Best Online Bachelor’s in Journalism 2021

by TBS Staff
TheBestSchools.org

thebestschools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

A bachelor's in journalism prepares students to relay factual information and empower citizens to make informed decisions.

Journalists use their curiosity and persistence to bring truth to communities. They work in various media formats, informing the public about important events. With an online journalism degree, students gain the technical training necessary to enter this profession, as well as a flexible skill set that applies in other disciplines and industries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% job decline for news reporters and correspondents between 2019 and 2029, but aspiring multimedia journalists can also pursue opportunities with media outlets on new platforms. Overall, the BLS projects media and communications occupations to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029 — approximately the same as the average growth for all occupations.

While COVID-19 accelerated the decline of traditional print journalism, it also accelerated diversification and growth in the field. The industry provides plenty of opportunities for journalism majors, especially those with internet savvy. To help aspiring journalists, we examine the details of a bachelor's in journalism, including career pathways and the best journalism schools in the country.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Journalism Programs

Regent University true View School Profile Virginia Beach, VA 59% 80% 91% Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent provides its 11,000 students a comprehensive liberal arts education from a Christian perspective.

Regent offers an online bachelor of arts in communication studies program with an emphasis in journalism. The 120-credit program, also offered on campus, features coursework that explores how to communicate journalism stories through broadcast, digital media, and print with internships and campus publication opportunities.

Students improve their technical proficiencies with access to a converged media lab and multimillion-dollar facility, where they focus on journalism within a Christian framework. The curriculum includes courses such as personal and professional editing, American government and politics, and writing for strategic communications.

Colorado State University-Fort Collins true View School Profile $$$ Fort Collins, CO 69% 42% 24% Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1870, CSU is now home to about 27,000 undergraduate students annually.

The online bachelor of arts in journalism and media communications program requires students to complete an internship with an organization in the community or with CSU student media. A capstone class is also required, in which students meet guest speakers in the journalism field, learn to approach the job search, and make a digital portfolio.

Classes use a variety of online learning techniques including discussion forums, live chat, video conferencing, and email conversations.

Brandman University true View School Profile Irvine, CA 47% 92% Brandman University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Brandman, located in Irvine, California, enrolls more than 13,000 students annually online and through its 25-plus California and Washington state campuses.

Brandman offers an online bachelor of arts in communication and media in hybrid and online formats. The program features a curriculum emphasizing communication topics such as advanced public speaking, history of communication and technological revolutions, and methods and techniques of persuasion. Students also learn about writing and producing new media in the 21st century.

Applicants must complete the formal applications, hold a minimum 2.0 GPA, and submit all transcripts. Students must have 12 or more bachelor's level credits to transfer into the program.

SUNY College at Oswego true View School Profile $$$ Oswego, NY 64% 66% 23% SUNY Oswego is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

SUNY Oswego enrolls more than 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students annually in its 110 on-campus and online programs. The school offers an online completion degree in broadcasting and mass communication.

The curriculum explores broadcast production, communication, media history, regulations, and management and sales techniques to situate students for success in the job market and further studies. The program features rolling admissions in fall, spring, or summer and takes about two years for full-time students to finish.

Applicants must hold an associate degree or complete a comparable number of credits to be admitted into the completion degree program.

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale true View School Profile $$$ Carbondale, IL 41% 56% 36% Southern Illinois University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Established in 1869, SIU offers an online bachelor of science in journalism and mass communication degree. The program mimics the in-person version and requires 120 credits for completion.

The online program usually takes four years to finish. However, transfer students who hold an associate degree may complete the program in half that time. Courses may be completed in four-week, eight-week, and 16-week sections and feature classes such as writing across platforms, creativity across platforms, social issues in advertising, and copywriting. Continuous enrollment lets students begin whenever their schedule allows.

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Journalism Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Bachelor's in Journalism Programs

What to Expect From a Journalism Major

Online journalism degrees equip students with the skills necessary to responsibly contribute to the public discourse. They gain technical, interpersonal, and communication skills, along with specialized training in common technologies and platforms. While students can choose from many concentrations and courses in a bachelor's program, the most popular options are listed below.

Journalism Concentrations

Broadcast Journalism

In broadcast journalism concentrations, students learn how to report and anchor on camera. They study news coverage strategies, producing on-air content and creating newscasts on traditional and online platforms. Graduates with this training can acquire positions as announcers or reporters and correspondents.

Investigative Journalism

In this concentration, students gain the tools needed to conduct investigative journalism, such as using public records and archives, and interviewing people. Learners also gain an understanding of the laws and regulations regarding information and public access records. Graduates can pursue careers as reporters and correspondents and writers and authors.

Feature and Magazine Journalism

In a feature and magazine journalism concentration, students learn how to employ storytelling strategies to write features in their areas of interest. They also study editing, work with graphic designers, and explore mediums. Graduates can acquire careers as editors or writers and authors.

