Journalists working in the field are beginning to turn their attention to the online Master's in Journalism programs that are available to them. Whether they are foreign correspondents or reporting the local news, these professionals are finding that it is more important than ever to have a strong background in journalism education. And while traditional programs are still available, they are less useful to working professionals.
This is because traditional programs often require students to attend full-time and are on campus every week. Online programs, on the other, are more flexible; students can choose between asynchronous and synchronous courses and are often offered the chance to earn their degree at an accelerated pace. Online schools are also more affordable, making it an easier choice for professionals who need a graduate program that won't break the bank.
The research used to create the ranking below was culled from the National Center for Education Statistics and its public database known as College Navigator. By using " journalism" as a keyword, schools were vetted for online degree offerings. An initial pool of 30 schools was considered before the final 10 were selected based on in-state graduate tuition rates, which are listed below in descending order.
Ranking Low-cost Online Journalism Master's
10. Harvard Extension School
Online Master of Liberal Arts in Journalism
Harvard Extension School provides an excellent online Master's in Journalism that is provided by one of the country's top schools. Now it's available as a hybrid program; while professionals can take most of their courses online, Harvard requires students take residency for one course on campus. Students will be expected to complete two courses related to the degree prior to applying for the program; this ensures that they are dedicated to the program. There is also an option within the curriculum to specialize in a field of journalism, such as politics or crime; there are a significant amount of graduate certificates that can be earned this way, which may be useful for a pre-service or in-service professional. Students will also find that the program is customizable; once the core curriculum is completed, they can choose the majority of their electives, which make up more than half of the curriculum. The degree, which is 36 credit hours in length, is completed once a student finishes a significant journalism project; this includes a portfolio and published work. Sample courses for this degree include Feature Writing, The Constitution and the Media, News Reporting for the Web, Print, and other platforms.
9. Clarion University
St. Clarion, Pennsylvania
Online Master of Arts in Mass Media Arts and Journalism
Students at Clarion University are offered a Master's in Journalism online degree that will help elevate any journalist's career prospects. This degree combines mass media and journalism with a well-rounded curriculum that helps journalists understand how much the internet has changed the field. This degree is available 100 percent online with asynchronous courses and can be completed in as little as 18 months. The program focuses on research, law, and reporting, all of which are necessary for journalists who are moving into new media. This degree also teaches students about the communication process and public relations, ensuring that they understand how their journalism work may be received by their audience. Students can expect to complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a thesis or research project prior to graduation. Sample courses include Management of the Communication Process, Advanced Public Relations Writing, and Society, Law, and Media Technology.
8. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Online Master of Arts in Journalism
Regent University confers an online Master's in Journalism that is offered 100 percent through the school's virtual portal. This degree takes into account how traditional and new media play a role in both how a journalist does their job and how their audience may receive their work. This is a Christian-based degree that puts a spotlight on storytelling; students will learn how to craft a narrative from their reporting in order to keep their audience engaged in the story. Students will also learn how to get their work published by professional media outlets, how to be unbiased in their investigations, and how to use social media to the best of their ability. This degree requires at least 31 credit hours of coursework, a research project, a thesis, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include News Writing and Reporting, Multimedia Reporting and Mobile Field Production, and Story, Popular Culture, and Worldview.
7. Kent State University
Online Master's for Journalism Educators
Students interested in a journalism master's online degree need to take a look at Kent State University. This school offers a degree that prepares professionals to teach high school students journalism, continue their work as journalists, or even become editors and managers at professional media outlets. This degree offers seven concentrations, including Journalism Educators, Newspaper, and Broadcast. Students will find a 100 percent online degree that has a focus on research and applied projects. Because this is considered a professional degree in the field, students will be required to complete at least one research project or thesis prior to graduating from the program. Students will also be expected to complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Research Methods in Journalism and Mass Communication, Legal Problems in Mass Communication, and Advanced Broadcast News Reporting.
