Bachelor’s in Journalism Program Guide
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Journalists ask questions, write compelling stories, and uncover truths. Of course, the journalism industry does not look the way it did half a century ago, or even a decade ago. As the Internet has become ubiquitous, more and more consumers turn to their devices for news and away from conventional print newspapers. Journalists and reporters are now more creative with how they report the news. While some still work at local newspapers, others turn to freelance work or digital publications.
The number of writers should increase by 9% from 2016 to 2026, as projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The internet has also contributed to the rise of widespread misinformation, which means reporting and fact checking remain important. Plus, although traditional reporting jobs hang in limbo, the number of writers should increase by 9% from 2016 to 2026, as projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep reading this guide to find help evaluating the best journalism degree programs for you and your career goals.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Journalism?
More than anything, journalism requires passion and commitment to the truth. Students should avoid enrolling in journalism degrees under any illusions; as technology and social media evolve, newspapers and other physical publications sometimes struggle to remain profitable business models. As a result, journalists might risk feeling unstable in their careers. But journalists often enter the industry because they believe in the principles of the free press. They want to tell people's stories and hold the corrupt accountable through thorough research and reporting of facts. Therefore, while a journalism career may not be the most lucrative, it could provide a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
A degree in journalism equips students with a range of skills, including interviewing, writing, and editing. Multimedia, television, and radio journalists also learn technical production skills, such as filming and editing footage.
If you attend college right after high school and desire a traditional college experience, on-campus programs probably fit you best. On the other hand, online journalism degrees allow working professionals or nontraditional students to enroll part time and study at their own pace. On-campus programs commonly offer more opportunities for students to connect with peers and network with professors, but online students may still make connections with their classmates through online chat services or live online lectures. Whether students enroll online or on campus, journalism schools typically run career advice services that help graduates find jobs.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Journalism?
The obvious career choices for a journalism major includes reporters and editors. Yet the skills students learn in journalism school apply to other potential careers as well. Many professionals who graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism go on to work in the fields of public relations, advertising, or copywriting. Below are a few possible careers for graduates with a bachelor's degree in journalism:
Reporters and similar professionals write articles and publish news stories. Their tasks include finding, interviewing, and fact checking the statements given by sources. The job also may consist of covering breaking news, like crime and safety.
Median Annual Salary: $40,910*
Editors edit reporters' articles, but their responsibilities go far beyond editing and revising. They guide reporters in deciding which stories to pursue and what questions to ask. Editors may also influence the final publications.
Median Annual Salary: $58,770*
Journalism degrees equip students with the skills that apply to public relations specialists as well. In fact, some journalism programs offer concentrations in public relations. These professionals maintain a positive reputation for individual clients and companies. They often write press releases and answer reporters' questions.
Median Annual Salary: $59,300*
Copywriters write how-to guides and the text in advertising campaigns, among many other things. They must draft their writing with clear and straightforward language. One specific subset of copywriters are technical writers, who write specialized or mechanical information such as instruction manuals.
Median Annual Salary: $61,820*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Best States for Journalists
The rise of digital media brings profound and exciting changes to the journalism profession. While the number of journalists working in traditional print formats such as newspapers and magazines receded in recent years, new online channels offer direct access to enormous audiences. The internet also improves viewer accessibility for independent journalists who can upload their content to video sharing sites and reach millions of viewers without requiring access to legacy media systems like television or radio. These novel platforms pose monetization challenges for journalists seeking to establish themselves. However, independent reporters, commentators, and creators who manage to earn large and loyal followings can earn above-average incomes, build a high profile, and enjoy successful careers.
This ongoing transition remains in its relatively early stages, and emerging journalists interested in following traditional career paths still enjoy plenty of opportunities. Major urban centers with a dense concentration of media companies remain a viable option for recent journalism graduates who want to pursue this approach. However, not all of the leading destinations for journalists fit this profile, and some of the country's top journalism hotspots may surprise you.
Washington, D.C. outperforms the national numbers for annual earnings and job density to such a profound degree that it soars to a top finish as the nation's leading destination for journalists. According to the BLS, reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts working in the nation's capital make a mean annual wage of $88,350 per year. This more than doubles the national median journalist salary of $40,910 per year reported by BLS in 2017. Journalists also account for roughly three of every 1,000 jobs in Washington, D.C., which bested the second place, statewide journalist employment density rate by more than 400%.
