Journalists report the news to viewers and readers through broadcast news corporations, magazines, newspapers, and online media outlets. A journalism degree can prepare graduates for careers in any area of the field, like local broadcast news or international newspapers. Salaries in journalism can be competitive, as well; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, broadcast news analysts earn an average salary of nearly $67,000 per year.
However, the skills gained in a journalism program — including those in analytical thinking, research, writing, and communication — benefit professionals in a variety of fields. Employers in closely related industries like public relations, marketing, and advertising hire journalism majors. In fact, these fields often pay higher salaries and provide greater growth potential for reporters and correspondents.
An online journalism degree offers prospective students the flexibility and accessibility to complete their coursework through virtual classrooms and distance learning experiences. This can allow working professionals to arrange their classwork around career or family responsibilities. Online journalism programs also offer the convenience of attending the top programs in the country without having to relocate. Many of these online journalism programs introduce students to investigative journalism, broadcast journalism, and journalism ethics.
This guide explores the best online journalism programs, including how to choose the right program, career paths with a journalism degree, and in–demand journalism concentrations.
Journalism Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Journalism Degree Programs
1. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
UMass Amherst provides a bachelor’s degree completion program through its online school, the University Without Walls (UWW). A journalism studies concentration is available for the BA degree. Courses within the study aim to expand student writing skills for a variety of careers in journalism, marketing, and communications, and include writing for public relations, food reviews, and columns. Other courses focus on media relations, reporting, and social media communication. The required writing courses result in a portfolio of essays about student–life experiences for degree credit (an average of 15, with the potential of 30). Full–time faculty teach all courses.
This 120–credit online journalism degree is intended for transfer students and those pursuing their first bachelor’s degree. Up to 100 credits are accepted for transfer, and applicants must have a minimum of 12 credits with a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Work, military experience, and professional certifications all count toward credit. There are two program start dates per year.
Please note that residents of Arkansas and Alabama are exempt from applying.
The UWW provides scholarships of $500–$2,500 for qualifying adult students, and new applications can be submitted each semester. Loans, grants, and aid for military service members and veterans are also available. Most UWW students are eligible for financial aid if enrolled in at least two courses during both the fall and spring semesters.
University of Massachusetts – Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
2. DePaul University
Chicago’s DePaul University has a fully online degree completion program in communications and media. This 192–quarter hour bachelor’s degree is open to transfer students with at least 45–quarter hours (equal to 30 semester hours) completed in liberal arts courses and electives holding a minimum of a 2.0 GPA. Some requirements may be fulfilled by exam.
Applicants must pass at least two English composition courses and a college algebra course to fully enroll. Then, all communication courses should be taken through DePaul. Courses include introduction to journalism, intercultural communications, storytelling and style in cinema, and persuasion. Internships also earn credit, which commonly take place during the final year of the program. Capstone courses also occur near program completion.
DePaul’s College of Communication provides dedicated advisors to students in this degree program. They assist with course selection and internship placement.
In 2016, DePaul founded its Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence, which connects students with network opportunities and internships within media companies and publications. It also works with the university’s journalism department on course development and promotes ethical reporting practices.
DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Immaculata University
Immaculata University offers a journalism degree online with its BA in communications, public relations or journalism. This hybrid program requires some courses to be taken in–person at the Immaculata, Pennsylvania campus. An accelerated degree option is also available, which shortens the degree completion time to two years.
The program prepares students for a variety of career paths by honing communication skills. Courses include advanced reporting and feature writing, media ethics and law, and writing for public relations. Graduation requirements mandate two internships available on–campus or locally at area marketing agencies, media outlets, and private companies. University staff assist with identifying opportunities and securing placement. Students may also choose to conduct independent research with a faculty member and present their findings at communication conferences.
Admissions are rolling, and applicants can transfer up to 64 credits. Immaculata’s Associate Degree Grant program provides $1,500 to graduates of community colleges who enroll. The student–to–faculty ratio is 9:1, and 75% of faculty members hold the highest degrees in their fields. The University is home to approximately 900 undergraduate students, or recent high school graduates, and 600 adult undergraduates.
Immaculata is a Catholic university founded in 1920 by the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as a women’s college. It became co–educational in 2005.
Immaculata University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. National University
La Jolla, California
National University is a nonprofit school for adult students. Its fully online bachelor’s degree in digital journalism prepares students for employment immediately after graduation. Coursework covers story development, including research and fact–checking, and writing and copyediting for various media outlets. It also emphasizes the importance of following ethical reporting practices and understanding legal aspects of the profession.
