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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.

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.

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