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An online master’s in journalism helps prepare graduates for a wide array of potential careers. The most obvious is that it can help jumpstart or further a journalism career (median salary of $48,370 per year). Such a degree also qualifies you to become a professor of journalism (median salary of $79,640 per year). Outside of that specific field, this graduate degree also prepares you for jobs such as public relations manager (median salary of $119,860 per year).

In most cases, full-time students can complete an online master’s in journalism program in two years, and some accelerated programs are also available. And the average cost for such a program is $19,792, making it an affordable way to continue your education and widen your career prospects.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Journalism Program

Choose your area of study

Some online master’s in journalism programs offer separate areas of study, or concentrations, in different aspects of journalism. These aspects typically include arts and culture, business and economics, digital journalism, and global journalism.

Those who already know what career they want to pursue after graduation can find a graduate program catering to their specific needs. For those unsure about their future career, exploring the areas of study offered by different schools may inspire them. However, regardless of future employment, all programs from reputable institutions will help ground students in the best practices of modern journalism.

Research schools and programs

We previously touched on the fact that students will want to research different areas of study to help find the program best suited to their needs, and it’s equally important to verify that prospective schools have proper accreditation.

Additionally, students who intend to begin (or continue) a journalism career after graduation should research where their favorite journalists went to school and see if those schools offer online graduate programs in journalism. And from a practical perspective, it’s always advisable to research which online programs suit the student’s intended budget and schedule (for example, students shouldn’t enroll in a fast-track program if they will be working full-time while going to school).

Prepare for tests and applications

Once you have narrowed a few schools down, check for any testing requirements they may have. For example, some online master’s in journalism programs require students to submit GRE scores, and some do not. If you need to submit a GRE score and have not taken it, you can study by reviewing online sample tests and study materials, but keep in mind that it could take up to three months to study for this test. Finally, some programs may require students to have previously completed a bachelor’s in journalism, whereas others will accept those who have undergrad degrees in select other disciplines.

Select your program

Selecting the best online master’s in journalism program means finding the intersection between educational rigor, student accessibility, and overall affordability. Remember that the tuition cost for a degree is not an accurate indicator of how much students will learn from their studies. It’s best to find an affordable program respected in the field. Make sure the schedule is flexible enough to accommodate your current schedule. Otherwise, keeping up with online coursework and other graduate school demands may be difficult.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

First, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Doing so will qualify students for select federal loans and may also help to qualify them for specific grants and scholarships. Students who need further money may wish to explore alternative or federal Parent Plus loans. It’s also advisable to contact the school’s Financial Aid department to inquire about any special aid available through the school or the state.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Journalism Programs

Best Online Master's in Journalism Degree Programs

Harvard Extension School

Emerson College

University of Missouri

The University of Alabama

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

University of Iowa

Ball State University

Arizona State University

University of South Florida

Regent University

Kent State University

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Florida

University of Memphis

NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

St. Bonaventure University

University of Georgia

Kansas State University

Florida International University

Texas Tech University

South Dakota State University

National University

University of South Carolina

Marshall University

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on master’s degrees in journalism, including Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees. Master of Science degrees are more research-focused, while Master of Arts degrees are rooted in a humanities framework. Your personal and professional interests will guide which type of degree you choose.

We primarily sought programs that are delivered entirely online. Some programs are offered in an on-campus/online hybrid format, while others can only be completed on campus.

All the schools are regionally accredited, ensuring they meet the highest standards for quality postsecondary education. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) also accredits many of the programs on this list.

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

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Journalism Program?

An online master’s in journalism program will help students further cultivate existing skills in journalism while going more in-depth into various areas and, most likely, picking up a specialty.

Students will learn different hands-on skills in various areas: On the journalism side, this may include chasing leads, conducting interviews, and doing every aspect of investigative journalism by the book. But depending on the concentration and the classes taken, students will also learn layout and printing practices for print journalism and digital journalism skills, such as SEO, image sourcing, and navigating a content management system.

Most online programs are designed to be completed in 24 months for students who take them full-time, though part-time students may require closer to 36 months. Accelerated programs are sometimes available to let you complete coursework in as little as 12 months, and most online programs do not require any kind of in-person labs or residencies.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in journalism program

  • Reporting the News. This course helps students strengthen core journalistic practices, including pitching stories, conducting interviews, covering live events, and structuring stories for clarity and engagement. It gives students ample opportunities to practice their craft and, in some cases, publish their work through a school-affiliated publication.
  • Feature Writing. Feature Writing focuses extensively on the practices that went into crafting some of the best features throughout journalistic history. The goal is to help students identify what made those stories so great (ranging from POV and style to dialogue and verb tense). They can then incorporate those elements into their future writing.
  • Investigative Reporting. Investigating Reporting focuses on fostering the unique skills that go into such reporting, including researching, nurturing the relationships of sources, and how to craft stories for maximum impact.
  • Law and Ethics in American Journalism. This class focuses on helping students understand the relevant laws and ethics concerning journalism and avoiding any potential incidents. Students will also learn about historical legal cases that grant journalists protection and the limits of shield laws.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Journalism?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online master’s in journalism is promising, reflecting the evolving media landscape and the demand for skilled communicators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of journalists is expected to decline by three percent from 2022 to 2032, largely due to changes in traditional media. However, there is a growing need for journalists who can adapt to digital platforms, podcasts, and multimedia storytelling. As the demand for news and information persists, opportunities in non-traditional journalism roles are emerging. News analysts, reporters, and journalists make a median salary of $55,960 a year, according to BLS data.

