Best Online Master’s in Journalism Programs 2021
Updated September 20, 2022
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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.
The Best Online Journalism Master's Programs
Online Master's in Journalism Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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Featured Online Master's in Journalism Programs
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:
- Project management
- Written and oral communication
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Cultural awareness and inclusivity
- Qualitative/quantitative research
- Data analysis
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Business and economics
- Arts and culture
Seasoned journalists who want to develop expertise in a specialized subject. This path assumes some familiarity with the conventions of journalism.
MS IN JOURNALISM
- Investigative reporting
- Documentary journalism
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.
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
Radio and television broadcasters 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.
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.
Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists manage their clients' public images and communicate with the media on their behalf by developing position papers, writing speeches, and crafting press releases.
Newspaper publishers 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.
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.
Journalism Professional Organizations
Frequently Asked Questions
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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