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Master's in journalism programs provide hands-on experience, build your portfolio, and teach you skills in reporting, multimedia storytelling, and news anchoring.

Journalists do the important job of informing the public about current, historical, and cultural events. They often value truth, curiosity, and community, and they must possess key skills in news reporting and qualitative research. Students earning a master's in journalism specialize their degrees, gain work experience, and create portfolios that can help them start an impactful career in the field.

This guide ranks some of the best online journalism master's programs in 2021. Learn about the expectations of a typical journalism program, available concentrations, and career paths.

Top Online Master's in Journalism Programs 2021
#1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#2 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
#3 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE
#4 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
#5 University of South Flordia-St Petersburg St. Petersburg, FL

Featured Online Schools

The Best Master's in Journalism Programs Available Online

Harvard University true View School Profile $$ Cambridge, MA Harvard University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

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).

University of Missouri-Columbia true View School Profile $$$ Columbia, MO The University of Missouri-Columbia is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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).

GO TO SCHOOL PROFILE

University of Nebraska-Lincoln true View School Profile $$$ Lincoln, NE The University of Nebraska is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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).

University of Memphis true View School Profile $$ Memphis, TN The University of Memphis is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

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.

Furthermore the journalism master's program is recognized by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

University of South Flordia-St Petersburg true View School Profile $$ St. Petersburg, FL The University of South Florida at St. Petersburg receives accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

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).

Best Online Colleges

Online Master's in Journalism Program 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.

What Is an Online Master's in Journalism?

A journalism master's degree typically takes two years to complete. While most programs deliver similar outcomes, like excellent communication skills and hands-on journalism experience, they often differ in curricula.

For instance, some master's in journalism programs focus on theory and investigative research, while others help students develop a portfolio with writing, audio, or video samples. Consider which curriculum meets your needs before applying to a master's-level journalism degree.

Regardless of program, individuals with a master's in journalism graduate with the following hard and soft skills:

Soft Skills Hard Skills
  • Project management
  • Written and oral communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management
  • Cultural awareness and inclusivity
  • Qualitative/quantitative research
  • Fact-checking
  • Data analysis
  • Marketing
  • Public relations

Who Should Pursue a Journalism Master's?

Many entry-level positions in journalism require just a bachelor's degree, so a journalism master's isn't necessary for employment. Most employers value work experience and focus more on your portfolio and past internships.

Aspiring professionals with degrees in other fields can benefit from earning a master's in journalism, as they will learn the reporting and analytical skills necessary to become a journalist. A degree in this field also helps enrollees create a solid portfolio that highlights their qualifications and experience.

Experienced journalists who wish to add a new skill set or concentration to their portfolio can also benefit from a master's degree in journalism.

What Can I Expect in Pursuing a Master's in Journalism Online?

Online master's in journalism programs include the same courses as in-person programs, covering research, writing, and media studies. Prospective journalism students can choose a specialization that, in addition to refining their writing and reporting abilities, equips them with experience relevant to their career goals.

Journalism Master's Concentrations

Documentary Journalism

This concentration trains aspiring documentarians by building visual storytelling skills. Coursework includes technical topics, such as videography and data analysis for visual media, and reporting fundamentals. Each enrollee typically learns about the business side of film and completes a capstone documentary.

Multimedia Storytelling

For students interested in the intersection of graphic design and journalism, this specialization teaches how to convey information via a combination of text, images, and video. Enrollees learn to visualize data points and tell compelling, interactive stories.

Investigative Reporting

Aspiring investigative reporters dig into complex and nuanced topics such as crime, international relations, and local politics. The coursework builds core competencies in data mining, reliable sourcing, and freedom of information laws. Students learn to convey information to audiences in a detailed and captivating way.

News Reporting

Learners interested in pursuing careers as reporters or news analysts will benefit from this concentration, which explores how to use journalism conventions when reporting newsworthy material at the local, state, and national levels.

Media Ethics

This specialization prepares students with knowledge about ethical norms and codes of conduct that media professionals uphold. Students examine the value of journalistic integrity and study how the media affects law and governance. They also learn about journalists' responsibility to inform the public with accuracy and transparency.

