Best Online Bachelor’s in Journalism Programs
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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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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.