Best Online Bachelor’s in Journalism Programs
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
A bachelor's in journalism program can prepare learners for careers as reporters, feature and news writers, editors, and broadcast professionals. Students learn interview techniques and professional ethics as they dive into a craft valued by the United States since the ratification of the First Amendment.
Both on-campus and online bachelor's in journalism programs typically require around 120 credits and take four years to complete. Most learners pay $47,000-$63,000 in total tuition.
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While many articles have discussed the decline of journalism, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% job growth for news analysts, reporters, and journalists between 2020 and 2030. This rate is about as fast as the national average for all U.S. occupations. These journalism professionals earned a median annual salary of $49,300, as of May 2020.
Read on to learn more about courses, careers, and admission requirements for prospective journalism students.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Journalism Program?
Journalism programs are a good fit for detail-oriented, curious, empathetic students with strong writing skills. If this description doesn't fit you, don't worry. You can develop these soft and hard skills during journalism programs through mindful practice and study.
Most journalism students are also passionate about the field. You generally don't go into journalism for the money. Most students pursue journalism because they want to tell stories that make a difference, speak truth to power, and hold leadership accountable.
Nevertheless, according to the BLS, you can still pursue higher-paying careers with a journalism degree in adjacent fields like public relations.
Most bachelor's in journalism programs require 120 credits, and students can graduate in approximately four years. Some programs include internships at news organizations. Most programs do not include concentrations but cover similar foundational areas, including ethics, reporting, interviewing, and writing.
Online programs often meet the needs of working professionals and adult learners. These programs sometimes deliver coursework asynchronously, eliminating set class times and allowing students to complete assignments around their own schedules. This format is a great fit for learners with family or professional commitments.
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Featured Online Journalism Bachelor's Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Journalism Program?
Basic News Writing Skills
Often offered as an introductory course, basic news writing skills help ensure that students can handle the fundamentals of grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling.
Principles of Multimedia Journalism
Multimedia skills are essential in today's journalism landscape, which extends far beyond print. Covered topics may include podcasts, broadcasts, videos, and streaming platforms.
Journalists frequently encounter ethical dilemmas in the field. Often using case studies, this course equips students with the skills needed to make the right decisions in those situations.
Principles of Strategic Communication
Some journalism graduates pursue careers in public relations, marketing, and strategic communication. This course covers basic methodology in integrated marketing campaigns to prepare learners for careers in those fields.
News Writing and Reporting
This course prepares learners to write and report articles for newspapers and other publications and organizations. Covered topics may include reporting ethics, interviewing techniques, and the value of news.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Journalism Program?
In the following section, we delve into typical admission requirements for journalism programs. These requirements are typically the same for on-campus and online bachelor's in journalism programs. In addition to the materials listed below, some schools may ask certain applicants to complete an interview.
All journalism programs require prospective students to fill out a college application. These forms usually collect contact information and background information. Many schools accept the Common App, which can make applying to multiple colleges easier. Nevertheless, make sure to check if your school requires its own application.
Some journalism schools require prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores. These tests provide colleges with a seemingly objective metric to distinguish between students. However, in recent years, some studies have questioned the fairness of these exams. As a result, more and more schools are becoming test-optional.
Letters of Recommendation
Most journalism programs ask applicants to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation. For first-year students coming straight from high school, former teachers should write these letters. Try to ask teachers who taught a class in which you did well. Make sure to ask them months in advance to give them time to write a good letter and meet deadlines.
Programs typically require prospective students to write personal essays. In addition to the standard Common App essay, journalism schools may ask you to write an essay on why you are drawn to journalism and why you want to enroll in a journalism program.
All schools require official transcripts of all prior education for admission. If you have previous college experience, you may be able to earn transfer credits. You can usually earn 60 credits for an associate degree earned at a community college. The bachelor's programs with the most generous policies usually accept up to 90 transfer credits.
What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Journalism Degree?
While the common narrative states that journalism majors aren't in high demand, graduates can find plenty of professional opportunities. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 6% job growth for reporters and journalists, which is comparable to the projected growth rate for all occupations.
Furthermore, during that same period, the BLS projects 9% growth for writers and authors, 11% growth for public relations specialists, and 12% growth for technical writers. Graduates with a bachelor's in journalism can pursue all of these positions.
A bachelor's degree-holder in journalism can expect to earn a median annual salary of about $50,000-$75,000. The job market is fairly competitive, as many people want to work as journalists. So a bachelor's degree in the field can help you gain an advantage. Fewer people pursue journalism degrees than business degrees, for example, so the education can prove invaluable.
There will most likely be an Learn more about journalism careers..