6. Arizona State University
Online Master of Science in Business Journalism
Arizona State University confers an online journalism master's degree that is geared towards professionals who are interested in becoming business journalists. This degree is found entirely online; courses are delivered asynchronously and synchronously with each course lasting just seven and a half weeks. This degree can be earned in as little as one year with part-time study. The curriculum is divided into business and journalism courses; students will learn how the business world operates and also how journalism reports on the business world. To earn a degree from ASU is a fantastic achievement indeed; the program is nationally renown for its various awards and is considered one of the top leading journalism schools in the country. Students can expect to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, all taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and professionals, and an applied project. Sample courses include Media Law, Data in Business Journalism, and Basics of Leading People, Teams and Organizations: Organization Theory.
5. University of Memphis
Online Master of Arts in Journalism and Strategic Media
The online Master's in Journalism conferred by the University of Memphis is an incredible opportunity for in-service and pre-service professionals. The degree is conferred entirely online through asynchronous courses and can be completed in as little as two years with part-time study. Students will be able to choose between four concentrations that will make up more than half of their entire curriculum; these concentrations include News and Storytelling, Integrated Strategic Media, Visual Media, or Research. Each concentration provides students with a wealth of knowledge that pertains to journalism. Most of the courses are also taught by established professionals in the field who have a long track record of excellence in their work. Students can expect to complete 33 credit hours of coursework and an applied journalism project for graduation. Sample courses include Introduction to Journalism and New Media, Ethics in Journalism, and Journalism and Narrative News.
4. The University of South Florida at St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, Florida
Online Master of Arts in Digital Journalism and Design
The University of South Florida at St. Petersburg confers an online Master's in Journalism that was designed to be completed in just one year with full-time study. Working professionals can complete all of the requirements in just 18 months. This degree focuses on new media in relation to journalism, teaching in-service and pre-service professionals about how digital journalism has changed the face of the field forever. This degree is accredited by the Accrediting Council of Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The curriculum allows students to tailor their program to their specific needs, including Social Media, Visual Communication, and Business Journalism. Students will be expected to complete at least 36 credit hours of coursework, a thesis or research project, and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Mass Communications Theory, International Communication, and Race, Gender, and Class in Media.
3. Ball State University
Online Master of Arts in Journalism
Professionals interested in an online Master's in journalism will want to check out Ball State University. The school's program can be found either 100 percent online or as a hybrid program; both programs are taught by nationally renown professors and journalists who will instruct students on a variety of different aspects that inform the field. Students will be able to choose between two concentrations: Media Analytics and Management or Reporting and Storytelling. The curriculum is designed so that the majority of the courses taken by a student are focused on their chosen concentration. Courses are delivered asynchronously online and can be completed in two years with full-time study. Students will be expected to complete 36 credit hours of coursework as well as a capstone project or research; a practicum is encouraged for pre-service professionals but it is not a requirement. Sample courses include Media Audiences and Content Strategy, Journalistic Judgments and Sociology of News, and Studies in Journalism and Communication Theory.
2. University of Alabama
Online Master of Arts in Journalism
The University of Alabama confers an online Master's in Journalism that was created for students who are eager to enhance their knowledge of the field as well as choosing a cognate area in which to focus their journalistic efforts in. There are four different cognate areas, including Writing and Reporting, Digital Media and Information, Entrepreneurialism and Management, and Social Science and Research for Journalism. Courses are delivered 100 percent online and through the asynchronous format; the entire program can be completed in less than two years by attending school part-time. Students will find that the majority of their curriculum is focused on their cognate area, enabling them to fully explore the field prior to graduation. This degree requires 31 credit hours of coursework and a professional project for graduation. Sample courses include History of Journalism and the First Amendments, Communication Research Methods, and Contemporary Issues in Journalism.
1. University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Online Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications (Professional Journalism)
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln confers an online cheap journalism master's degree that is the exact same program as the one taught on campus. Students who enroll in this 100 percent online degree will find that their professors are former journalists with years of experience under their belt. This degree was designed for working professionals who are ready to branch out into digital and new media journalism. This degree has a nearly fully customizable curriculum, with over half of the curriculum being made available for students to make their own specialization. This degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework and a professional journalism project for graduation. Sample courses include Seminar in Media Law, Media Management, and Multi-Platform Journalism.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Journalism Degree?
