Best Doctorate in Journalism Programs

Higher-paying journalism careers may require a doctorate. Learn what doctorate in journalism programs entail and our top picks.

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by Tessa Cooper

Published on July 14, 2022 · Updated on July 28, 2022

Edited by Desiree Cunningham
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In uncertain times, people often turn to journalists. These professionals cover breaking news stories. They also provide intriguing articles that can serve as escapism.

This career blends a passion for communicating, writing, listening, and observing. Since the news industry now emphasizes digital stories, the need for journalists continues to rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for news analysts, reporters, and journalists is projected to grow by 6% between 2020 and 2030.

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These professionals earn a median annual salary of $48,370, as of May 2021, according to the BLS. This is slightly above the median annual wage of $45,760 for all workers.

However, earning a doctorate in journalism may lead to higher-paying jobs. For example, journalism professors earn a median annual income of $79,640, as of May 2021. These higher-paying journalism professions typically require a doctorate.

It takes students 4-6 years to finish the program and earn their doctorate. Accelerated programs allow learners to finish the program in less time. Also, some programs can be completed online.

Graduate students spend an average of about $19,790 per year on college costs (tuition and required fees), according to the National Center for Education Statistics. They use student loans, grants, and scholarships to help pay for their education.

Keep reading to learn what an in-person and online doctorate in journalism programs entails. See our top program picks.

Best Doctorate in Journalism Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

The University of Texas at Austin

School Information
Location Austin, Texas
Admission Rate 32%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $555
Out of State | $1,045

Credits to Graduate
45

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

UT provides a doctoral program in journalism and media. Professors with professional experience in the journalism field teach the courses. The curriculum covers media law, misinformation, and how social media impacts journalism. 

This school does not set minimum GPA or GRE scores. However, applicants who recently gained admittance to the doctoral program had an average GPA of 3.72. They also had a GRE score in at least the 74th percentile.

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#2

University of Maryland

School Information
Location College Park, Maryland
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | N/A
Out of State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

UMD's Ph.D. in journalism covers multiple current topics in this field. Learners discover principles of data journalism. Some courses also focus on multimedia tools for journalism, like social media. The courses also highlight how to cover topics like gender and historical events. 

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose and resume along with their transcripts. UMD also requires GMAT or GRE scores. This competitive program also requires writing samples and a summary of research experience in the application.

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#3

University of Missouri

School Information
Location Columbia, Missouri
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $415
Out of State | $1,135

Credits to Graduate
N/A

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications

Mizzou's doctorate in journalism provides portfolio experience. Learners write for a community paper and work with a local NBC affiliate station. Professors with professional connections teach this on-campus program. 

To gain admittance to this competitive program, applicants need at least a 3.5 GPA. Mizzou prefers candidates with two years of related journalism experience or a related undergraduate degree. The doctoral program may require an interview with the professors.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Doctorate in Journalism ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by NCES. We identified three schools that qualify for our ranking, listed in alphabetical order. The programs in our list are based on the following criteria.

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

Top Three Benefits of a Journalism Degree


A journalism career prepares graduates for multiple careers.

Journalism majors not only work as writers. The communication skills they learn relate to other jobs. They can also pursue jobs as media and communication professionals at for-profit organizations. The BLS projects the job growth (11%) for media and communication workers will be greater than the job growth for news analysts, reporters, and journalists (6%) from 2020-2030. Media and communication professionals also earn a median annual wage of $62,340.


Jobs in the journalism field have variety and flexibility.

No two days look the same for journalists. Rather than sitting at a desk all day, many journalists perform fieldwork. They often leave the office for interviews. Some employers even allow journalists to write their articles from home.


The media and communication field is growing.

According to the BLS, declining revenue may force news organizations to employ fewer journalists. However, a doctorate in journalism may still lead to in-demand jobs. The BLS projects that employment overall in the media and communication field — which includes a variety of occupations — will increase by 14% between 2020 and 2030, resulting in about 151,000 new jobs. This is faster than the projected average job growth for all U.S. occupations (8%).

What Can I Expect From a Doctorate in Journalism Program?

A doctorate in journalism program covers topics that go beyond the practice. Learners discover mass communication theories and conduct research. Most doctorate in journalism programs require a dissertation. This written document summarizes journalism research. Typically, this dissertation aims to fill in industry knowledge gaps.

Most courses include lectures and discussions. A doctorate in this subject requires more writing and critical thinking than standardized tests. Learners get the chance to conduct fieldwork by writing for real-world publications.

Before enrolling in a doctorate in journalism program, learners should prepare by gaining professional experience. They can do so through internships or professional and freelance work.