The only caveat to consider stems from the fact that the vast majority of journalists working in the District of Columbia cover government issues and national politics. If your interests lie elsewhere, you might consider another market. Washington, D.C. also requires a relatively high cost of living, which offsets the excellent earning potential to a slight degree.
The Empire State offers excellent opportunities for journalists, particularly in the New York City metropolitan area. In addition to serving as one of the world's leading media and publishing hubs, the Big Apple also features an enormous presence of major companies in industries like finance, fashion, and entertainment. Diverse employment possibilities for journalists include excellent salaries. Statewide, reporters and correspondents make a mean annual salary of $76,590 per year. The BLS also ranks New York seventh among the 50 states.
As with many other major U.S. cities, New York's relatively high cost of living erodes some of the salary benefits. Intense competition for good jobs also limits the employment market for New York City journalists. However, the state features such strong prospects that its overall profile remains highly desirable.
California's strong finish largely results from the presence of two major media and journalism markets: San Francisco and Los Angeles. Though San Francisco ranks as the most expensive city for cost of living in the U.S., it also offers extensive opportunities for journalists interested in covering technology. Los Angeles continues its reign as the world's leading entertainment hub, which translates into thousands of jobs for journalists looking beyond the traditional newsroom to topics like movies, music, fashion, and celebrity culture.
Overall, California ranks fourth in the U.S. for journalism salaries. Mean earnings reach $55,070 per year. The BLS also places California second for the total number of journalism jobs, though the state's large workforce dilutes its employment density figures. On the whole, the state benefits emerging and established journalists seeking jobs. Noteworthy intangibles like excellent weather and a wealth of diverse outdoor recreational opportunities also draw aspiring journalists to the state.
Typically, journalists in Massachusetts earn a mean wage of $53,190 per year, equaling seventh place in the nation for annual salary. An above average employment density of 0.306 journalists per 1,000 members of the workforce represents another important strength of Massachusetts as a journalism destination. The Boston metro area serves as the epicenter of the state's media industry, offering a diverse range of employment opportunities that compare favorably with other leading population centers. Additionally, Massachusetts ranks in the top 10 nationally for the total number of reporter, correspondent, and journalist jobs.
Boston University and Northeastern University also call Massachusetts home, and these schools feature two of the most highly regarded journalism programs in the United States. As a result, the Massachusetts media landscape experiences constant invigoration thanks to the continuous emergence of new journalism talent.
Colorado ranks among the fastest-growing states in the U.S., and as more people move to the Centennial State, its overall economy continues to strengthen and diversify. This backdrop provides a solid foundation for the state's journalism sector, which pays far above mean salary rates while posting solid employment numbers. The breathtaking natural landscape of Colorado may appeal to ecological journalists as well.
BLS figures indicate that reporters and correspondents in Colorado earn mean annual salaries of $54,740 per year, which represents a premium of about 25% over the nationwide median. Both its employment density and the total number of journalism jobs in the state rank near the middle of the pack. However, excellent earning potential and strong prospects for future growth -- as the state's population continues to expand -- propel Colorado into the top five.
Propelled by high mean annual wages and impressive employment numbers, Michigan serves as a great place to launch a journalism career. The BLS reports the mean annual income of a Michigan journalist as $48,800 per year, good for 13th place among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also ranks ninth in the nation in terms of the total number of journalism jobs. In addition, Michigan offers a favorable cost of living compared to the other top states for journalists, with the state's largest city of Detroit offering a particularly affordable profile for a city its size.
Beyond these core considerations, Michigan also fares well when factoring in intangible factors. Its geographic diversity offers outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and Michigan's location on the shores of the Great Lakes delivers stunning scenery. Rejuvenated Detroit persists as a great turnaround story, and Michigan's overall economic prospects look strong.
Georgia's lofty position as a worthwhile destination for journalists largely results from Atlanta's budding media industry. Turner Broadcasting System, a leading media conglomerate headquartered in Atlanta, owns and operates CNN and numerous other valuable properties -- including TBS, TNT, and many others. As a result, Atlanta offers a wealth of broadcast journalism jobs for professionals at all levels of their careers. Increasing numbers of high budget films shooting in Atlanta also benefit prospective entertainment journalists.