Thirteen major courses are required within this 180–quarter credit program. They include global journalism, investigative reporting, and documentary techniques. Students must also choose three electives in their area of interest and participate in a journalism capstone course. Students will develop portfolios of news stories throughout the program, which may assist in obtaining employment post–graduation. The program is administered through the Department of Journalism, Film, and Entertainment Arts within the School of Professional Studies.
Prerequisites for this journalism degree include two courses in college English, a course in the history of journalism, and a mass communication course. The $5,000 Transfer to Success Scholarship is available to qualified transfer students. Other scholarships and military tuition discounts are additional options to reduce tuition.
National University’s main campus is in San Diego, California, with more than 20 other locations in California and Nevada. Nevada residents must take a course on Nevada’s constitution to graduate from any online or on–campus program. NU was founded in 1971 by retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander David Chigos and offers courses at numerous military bases.
National University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
5. Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas
Founded as a teacher’s college in 1851, Texas State is now home to more than 34,000 undergraduate students. Located in San Marcos, Texas, it is part of the Texas State University System. Its online bachelor’s degree in journalism is administered by its School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
The BS in journalism and mass communication is delivered in hybrid format, with 25 to 49% of courses available online. The remainder must be taken on campus. The program requires 120 credit hours, comprised of 40 in the major, 72 in general core courses (not related to communication, per standards set by ACEJMC), and a minor in another subject area. Major courses include news writing and reporting (a minimum of a “C” must be earned in this course), media law and ethics, and editing for clear communication. While not required for graduation, internships are recommended. The University Star student newspaper provides students with journalism experience. A senior portfolio and final exam are necessary for degree completion.
Students may choose to participate in a media practicum, a 60–hour commitment to working with a faculty member that includes laboratory time.
Participants of this online degree journalism program must begin under “pre–mass communication status” until earning 30 credit hours. This includes a minimum of a “C” earned in two college writing courses, a human communication course, a mass communication course, and a grammar for journalists course (which may be substituted for an on–campus exam).
Texas State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
6. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Regent University is a Christian school established by Dr. Pat Robertson in 1978. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent has 95 online and on–campus programs, including a bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a journalism concentration. Along with educating students about communication theories and best practices, this journalism degree provides strategies for developing effective messaging across media platforms, exploring print, broadcast, and digital journalism. Internships and campus publications offer opportunities to hone skills obtained during coursework. Graduates are well–prepared for careers in broadcasting, marketing, business, and public relations.
Online students have access to tutoring, library, and career services. Weekly, chapel is available online, and Regent’s Online Peer Mentorship Program delivers virtual student–to–student support.
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities conducted a tuition survey and included Regent within the top 5% of the most affordable Christian higher education institutions. The University counts former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes, Inc. among influencers that have participated in campus courses or events as faculty or guests.
Regent works to develop “Christian leadership to change the world,” so all degree programs maintain a Christian context.
Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. Cameron University
Established in 1908 as an agricultural high school, Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma now has approximately 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a journalism bachelor’s degree. The BA in journalism and media production takes place 69% online. It requires 124 credit hours for graduation, including a minor. All general education courses are available online, but major courses and electives are typically delivered on–campus. Blackboard is the online course management system for asynchronous online courses, using interactive television technology.
Please note that residents of California, Massachusetts, and Florida are not eligible to participate in Cameron’s online courses.
Faculty advisors assist students with creating a portfolio throughout the program. There are a variety of organizations available to journalism students within Cameron’s Department of Communication, such as the Broadcast Club and the Society for Professional Journalism. Students may also participate in developing news for the campus website, AggieCentral.com, and for the CUTV station.
Free tutoring is available at labs on campus, and each student receives ten free hours of tutoring in specific subject areas at Tutor.com. Students also enjoy small class sizes, and 64% graduate without student debt.
The “Cameron University Guarantee” applies to Cameron’s bachelor’s degree graduates employed in Oklahoma. Within six months of graduation, they can receive free education if their employers find their education lacking. This ensures favorable outcomes for both graduates and their employers.
