The rapidly evolving field of journalism inspires students to pursue the truth and report it to consumers in a variety of multimedia formats. Whether presented through social media, television, or print, the content that journalists present keeps people all over the globe connected and informed. If you enjoy storytelling and communications, then earning a master's degree in journalism may inspire you to take your career to the next level.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reporters, correspondents, and news analysts earn an median salary of around $41,000 per year. An advanced degree in the field, especially one that focuses on digital media, opens the door for more varied employment choices and potentially an increase in salary. Students who love research and investigation and who are passionate about staying current on community and world events may enjoy working as a journalist, a profession that inspires others and positively impacts lives. Read on to learn more about the benefits of earning a master's in journalism.
Should I Get a Master's in Journalism?
You should consider several factors when deciding whether or not to pursue your master's in journalism. If you love investigating the answers to questions, reporting facts, and writing on deadlines, you may really enjoy the classes and the career. Though many positions in journalism only require a bachelor's degree for entry-level employment, a master's degree increases your employability and ability to work in management positions.
As such, this advanced degree is ideal for learners who want to move up in the career ladder and master the new technologies that shape modern journalism. The skill development alone makes pursuing this educational path an excellent choice, as many master's degrees in journalism focus on digital media in the changing news environment.
Students should also think about the different ways schools offer courses. Many students finishing their bachelor's degree know they want to pursue an on-campus master's directly after graduation to continue honing their skills. Some programs, however, want applicants to earn professional experience before applying. Professionals with journalism experience who want to advance their skills may enjoy attending an on-campus program with a cohort of students with whom they can network and learn.
Online programs, on the other hand, benefit learners who need to continue working while attending school. Most schools also provide the added benefits of networking opportunities, internship placement assistance, career search advice, and increased competitiveness in the job market for master's students.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Journalism?
Earning a master's in journalism allows students to choose from many different career paths within the field. Radio, television, magazines, newspapers, online media sites, and book publishers all employ journalists to investigate and report on issues. No matter their exact job description, journalists focus on communicating information to the public. The need for reporting in so many fields means that journalists can choose to work in an area they feel passionate about.
Journalists research interesting topics, write about current events, and interview witnesses of certain events. They often need to track down and pitch interesting stories to editors, or complete a certain number of articles for publication each week. Earning a master's degree in journalism proves a professional's dedication to the craft.
Median Annual Salary: $39,361*
- Communications Manager
Communications managers work within a company and with others to lead marketing efforts, develop communications strategies, and support public relations. They must stay abreast of current trends and excel in interpersonal communications. A graduate degree provides some of the experience necessary for this advanced position.
Median Annual Salary: $61,841*
- News Producer
News producers oversee and direct news broadcasts. They typically supervise other employees, select which stories to report, and manage how stories get presented. News producers with a master's degree in journalism understand the craft and value of excellent presentation.
Median Annual Salary: $42,850*
Reporters research new stories, follow up on leads, and write informative articles for their audiences. They may work for a traditional newspaper or for a television broadcast. Earning a master's degree in journalism and mass communications ensures mastery of the craft, and many employers prioritize hiring reporters with advanced training.
Median Annual Salary: $39,858*
- Senior Editor
A senior editor proofreads copy, delegates assignments, and supervises their fellow editors and writers. They take responsibility for ensuring that clear, consistent stories free of grammatical typos and factual errors reach their audience. For editors hoping to transition into journalism or reporting, a master's degree in journalism may enhance their application and increase their salary.
Median Annual Salary: $65,055*
How to Choose a Master's Program in Journalism
An array of journalism master's programs are available to curious students. Applicants should take a variety of factors into account, including the course and concentration offerings of each school. Most programs offer a core selection of classes, and then students can choose from a series of elective courses. Some programs even allow for a concentration in areas such as visual media or health communication.
Applicants also need to make sure that their program selection is feasible for their lifestyles. Students may study on a part- or full-time basis, online or on campus. Most master's programs take two years of full-time study to complete, while part-time students may require a semester or more of extra time to complete the same program.