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Program Snapshot
Average Graduate Degree Tuition Cost

Public Institution: $12,410

Private Institution: $26,600

Length 2 or more years
Credits Varies
Program Tracks
  • Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy)
  • Ed.D. (doctor of education)
  • Applied doctorate
Example Concentrations
  • Broadcast Journalism
  • Multimedia Journalism
  • Digital Communication
Example Courses
  • Communication Theories
  • Mass Media and Journalism
  • Journalism in the Age of Social Media

What Programs Are Similar to Journalism?

What Are the Admission Requirements?

Doctorate in journalism programs usually feature more thorough application processes. For this reason, applicants should prepare for the process as early as possible.

Some competitive programs require an interview. Usually, applicants must submit a statement of purpose or essay, official transcripts, and a resume. Many schools also require the GRE or GMAT. Schools typically provide information on graduate acceptance rates.

Explore Our Graduate Admissions Guide

How Do I Pay for a Doctoral Degree in Journalism?

What Can I Do With This Degree?

This degree opens multiple opportunities for you to pursue depending on which track you select. Learners who pursue a Ph.D. or Ed.D. typically work in research or education roles. People who want to practice in the journalism field as leaders can earn an applied doctorate.

Graduates with a doctorate may decide to pursue careers as top editors and senior journalists. Or, they work in related fields like public relations. In the next section, we discuss five careers people pursue with this type of doctorate.

Learn More About Journalism Careers

Popular Journalism Careers
Career Median or Average Annual Salary
Managing Editor $65,030 (as of July 2022)
Senior Writer $79,380 (as of July 2022)
Public Relations Manager $72,320 (as of June 2022)
Postsecondary Teacher $79,640 (as of May 2021)
Chief Information Officer $98,980 (as of May 2021)

Journalism Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Should I Get a Doctorate in Journalism Online?

Learners with established careers or busy schedules may benefit from an online doctorate in journalism. Thanks to virtual courses, aspiring students do not need to uproot their lives to attend a quality school. This section highlights the pros and cons of online vs. in-person programs. Use this list to help make an informed choice.

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

On-Campus Pros

  • Access to on-campus resources and support services
  • In-person social interaction and networking
  • Hands-on learning
  • Classroom learning environment with fewer distractions
  • Extracurricular clubs and activities

On-Campus Cons

  • May be more expensive than online programs
  • Set class times with less flexibility
  • Time/money commuting

Online Pros

  • Flexibility to learn on your schedule
  • Learn from anywhere
  • Network with people around the world
  • Save time/money on commuting
  • May be more affordable than on-campus programs
  • Access to online tutoring and career services

Online Cons

  • Requires more self-discipline
  • Not all programs are available online
  • More technical requirements
  • Potential social isolation and loneliness

How to Choose an Online Degree Program

Frequently Asked Questions About Journalism Programs

Is a doctorate in journalism worth it?

People generally find a doctorate in journalism worth the effort depending on their interests and career goals. Aspiring teachers and researchers who examine communication theories often benefit from this degree.

A doctorate examines the theories behind quality journalism. Curious people who want to know the reasoning behind best practices may enjoy and benefit from this degree program.

A doctoral program may also prepare learners to work for top media outlets or leadership roles. People who enjoy all communication methods usually thrive in this field. Top-level journalism roles require interpersonal communication and writing skills.

What can I do with a doctorate in journalism?

A doctorate in journalism prepares learners to succeed in theory-based and practice-based careers.

Graduates can train the next generation of journalists by pursuing jobs as college professors. Professors often contribute to research in the field as well. They present their findings at conferences and publish them in scholarly journals.

People with this degree may work in different but related fields. For example, they may work as a publisher for a magazine or a public relations director. Some journalists transition to roles in broadcast reporting.

How long does it take to get a doctorate in journalism?

Most doctorate in journalism programs take 4-6 years. The exact length of time varies based on a few factors. For starters, part-time students take longer than full-time students to finish the program. Online programs can allow journalists to work full time while completing their studies part time.

Some in-person programs feature night classes to accommodate working students. However, enrolling full time may feel more challenging for full-time workers.

People who want to earn their doctorate faster may consider an accelerated or self-paced online program. Certain programs require fewer courses. These programs typically take less time to complete.

How much money can I make with a doctorate in journalism?

Professionals with a doctorate in journalism often pursue jobs that pay around $65,000-$90,000 per year. However, several factors can play a role in salary.

For example, employers in larger cities often pay more than employers in rural towns. The BLS offers data on the average salaries for journalists in each state. Additionally, journalists with more years of experience tend to earn more than newer journalists.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a doctorate in journalism?

Graduates who work for for-profit businesses are among some of the highest earners. For example, the BLS states editors who work for professional, scientific, and technical services earn a median annual wage of $78,270, as of May 2021. By comparison, these same professionals who work for newspapers earn a median income of $61,060.

Honing business skills or multimedia skills may position students for higher-paying journalism-related positions. For example, understanding writing for search engine optimization may position graduates for digital media or marketing jobs.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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