Cameron University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. Louisiana State University – Shreveport
LSUS has a bachelor degree of journalism available 100% online. It includes 40 courses totaling 120 credits. The BA in mass communication with a journalism concentration has 16 core credits, including news writing, intro to new media, and seminars specific to the sophomore and senior years. There are six journalism credits required through the copy editing and opinion writing courses. Students can opt to take nine elective credits in public relations or new media. The remaining 89 credits are general liberal arts courses including English, science, humanities, and a foreign language.
While not necessary for graduation, many students in this program opt to participate in an internship. Faculty members assist with placement, and work closely with students to expand their professional networks and improve employment opportunities. The same faculty members teach on–campus and online courses, and 80% of faculty hold a degree in their field, which attests to the quality of education delivered.
Online students pair with enrollment specialists who assist with the application, registration, and financial aid processes. Financial aid opportunities are the same for online and on–campus students. Students in online programs can virtually access the LSUS library, research center, career services, and university publications. Moodle is the online learning platform used by LSUS.
There are a variety of start dates throughout the year for online students, which offers additional flexibility to the program.
Louisiana State University – Shreveport is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Located in Carbondale, Illinois, SIU has a journalism bachelor’s degree online. This BS in Journalism is part of the SIU School of Journalism within the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications has accredited SIU’s School of Journalism.
The degree program requires 120 credit hours, which can be completed in four years or less, depending on student schedules and transfer credits. Those holding associate of arts degrees can typically start the program as juniors. Online courses are offered in four, eight, and 16–week options, and can be pursued in any order. Advertising principles, media ethics, and copywriting are other available program courses, and 15 credit hours of electives must be taken. Enrollment and admissions are continuous throughout the academic year.
SIU distributes $10 million in scholarships to undergraduates annually. Through a partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, students may earn scholarships to travel internationally to report on issues not typically addressed in the media. Reduced tuition may be provided to students from states near Illinois.
SIU media opportunities include the student–run Daily Egyptian newspaper and website, which started in 1916 when SIU was a teachers’ college. It was one of the first college newspapers to go online in 1994. Journalism students may also join the SIU Chapter of the National Press Photographers Association.
Southern Illinois University – Carbondale is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. California State University – Bakersfield
CSU–Bakersfield has a degree completion journalism program for adult students. The BA in communications with a journalism emphasis is a 50– to 60–credit program that requires two years to complete. It is a hybrid course, meaning that some classes are offered online. The remainder must be taken at CSU’s College of the Canyons campus in Santa Clarita, California. All in–person and online courses are taught by CSU faculty.
Students must have all general education requirements completed upon application, which includes at least 60 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0. This includes foreign language coursework. If not previously earned, students may take a foreign language course at the College of the Canyons campus. The mass media and society course is a prerequisite of the journalism program.
There are four core courses, including communication theories, technical and report writing, mass media law, and a capstone seminar. Journalism major courses require 15 credits and include public affairs reporting, feature writing, and convergence journalism. Students must also take 12 credits as a minor, which must be selected from among CSU’s sociology subjects.
Students in this hybrid program are eligible for financial aid.
CSU uses Blackboard for its online learning management system. CSU is a public university that was established in 1965 and offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
The Advantages of a Journalism Education
Earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism can help professionals in a variety of fields advance their careers and qualify for higher salaries. Additionally, many job openings in journalism — including those for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts — require a bachelor’s degree for entry–level roles. Other job opportunities for journalism graduates can include positions in public relations, writing, and editing — career paths where it’s also preferable for entry–level employees to hold a bachelor’s degree. In the job market for graduates of online journalism programs, a bachelor’s degree is increasingly considered the minimum educational requirement.
After earning a bachelor’s in journalism, graduates can also pursue a master’s degree to advance to management–level positions in the field.
Journalism Degree Salary Information
With an online bachelor’s degree in journalism, graduates can pursue a career as a reporter, editor, writer, correspondent, or news analyst. Responsible for reporting the news for newspapers, TV, magazines, websites, and radio, journalists research stories, investigate topics, conduct interviews, write and edit articles, and provide updates as they become available for the public.
- Writers and authors create fictional and nonfictional content for books, magazines, and websites. They often conduct research and interviews, work with editors, and create different types of content for a variety of media outlets.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $31,000
- Mid-Career: $39,000
- Experienced: $51,000
- Late Career: $59,000
- Public Relations Specialist
- Public relations specialists shape the public perception of their organization, increase awareness with the public, and promote their organization's goals. They often work with the media to cultivate and maintain a favorable public image for their organization.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $39,000
- Mid-Career: $47,000
- Experienced: $52,000
- Late Career: $60,000
- Editors work with writers to review materials published in books, magazines, and newspapers and on websites. They approve story ideas, coordinate with writers, and revise drafts of pieces.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $39,000
- Mid-Career: $44,000
- Experienced: $55,000
- Late Career: $61,000
- Broadcast News Analyst
- Broadcast news analysts — also known as anchors — lead news programs. They work in television and radio news and often have a background in journalism and reporting.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $39,000
- Mid-Career: $45,000
- Experienced: $54,000
- Late Career: $59,000
Choosing an Online Journalism Degree Program
Prospective students may feel overwhelmed when trying to find the best online journalism degree or an affordable online journalism degree. Choosing the right journalism program can influence your entire career, so prospective students should take their time to find the best fit. For example, learners who prioritize cost should concentrate on in–state programs, as they typically charge the lowest tuition rates.
Students can also research factors like transfer policies to save money and shorten the length of their bachelor’s in journalism. Other factors — such as school size, on–campus requirements, and available career services — can help prospective students to further narrow their choices.
- Program Cost
- The cost of an online journalism degree varies depending on the institution type, online learning fees, and additional charges. In general, in-state public institutions offer the lowest tuition rates. However, out-of-state public schools often charge a flat rate for online students regardless of state residency. Private programs may also offer scholarships or financial aid to lower the cost of the degree.
- Transfer Policies
- Students with significant transfer credit should research programs' transfer policies. A generous transfer policy can save students thousands of dollars and several semesters or years when completing a bachelor's degree. Some schools offer a transcript analysis before applying to determine transfer credits.
- School Size and Type
- School size and type influence the experience of a journalism degree. Some students prefer a smaller class, while others prefer a larger cohort of learners. When considering public versus private institutions, students can look at tuition costs, funding options, and alumni networks.
- Program Length
- While a bachelor's degree typically takes four years, some programs offer part-time or accelerated options for students to complete the degree on a different timeline. Program requirements such as an internship or general education requirements can also affect program length. Learners can contact an admissions advisor to learn more about program length.
- On–Campus Requirements
- Some online programs require on-campus residencies, such as an on-campus orientation or residency weekends. Students may prefer a hybrid format that offers opportunities to meet with faculty and fellow students on campus or a program with no on-campus requirements.
Accreditation for Online Journalism Degrees
Prospective students considering earning a journalism and mass communication degree online should be careful to choose an accredited institution. Accredited institutions have been thoroughly vetted to ensure they follow the best practices in higher education, and their students are assured of receiving a quality education. An accredited degree also meets more licensing and certification requirements, and some graduate programs accept only applicants with an accredited undergraduate degree. Learners at an accredited college or university also qualify for federal financial aid.
During the accreditation process, an independent accrediting agency evaluates a school’s graduation requirements, student learning outcomes, and faculty components. Colleges and universities also voluntarily undergo regular accreditation reviews to maintain their status. At the institutional level, regional and national accrediting agencies grant accreditation. Regional accreditation is granted by seven regional accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Education (ED) and is the highest standard for liberal arts and research institutions.
In certain disciplines, specific programs within schools can be accredited by specialized agencies. For example, business programs, teacher training programs, and social work programs can all earn programmatic accreditation from leading organizations in the field. However, journalism programs do not feature programmatic accreditation; instead, regional accreditation evaluates journalism programs as part of the institutional review.
Several organizations work together to ensure the accreditation process runs smoothly. In addition to the independent accrediting agencies, the ED oversees the process by approving accrediting agencies. Similarly, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) evaluates accrediting agencies to ensure they follow the best practices in accreditation. Both the ED and CHEA maintain lists of accredited schools; prospective students can learn more by visiting the ED accreditation list or the CHEA accreditation list.
Many of the best online journalism degrees offer concentrations to focus the degree and prepare graduates for a specific journalism career path. A concentration in broadcast journalism, for example, can lead to a career as a reporter or news analyst. Prospective students can research a program’s concentrations to find the best fit for their career goals and interests.