Multimedia Journalism

Multimedia journalism concentrations cover innovative storytelling strategies that encourage interactivity with readers on various platforms and mediums. Learners look at the changing landscape and audiences and think up new ways to drive readership. Some possible careers with this training include writers and authors and public relations specialists.

International Journalism

In international journalism concentrations, learners examine how professionals report on and present global issues. Training may also explore the ethics, laws, and media landscape for these journalists. With this concentration, graduates can pursue careers as reporters and correspondents and writers and authors.

Sports Journalism

Sports journalism focuses on athletic broadcasts, examining how to cover sports teams in an evolving media landscape. The training may cover sports broadcasts, writing, and social media coverage. Some possible career pathways after graduation may include sports announcers and sports reporters and correspondents.

Journalism Curriculum

  • News Writing and Reporting: In this class, students learn the fundamentals of writing and reporting the news. In addition to gaining writing skills, students learn reporting techniques, media ethics, and strategies to make reports more compelling.
  • Digital Media Production: Digital media production classes teach students how to use digital media to tell the stories people want to read, see, and hear. Along with content creation strategies, students learn to use digital media successfully. They may also study photography and live streaming, or examine marketing and branding tactics.
  • Multimedia Writing: Multimedia writing courses examine the writing craft and how it changes for various digital mediums and platforms. They explore how to adapt storytelling and story reception for different audiences, how to create multisensory experiences, and how to supplement writing with other media.
  • Data Journalism: Data journalism courses teach students how to research and use data to inform their stories. The training looks at ways of interrogating data, analyzing it, and putting it in perspective.
  • Journalism and Mass Communication Ethics: Journalism and mass communication ethics courses cover the journalistic standards and ethical frameworks that guide the profession. Students examine challenges these professionals face, their rights and freedoms, and their responsibility to truth and the community.

What Is the Difference Between a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Journalism and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Journalism?

Journalism schools typically offer either a bachelor of art (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) degree, with minor differences between the two. BA degrees emphasize course flexibility and arts training, often including a foreign language requirement, while BS degrees emphasize STEM and more technical aspects of the field. Some institutions may offer both degree types.

While these degrees are similar, the different focuses may lead graduates down varying career paths. For example, BA graduates may pursue traditional reporter and news broadcaster and writer and author careers, whereas BS graduates may be more likely to pursue camera operator or public relations specialist careers.

Choosing an Online Program

When choosing an online journalism degree, aspiring students need to consider factors like program cost, location, and length. They also need to examine the curriculum, ensuring it offers the appropriate courses and specializations for their career interests. Online students should also look into their in-state tuition eligibility and whether programs use an asynchronous or synchronous format.

Finally, learners need to make sure their school and program hold any necessary accreditations. For journalism degrees, schools should have regional accreditation. The most common programmatic accreditation for online journalism degrees comes from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Journalism Careers

After completing an online journalism degree, graduates can pursue an array of journalism careers. While many enter the workforce as reporters and news broadcast analysts, the training also prepares students for jobs in communications, writing, marketing, and public relations. They can also pursue technical writing, content management, and social media management careers.

Throughout their studies, learners can expand their career options through targeted course and concentration selection, or they can choose internships to build experience and get a foot in the door prior to graduation. The data below outlines career options available to journalism graduates and median annual salaries for each.

Career Median Salary (2020)
Public Relations Specialists $118,430
Technical Writers $74,650
Writers and Authors $67,120
Editors $63,400
Radio and Television Broadcasters $49,300
Announcers $41,950
Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers $49,300
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Journalism Organizations

NAJB supports Black journalists, journalism students, and educators. The association offers advocacy efforts, professional development opportunities, and educational and career support services. The AWM helps women in media careers and related pursuits, providing them access to a professional network, industry events, and career services. Members can also gain industry insights and access professional resources. ASJA represents independent nonfiction writers, offering them access to professional development opportunities, market insights, and a large peer network. The organization also supports the careers of freelancers and the publishing community as a whole. IRE strives to improve the investigative reporter profession and help professionals get ahead. It offers an extensive professional network, provides access to resources, and runs events and training programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

true What Is the Difference Between a Communications Degree and a Journalism Degree?

Communications degrees typically prepare students to create a variety of media content across mediums and platforms. Journalism training focuses specifically on news reporting, usually in a more limited number of mediums.

true How Do I Start Working as a Journalist?

According to the BLS, most reporters and news broadcasters earn a bachelor's degree in journalism. At the start of their careers, they take on internships to gain experience, often while still enrolled at their college or university.

true Is a Journalism Career Hard to Get Into?

Journalism can be a challenging career to enter because of declining demand in traditional print mediums. To improve their chances of employment, candidates should pursue practical experience via internships, if possible.

Learn more, do more.

More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office