Public Relations Specialist
Working under the guidance of a public relations manager, these professionals help craft an organization or individual's public image. They may write or deliver speeches, run marketing campaigns, attend meetings and events, and travel with their clients. Journalism students can develop an adjacent set of skills that may help them thrive in this profession.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $62,810
Reporter or Journalist
Reporters and journalists inform the public about news and current events. They might write for a newspaper or create segments for news shows. They may also write takeout or feature pieces that aren't straight news to teach the public about the human condition.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $49,300
Writer or Author
These professionals create written content for different organizations and media. There are many different subfields within this profession. For example, authors write novels, nonfiction, and other types of books. Content writers create search engine optimization articles for companies and clients.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $67,120
Technical writers create materials like instruction manuals, step-by-step and how-to guides, and other documents that make technical information easier to read. They often work full time in highly technical industries like information technology, computer science, and science.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $74,650
Editors review content and make changes so that it is suitable for publication. They often work in offices and remotely for companies, journals, and publications. Some editors work freelance or as independent contractors.
Median Annual Salary: $63,400
Journalism Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
The most common continuing education path for a bachelor's degree-holder in journalism is pursuing a master's degree in the field. A master's degree can open the doors to leadership and editorial positions in newsrooms, magazines, and other news organizations. Furthermore, given how competitive journalism is, a master's degree in the field can give you a leg up when seeking jobs.
Some graduates also choose to pivot and pursue a graduate degree in a field like strategic or media communications. These degrees can lead to high-paying positions in public relations and corporate communications.
How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Journalism Program?
Program cost should be among the most important factors when deciding to pursue a bachelor's in journalism. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average bachelor's degree in journalism costs $47,000-$63,000. Keep in mind that some online programs allow students to pay in-state tuition no matter where they live. Furthermore, distance learners can save on costs like room and board and transportation.
If you are choosing an online program, investigate whether the program delivers coursework synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous programs include live online courses, while asynchronous programs do not. Additionally, consider whether you want to enroll full time or part time. If you want to graduate in less time, you can enroll in accelerated programs.
Even when choosing an online program, it can make sense to choose a program close to you. You may want to take advantage of local schools' in-state tuition rates. Furthermore, if you have to complete on-campus residencies or requirements, you may want to choose a school within driving distance.
You should only enroll at schools that hold regional accreditation. This third-party evaluation system, overseen by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation, ensures the quality of schools and programs. You cannot receive federal financial aid if you do not attend a regionally accredited school. Employers usually also look for job candidates who attended accredited schools.
The best online bachelor's in journalism programs offer student services like mentorships, tutoring, internship opportunities, and alumni networking opportunities. Student services are particularly important for online students, who must navigate academics, financial aid, and other complex processes without the support of an in-person community. Distance learners are far more likely to succeed with strong support from their schools.
Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Journalism Programs
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Best Online Journalism Programs
Texas State UniversityLocation
San Marcos, TXTuition
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.
University of New MexicoLocation
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.
Pennsylvania State University-World CampusLocation
University Park, PATuition
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.
Colorado State UniversityLocation
Fort Collins, COTuition
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.
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.
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.
Southern Illinois UniversityLocation
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.
Virginia Beach, VATuition
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.
La Jolla, CATuition
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Journalism Programs
Is a bachelor's in journalism worth it?
Yes. While the value of each degree is subjective, a bachelor's in journalism can help you succeed in a competitive field. Graduates with a bachelor's in journalism can also earn higher salaries in multiple growing fields.
While the narrative surrounding journalism states that the field is shrinking, many adjacent careers are actually growing. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 9% job growth for writers and authors, 11% job growth for public relations specialists, and 12% job growth for technical writers.
A bachelor's in journalism program can help learners gain the skills they need for each of these positions.
What can I do with a bachelor's in journalism?
These bachelor's degree-holders can pursue careers in journalism, reporting, public relations, and technical writing. They can work for major tech companies, small town newspapers, and corporate giants. In each of these fields, graduates can ultimately earn stable salaries in fields with solid growth potential.
Graduates can also opt to continue their education, pursuing graduate degrees in fields like journalism and strategic or media communications. Pursuing additional education may lead to higher salary potential and better chances at editorial and managerial careers.
Are journalism majors in high demand?
It depends on the field. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 6% job growth for reporters, journalists, and news analysts, a rate comparable to the national average. During the same decade, the BLS projects higher growth rates for writers and authors (9%), public relations specialists (11%), and technical writers (12%).
While journalism can often be a competitive field, graduates with significant skills can still thrive. If you are finding it difficult to enter the field, a master's degree in journalism or a related field may help you break down the doors.
How much money can I make with a bachelor's in journalism?
You may earn a median annual salary of about $50,000-$75,000 if you earn a bachelor's degree in journalism. Technical writing is a particularly lucrative path for graduates, as professionals in this field earn a median annual salary of $74,650.
Meanwhile, reporters, journalists, and news analysts earn a median annual salary of $49,300. The best-paid reporters and journalists often have significant experience in the field and work in information services rather than at newspapers.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in journalism?
The highest-paying job with a bachelor's in journalism is likely technical writing. According to the BLS, these professionals make a median annual salary of $74,650.
The most lucrative field for bachelor's degree-holders in journalism is likely public relations. Entry-level public relations specialists earn a median annual salary of $62,810. However, with experience and potentially additional education, specialists may ultimately become public relations managers, who earn a median annual salary of $118,340, according to the BLS.