BLS statistics place Atlanta behind only New York City and Washington, D.C. for mean annual journalist salaries in major American metropolitan centers. While Atlanta offers very attractive career prospects for journalists, the picture differs from the rest of the state. As a whole, Georgia has just 0.208 journalist jobs for every 1,000 members of the workforce, indicating a steep decline in job prospects outside of Atlanta's city limits.
Another of America's fastest-growing states, Oregon offers solid fundamentals for journalism professionals seeking high wages and numerous employment opportunities. BLS stats put Oregon in 10th place for journalist salaries in the United States. Oregon journalists make an average of 22.3% more than the typical American reporter or correspondent, thanks to a 2017 mean wage of $50,100 per year. The state also ranks in the top third nationwide with a ratio of 0.308 journalists per 1,000 members of the workforce.
Beyond these stats, Oregon also cracked the top 10 thanks to its livability. A 2018 ranking of the best places to live in the United States featured three Oregon cities among the top 50. It also features a fast-growing technology industry, making it a viable and much cheaper alternative to San Francisco for journalists interested in covering tech topics.
Kentucky houses a surprisingly robust media industry. A recent report published by the Kentucky Arts Council indicated a total of nearly 100,000 jobs in the state's creative industries, with more than 25,000 of those positions in the media sector. BLS figures support the strength of Kentucky's media industry, with the agency reporting 0.418 journalism jobs per every 1,000 workforce positions -- one of the most favorable concentrations in the country. Only seven jurisdictions outranked Kentucky in this regard, and the state's mean annual wage for journalists also compared very favorably to the national median salary. In 2017, Kentucky journalists enjoyed a typical salary of $48,100 per year, a 17.5% premium over the nationwide median.
Those relatively advantageous salaries go a long way in Kentucky, as the state also ranks as one of the most affordable in the nation in terms of living and housing costs.
Louisiana might not immediately come to mind as a favorable place to base a journalism career, but between good salaries and overall affordability, the Pelican State deserves its place in the top 10. BLS data ranked Louisiana in eighth place among U.S. states in 2017, with a mean annual journalist's wage of almost $51,000. It also features a significantly lower cost of living than any state that outranked it in terms of earnings, which would vault it to a much higher standing if correcting the data to account for this factor.
This historic, lively state also houses one of the nation's most unique major cities in New Orleans. A dense concentration of highly regarded local universities also bodes well for the future, as emerging graduates continually bring youthful energy to the state's journalism scene.
As in other professions, New Jersey seems to benefit from its proximity to New York City when it comes to journalism. The BLS ranks New Jersey fifth in the nation for mean journalist salaries. In 2017, the typical New Jersey reporter, correspondent, or broadcast analyst made an even $55,000 per year, exceeding the nationwide mean wage by almost 35%. However, less than ideal job and employment density numbers temper that good news to some degree. Journalists account for just 0.196 of every 1,000 New Jersey jobs, and the Garden State sits in 16th place nationwide for the overall number of journalism positions.
Federal agencies do not specify whether they correct their figures to account for commuters. Thus, it remains possible that many New Jersey journalists work in New York City but live in the suburbs on the other side of the state border to negate the high cost of living in NYC.
In addition to an intriguing overall profile, Washington state offers excellent opportunities to journalists covering technology topics. Widely considered a close runner up to California as the leading tech hub in the U.S., Washington also features breathtaking greenery, stunning mountain scenery, and one of the most livable major cities: Seattle. The state's journalists reported mean annual earnings of $50,100 in 2017, good for ninth place in the nation.
Emerging broadcast journalists should also consider the fact that the Seattle-Tacoma area ranks as one of the largest television markets in the United States, sitting in 12th place as of January 2018 according to Nielsen. However, its employment density of 0.23 journalists per 1,000 jobs puts it in the bottom half of the country.
Rich with niche media markets due to the cultural diversity of its population, Nevada offers intriguing prospects to journalists committed to embracing the exciting changes currently reshaping the industry. The glitzy and glamorous population center of Las Vegas largely defines the state's media landscape, offering Nevada's reporters and correspondents mean annual earnings of $49,370 per year. This represents an 11th place finish among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
On the down side, traditional journalists account for just 0.241 of every 1,000 jobs in the state. Nevada also publishes only a few daily newspapers, meaning that most of the state's journalism jobs concentrate in the competitive media sectors, including television and radio broadcasting. Given the high profile of Las Vegas as a tourism and special events destination, journalists rarely face a shortage of stories to cover.
