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.
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?
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
|Amherst, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst opened as Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863 with a focus on agricultural science. Today, UMass Amherst's 1,450-acre campus in Pioneer Valley is the flagship university for the Commonwealth and offers diverse degrees on campus and online.
The school's distance learning arm, University Without Walls (UWW), offers one of the best online journalism degrees. As part of the college's philosophy, there's no degree outline. Instead, learners take courses that fit their interests and career goals. Popular choices for journalism students include digital photography, food writing, and media programming. Degree candidates also take classes from other departments. For example, students interested in international reporting may complete courses in global affairs.
New students take approximately four years of full-time study to earn the 120 required credits. Students can transfer up to 105 credits from other accredited institutions and earn transfer credit for work experience, which reduces the time to graduation.
UWW charges the same tuition rates to all learners, regardless of residency. However, courses in certain departments cost more per credit than others. UMass Amherst also offers flexible payment plans for students.
Washington University in St. Louis
|St. Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
Founded in 1853, Washington University started offering professional programs and continuing education in 1908. By 1931, the school opened its University College. One of the institution's first programs was the bachelor's in journalism, which continues to adapt as the demands of the profession change. In addition to an on-campus journalism degree, Washington University offers an online journalism degree.
The curriculum includes 18 credits of journalism fundamentals, 12 concentration credits, 12 credits of journalism electives, and an internship. Learners can choose their concentrations from almost any minor that Washington University offers in arts and sciences. Learners who cannot complete the internship requirement can choose independent study instead. Elective options include courses in freelance writing, broadcast journalism, personal essays, and genre writing. The school offers all of the program's courses online through asynchronous learning.
Applicants who want to complete all of their coursework online must hold six hours of transferable credits from accredited colleges or universities. Candidates who do not meet this requirement can take at least six hours on campus in St. Louis before applying to the online program. The school does not require standardized exam scores. Each candidate must submit a 250-word essay and proof of a minimum 2.7 GPA.
|Virginia Beach, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson founded Regent in 1978 as a Christian university focused on leadership. Today, the private school continues to follow his vision with distinguished educators and a Christ-centered philosophy in each program. The school offers a bachelor's in communication studies with a concentration in journalism in online and on-campus formats.
The journalism and mass communication online degree includes 49 general education credits, 18 credits in communications, and 18 credits in journalism. The general education requirement consists of 15 hours of biblical studies. Students take communications courses in subjects such as public speaking, communicating in the 21st century, and interpersonal communication. Students must complete journalism internships and capstone courses before graduation. Internships can take place remotely or in person. The program features eight-work terms and asynchronous learning.
Applicants submit unofficial transcripts and complete the school's admissions survey. This questionnaire asks about the applicant's reason for choosing Regent. Students without at least 15 transferable college credits or candidates younger than 23 years old must submit SAT or ACT scores. Such candidates must also demonstrate high school GPAs of at least 3.5.
|Clinton, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
MC began educating students in 1826 as Hampstead Academy, making it the first higher learning institution in Mississippi. Today, the school remains the largest private college in the Magnolia State. As a Christian university, the school roots each of its programs in biblical teachings, but it welcomes students of all religions.
Students can complete the school's online journalism degree in traditional and accelerated formats. The intensive, accelerated program requires learners to take 12 credits every eight weeks and allows them to graduate in half the time as the traditional schedule. Students who want to work as journalists major in communication with a concentration in journalism. The curriculum includes 45 hours of general education credits, 22 credits in communication, 18 credits in journalism, and 18 minor credits. Degree candidates can choose any minor in the arts and sciences with adviser approval.
Applicants with fewer than 12 previous college credits must submit SAT or ACT scores. Graduates must complete 33 credits at MC and at least 65 credits at any accredited four-year institution. MC charges all online students the same tuition rates regardless of residency.
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
With more than 22,000 students, DePaul is the country's largest Catholic university. Graduates can network with more than 185,000 alumni near the Chicago campus and around the world. The private university employs experienced faculty who teach 98% of the school's courses, so students interact with few teaching assistants.
DePaul's online journalism degree consists of 192 required credits, including 15 core journalism hours, 20 credits in communications electives, and eight hours in digital cinema. Although the school requires more credits than most bachelor's degrees, each course counts for four hours. Degree candidates take classes in subjects like international journalism, radio reporting, television news, and sports reporting. Learners who want to work in Spanish-language media can choose the Latin media concentration.
Applicants must meet different admissions requirements depending on their ages and previous college experience. However, DePaul upholds a test-optional admissions policy for all candidates. Students choose to submit SAT and ACT scores only if they believe the results help their chances of admission.
As a private school, DePaul does not charge out-of-state tuition rates, so learners pay the same tuition regardless of residency.