Career paths

Graduates with an online master’s in journalism have diverse career paths to explore, extending beyond traditional reporting roles. These roles showcase the diverse opportunities available for individuals with this academic credential, which allows them to make impactful contributions in traditional and emerging media fields. The evolving nature of journalism also presents the chance for professionals to explore hybrid roles that combine various aspects of reporting, storytelling, and media management. Here are some common career paths for individuals with advanced education in journalism:

  • Media producer — oversees the production of multimedia content, including video and audio productions.
  • Editorial manager — manages and coordinates the editorial process, overseeing writers and editors and ensuring content aligns with the publication’s goals and standards.
  • Data journalist — analyzes and interprets data to create compelling and informative stories, visualizing data for reader understanding.
  • Corporate communications manager — manages internal and external communications for corporations, creating press releases, managing media relations, and ensuring consistent messaging.
  • Documentary filmmaker — produces and directs documentary films, exploring and presenting real-life stories and issues.

Investigative Journalist

Earning Potential: $45,000-$90,000 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in journalism or a related field

Investigative journalists undertake in-depth research to unearth and expose hidden truths, societal injustices, or corruption. Armed with advanced journalistic skills, they scrutinize complex issues, gather evidence, and conduct interviews to produce comprehensive and impactful stories. Working for news organizations or independently, investigative journalists serve as watchdogs, holding individuals and institutions accountable. Their work often requires persistence, ethical considerations, and the ability to navigate legal challenges. Through meticulous reporting, they contribute to fostering transparency, informing the public, and catalyzing positive societal change, making them essential agents of accountability in the field of journalism.

Digital Content Strategist

Earning Potential: $55,000-$100,000 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in journalism, communications, or a related field

A digital content strategist formulates and implements comprehensive strategies for creating and disseminating engaging content across online platforms. Leveraging their understanding of target audiences and market trends, they oversee the development of content that aligns with brand objectives. Collaborating with writers, designers, and marketers, digital content strategists optimize content for websites, social media, newsletters, and other digital channels. They analyze metrics to assess content performance, refine strategies, and ensure consistent messaging. In the digital landscape, these professionals play a crucial role in enhancing online presence, improving audience engagement, and achieving organizational goals through compelling digital storytelling.

Media Producer

Earning Potential: $60,000-$110,000 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in journalism, broadcasting, or a related field

A media producer is responsible for overseeing the creation and execution of multimedia content. Managing a team of writers, editors, and production staff, they guide projects from conception to completion, ensuring creative and technical excellence. Media producers collaborate with directors, scriptwriters, and other professionals to bring ideas to life in video, audio, or other formats. They navigate budget constraints, deadlines, and production logistics while maintaining a focus on quality and audience engagement. In the evolving media landscape, media producers are essential architects of compelling content, contributing to the success of television networks, online platforms, and production companies.

Online Master’s in Journalism Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in journalism degree program?

At a minimum, students must submit their undergraduate transcripts as part of the online graduate application. Depending on the school, students may also need to submit GRE or other test scores, letters of recommendation, and, in some cases, one or more application essays.

Because no two schools are exactly alike, you should contact an admissions counselor for the school(s) you are interested in. Such counselors can answer any of your specific questions and ensure you don’t forget to submit anything required by the application.

How much does an online master’s in journalism degree cost?

The average cost of tuition for an online master’s in journalism is $19,792, with public institutions having typically lower costs and private institutions having typically higher costs.

While this can be a high cost if students don’t have much money set aside for tuition, online graduate students often pay less than their on-campus counterparts because they don’t have to pay to live in an expensive university town and potentially pay for various on-campus services. Instead, online students will most likely pay for only tuition and textbooks, and they can pursue a graduate education from the comfort of their own homes.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in journalism degree?

Most online master’s in journalism programs can be completed within 24 months for students attending school full-time. Those who attend part-time, particularly those balancing work, family responsibilities, and school, may take closer to 36 months to complete the online program. Conversely, those with ample time to focus on graduate studies may be able to take an accelerated program that completes their education in as little as 12 months.

Is an online master's in journalism worth it?

Earning an online master’s degree in journalism offers numerous advantages. According to the BLS, having a master’s degree can enhance job prospects and open doors to specialized roles within the evolving field of journalism. The median annual salary for producers with a master’s degree, for example, is $85,320, reflecting the potential for increased earnings compared to those with a bachelor’s degree.

An online master’s program provides flexibility, allowing students to adapt to the changing demands of digital journalism. It equips individuals with the skills to navigate multimedia storytelling, data journalism, and emerging technologies in the industry. Additionally, online programs offer networking opportunities, connecting students with professionals and mentors in the journalism field.

For those aspiring to contribute to investigative reporting, digital media strategy, or multimedia production, an online master’s in journalism provides a solid foundation. The program’s emphasis on critical thinking, research, and communication skills prepares graduates for diverse roles in the dynamic landscape of contemporary journalism.

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