Minnesota's journalists earn salaries that rank high, reaching a mean annual wage of $49,030 in May 2017. This lands Minnesota in 12th place nationwide among the 50 states and District of Columbia. Though Minnesota has a relatively low journalist employment density of just 0.286 jobs per every 1,000 members of the workforce, the state boasts a successful overall economy marked by a diversity of fields. Established banking, finance, healthcare, and biosciences industries work alongside an emerging tech sector, allowing reporters to cover a variety of specialized topics.
The University of Minnesota's Hubbard School of Journalism also hosts some of the region's leading undergraduate and graduate journalism programs. With students constantly graduating into the state's journalism job market, Minnesota maintains a surprisingly robust and youthful media culture with opportunities for both emerging and established professionals.
On the whole, Illinois posts decent numbers in terms of mean annual salaries and job opportunities for journalists. BLS data from May 2017 puts the mean annual earnings for an Illinois journalist at $44,040, which sits comfortably above the nationwide median. It also ranks sixth in the United States in terms of the total number of journalism jobs, trailing the top performers of New York, California, Florida, Texas, and the District of Columbia.
Much journalistic activity remains concentrated in the Chicago area, which houses a burgeoning media industry and an active publishing sector. Thus, Chicago hosts a disproportionate amount of the state's journalism job opportunities. This works to your advantage if you want to live and work in the Windy City, but it limits and challenges professionals residing outside of the city unless they choose to commute to Chicago.
Kansas counts as another surprisingly strong state for journalists, ranking just behind Illinois in mean annual earnings in 2017 with a salary of $43,410. The state produces dozens of active daily newspapers, led by the Wichita Eagle and the Topeka Capital-Journal. The Eagle counts as the state's largest daily in terms of circulation, while the Capital-Journal persists as a venerable stalwart of the Kansas media scene. Kansas also features a long list of local television stations, giving broadcast journalists and TV news reporters many additional avenues for employment.
Additionally, the Associated Press (AP) also maintains bureaus in Wichita and Topeka. AP enjoys an excellent reputation as a journalism employer, especially for emerging professionals. Job figures point to a competitive employment landscape. Journalists account for only 0.254 of every 1,000 jobs in Kansas, translating to only a few hundred total positions.
In Florida, journalists enjoy excellent mean annual wages of $46,770 per year. The BLS also reports that only New York and California outrank Florida in the total number of journalism jobs. Beyond enticing intangibles like year-round sunshine and warm weather, Florida also hosts five Associated Press offices, with bureaus in Cape Canaveral, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, and West Palm Beach. Together, these features combine to make Florida a strong destination for journalism professionals, though some drawbacks mitigate the impact of these advantages, including a higher cost of living in major metropolitan centers.
Furthermore, Florida does host a large number of journalism jobs, but it also harbors a large labor force. Journalist employment density suffers as a result, falling to just 0.244 positions for every 1,000 jobs in the state. This creates strong competition for the available positions, making Florida more suitable for experienced journalists with strong employment credentials.
In South Carolina, journalists earn mean annual salaries that top the national median pay rate for the profession by slightly more than 6%. With the state's reporters and correspondents mean annual earnings of $43,260 in 2017, South Carolina lands comfortably in the top half of the United States in this regard. From a lifestyle perspective, South Carolina also offers historic charm, pleasant weather, and an affordable cost of living. A journalist's salary goes a relatively long way here, its strong intangible qualities complementing the statistical profile.
On the down side, South Carolina lags with a mediocre 0.248 journalist jobs per every 1,000 members of the state's workforce. The cities of Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville all feature thriving creative industries for media professionals.
Virginia's journalism community benefits from close proximity to Washington, D.C., the nation's runaway leader in employment density for reporters and correspondents. In this regard, the state's profile for journalists mirrors New Jersey's, which sits within commuting distance of New York City. Thus, analysts express little surprise at Virginia's strong finish in mean annual journalist salaries, which rose to $45,260 in 2017. However, its employment density of journalists per 1,000 members of the workforce trails that of Washington, D.C.'s by more than tenfold, which may indicate a large number of commuting professionals living in Virginia but working in the nation's capital.
