2023 Best Online Masters in Journalism Programs

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Discover the best online masters in journalism programs. Gain advanced knowledge, enhance your skills, and pursue a rewarding career in journalism.

Masters in journalism programs can help current or aspiring journalists gain advanced knowledge on researching, investigating, writing, and following stories to inform the public. It can also help you develop useful skills that can be applied to other related career fields.

Best Online Masters in Journalism Programs

A journalism master’s degree may also help journalists already in the field build upon their current skills and take on management positions.

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Journalism can be an interesting field of study if you enjoy staying up to date on current trends, writing, and investigating.

Online Masters in Journalism Programs

Woman taking Online Masters in Journalism

Journalism graduate programs are beneficial for individuals who wish to pursue a career in journalism or a related field. Earning a graduate degree is also strategic for current journalists who want to expand upon their position.

Journalists can work with several different media platforms to inform the public on current trends and news. Some journalists cover local stories in their community, while others cover news and other information on the national and international level.

Masters programs in journalism might be beneficial if you’re committed to working in the field and wish to gain further education and opportunities. Common forms of media that journalists work with include:

  • Television
  • Magazines
  • Digital media platforms
  • Newspapers
  • Radio broadcasts

The coursework in a journalism masters program typically concentrates on more advanced skills in various writing styles, reporting methods, and how to conduct in-depth investigations.

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Some journalism graduate courses are very hands-on and include assignments that practice real-life investigative journalism and reporting. These types of projects can help you build a portfolio to showcase to future employers. A graduate degree in journalism can also be helpful for other related careers. Common positions that professionals with a masters in journalism may pursue include:

  • Journalist
  • Senior editor
  • Web content or social media manager
  • Public relations manager
  • Director of communications

Journalists and reporters often specialize in a certain subject. For example, some may report on pop culture, world news, sports, or politics. Some masters programs in journalism offer specialized courses that align with the type of media or topics you wish to explore further. As one example, some universities offer both on campus and online masters in sports journalism programs for students interested in that specific specialty. 

Online journalism master’s programs are available for students who may need a more flexible class schedule. Journalists who travel often might consider an online journalism degree program so they can take courses remotely.

Journalism Careers & Salaries

Journalism Careers & Salaries

A masters degree in journalism may open up more job opportunities and possibly increase your earning potential. A masters could also help experienced professionals in journalism or a related field qualify for management or leadership opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of some of the media and communication careers related to advanced studies in journalism.  

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $133,380
Public Relations Managers $125,780
Technical Writers $78,060
Writers and Authors $69,510
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists $63,920
Editors $63,350
Public Relations Specialists $62,800
Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians $49,050
News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists $48,370
Announcers and DJs $45,810

If you’re interested in a specific type of journalism, you might consider programs that include coursework that relates to the career you have in mind.

While masters programs in journalism concentrate on investigating, research, writing, and reporting, they can also teach you other useful skills. Depending on the coursework available, you might be able to learn about photography, video editing, or marketing strategies.

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A journalism master degree isn’t necessary to pursue a career in journalism, but it could help you enter the field or advance your current career.

Journalism MA Curriculum & Courses

Group of students taking MA in Journalism

Journalism coursework focuses on writing styles for different types of news and media. It can also include topics like journalism code of ethics and how to investigate stories and track down credible sources.

The following courses are often found in journalism graduate programs:

  • Ethics and Law in Journalism: You’ll explore ethical issues in journalism and study scandals, fake news, relevant legal cases, and the proper and improper use of sources.
  • Investigative Reporting: This course examines techniques used for investigative reporting, such as gathering data and sources, conducting interviews, and analyzing information to effectively report on stories.
  • Technology Tools in Journalism: In this course, you can learn about the different types of tools and software commonly used to research, develop, and report on stories.
  • Media Research and Analysis: You can study how to use different types of media to conduct research, investigate stories, and collect information and data.
  • Social Media Marketing: This course examines marketing strategies and tools and social media communication methods.
  • Political Reporting: You can learn more about techniques used to report on political matters to inform the public about various political figures and affairs.
  • Multimedia Storytelling: This course explores different ways to develop stories using various types of media for reporting and editing.
  • Feature Writing: You can learn different writing styles and techniques used to write in-depth feature stories on a multitude of topics.
  • Pop Culture and Worldview: In this course, you learn how media can influence the public’s perspective.
  • Community and Civic Journalism: This course focuses on how to report on community news stories and studies techniques used to cover local events and issues.

Coursework can differ depending on the program you choose. Elective courses may also be offered to help you explore your specific interests.

