Online Master’s in Journalism Programs 2021

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News analysts, reporters, and journalists inform consumers about the news through articles, radio programs, and television reports. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals earn a median $46,270 annual salary. In May 2019, the largest employers for these workers included publishers, broadcast stations, and other information services companies.

The BLS projects that the journalism field should contract 11% in 2019-2029. As a result, workers need every advantage to succeed in a tight job market. A master’s in journalism allows recent college graduates and experienced professionals to hone new, in-demand skills.

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Top 10 Online Master’s in Journalism Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE
2 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
3 Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
4 Marshall University Huntington, WV
5 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA

Answers to Concerns About a Journalism Degree


  • What kind of jobs can you get with a journalism degree?

    Popular careers for master’s in journalism degree-holders include associate producers, news anchors, and corporate communications assistants. Other graduates work as reporters or online communications managers.


  • How long does it take to get a master's in journalism?

    Some online journalism master’s degrees require as few as 11 months to complete. Other degrees may take 18-24 months, depending on requirements and enrollment status.


  • How hard is it to get a journalism job?

    Many bachelor’s and master’s journalism degree-seekers complete internships and freelance assignments to develop a personal brand. Some graduates continue working freelance until they find a permanent position.


  • Are journalists in high demand?

    The BLS projects the need for journalists to shrink 11% in 2019-2029. Professionals need new skills, such as those that journalism master’s degrees emphasize, to increase their employability.


Why Get a Degree in Journalism?



A journalism degree confers many advantages, including in-demand writing skills applicable to numerous professions. Students adapt to an evolving job market by selecting a specialization, such as political or sports journalism. A master’s in journalism emphasizes interpersonal skills, a necessity when networking with potential employers.

Students enrolled in asynchronous online programs continue working while earning a degree, allowing them to apply and hone new skills on the job. Online learning’s other benefits include the ability to enroll in an out-of-state program, develop time management skills, and learn industry-leading software suites employers expect job applicants to know.

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How Much Does a Journalism Degree Cost?

Most master’s in journalism programs charge a flat per-credit tuition rate, meaning full-time and part-time students pay the same for their degree. However, some universities charge per-term tuition. This structure benefits full-time, accelerated students, as their part-time peers end up paying more per credit.

An online degree may cost less than an on-campus program, depending on the school. Some reputable public universities waive out-of-state tuition for online learners. Other cost savings include not paying for on-campus housing, a meal plan, or a commute. Many online students continue working while in school, helping them avoid debt.

Online students should expect to save on many school fees, including parking and specific student support services applicable only to on-campus learners. However, some online schools charge degree-seekers a per-semester or per-course technology fee. Prospective students should consult schools’ financial aid offices to receive a tuition and fee breakdown.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree



Prospective journalism master’s degree students should consider how much they can put toward their education without accruing debt. A college affordability calculator produces that result by asking questions regarding monthly income, cost of living, tuition expenses, and current financial aid. A low monthly expected contribution implies learners need additional financial assistance.

College Affordability Calculator

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Journalism Majors Make?

Salaries for journalism degree-holders depend on profession, employer, geographic location, and years of experience. A newscast director at a regional news station may earn only $15,000 annually, while professionals working for national networks earn $40,000-$50,000. Jobs that pay more regardless of location include researcher and field producer.

The BLS reports that journalists working in Washington, D.C., New York, and Georgia earn the highest annual mean salaries at $68,780-$103,320. New York, California, and Texas employ the largest number of journalists, making them an attractive option for master’s in journalism graduates considering where they should start their career.

Like many workers, journalists achieve career advancement by gaining work experience in lower-paying positions. Other options include becoming a subject-matter expert or completing one or more university certificates, such as interactive media.

Courses in Journalism



Students customize their education and prepare for a career with a specialization, such as health communication, media management, or strategic communication. However, all programs emphasize the reporting and multimedia skills journalists need for career success. Many journalism master’s degrees conclude with a capstone project where degree-seekers perform independent research and write multiple articles.

The following sample curriculum describes three typical courses most master’s in journalism programs require. Please keep in mind that course names and requirements vary by school. Fortunately, many colleges and universities publish curriculum details on their website. Admissions advisors also answer prospective students’ questions regarding academic expectations.

Journalists face numerous ethical issues on the job, such as protecting sources’ identities and acting with integrity. Course topics include the First Amendment, libel laws, and copyright protections. Some journalism degrees require this course in the first semester, as the topics it raises appear in upper-division courses.

Journalists use the internet to perform research, publish articles, and upload other media. Online journalism courses train students to create online news features, use industry-leading software, and produce other journalists’ stories. Much of the coursework involves critiquing online examples and investigating how social media affects the journalism field.

An elective, media criticism concerns biased journalism’s impact on consumers. Students analyze journalists with different political biases and comedians who report the news using satire. Learners leave the course with a deeper understanding of biased journalism’s strengths and weaknesses, and the controversies it causes in the present day.