Texas State University
|San Marcos, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
This public university serves the Austin metropolitan area with campuses in Round Rock and San Marcos. When the university opened in 1903, just 303 students attended. Now, nearly 40,000 learners attend Texas State. The campus features rolling hills, 220 unique buildings, and the second-largest springs in the Lone Star State. Students who pursue the school's affordable online journalism degree must take at least 51% of the program's required courses on campus.
The bachelor's degree requires 120 credits, including general education courses, five advanced journalism courses, four advanced communication classes, and one final project credit. The communications requirement allows learners to acquire skills outside of journalism to support their careers, such as digital photography. Learners can use these requirements to earn concentrations in digital media, sports media, or multimedia production. Degree candidates complete the final project credit through internships, practicums, or seminars. The school maintains close relationships with local media outlets to help students find internship opportunities.
Journalism applicants must first gain admission to the university. Then, candidates complete a grammar course or pass an exam. Journalism candidates must also pass several writing courses with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
|Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
As a primarily online university, Drexel offers ample experience in educating students around the globe. Educators at the university are recognized experts in the subjects they teach and help students apply the knowledge they gain in practical ways, making Drexel's bachelor's in journalism one of the best online journalism degrees.
Students in the journalism program must earn 180 quarter credits, which translates to about 120 semester credits. In addition to general education classes, students take courses in subjects such as human communication, qualitative research methods, and linguistics. Drexel allows learners to transfer up to 135 quarter credits from other regionally accredited universities and colleges. However, students must complete at least half of the communications and journalism classes through Drexel.
Applicants with at least 24 transferable semester credits or 36 quarter credits from other schools need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Candidates with fewer credits must submit ACT or SAT scores. Drexel offers tuition discounts of up to 40% to military families and members of certain professional associations.
Drexel offers online learners several helpful resources, including an online library and career services. The library gives students access to industry journals and magazines. The school's career service professionals offer resume writing help, personal branding services, tips for successful networking, and interview support.
California State University, Bakersfield
|Bakersfield, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
CSUB combines small class sizes, personalized attention, and groundbreaking research with affordability and community involvement. The public university currently educates more than 10,000 students and continues to grow through its online offerings.
The university designed its online journalism degree as a concentration within the communications program. It is also a degree-completion program for students who completed at least 60 hours of general education courses at accredited schools.
The curriculum includes courses in social psychology, research ethics, and intercultural communication. In total, students must earn between 50-60 credits, depending on how many hours they transfer into the program. CSUB offers the program 100% online. Courses occur over the spring, summer, and fall semesters in flexible, asynchronous formats.
Applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA on transferable credits. The university encourages candidates who attended schools outside of California to consult with a transfer adviser.
|San Diego, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Retired U.S. Navy Captain David Chigos founded NU in 1971 with the mission to provide adult learners with access to high-quality education. Since then, the school became San Diego's largest nonprofit university and boasts an alumni network of more than 150,000 graduates. The school offers more than 100 programs online and on campus, including a new media journalism online degree.
Students in this program take four-week courses. This schedule helps learners focus on fewer subjects at a time while earning their degrees on time. The 180-quarter-credit curriculum includes courses in the history of journalism, new journalism technology, and long-form nonfiction. Degree candidates also choose three electives.
The NU online journalism degree features asynchronous courses that take place entirely online. The military-friendly school accepts military benefits and offers designated veteran education specialists to support learners throughout their studies.
NU students gain access to the university's career service center where professionals help learners write resumes, find internships, and apply for jobs. Degree candidates who struggle with math can access the math center for tutoring.
Southern Illinois University
|Carbondale, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
SIU opened in 1869 as Illinois' second college for teachers. Today, the university offers many degrees in diverse fields on campus and online. SIU also boasts deep roots in the surrounding community due to its commitment to service. In just one year, students completed 578 charitable initiatives.
The online journalism degree at SIU requires 120 credits, which typically takes about four years of full-time study to complete. Students can choose between four-week, eight-week, and 16-week course schedules. No matter which schedule degree candidates choose, they can complete their programs entirely online and asynchronously.
The curriculum includes classes in journalism law, social issues in advertising, creativity across platforms, and mass communication in society. Students also choose between five specializations: news, new media production, advertising, sports media, and photojournalism. Degree candidates may choose minors from outside the communications programs. These minors help students become experts in specific media beats.
Students who live in southern Illinois can choose to blend online learning with flexible on-campus courses. All learners from the United States pay the school's low in-state tuition rates when they enroll in online classes.
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
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
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|
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 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 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%
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- Best Online Bachelor's in Journalism in 2018
School Location 1 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA 2 National University La Jolla, CA 3 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA 4 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL