Today’s journalists engage with society through newspapers, television, and new media, thanks to an array of digital platforms. With an online master’s degree in journalism, you will strengthen your writing, storytelling, and messaging skills while also learning about editing, multimedia reporting, and strategic communication. With people relying more on journalists to keep them informed on local, state, national, and global news, it is no wonder that the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an 8% growth in writing professions from 2016 to 2026.
Choosing a Program
A master’s in journalism online program teaches the ability to effectively communicate important news and purposeful messaging. It also demonstrates research abilities to source stories and verify the integrity of leads. Courses can include, for example, studies in public relations, brand management, investigation skills, social media, and news production. These topics will be covered whether you opt to pursue a career in print media, corporate communications, or advertising. In addition, those who wish to become on-air news broadcasters will need to enroll in public speaking classes.
With your master’s degree in journalism, you might choose an area of concentration. For example, you may wish to concentrate in interactive media, which explores the theories and practices of creating content for virtual communities and how the content users within them help expand journalistic reach. You could also concentrate in a specific type of journalism, such as health communications or political reporting.
Your degree requirements depend on the school and program you select. In some instances, earning your degree may require professional projects or presenting a thesis based on independent research. Your program of choice also determines whether your studies are fully online or a combination of online and face-to-face instruction.
For career information, skip down:
Online Master’s in 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 Master’s in Journalism Programs
1 Harvard University
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is one of the most respected universities in the country. Students earning their master’s in journalism degree online from Harvard gain skills and specialized knowledge necessary to become successful news correspondents and investigative journalists.
Before enrolling, applicants must complete two journalism courses with a grade of B or better: a proseminar on the fundamentals of journalism and a class on feature writing, for newsprint specialists, or news reporting for the web or other platforms. Completion of these courses demonstrates commitment to journalism and provides entry-level information for students with diverse backgrounds and undergraduate specialties. The program requires 12 courses, including the two prerequisites. Learners may specialize their studies through electives and optional certificates in innovation and entrepreneurship, social justice, environmental policy, international relations, marketing, international security, and web technology.
Although Harvard offers the master’s in journalism primarily online, students must take at least one on-campus course; online learners can complete a traditional fifteen-week, on-campus course, a three-week intensive course in summer or January, an online course culminating in an intensive weekend on campus, or an active-learning weekend course.
Harvard University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
2University of Missouri
Mizzou offers an online master’s degree in journalism designed for students with three or more years of professional experience in a journalism-related field. The program trains students in multiple journalistic media, including print, web, broadcasting, advertising, and public relations, and produces graduates who are committed to the dissemination of accurate, compelling news.
Students earning the master’s in journalism online can specialize in health communication, strategic communication, interactive media, or media management. The curriculum includes core classes in journalism ethics, mass media production, quantitative research, and career professionalism. Students complete 15 to 17 specialization credits before undertaking a capstone project or thesis. Online students work closely with a program professor during their final project, which they submit to a committee of program faculty for approval prior to graduation.
Online students have access to the career center and to three student organizations that connect current students with recent graduates, faculty, and staff. These groups promote community collaboration and help students secure internships and create a professional network.
Additionally, the Reynolds Journalism Institute is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
The University of Missouri-Columbia is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3University of Nebraska Lincoln
Nebraska offers an online master’s degree in journalism and mass communication that cultivates skills in multiple news platforms, including newsprint and web posts. Students also study photojournalism and cinematic documentaries.
The 36-credit core curriculum explores the ethics of mass media production, multiplatform journalism, and media and project management. Students earning the master’s degree in journalism complete coursework in areas such as cinematography and photojournalism, media law and theory, societal specializations in race and gender, and in-depth investigative research and reporting.
Many of the fully online courses adhere to an innovative format that allows distance learners to collaborate with on-campus students, fostering dynamic class discussions and networking opportunities. Students complete and present a capstone research project, which displays their expertise to potential employers.
Nebraska approves all transfer credits on a case-by-case basis, and students can apply previous credit toward up to half of the program requirements.
The University of Nebraska is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4University of Memphis
U of M’s master’s degree in journalism and strategic media trains students in multimedia and multi-format journalism. Students in the fully online program engage with practical issues across platforms, including traditional broadcasting and social media.
The online master’s degree in journalism emphasizes critical thinking, writing, media literacy, multimedia comprehension, and professionalism. The program offers specializations in news and storytelling, integrated strategic media, visual media, and investigative research. The 33-hour program allows students to explore special topics in journalism and to examine the latest issues in mass media distribution and development. The curriculum includes courses in opinion writing and reporting, public relations, mass communications history, social media theory and practice, and journalism entrepreneurship.
Many journalism students at U of M work with on-campus student media outlets; The Daily Helmsman is a student-run newspaper; Tiger News is the school’s digital and video media outlet; and Meeman 901 Strategies is a student-organized strategic communications firm focused on innovations in web development and social media-oriented public relations.
The University of Memphis is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
5University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
For aspiring digital journalists, USFSP offers a master’s in digital journalism and design in fully online and hybrid formats. Students learn to apply investigative research techniques to multimedia platforms to offer balanced analysis to a wide audience.
Students focus on either journalism, mass communication, or media studies. Within these areas, students can pursue an interdepartmental specialization in criminology, business, education, environmental studies, health communication, philosophy, or anthropology. Students earning the degree in digital journalism drive discussions, exchange opinions, and cultivate listening and interpretive skills.
The program requires 33 to 39 credits, which most students complete in two years. The core curriculum focuses on journalism theory, ethics, and research. Students also take specialized classes to prepare them for the workforce. Elective courses include web publishing, data storytelling, photojournalism, and social media distribution and control. The program culminates in a final project or thesis, during which students demonstrate skills to faculty and prospective employers.
USFSP pairs each student with an academic advisor, who helps them identify goals and create benchmarks for success. The university encourages collaborative initiatives between students and faculty, providing practical experience while fostering a professional network.
The University of South Florida at St. Petersburg receives accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Online Master’s in Journalism Careers
An online master’s degree in journalism prepares you for professions like a reporter or a public relations specialist. Regardless of the career you choose, you must demonstrate strong communication skills, attention to detail, and intellectual curiosity about the news and its impact on people’s lives.
- Writer and Author: This professional creates content for an array of outlets, including magazines, newspapers, blogs, and online sites. The role requires selecting and researching subject matter, ensuring the information reported is factual and verifiable. A writer and author may also work on advertising and promotional initiatives intended to persuade media consumers.
- Median Annual Salary: $61,240
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Editor: This expert reviews content prior to its publication/dissemination, ensuring accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation. In addition, an editor checks facts, organizes ideas, and determines which graphics best help illustrate content.
- Median Annual Salary: $57,210
- Projected Growth Rate: 0%
- Public Relations Specialist: This specialist aims to ensure the positive reputation and image of organizations in the media and public. The role requires drafting press releases, creating focused messages for media placement, and advising clients in how best to communicate with the press and public. Earning a master’s degree in journalism can build your writing and public speaking abilities as well as hone your ability to skillfully analyze media-related data.
- Median Annual Salary: $58,020
- Projected Growth Rate: 9%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics