Journalists are storytellers who investigate newsworthy issues and present vital information to the general public. Students choose careers in journalism because they want to work in fast-paced environments and cover headline-making events around the world. Among other exciting possibilities, journalists get to research and write stories for newspapers, websites, television, radio, and magazines. They also get to specialize in intriguing subfields like sports journalism, strategic communication, photojournalism, and emerging media.

What are the best journalism programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Texas State University San Marcos, TX
2 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM
3 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
4 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
5 DePaul University Chicago, IL
6 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
7 Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL
8 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
9 National University La Jolla, CA
10 Cameron University Lawton, OK

Journalism majors are not limited to jobs in reporting, however. Because they are skilled writers and multimedia specialists, they can launch careers in many related occupations including copywriting, videography, technical writing, marketing, and public relations. Reporters earn a median salary of $38,870, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while radio and television announcers earn around $31,400 and public relations specialists earn upwards of $58,000. As an example of job growth in media related professions, demand for videographers is projected to grow 11% by 2024, according to the BLS.

Choosing a Program

Digital learners who choose an online journalism degree must complete their school's required general education and major-specific courses, or transfer them from approved prior coursework. Certain journalism schools may permit you to design individualized programs from an array of practical courses like news writing, media and politics, interviewing skills, and visual storytelling. Many programs also allow students to select cutting-edge concentrations such as dynamic new media, international strategic communication, or documentary journalism.

The nature of journalism is such that programs are intensely hands-on and have immediate applicability to jobs in news reporting, digital media management, advertising, and corporate communication. This is why many programs emphasize real-world experiences through practicums, portfolio creation, and internships. Though journalism is a rapidly evolving discipline, a series of courses in theory and fundamentals is an essential component of every bachelor's program, and learners can be sure to graduate with a solid understanding of journalism ethics and communication law. Many journalism programs also offer state-of-the-art courses in audio production, transmedia storytelling, and intellectual property.

What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Journalism Programs?

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Texas State University

San Marcos, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Texas State operates within the Texas State University System and offers over 200 programs — both on campus and online. Enrollment exceeds 30,000 students and more than 70% of attendees receive financial support.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Texas State offers a partially online bachelor's in journalism; participants can complete 25%-49% of degree requirements online. Students typically earn their 120-credit degree in four years with full-time attendance. Courses include introduction to mass communication, media law and ethics, fundamentals of digital and online media, and media writing.

Texas State offers multiple internships and campus media opportunities. Admission requires a 2.5 minimum GPA. Texas State holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Founded in 1889, UNM is the state's flagship university. The university emphasizes social responsibility, immersive learning, and research. It also strives to accommodate nontraditional learners by providing online program options.

As an example, the university's Department of Communication and Journalism offers an online bachelor's degree in strategic communication that prepares graduates for careers in multiple fields. Notable courses include multimedia and visual communication, multimedia visual production, introduction to modeling and postproduction, and photojournalism. The program also requires an internship experience and capstone courses.

Online courses follow an asynchronous format and allow students to complete coursework when their schedule permits within deadline dates. UNM utilizes eight-week sessions. Distance learners benefit from flat tuition rates, whether they reside out of state or locally. UNM holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

3

Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

University Park, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

Penn State strives to accommodate nontraditional learners through its World Campus, and students can choose from over 150 online degrees. The school's values include accountability and academic excellence.

Penn State's College of Communications offers an online bachelor's in digital journalism and media that does not require in-person attendance. This degree requires at least 120 credits, including 34 major credits, 45 general education credits, 25 required credits, and up to 28 elective credits. Courses include telecommunications management, strategic communications, media ethics, and digital media metrics.

Online courses follow an asynchronous format. Assignments include group work, readings, and discussion board posts. Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

Established in 1870, CSU prioritizes research, service, and student-centered learning. Students at CSU can access over 200 programs, including 76 bachelor's tracks, many of which can be completed online.

CSU offers an online bachelor's degree in journalism and media communication. This degree requires 120 credits. Students typically graduate after four years of full-time attendance. Courses include online storytelling and audience engagement, writing for specialized magazines, web design and management, and digital photography. Students also complete an internship experience and a senior capstone course.

Distance learners access coursework through the Canvas learning management system. Faculty utilize synchronous and asynchronous formats. Assignments include blog posts, exams, and group projects. Admission requires a 2.5 minimum GPA. CSU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

5

DePaul University

Chicago, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the nation. The school offers 305 programs to over 22,000 students, including many distance learners.

DePaul offers an online bachelor's in communication and media. This program serves as a degree completion pathway and does not require in-person attendance. Students need at least 30 credits to apply. Participants choose between two-year and three-year tracks. Courses include topics in group communication, deceptive communication, history of rhetoric and communication, and LSP learning domain.

