 in 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 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.
For 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.
- Prospective students interested in sharpening their journalism skills should consider earning their online Master’s in Journalism degree.
- An online Journalism Master’s degree can be located through a distance learning program to accommodate your busy lifestyle; however, any online programs require some on-campus attendance.
- An online Master of Journalism program can provide many lucrative job opportunities, such as in media management, broadcasting, international journalism, mass media research, interactive media, news writing, multimedia reporting, visual media, media publishing, mass communication law, entrepreneurial journalism, and so much more. Working professionals in the field often become award winning journalists.
- Coursework includes many beneficial topics, such as mass communication theory, media studies, investigation skills development, social media, internet marketing, data visualization, digital media production tools, as well as journalism and communication theory and the like.
- Graduates of an online Journalism degree program develop skills in research methods, critical thinking, long form multimedia storytelling, new media publishing, problem-solving, and mass communications, to name a few.
- Locating programs with quality journalism educators will be the key to your success! Online students should check out one of our online Master’s in Journalism degree programs today!