How to Choose an Online Journalism Graduate Program

Couple choosing Masters in Journalism program online

There are several factors to consider when you’re looking at journalism graduate programs. Here are some things you might want to ask yourself when trying to choose the right masters program in journalism for you:

  • Is the school or program accredited? Regional accreditation is a mark of high-quality education, and it can affect your eligibility for things like financial aid and future certifications.
  • What type of core and elective courses does the program have? In addition to core courses, some programs offer elective courses that you can choose to take. Elective courses can be a nice addition to a program because they can give you the opportunity to explore some of your specific interests.
  • How much does the program cost? The price of tuition and overall cost of attendance can widely vary between schools and programs. It could help to compare the cost of different programs, and you could also see what financial aid options each school offers.

One of the first steps you can take in choosing between online journalism master’s programs is comparing different programs from accredited schools.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Masters in Journalism

Common admission requirements for journalism graduate programs include:

  • Bachelors degree
  • Minimum college GPA
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Writing sample
  • GRE or GMAT scores (not required by all schools)

Some programs may request prospective students to have prior journalism experience to apply. You may also develop a portfolio with examples of your writing or previous work if one is requested for admission. Admission requirements can vary depending on the program or school.

Journalism Masters Programs Accreditation

University offering Masters in Journalism

Regional accrediting organizations are third-party entities that determine the quality and performance of educational institutions.

The accreditation status of a school can be important for several reasons. Some schools only accept credit transfers from accredited institutions. Accreditation can also affect a student’s eligibility in receiving financial aid or pursuing professional certification.

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If you wish to pursue a certification in your field, receiving a degree from an accredited institution is a common requirement. You can access a database of regionally accredited schools on the US Department of Education website.

ACEJMC Accredited Masters in Journalism Programs

One of the main accrediting organizations for journalism programs is the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). It has several standards that are used to assess a school’s journalism and mass communications programs.

Some of these standards include evaluating the school’s curriculum and instruction, faculty, performance, and resources and facilities. Programs that are ACEJMC accredited are considered to provide students with the necessary resources to receive a quality education that’s up to industry standards.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Masters in Journalism financial aid

Financial aid and scholarship opportunities can help qualifying students lower their cost of tuition and attendance. If you’re able to demonstrate financial need, you might be eligible for federal student aid. You can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if you’re eligible.

Scholarships are monetary awards given to select students who apply and are chosen. They can also be offered to students who display exceptional academic or athletic skills. There are many scholarships aimed toward different criteria, such as area of study.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Journalism Online?

A journalism masters degree can be useful for several different positions in the field. Working as a journalist or reporter could involve working for a radio or television network, newspapers, magazines, or websites.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more outlets are turning to multimedia journalists to publish information to the public. Multimedia journalism includes using social media to promote stories—gathering images and designing videos that allow viewers to get news through different forms of media.

Journalism professionals might also work in advertising, public relations, and broadcasting. With a master’s degree, graduates might wish to seek a management position, such as senior editor or public relations manager.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Journalism Masters Degree?

Man pursuing Masters in Journalism online

A masters can generally be completed in 1 to 2 years, but the number of credit hours can differ between online journalism master’s programs.

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For instance, a 36 credit hour program may be completed in 1 year if you enroll as a full-time student and take summer courses. If a program has a thesis requirement, this could add more time to your completion. The length of a thesis can vary depending on the program. Studying part-time could also take you longer to complete your degree.

What’s the Difference Between an Online Masters Degree in Journalism vs. Communications?

Masters programs in journalism may have some overlapping coursework with communications masters programs, but they have some key differences.

Masters in Journalism Masters in Communications
  • Narrower field of study
  • Focuses on following and reporting stories to the public
  • Covers topics like research methodology, investigation techniques, and common journalism practices
  • Broader field of study
  • Focuses on strategies and techniques to effectively spread information
  • Centers courses around how information can be exchanged and perceived by the public

People who work in communications often work with journalists. Communications professionals specialize in spreading information to the public efficiently, while journalists specialize in telling stories.

Is an Online Master’s in Journalism Worth It?

PR Manager & Marketing Specialists discussing

Yes, an online master’s in journalism is worth it for many students. Journalism can be a fitting career for someone who is naturally curious and likes to dig through sources to find the facts. Professionals with a background in journalism may also work in related fields, such as advertising and public relations.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that positions in the journalism sector are projected to have positive job growth over the next ten years. Media and communication occupations overall are expected to see 14% job growth over the same period, which is faster than average.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Journalism Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University’s MS in Business Journalism program can potentially be completed in just 1.5 years. To graduate, students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework, including an applied project. The curriculum consists of courses such as Fundamentals of Financial Accounting, Media Law, Data in Business Journalism, and more.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State University offers a Master of Arts in Journalism that can be earned on campus, online, or in a hybrid format. Students can take classes either full-time or part-time and can choose a concentration in Media Analytics and Management or Reporting and Storytelling. To graduate, students must complete 36 credits

Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Emerson College

Emerson College campus

Emerson College offers a hybrid program for an MA in Journalism. Students in this program spend 2 semesters learning online and 2 semesters on campus. The program provides opportunities to participate in internships and collaborative, hands-on learning experiences. As part of the program, students receive a CreativityKit that includes the latest hardware and software used in the industry.