Applicants require a 2.0 minimum GPA. Students access online coursework through the D2L learning management system. Support for distance learners includes academic counseling, online tutoring, and IT help. DePaul holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

6

Mississippi College

Clinton, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

MC is the oldest postsecondary institution in the state and presents coursework through a Christian lens. School values include innovation, leadership, and community involvement.

MC offers an online bachelor's in communication with a journalism focus. This degree includes 49 core university credits, 22 communication credits, 18 journalism credits, 18 minor credits, and general electives. Students typically earn their degree in four years with full-time attendance. Courses include reporting and interviewing, writing for periodicals, communication law, and introduction to graphics software. Students also complete an internship experience.

Online students access coursework through the Moodle learning management system. MC holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7

Southern Illinois University

Carbondale, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

SIU values innovation and research, ranking among the top 5% of schools nationwide in terms of research expenditure, according to the National Science Foundation. Enrollment exceeds 12,000 students. SIU strives to accommodate nontraditional learners through online programs.

As an example, SIU offers an online bachelor's degree in journalism. This degree requires 120 credits. Especially motivated students can enroll in a three-year curriculum plan to expedite graduation. Courses include basic photojournalism, video and online journalism, images and sound, and principles of advertising.

Admission requires a 2.0 minimum GPA. Transfer students from accredited institutions may also apply. SIU provides distance learners with access to counseling services, an online writing lab, library services, and technical support. SIU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

8

Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Founded in 1978, Regent is one of fastest growing Christian schools in the nation. Students at Regent can enroll in many online programs.

The university's online bachelor's in communication studies with a focus in journalism prepares students for today's digital era. In addition to general education requirements, students take 18 communication credits, 21 journalism credits, and 15 credits of biblical worldview classes. Notable major courses include narrative concept and development, communicating in the 21st century, and principles of journalism. Participants also complete a capstone seminar and an internship experience.

Courses follow an eight-week format. Transfer students from accredited institutions may apply. Regent holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

9

National University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Located in La Jolla, California, NU values diversity and inclusion. Its students body represents all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Learners also benefit from a 170,000-member alumni network. NU offers over 75 degrees, including many online programs.

Aspiring journalists can earn an online bachelor of arts in strategic communications with no in-person requirements. This degree features 76.5 major-related quarter credits. Courses include communication research methods, strategic writing, interactive and mobile campaigns, and interactive storytelling. Students also complete a communication program capstone.

Online courses utilize four-week sessions. Distance learners access coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. NU holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

10

Cameron University

Lawton, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 23%

CU emphasizes immersive learning and innovation. Students can choose from nearly 50 degrees. The university strives to accommodate diverse learning needs through online programs, including a hybrid bachelor's degree in journalism and media production.

This degree requires 124 credits, including 44-46 general education credits, 40 major credits, 18 minor credits, and elective credits. Students can complete 69% of their coursework online. Classes include audio and visual production, TC studio production and lab, and writing for mass media. Participants also undertake a communication capstone and media practicum experience.

Students access online coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. Transfer students from accredited schools may apply. CU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Journalism Program?

Online journalism bachelor's degrees differ in mission and emphasis. Most programs, however, offer theoretical and practice-based coursework for students seeking careers in news and storytelling, and advanced coursework can be tailored to suit student interests. In general, you will acquire foundational knowledge of reporting standards in order to engage with high-impact news stories, controversial topics, or even natural disasters.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN JOURNALISM

Schools and departments offer a variety of coursework and diverse concentrations depending on their university's mission and the overall philosophy of each journalism department. The coursework below is typical of the classes offered by online bachelor's degree programs in journalism.

  • Visual Media: An introduction to visual art forms, scripting styles, and color, this course teaches learners to incorporate visual elements into news stories and corporate communication across media platforms. Typically, students learn to use various software programs such as Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • International Journalism: Focusing on the critical issues facing global mass media, this course explores the relationship between journalism and democracy along with the major causes of global problems from cultural, economic, political, and scientific perspectives. International journalism helps prepare students for careers in international news writing, international relations, or science journalism.
  • Magazine Writing: This class teaches students to apply exacting journalistic standards to stories for print and online media outlets. This course can include components of editorial writing as well as feature writing. Sometimes, the course is paired with editing for magazines, which emphasizes grammar, copy fitting, proofreading, and rewriting.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN JOURNALISM?

All online bachelor's degrees in journalism require students to complete at least 120 credit hours of approved coursework, equalling about four years of full-time study. Students entering a program with transferable credits can reduce their overall time to graduation. Some schools accept up to 100 transfer credits toward their online journalism degrees, and others consider life experiences such as military or corporate training in lieu of traditional coursework.

Programs that operate on five- or eight-week schedules instead of a traditional semester-long format may reduce a student's study to as few as 29 months, even without transfer credits. Some schools permit exceptional students to take two courses every five-week period, and others are structured so that students take two courses every eight-week period. Programs that use semesters are usually limited to five or six courses in the fall and spring semesters, plus limited summer options.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Journalism Degrees

Online learners considering a bachelor's in journalism should seek out degree programs holding both regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditation is more widely recognized and more stringent than national accreditation. Schools accredited with one of the seven regional bodies must meet stringent coursework requirements, hold rigorous academic standards, and display evidence of financial longevity.

National accreditation bodies focus on trade and vocational offerings. Journalism programs can be also be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) designated ACEJMC as the organization to evaluate and approve professional journalism and mass communications programs at colleges and universities. Digital learners should be aware that a nationally accredited school will typically accept credits from a regionally accredited school. The reverse is rarely true. Both accreditations are ideal, but regional is more valuable when considering transfer options.

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and CHEA both approve regional and national accreditation agencies that help institutions meet standards of educational quality and operational consistency. DOE and CHEA work together to set guidelines for regional accreditation organizations. Legitimate higher education accrediting agencies have secured endorsement from one or both of these agencies. Most colleges offering an online journalism degree have received regional accreditation. Some have also secured a stamp of approval from the ACEJMC. You can find a list of all accredited schools on the DOE and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Journalism Graduates

JOB PLACEMENT

Aside from traditional reporting, an online journalism degree makes an ideal entry-level academic background for marketers, public relations specialists, and writers. The BLS has shown that marketing, public relations, and writing are all growing occupational fields. Marketing has an especially bright 10-year job outlook, with a projected growth rate of 19%. While traditional news reporting jobs are in slight decline, journalism remains the most lucrative communications major according to a recent survey from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. Using findings from PayScale, the table below illustrates the salary growth potential for journalists over time.

Pay by Experience Level for Journalists

Entry-Level Mid-Career Experienced Late Career
$35,000 $43,000 $51,000 $54,000

Source: PayScale

BACHELOR'S IN JOURNALISM SALARY

Students invest in an online bachelor's degree in journalism to meet the standard of entry for most journalism-related professions. Across the spectrum of media and communication work, professionals earn an average of $54,780, outstripping the national average salary by almost $7,000 per year. Public relations specialists, technical writers, and film editors can earn considerably more than the field's overall averages.

Top Five Paying U.S. States for Broadcast News Analysts

State Annual Mean Wage
Utah $87,780
Nevada $86,080
Indiana $80,800
Arizona $78,580
Georgia $78,240

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

BACHELOR'S IN JOURNALISM CAREERS

Students who earn an online journalism degree can position themselves for dozens of career opportunities in media and communications. From advertising and public relations to politics and corporate communications, there are many occupations that call for the strong storytelling skills journalism majors acquire. Students who love working at a fast pace in a rough-and-tumble office environment can focus on political speechwriting or news reporting, while those who prefer more solitary work as editors or copywriters can pursue careers working remotely.

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

These professionals are on the front-lines in journalism, reporting on news and events at the local, state, and national levels across a variety of multimedia platforms. Reporters and correspondents work to meet tight deadlines while conducting interviews, researching news stories, or writing articles for newspapers, blogs, and magazines.

Median Annual Salary - $38,870
Projected Growth Rate - -9%

Editors

Editors plan content, review articles, and make revisions prior to publication. They work with writers to develop stories, fact check submissions, rewrite text for readability, and proofread for errors. Managing editors are responsible for a publication's daily operations. A bachelor's degree in journalism or a related field is required for many editorial positions.

Median Annual Salary - $57,210
Projected Growth Rate - -5%

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists represent a company, nonprofit, government agency, or other organization to the general public. Their goal is to increase awareness of their employers' mission and to shape public perception around the issues important to them. Working in a lucrative field, public relations professionals are used to crafting many types of written information across multimedia platforms.

Median Annual Salary - $58,020
Projected Growth Rate - 6%

Copywriters

Copywriters develop written content for advertising and promotional materials. Sometimes called “salesmen in print,” copywriters help companies sell products and services. These specialized writers would benefit from concentrating in writing courses during their bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary - $61,240
Projected Growth Rate - 2%

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Video editors use software to organize digital footage while camera operators shoot raw footage, usually on-location, in order to tell a story. Videographers can also sell their camera and storytelling skills to private clients. Journalism degrees can offer specialties in photojournalism to train video editors and camera operators.

Median Annual Salary - $59,040
Projected Growth Rate - 11%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Establishing a professional network and learning about different approaches to journalism helps lay the groundwork for career success. Professional organizations offer outstanding resources to digital learners seeking to advance their knowledge of a chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent associations for journalists. These organizations facilitate professional connections, offer online and in-person training, and maintain active job boards for career-minded college graduates.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Journalism Program

Most online programs are relatively affordable, but many digital learners still require financial assistance. Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which helps applicants fully understand funding opportunities such as scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study programs offered by the U.S. government. In addition, nonprofit organizations, companies, and other donors provide funding through competitive grants and scholarships. Check out the guides below to learn more about financial aid that may available to you.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.