The presentation style, whether online or on-campus, also affects the timeline and cost. Some of the top online master's in journalism programs offer asynchronous coursework, meaning students complete coursework at their own pace. Working professionals or learners who want to work quicker than their classmates may find this ideal. Online programs also often tend to cost less. Students who enjoy the camaraderie of a classroom, however, may prefer an on-campus experience. Make sure you know what you can afford and the time you can commit as you select your program.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Journalism
The best master's degree in journalism programs hold two different types of accreditation: regional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. Agencies approved by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation or the Department of Education award schools with regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation tends to hold students to higher academic standards and offers the more prestigious distinction; national accreditation generally goes to technical and vocational schools.
Industry specific agencies award programmatic accreditation to individual programs, rather than entire institutions. In journalism, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications accredits only those programs that meet the rigorous standards of the profession, incorporate digital media and technological advances, and promote analytical thinking and free speech. Attending a school or program without accreditation may result in an inability to transfer credits, apply for higher education programs, sit for future certification examinations, or find advanced employment.
Master's in Journalism Program Admissions
Gaining admission to a master's degree in journalism requires a commitment to the craft and evidence of academic excellence. Students often need to submit proof of a bachelor's degree in journalism or a related subject such as English, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
As several schools aim their programs at journalism professionals, some master's programs require years of professional experience in the field before application. This ensures that students who pursue this advanced degree committed to honing their craft and bring a certain foundational level of knowledge to the table.
Most learners apply to several graduate programs, but each application requires a separate fee and time commitment. By applying to multiple schools students increase their chances of acceptance into at least one, but risk not completing all of the applications to the best of their ability.
- Bachelor's Degree: Applicants need to earn their bachelor's degree in journalism or a similar field.
- Minimum GPA: The minimum GPA requirements vary depending on the program, but generally range between 2.5 and 3.0.
- Required Courses: Though requirements vary by program, students can expect some schools to require specific coursework for application, such as features writing, or require that applicants complete a minimum number of prerequisite credits.
- Application: Each application lists a student's information, educational and professional history, and academic goals, and often requires multiple essays.
- Transcripts: Applicants need to send their official academic transcripts to each school they apply to. Students fill out a form and pay a small fee to their school to transfer these records.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most schools require two letters of recommendation from previous professors or employers that speak to the applicant's ability to complete graduate coursework.
- Test Scores: Many schools require applicants to submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores with their application.
- Application Fee: The majority of master's programs require a fee averaging $50-$85 to be submitted along with each application. Application fees may get waived for students with financial limitations.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Journalism?
Schools design their journalism master's programs to challenge their students to make them better reporters. Despite this common goal, each program is unique in its concentration and presentation. The following sections outline the some of the basic factors you should consider when selecting a school including the curriculum, timeframe, and cost of a program.
Courses in a Master's in Journalism Program
A master's degree in journalism program prepares its learners to chase leads and write on a deadline. Learners study skills immediately applicable to the field including writing for print and online readers, strategic communications, and techniques for storytelling. While each program differs in its unique curriculum, some sample courses are listed below.
- Exploring Digital Media
This class on digital media introduces students to the new technologies used in modern journalism. Learners study video and audio production, computer-based digital design, web development, and digital photography.
- Feature Writing
The feature piece in a newspaper, magazine, or television broadcast captures the attention of the audience immediately. It pulls the observer in and makes them emotionally invested in the content. This course covers how to write features and covers the philosophy and techniques behind them.
- Mass Media Law
Mass Media Law covers the laws and regulations that surround mass media reporting. Students study the legal basis for free speech and the freedom of the press and look at media's potential limitations. Learners also analyze case studies and court decisions. Journalists working in any field need to understand the foundational topics laid out in this course.
- Race, Gender, and Media
This interesting seminar explores how diversity is represented in the media. Students look at how communications are shaped by specific language, dialogue choices, and imagery. How different genders, ethnicities, and races are represented in media, for good or bad, is also discussed.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Journalism?
Enrolling in a master's degree in journalism typically requires two years of full-time study.Most programs require 33-39 credits to graduate. Certain programs do provide varying formats that can change this time frame, including part-time enrollment or an accelerated curriculum.
Students who take classes part time often study for three to five years, while accelerated programs allow students to complete the same curriculum in just one year. When determining your expected timeline, consider if your school allows for asynchronous classwork. In programs where students can study at their own pace on their own schedule, they may be able to take more credits in shorter periods of time. Programs with cohort learning, on the other hand, require students to proceed at the same pace through their credits on an established schedule.
Whether you choose to study full time or part time, the total cost of your program should not fluctuate significantly.