Feature and Magazine Writing

These programs extend beyond standard news reporting and train learners to craft long-form content for magazines, such as in-depth profiles of public figures or lifestyle and special interest features. Graduates will learn to offer insightful narrative analysis and refine their points of view.

What's the Difference Between a Master of Arts in Journalism and Master of Science in Journalism?

Master of arts (MA) and master of science (MS) degrees in journalism both provide advanced qualifications in writing, reporting, and storytelling. However, these programs differ in the type of students they attract and the work they prepare you for.

MA in Journalism MS in Journalism

Example Concentrations:

  • Business and economics
  • Arts and culture

Example Concentrations:

  • Investigative reporting
  • Documentary journalism

Best for:

Seasoned journalists who want to develop expertise in a specialized subject. This path assumes some familiarity with the conventions of journalism.

Best for:

Individuals looking to change careers, new students, and early-stage professionals interested in building a portfolio. This path builds applied journalism skills for those with little to no experience.

Choosing an Online Master's in Journalism Program

Accreditation, cost, learning format, and specialization options are all important to consider when selecting your ideal program. Choose a program with a curriculum that supports your professional goals and gives you the skills you need to advance your career. If you plan on pursuing a career in news media, for example, consider programs with concentrations in investigative or news reporting.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Journalism Degrees

Accreditation is an independent quality assurance measure that verifies high levels of excellence and rigor. Every school should hold some form of institutional accreditation, and candidates should always verify a prospective school's regional accreditation status before pursuing a master's in journalism.

Beyond the institutional accreditation, some programs also receive accreditation that is specific to their fields or industries. The Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications accredits media-related programs.

Journalism Careers

The following list details several career paths for journalists. In most cases, entry-level work does not require a master's in journalism, but having one can help you hone your expertise and give you a competitive edge in the job market. For example, if you're interested in public relations (PR), a master's degree in journalism with a PR emphasis could make you a more appealing job candidate.

Radio and Television Broadcasters

These media professionals provide insightful news analysis and inform the public on current events. They research relevant topics, investigate stories, and convey key information through audio-visual media.

Median Annual Salary (2020): $49,300

Editors

Editors typically manage a group of writers and ensure uniformity in the style, tone, and messaging of their organization. They also plan and revise content to make sure that the material appeals to their target audience.

Median Annual Salary (2020): $63,400

Public Relations Specialists

PR specialists manage their clients' public images and communicate with the media on their behalf by developing position papers, writing speeches, and crafting press releases.

Median Annual Salary (2020): $118,430

Newspaper Publishers

These professionals research articles and write stories specific to their assigned area of responsibility, which is often referred to as their "beat." This can include topics such as sports, local politics, or entertainment. They must be available to cover breaking news and often work under strict deadlines.

Median Annual Salary (2020): $37,900

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop content for blogs, websites, magazines, books, scripts, and advertisements. Most professionals focus on subjects within their expertise and work with editors and clients to set goals and deadlines.

Median Annual Salary (2020): $67,120

Journalism Professional Organizations

Since 1975, this organization has supported Black journalists and media professionals throughout the U.S. NABJ maintains regional chapters, hosts an annual conference, and provides financial aid and a career center for its members. Established in 1984, NAHJ supports Latinos/as through professional development initiatives and training events. Current members and recent graduates can use its career and resource centers to find new opportunities in the industry. AAJA promotes diversity in journalism and the accurate, equitable coverage of people of color. This organization offers resource guides and sponsors professional development events for its over 1,500 members around the world. API promotes innovation and sustainability in the news industry. It focuses on understanding new and potential audiences, supporting organizational change, and advancing accountability in journalism. With roots dating back to 1909, SPJ is the oldest professional journalism organization in the U.S. It empowers journalists by promoting ethical standards and supporting diversity and inclusion efforts within the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

true Why Should I Get a Master's in Journalism?

A journalism master's degree can help aspiring professionals from unrelated fields enter the industry. It can also provide career advancement opportunities and hands-on experience for recent graduates and early-career professionals.

Can I Be a Journalist With a Communications Degree?

Yes. Journalism and media are two of the most common career paths for graduates with communications degrees. Most journalism jobs require training in communications or other related fields.

How Do I Start a Career in Media?

Start by obtaining a formal education and gaining work experience. Landing a media internship can serve as a stepping stone to future employment in the field.

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