Emerson College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Harvard University

Harvard University campus

Harvard University offers a Master’s in Journalism that can be earned through its online extension school. The program does require one on-campus experience, with multiple options available for how to complete this. The degree requires a total of 12 courses. Most students opt to take just one or two classes at a time.

Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Kent State University

Kent State University campus

Kent State University’s MA in Journalism and Mass Communication can be completed entirely online. The program requires the completion of 33 credits. The curriculum consists of courses such as Theory and Societal Role of Mass Media, Research Methods in Mass Communication, and Mass Communication Law and Ethics. To graduate, students must also complete a capstone project or thesis.

Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

New York University

New York University campus

New York University’s Master of Arts in Journalism program can potentially be completed in just 1 year of full-time study. The degree can be earned entirely online. NYU’s online courses are highly interactive and usually include no more than thirteen students. Each student is also matched with a one-on-one mentor.

New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Regent University

Regent University campus

Regent University offers a Master of Arts in Journalism program that teaches from a Christian worldview. The program is available online and requires the completion of 33 credit hours of coursework. The curriculum consists of courses such as Media Research and Analysis, Social Media and Internet Marketing, News Writing and Reporting, and more.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

St. Bonaventure University

St Bonaventure University campus

St. Bonaventure University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism. The program is highly flexible and can potentially be completed in 1.5 years. It provides opportunities for students to learn through scenario-based projects and receive one-on-one attention from faculty. Prospective students do not need previous education or work experience in journalism to apply.

St. Bonaventure University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

The University of Alabama offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies. To graduate, students must complete 31 credit hours and a professional project. The curriculum consists of courses such as History of Journalism, Contemporary Issues in Journalism, and Mass Media Law. Most students take 2 or 3 courses each semester.

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Colorado – Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder campus

The University of Colorado—Boulder offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Journalism Entrepreneurship. There are two specialized tracks to choose from: Entrepreneurship or Sports Journalism. The program is designed to be flexible and convenient while teaching real-world skills. Online students at UC Boulder are still provided with many opportunities for interaction and collaboration with classmates.

The University of Colorado Boulder is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Georgia

University of Georgia campus

The University of Georgia offers a Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication—Emerging Media. The program is 100% online and does not require a thesis. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate. The curriculum consists of courses such as Web Development, Project Management and Innovation, and Digital Media Design and Aesthetics.

The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Memphis

University of Memphis campus

The University of Memphis offers a Master of Arts in Journalism and Strategic Media. The program offers the following areas of emphasis: Research, Visual Media, Integrated Strategic Media, and News and Storytelling. To graduate, students must complete 33 credit hours of coursework and a thesis, a capstone project, or a practicum.

The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Missouri

University of Missouri campus

The Master of Arts in Interactive Media from the University of Missouri can be earned mostly online. It only requires one campus visit. The program’s courses are semester-based, and students usually take one or two classes at a time. To graduate, students must complete 37 credit hours, which can typically be done in 2 or 3 years.

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln

University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln offers an MA in Journalism and Mass Communications that can be earned online and on campus. Students can choose a specialization in Professional Journalism or Integrated Media Communications. Prospective students may apply to begin in the fall, spring, or summer, and applicants must submit a portfolio with at least ten professional pieces.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Florida

University of South Florida campus

The MA in Digital Journalism and Design from the University of South Florida may be earned entirely online, but some classes may be completed on campus if it is convenient. The program requires the completion of 33 to 39 credit hours. It typically takes students 1 to 2 years to finish the program’s requirements.

The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Master’s Degree in Journalism Online

Woman completing her online Masters Degree in Journalism

An online journalism masters degree can help aspiring journalists gain advanced knowledge and skills that can be applied to the field. It can also be useful for current journalists who want to expand upon their role.

Journalism can be an exciting career for individuals who are passionate about researching, tracking down sources, and informing the public of their findings. An online masters degree in journalism can also prepare you for related communication fields.

If you’re ready to advance your studies, you can start exploring accredited colleges and universities to find the journalism graduate program that’s the best match for your professional interests.

Ready to start your journey?
Amy holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Old Dominion University, with a minor in English. She previously worked as an educator before starting her career as a writer. Amy spends much of her time researching and writing, with the goal of sharing valuable information with readers.