Journalists looking beyond the District of Columbia can start with the cities of Richmond and McLean, which host the state's two Associated Press bureaus. The relatively large number of daily and weekly news publications counts as another strength of Virginia's domestic media industry.
Indiana features one of the midwest region's most advantageous employment density ratings for journalists, with reporters and correspondents accounting for 0.305 of every 1,000 jobs in the state. This healthy proportion lands Indiana in 19th place in the U.S. as of 2017. Indiana's journalists also earn mean salaries that outpace the national median, which adds a great deal to the state's profile as it ranks as one of the country's most affordable in terms of housing and cost of living. The typical Indiana journalist earns $41,060 per year.
Relative to its population, Indiana also publishes a lot of daily newspapers. Traditional journalism remains stronger here than in many other parts of the country, making it an appealing destination for news reporters and columnists seeking to break into the print journalism sector.
Pennsylvania breaks the top 25 U.S. states for journalism thanks to the presence of two of the country's top media markets in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Nielsen ranks Philadelphia fourth in the U.S. for the size of its television market, while Pittsburgh posted a strong showing by finishing in 24th place for 2017-18. These characteristics bode well for aspiring and established television and radio broadcast journalists, and both cities also publish multiple daily and weekly newspapers.
Pennsylvania remains a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to overall employment prospects for journalists. Its 2017 mean annual wages for reporters and correspondents came in at $40,570, falling short of the nationwide mean. Its employment density of 0.225 journalist positions per every 1,000 jobs in the state also ranks low. On the plus side, Pennsylvania finished in eighth place in the U.S. for its overall number of journalists.
While Nebraska's journalists tend to earn salaries that fall below the national median, the state features other aspects that make it well worth considering as a place to launch a career as a reporter or correspondent. In Nebraska, journalists hold 0.495 of every 1,000 jobs, a proportion that ranked fifth in the entire United States in 2017. The state's mean annual journalist salary of $36,610 per year also compares favorably on a regional scale, and this balance of opportunity and relatively good pay for the area creates a positive overall profile.
The presence of two Associated Press(AP) bureaus in Omaha and Lincoln help explain the state's strong employment density. Nebraska's population ranks among the smallest of any state with multiple AP offices, and it also publishes dozens of traditional print newspapers. Only a handful of these papers publish daily, a caveat to keep in mind when evaluating employment prospects.
Iowa offers a surprisingly strong profile for journalism and media jobs. While Iowa journalists report mean annual earnings of $38,610 in 2017, the state enjoys a high profile as a destination for writers and creative professionals. The University of Iowa hosts a world-class series of creative writing workshops and degree-granting programs, infusing the state with a strong and continuous crop of literary and journalistic talent. The BLS reported Iowa's journalist employment density at 0.414 per 1,000 jobs in 2017, landing it in 10th place.
While Iowa may lack the excitement and urban appeal of many top U.S. journalism destinations, it compensates with outstanding healthcare, education, quality of life, and overall opportunity. Its cost of living also ranks in the top third nationwide, falling almost 10% below the national average in a recent report published by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.
The BLS reports that from 2017 show that West Virginia enjoys a relatively strong profile for reporters and correspondents. With journalists holding 0.378 of every 1,000 jobs in the state, West Virginia's employment density for the profession ranked in 11th place for the year. Of states with similar density profiles for the journalism profession, West Virginia's mean 2017 journalist salary of $39,560 compares favorably.
Even so, West Virginia also offers benefits that make it well worth considering. Its property values rank among the most affordable in the United States, making homeownership attainable on a journalist's salary. The state's cost of living also figures as one of the country's lowest, making it ideal for professionals looking to commute to Washington, D.C. to work as a political journalist.
Delaware lands in the top 25 states for journalists thanks to a favorable balance of opportunity and earning potential. Though it fell short of the 2017 nationwide mean salary for journalists with $39,690 annual earnings, Delaware fares well in terms of employment density for reporters and correspondents. Its rating of 0.334 journalists per 1,000 jobs ranked 13th in the United States for 2017, with many of these positions coming in the form of alternatives to traditional print media. Delaware publishes relatively few daily and weekly newspapers, suggesting that many reporters and correspondents work in television, radio, and online media.
Delaware also sits close to the District of Columbia's journalism hotbed. The state's capital city, Dover, is less than 100 miles from Washington, D.C. Thus, Delaware's journalists can conceivably commute to the nation's capital in search of additional career opportunities.