How Much Is a Master's in Journalism?
Pursuing a master's degree in journalism requires a significant financial investment, and the cost of the degree fluctuates depending on several factors. According to the U.S. News and World Report, an online master's in journalism costs, on average, anywhere from $11,000 to $24,000 in total tuition. Some schools may charge significantly higher rates than this.
On-campus programs, for example, often cost more as tuition helps pay for the facilities. Private universities also charge more for tuition and fees because of their established prestige. Students should also consider factors like state residency when choosing their program and determining their budget. Out-of-state students pay significantly higher tuition rates than in-state students. The higher rates based on residency may be waived for distance learners but not usually for on-campus programs.
Beyond the price of tuition, students also need to consider additional fees that go into attendance. Books alone can cost hundreds of dollars, and additional fees like transportation, housing, and technology increase the overall cost of attending a master's in journalism program.
Prices range from program to program, and each student should do their research to ensure their preparedness to cover the costs.
Certifications and Licenses for Master's in Journalism Graduates
- Certified Journalism Educator
The Journalism Education Association offers certification for journalists who want to move into education. A certified journalism educator teaches journalism to both high school and collegiate students, and may also lead professional development seminars. Applicants need a teaching license or evidence of experience and professional journalism experience in order to sit for the examination.
- Certified Broadcast Meteorologist
For students interested in reporting on weather patterns and environmental issues, earning a meteorologist certification is a great option. To gain certification, learners need to either earn their bachelor's degree or take extensive coursework in atmospheric science and meteorology and pass an examination.
- Certified Professional Technical Communicator
Ideal for journalists hoping to write about complicated content in fields like healthcare and science, this certification indicates advanced skills in technical communication. After earning a master's degree with an emphasis on clear and consistent reporting, students must take an examination to prove their ability to develop, review, edit, and write technical content.
Resources for Graduate Journalism Students
JEA provides free journalism resources and educational opportunities. Student members can access publications, receive discounted prices on books, and seek advice from other members. The association is specifically aimed at inspiring new journalism educators.
The AEJMC is a nonprofit educational association for journalism students and teachers. It promotes mass communication education and compiles information and resources for its members and the public. Students can find helpful publications, teaching tools, presentations, and reports on its website. The AEJMC also offers scholarships.
The NSPA provides journalism resources to students across the globe in order to promote professional development and define ethical practices. Its Associated Collegiate Press division aims to educate collegiate students by providing resources, links to professional organizations, educational materials, training programs, and an online forum.
MERLOT gives students access to free consolidated, subject-specific information. Website visitors can view case studies, journal articles, and textbooks to help enhance their understanding of certain subjects and view refresher information on topics such as digital mass media, information security, and social media.
Open Textbook Library offers free online access to peer-reviewed textbooks. Journalism students can peruse new information on strategic communications, study up for exams on media studies, and learn about business communications. Open Textbook Library also acts as a resource to students after they graduate, allowing them to keep expanding their skill set.
Professional organizations offer a fantastic way for journalists to support one another and ensure the collective success of their craft. Current students and recent graduates may find that membership with one of these organizations does more than inspire them; professional organizations often provide continuing education opportunities, facilitate networking, and host job boards for entry-level professionals.
The Society of Professional Journalists works to protect freedom of speech and the press. It seeks to ensure an ethical profession and promotes the spread of accurate information to the public. Members receive educational resources, subscription to a national magazine, and career services.
The American Press Institute focuses on helping publishers to engage their audiences, grow their revenue streams, and communicate accurate information. API is a resource that does not require traditional membership, but rather acts as a tool; it provides online training and in-person workshops to help journalists and organizations succeed.
APME seeks to advance the field of professional journalism and support freedom of information. Working with the Associated Press, this nonprofit organization mentors journalists and focuses on professional development for newsroom editors. Members receive discounts on conferences, networking and training opportunities, and access to workshops and helpful publications.
Started with only seven female journalists, the AWC is now an organization comprised of over 1,100 members who connect and empower women worldwide. AWC promotes female leadership and supports their advancement in the field of communications. Membership comes with ample networking access, online publications, website resources, and a job board.
An independent, nonprofit organization, AHJC strives to improve healthcare reporting and advance the public's understanding of community and global health. AHJC provides its members with health journalism training, educational resources, career services, and networking opportunities.