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Journalism is a dynamic field that changes and progresses with time and technology. A master’s in journalism degree equips students with transferable skills and specializations that can give them an advantage in various competitive journalism, media, and communications jobs. Graduate journalism students develop expertise, gain practical experience, and establish network connections throughout coursework. Programs span between one and two years and cost approximately $20,513 yearly.

Journalism and media job opportunities for graduates include roles such as news reporters, media analysts, public relationship specialists, and writers. Media workers earn an average of $66,320 annually, and reporters earn approximately $57,500.

How to Choose a Master’s in Journalism Program

Choose your area of study

Graduate journalism programs prepare students and current journalist professionals for print, broadcast, and multimedia journalism careers.

Most journalism graduate degree programs fall under the arts designation. A Master of Arts in Journalism (M.A.) encompasses many topics and perspectives, such as politics, economics, fashion and lifestyle, science, and entertainment, and incorporates journalistic theory, critical thinking, law and ethics, and hands-on training. Students can pursue a range of advanced roles in journalism and communications, such as editor, news reporter or anchor, producer, or writer.

A Master of Science in Journalism (M.S.) emphasizes a technical and multimedia approach to the field. These degree programs develop analytical and technical skills and provide ample opportunities for students to work hands-on with social media, broadcasting and editing tools, and other mediums. M.S. graduates can pursue many of the same careers as M.A. degree holders but also succeed in technical or analytical roles such as multimedia journalist, producer, public relations specialist, and news analyst.

Master’s programs typically offer various specializations and concentrations — consider your interests and career goals to select your ideal area of study. Concentrations vary by school, but usually include:

  • Business and economics
  • Digital journalism
  • Arts and culture
  • Photojournalism
  • Global journalism
  • Content strategy
  • Sports media

Research schools and programs

Visit the website and social media accounts of each school and program you’re interested in, and look for resources for prospective students, such as in-person or virtual information sessions and campus tours. Contact admissions counselors and program representatives for further insight and recommendations.

Check the accreditation of each school and program you research. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, and other accreditation agencies verify that institutions meet the Department of Education’s standards. Beyond ensuring the quality of education, accreditation is generally necessary to secure federal financial aid. Credits from accredited programs can transfer to most institutions in the United States, and many jobs require relevant training and education from an accredited program.

Prepare for tests and applications

Master’s program admission requirements vary by program and institution, but they typically include:

  • Application form and fees
  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Transcripts and GPA
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal essay
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • TOEFL scores (for students educated in a non-English language)

Graduate journalism programs may also require a portfolio of work that demonstrates students’ ability to research, analyze, and communicate. Students often have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications, or similar fields, but many institutions accept any field of accredited degree. Most graduate programs require at least a 3.0 GPA.

Select your program

Programs and institutions offer varying experiences with different resources and opportunities. Career objectives, personal interests, financial resources, and many other factors can influence program choices. For example, students who continue working while completing a master’s program may prefer the convenience of programs offering part-time, hybrid, and online options.

Consider the following when selecting your program:

  • Course content
  • Course delivery method
  • Final master’s project
  • Practical experience and work opportunities
  • Tuition
  • Location

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Contact your chosen institution’s financial aid office for information on tuition, fees, and other expenses. Regardless of your financial circumstances, verify that your program is eligible for federal financial aid, and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. FAFSA can assess students’ financial needs and award federal loans, grants, scholarships, and other financial assistance.

Graduate students may be able to work in journalism assistantship or fellowship programs at their university, which typically offer either tuition funding, stipends, or salaries. For additional financial assistance, graduate students can access direct unsubsidized and graduate Direct PLUS loans. Some institutions, non-profit foundations, and private organizations may also offer funding based on merit or workforce development. Employed students should also inquire with their employer about tuition assistance benefits.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Journalism Degree Programs

Best Master's in Journalism Degree Programs_2024 badge

Columbia University

University of California, Berkeley

University of Missouri

Northwestern University

University of Maryland

Stanford University

New York University

University of Southern California

Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Newhouse School at Syracuse University

Georgetown University

Boston University

American University

University of Miami

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How we rank schools

We reviewed many master’s in journalism degrees, including both Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. The former tends to be more research-heavy, while the latter focuses more on the humanities side of journalism. Our list of programs includes on-campus, online, and hybrid programs. Online programs may have a brief in-person component.

Every program listed is regionally accredited, which ensures a common standard among programs. Many are also accredited through the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

We evaluated each program based on flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Journalism Program

A master’s degree in journalism helps students refine their proficiency in storytelling and research for various media and audiences, preparing them for interdisciplinary careers in journalism, communication, content creation, and other fields.

With a blend of theoretical and practical experience in academic and professional settings, students train specific skills, develop expertise in their designated journalism specialty, and graduate with a portfolio of journalistic work. Many graduate journalism programs emphasize practical experience and require students to complete various internships, work placements, and workshops through which they gain real-world experience and opportunities for networking.

Students must also complete core seminars and lectures, receive either group or individual mentoring from journalism professionals, and complete a capstone project or thesis. Depending on credit requirements, graduation programs usually span one or two years. Some may count professional experience toward required credits.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in journalism program

  • Media Law and Ethics: Students examine the U.S. legal system and the roles and responsibilities of news media. Course content may cover legal concepts and restrictions, legal concepts, and court case research with ethical and philosophical discussions.
  • Multimedia Storytelling: This course gives students the narrative skills to create audio, visual, and written content for various platforms. Students work with technologies necessary for journalism in integrated media.
  • Investigative and Data-Based Reporting: Data-based journalism courses explore the increasingly important role of numerical data in reporting. Students use digital tools and techniques to practice collecting and analyzing data, building digital maps, and producing data-based stories.
  • Theories of Mass Communication: This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine how social, economic, technological, and political concepts influence mass communication in the digital age. Topics may include audience behaviors and psychographics, content, news accessibility, and the history of mass communication.

Master’s in Journalism Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in journalism degree program?

Most programs have a digital application page or portal that guides applicants through the process, and details required application materials and information, such as fees, transcript documents, and test scores. Admissions counselors can also verify eligibility and requirements, confirm application deadlines, and provide further insight and recommendations.

How much does a master's in journalism degree cost?

Journalism master’s degree programs cost an average of $20,513 per year before housing, books, and other expenses. Tuition may also vary depending on whether the institution is private or public and whether students qualify for in-state or out-of-state fees. Living expenses may vary depending on the local cost of living.

The average cost doesn’t necessarily reflect your out-of-pocket obligations. Scholarships, grants, loans, and other assistance can reduce your upfront cost.

How long does it take to earn a master's in journalism degree?

Graduate journalism programs typically take between one and two years to complete. Programs vary in required credits, practical experience, projects, and other curriculum or course delivery details, which can shorten or lengthen the total duration.

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