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Journalism
When writing stories, journalists need to exercise thorough research skills. Choosing which journalism programs to apply to requires a substantive amount of research as well. Although the field of journalism offers journalists many advantages, such as the ability to reveal abuses of power, reporters rarely earn six-figure salaries right off the bat. As a result, aspiring reporters and editors must make sure they choose journalism programs that can propel them toward their career goals without eating away at their finances.
Read up on the courses and concentrations offered by each journalism program. If you choose to enroll in an on-campus program, location matters too. Students interested in political reporting may find a program in Washington D.C. offers a more substantial and awarded curriculum than a political reporting program elsewhere in the U.S. Location also influences your quality of life and cost of living. Tuition costs for bachelor's degrees can reach up to six figures. Look up potential scholarships, grants, and loans to help offset costs.
Consider whether you prefer conventional on-campus programs or online programs. Either way, most journalism programs require students to complete internships or professional projects before graduation. After all, students can only learn so much in the classroom; they must practice exercising their skills in the real world. Research what sort of internship, professional experience, or study abroad experiences each journalism program offers.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Journalism
Journalism involves thoroughly checking statements to evaluate whether those claims hold value and truth. Accreditation in higher education operates much in the same way. Accrediting agencies regularly send representatives to check on different programs at colleges and universities. Those representatives observe courses and professors and assess whether students receive a quality education. Employers and graduate schools look at whether applicants possess accredited degrees. The candidate who attended an accredited program holds a competitive edge over the candidate who did not.
That said, when you research potential journalism degrees, ascertain whether the programs possess accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). This organization has accredited over 100 journalism programs and departments across the U.S. and around the world.
Regional accreditation indicates that a university holds a high standard of quality for all its programs; therefore, a university with regional accreditation may not have programmatic accreditation for individual programs.
Bachelor's in Journalism Program Admissions
After researching potential journalism degrees, you must make your decision. Apply only to schools you can seriously see yourself attending. Applying to an excessive amount of schools drains your financial resources and energy, resulting in a substandard application. Most students apply to between four and six schools.
Instead, you should stick with one dream school, one safety school, and a few in between. This way you can focus all of your efforts on putting together compelling college applications. Plus, you can avoid a considerable amount of anxiety and sleepless nights. You can find a list of typical admissions requirements from journalism schools below.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Journalism?
As the journalism industry evolves to keep up with digital publishing, journalism schools have been transforming their programs as well. No schools offer identical curricula; you can find several reporting programs with various specializations and strengths. Read about what you can expect from journalism bachelor's degrees below.
|TV/Radio Reporting||Journalists who work in television and radio need to know skills that other reporters do not: how to record audio or video footage, produce a segment, and how to interview on camera.||Reporter, producer, broadcast news analyst, correspondent, producer, camera operator|
|Convergence Journalism||In today's world, journalists cannot rely on writing alone. They must utilize social media or record a podcast as well, leveraging the popularity of technology with traditional journalism. In the convergence journalism concentration, professors teach students multimedia skills.||Reporter, editor, producer|
|International Reporting||Students who want to work as foreign correspondents should consider focusing on international reporting. This specialization teaches students how to report on global issues without falling into stereotypes, and it usually requires students to learn at least one other language fluently. International reporting students also typically study abroad.||Foreign correspondent|
|Health and Science Reporting||For many, issues of health and science seem complicated and difficult to understand. Journalists who report on these issues must cover complex topics and simplify them for consumers.||Reporter, editor, broadcast news analyst|
|Investigative Journalism||Investigative journalism takes reporters beyond the stories and daily grind of breaking news. Students who specialize in investigative reporting learn how to obtain documents through open records requests or human sources, as well as data analysis through computer systems like SQL.||Investigative reporter, special projects editor|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Journalism Program
Most journalism degrees offer many of the same basic courses in writing, reporting, and editing. But schools also offer unique courses. While some programs may allow students to enroll in courses concerning cross-cultural reporting, others may provide courses on creating infographics. Below, you will find a selection of courses you might find within journalism programs.
This course teaches student journalists how to report on financial matters and break down economic jargon. While many journalists do not claim to hold expertise in finance and markets, a business and economics course introduces them to these concepts.
Covering religion can prove tricky. Many people consider their religious beliefs a deeply emotional and sensitive topic. If journalists report on religion with a blasé attitude or make incorrect assumptions in their reporting, this damages their credibility. This course prepares reporters to cover this topic with a sense of understanding.