- Broadcast Journalism
- Journalism majors who concentrate in broadcast journalism often pursue careers working for broadcast news companies. They study television reporting, news analysis, and the business of broadcast journalism, including journalism ethics in broadcast news.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Reporter; news analyst; news editor
- Investigative Journalism
- An investigative journalism concentration trains majors to conduct in-depth reporting in different areas. The concentration may include a focus on healthcare, politics, business, science, or another field. Majors learn about investigative reporting for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast journalism, including the ethics of investigative journalism.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Investigative journalist
- Digital Journalism
- In a digital journalism concentration, students explore multimedia journalism and ways to incorporate text, audio, and video into news reporting. Students also learn about the challenges of online journalism, the role of editors in digital journalism, and incorporating interactive features in digital journalism.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Journalist; reporter; digital media specialist
- International Journalism
- An international journalism concentration emphasizes reporting on global topics including diplomacy, global economics, and science. Students learn about international journalism in different media, including print, broadcast, and online journalism. The concentration may also cover different national contexts, language skills, and ethics for international journalists.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Journalist; reporter
- Professional Writing
- Journalism programs that offer a professional writing concentration emphasize the writing skills required for journalism careers. Within the concentration, students learn writing and editing skills with an emphasis on print, online, and long-form journalism.
- Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Journalist; writer; author
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Journalism?
Earning an online journalism degree at the bachelor’s level typically requires four years of full–time study.
However, the length of a bachelor’s degree varies depending on the program, a student’s transfer credits, and enrollment status. For example, some journalism programs include an internship to give students hands–on experience working for a publication, media organization, or other journalism association. Learners can also choose to earn their degree part time, which requires additional semesters but allows them to balance school with work or family obligations. Additionally, some journalism programs offer accelerated options, where students complete the degree in less time and can even save money on tuition.
Finally, transfer credits play a major role in determining the length of a degree. Transfer students with an associate degree in journalism, communications, or a related field may be able to complete the bachelor’s degree in two years or less.
Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Journalism Program
Earning a journalism degree online introduces students to local and global print, broadcast, and web–based media. Students often take basic liberal arts classes in humanities, anthropology, history, political science, and psychology as part of a journalism curriculum. Additionally, journalism students sharpen their writing skills with classes in English, research methods, copy editing, editorial commentary, and freelance writing. They also learn about the digital transformation of journalism through classes in online media, storytelling with cell phones, and design for web and mobile devices.
Popular concentrations in journalism include writing and editing, international reporting, media design, photojournalism, sports journalism, and broadcast journalism. Some online programs also require students to complete an independent study or an internship to gain hands–on experience in their subfield.
Students examine strategies to enhance their critical thinking skills, writing and communication abilities, and ethical decision–making competency. A journalism degree typically requires 120 credits, which often include approximately 18 credits of core courses, 12 credits of concentration courses, and 15 elective credits.
- Global Journalism
- Courses on global journalism introduce students to international reporting. Students learn about international issues, the role of journalists in covering global issues, and the knowledge international journalists bring to their job. The course may cover a variety of areas, such as political reporting, war journalism, and economic journalism.
- Media and Politics
- Students explore the relationship between media and politics, often with a focus on the U.S. The course covers historical developments and the role of journalists in elections, public policy, and politics. Students learn about political reporting, local politics, and news writing.
- Digital Journalism
- In digital journalism classes, students examine the growing role that digital media plays in the field. The course trains journalism majors for jobs incorporating digital resources, including roles that blend reporting with images, video, or web design. Students may also learn video production, video editing, and web management skills.
- Many journalism programs incorporate classes on copy editing to prepare graduates for roles as editors or copy editors. The course trains students to revise written pieces to follow a publication's style guidelines and the basics of fact checking. Students also learn about the relationships between writers and editors in different media organizations.
Journalism Membership Associations
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- A professional organization for independent journalists and nonfiction authors, ASJA provides helpful resources such as market research. The society also offers mentoring services, meetings with editors, and events that include networking opportunities.
- Investigative Reporters and Editors
- A nonprofit organization dedicated to quality investigative reporting, IRE helps reporters and editors connect with other journalists. The organization offers a resource center, hosts conferences and training events, and runs programs that help investigative reporters professionally.
- National Association of Black Journalists
- Established in 1975, NABJ represents black journalists. Members receive access to a job board and career fair, student services support, and the membership directory. NABJ also offers scholarship and internship opportunities.
- Authors Guild
- A professional organization for writers in all genres, the Authors Guild provides professional development resources such as writer contract templates, guidance on copyright protections, and legal assistance. Members benefit from regional chapters with networking opportunities, seminars and panels, and reference guides.