Scholarships for Journalism



Students need not go into debt when earning a master’s in journalism. Scholarships award funding to academically gifted learners and those who demonstrate financial need. All of the following awards feature a 2021 application deadline. Please visit the sponsoring organization or agency’s official website to review the latest requirements and deadlines.

  • Council for International Cooperation/Anna Chennault Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: CIC accepts applications from Asian American students preparing for a journalism career. Applicants submit official transcripts, one recommendation letter, relevant work samples, and an essay.

    Amount: $5,000

    Explore Here

  • The National Press Club/Shirley and Dennis Feldman Fellowship for Graduate Students

    Who Can Apply: NPC accepts applications from graduate school applicants and current students majoring in journalism. Application materials include transcripts, a 500-word essay, and three recommendation letters.

    Amount: $5,000

    Explore Here

  • Overseas Press Club Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: Aspiring overseas journalists apply to the OPC Foundation scholarships. Applicants submit a resume and a writing sample, and photo and video journalism students must provide a work portfolio.

    Amount: $3,000

    Explore Here

Online Master’s in Journalism Programs 2021



See Our Rankings Methodology
  1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Location

    Lincoln, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Nebraska offers more than 150 online programs from four institutions. Partnering with the Kearney campus, UNL offers an online master's in journalism and mass communication with an integrated media communications specialization. This degree prepares media professionals with expertise in advertising and public relations. Students acquire both theoretical knowledge and practical experience. The 36-credit curriculum offers thesis and non-thesis options.

    The degree's core explores key topics such as brands, branding, advertising, and PR research. Participants use elective credits to build their new media expertise in in-demand areas including strategic database marketing and e-marketing. Students develop a better understanding of their market by taking a consumer behavior course and learn time-tested persuasion methods.

    Students apply this master's in journalism's theories and concepts to real-world contexts. Admission requires a bachelor's in journalism, mass communication, or a related field, and a minimum 2.5 GPA.

  2. University of Missouri-Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Missouri-Columbia offers an online journalism master's degree to meet the diverse needs of today's media professional. The 37-credit master's in journalism offers four emphasis areas: health communication, interactive media, media management, and strategic communication. All enrollees complete core coursework including a mass media seminar, media ethics, and quantitative and qualitative journalism research.

    Each emphasis requires 15-18 credits addressing key concepts in the specialization. Notably, the interactive media emphasis explores topics such as digital strategy, emerging technologies in journalism, and computer-aided reporting. All students culminate the master's in journalism with either a research thesis or a project addressing a journalism problem.

    Enrollees complete the degree online except for an on-campus seminar in the fall. Online students pay competitive in-state tuition no matter where they live. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and three years of experience in journalism or strategic communications.

  3. Regent University
    Location

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A Christian college in Virginia Beach founded in 1978, Regent offers an online master's in journalism. The program trains media professionals for traditional and digital media. The 33-credit curriculum blends theory and practical applications to explore topics including media and popular culture's influence on society.

    Students learn how to conduct research, interview, and write and edit articles for multiple media platforms. They examine the intricacies of reporting on U.S. state and federal government's executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Degree-seekers explore key issues in media law and ethics, including freedom of the press, libel, and licensing and contracts. Participants develop proficiency in using software and web-based tools to produce and distribute multimedia.

    Enrollees culminate this journalism master's degree with a project that integrates course concepts. Regent offers full- and part-time enrollment options. Distance learners pay the same affordable per credit tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and school transcripts.

  4. Marshall University
    Location

    Huntington, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    One of the oldest colleges in West Virginia, MU offers a new master's in new media studies. The program enrolls students seeking to begin media careers and communications professionals looking to update their skills. Learners complete the 30-credit degree completely online with no disruption to work or other obligations.

    Master's in journalism degree-seekers explore six core topics, including law and ethics in journalism and mass communications (JMC). Courses on depth reporting and design thinking dive into the use of emerging technology to disseminate media. Students use six elective credits to pursue specialized training in areas including photojournalism and JMC web/online strategies. One class develops tech-savvy professionals who can design websites for mass media.

    Students culminate the degree with a digital research thesis on a professional or scholarly JMC subject. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and GRE scores.

  5. University of Iowa
    Location

    Iowa City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UI enjoys a storied reputation as a leader in cultivating journalists, including Pulitzer Prize and Peabody award winners. The school offers an online MA in strategic communication for aspiring and current communication professionals. Students complete 30 semester hours focusing on core professional principles and skills applicable to many communication jobs.

    Five core courses include the foundations of communication, digital strategic communication, and strategic communication writing. Students customize this journalism master's degree with five elective courses. Options include risk communication, strategic healthcare communication, and digital analytics for strategic communication. Faculty encourage students to incorporate workplace case studies and projects in the program.

    Participants culminate the MA in strategic communication with a capstone project instead of a thesis. All students pay the same per credit tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, a resume, and two writing samples.

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