Professionals with an online Master's in Journalism degree have a lot of doors open to them in the field. Most graduates will move straight into finding a job as a journalist; if they have a specialty, they may find it easier to find a job. Additionally, journalists can be found as writers for a newspaper, reporters on tv, or as writers and video producers for new media.
There are, however, other career options for professionals in journalism. These include:
- Director of Communications
- Public Relations Manager
- Press Secretary
- Freelance Writer
- Content Consultant
- Social Media Manager
- Web Content Manager
- Editoral Assistant
- Television News Anchor
Suffice it to say, a professional with a master's degree in journalism will find a suitable job in the media field, whether it's as a copywriter or an investigative journalist with a major publication. There are many more career options; a student need only start researching what they can do with their degree to learn more information.
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
The average salary range for this field is between $40,000 to $125,000. This range spans all journalist positions, print publications, broadcast, traditional and new media, as well as senior-level positions at various publications of variable prestige and size. It is important to note is that most professionals will begin as journalists, meaning they will begin earning around $40,000 and move up from there in terms of salary growth.
What are the Various Disciplines of Journalism?
Journalism is most often impacted by the disciplines of research, communication, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, inquiry, writing, storytelling, investigation, and grammar. Journalists of all subfields and experience levels will say that these disciplines are the ones that take precedence as they are the ones most used by journalists.
However, journalism has changed in the last 20 years. With the rise of the Internet comes the digital journalism age. Multimedia platforms, social media, and the plethora of online publications who report the news means that how journalists approach the field is changing. They must consider filmmaking, broadcast journalist, technology, photography, design, and social media while working on stories. These professionals need to ensure that their story will translate across media platforms, engaging with their audience.
Of course, politics and law, as well as psychology and sociology, remain players in the field. Journalists are often investigating politicians and government officials, leading to court cases and other legal issues. Journalists must also focus on sociology and psychology, using their narrative storytelling skills to create an emotional reaction to a particular story.
Is a Degree in Journalism Necessary to Become a Journalist?
No, an online Master's in Journalism is not necessary to become a journalist. Some professionals may be wondering why they should even consider a journalism degree in the first place, then. Well, there are some things that need to be discussed about the journalism field.
The first is that the term "journalist" is both broad and narrow. This means that for some people and publications, the term journalist could mean any type of writer or reporter who does cursory research on a particular subject. These journalists may not have any journalistic training and may not be reporting on traditional news, meaning they are more likely considered writers, bloggers, or content creators.
Traditional publications, such as newspapers and even well-established online sites, use journalists who source, pitch, research, report, and write their own stories. These individuals often go into dangerous situations or report on controversial subjects, relying on connections in the field and their own bravery to get the story without much protection. These are war correspondents, Pulitzer Prize winners, investigative journalists, and more.
Second, it is difficult to become an investigative journalist, or a traditional-type journalist at all, without some educational training. While on-the-job training is more important, as it helps solidify a journalist's knowledge of the skills they have learned over time, an education into how to properly research and report a story is still critical. Professionals need to know how to question all materials and perspectives provided by sources, determine the objective truths of a story, write or report and engaging story, and more. This can all be taught through an online degree in journalism.
Third and lastly, a degree in journalism offers something that is invaluable: professors who are or were journalists. Many of the schools in this ranking actually have Pulitzer Prize winning journalists on the faculty, where they teach online courses as well as traditional campus courses. This is an incredible opportunity for students to be taught by veteran journalists who have knowledge that may be useful as soon as a student enters the field.
Journalism is an important part of everyday life for most people. Society relies on journalists to be professional, have morals and ethics they uphold in their work, and most of all, a non-bias approach to the situation they are reporting. While it is possible to find professionals who embody all of this, an online Master's in Journalism will only serve to prepare journalists to serve in their capacity of the eyes and ears of the nation.