Unlike news articles, which give readers fact-based accounts of recent events or findings, editorials allow columnists to write opinion pieces in publications. Editorial writing does not simply consist of declaring one's opinion, though. Instead, editorial writers must support their opinions with facts in a clear and nonconfrontational tone.
Reporters who know how to analyze data can find significant and sometimes surprising patterns that lead to big stories. Computer-assisted reporting courses train students how to track down data and then use programs like SQL and Python to break down and interpret that data.
In broadcast news, producers must understand how to write scripts for TV and radio, direct reporters during interviews, and edit video with software. News producing courses teach students how to master all of those skills. Professors often expect students to go out into the field and produce real news stories during the course.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Journalism?
Journalism degrees typically require students to complete 120 credit hours of coursework. Full-time undergraduate students usually complete their degrees in four years. Students who bring transfer credit or dual credit from high school may complete their degrees a semester or two early. On the other hand, several students spend a longer time earning their degree. They might choose to study abroad for a year, take a break for an internship, or study part time.
If you decide to pursue your bachelor's degree in journalism through an online program, you may find that online degrees provide a lot more flexibility to complete a degree because of the asynchronous format common to online programs. Students studying online can also enroll full time or part time, which adds flexibility for working professionals. Online programs also sometimes offer accelerated tracks that allow you to graduate more quickly.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Journalism?
The cost of journalism degrees varies from school to school. In public colleges and universities, out-of-state students must often pay a higher tuition rate than in-state students. While public institutions charge in-state students tuition as low as $4,000 per semester, out-of-state students may pay up to $13,500 per semester at the same school. For a four-year program, the in-state students would accumulate around $25,500 in debt, while an out-of-state student could pay over $100,000 for the same education. The price of tuition increases for both in- and out-of-state students attending private, nonprofit universities.
Students may also pay additional costs, including technology and lab fees. Online students often pay a distance learning fee, but on-campus students pay for room and board. Some schools offer resident tuition for nonresident students if they apply to schools with high enough grades and test scores. Most schools provide scholarship opportunities or other financial aid options to help students with the heavy financial burden. Alternatively, students can take out student loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keep in mind, though, you may have to spend years or even decades paying back those loans after you graduate.
Resources for Journalism Students
IRE Resource Center
Investigative Reporters and Editors uploads tip sheets from conferences, guides to digging deeper on various topics, links to listervs, and full text of large investigative projects for members.
This website updates journalists on applications and technologies like data visualization, digital security, and audio transcription.
SPJ Code of Ethics
Journalists must oftentimes make tough ethical decisions. The Society of Professional Journalists publishes its entire code of ethics on its website so that reporters can reference it whenever they need.
Journalists follow Associated Press (AP) style, which includes strict, specific, and sometimes obscure rules. Luckily, reporters and editors can purchase a subscription to the entire AP Stylebook online.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Sometimes journalists or journalism students need legal help with open records, but they lack the funding to hire a lawyer. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press operates a hotline that journalists can call for legal advice.
Professional Organizations in Journalism
Professional associations allow student journalists to learn from experienced reporters, editors, and producers in the field. These groups also run mentorship programs, provide legal assistance, publish reporting guides, and offer scholarships and fellowships. Ultimately, professional associations help student journalists build relationships that may help them flourish in their careers.
Online News Association
The Online News Association connects digital journalists through a yearly conference and journalism awards. The organization runs a women's leadership accelerator, a mentorship collaborative, and a fellowship for reporting students attending historically black colleges.
Investigative Reporters and Editors
Investigative Reporters and Editors takes the position that every journalist can work as an investigative journalist. IRE organizes educational events like regional workshops and two major annual conferences.
Society of Professional Journalists
The Society of Professional Journalists functions through a network of local chapters across the U.S. The society's legal defense fund provides financing to for journalists who need legal help with public records.
Journalism and Women Symposium
This organization serves as a space for women journalists to connect with and learn from one another. JAWS hosts one large annual gathering, and it also runs mentorship and fellowship programs.
National Association of Black Journalists
A dedicated group for African-Americans in journalism, this association runs a media institute, publishes the NABJ Journal, and puts together conferences and workshops. Black students may also apply for scholarships through this organization.
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