ONLINE BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS IN JOURNALISM

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Journalism has changed immensely in the last decade. Today, most journalism takes place online through digital news outlets, blogs, and social media platforms. Earning an online journalism degree can help you kickstart your career in this diverse, exciting field. In an online program, you’ll build a strong foundation in verbal and written communication, gain a better understanding of rhetoric and rhetorical methods, and learn how to use social media and digital platforms.

This guide will introduce you to the best online journalism degrees available. You’ll learn more about the benefits of earning this degree, the different kinds of careers available to graduates, what you can expect to earn, and even ways to fund your degree.

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Programs in Journalism

Rank School Location
1 Austin Community College Austin, TX
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Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Journalism


  • METHODOLOGY

    Methodology

    Best Online Journalism Programs

    Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factorsData Sources:

    Eligibility Criteria:

    • Each college must be accredited
    • Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
    • Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
    • Each college must have at least one online program 1
    • Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000

    Ranking Factors:

    • Affordability
    • Quality
    • Flexibility
    • Program

    Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

    1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

    2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.Notes:

    • A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
    • Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.


When deciding to invest your time and money into earning your bachelor’s in journalism, you’ll want to choose the best program for you, based on several different factors. A strong online bachelor’s degree in journalism offers students a flexible, affordable, quality education. The programs below were ranked based on factors like graduation rates, availability of online courses, and tuition costs. All data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

  1. Austin Community College
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students interested in entering careers as reporters and correspondents can pursue an online associate degree in journalism through the Austin Community College District. The program focuses on building skills in reporting, writing, photography and public speaking. Graduates from the online Associate of Arts in Journalism program can continue their studies at a 4-year college or begin their careers in the field in entry-level positions. Students at ACC can apply for financial aid to help pay for this degree.

How Much Can You Make in a Journalism Career?

A bachelor’s degree in journalism provides foundational skills that can help you thrive in a variety of careers. Many graduates pursue careers adjacent to journalism, like teaching, and other areas of communication, particularly on digital platforms. The information below outlines a sample of potential careers for journalism majors.


  • Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $40,910

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: -9%

    Job Description

    These professionals often work in newsrooms, newspaper offices, and radio stations, tasked with reporting the news to the public. The changing digital climate has led many of these reporters to work on digital platforms as well. Broadcast news reporters may also have to travel to report on things happening locally and around the country.

    Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts


  • Editors

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $58,770

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: -1%

    Job Description

    Editors work in a variety of settings, editing any content created by an organization. They may proofread and copy edit, as well as rework content to fit the marketing goals and specific needs of an organization. These editors may also work with newspapers and publishing companies to edit their publications.

    Editors


  • Technical Writers

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $70,930

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +11%

    Job Description

    Technical writers employ their writing and editing skills to enhance technical publications, including manuals, journal articles, and how-to guides. They generally hold a degree, as well as some personal experience in a specific technical area, like computer science or web design. Many of these writers work in computer and engineering fields.

    Technical Writers


  • Public Relations Specialist

    MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY: $59,300

    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +9%

    Job Description

    A degree in journalism provides a great foundation for working in public relations, as these professionals must positively represent a company or organization through verbal and written communication with the public. These specialists maintain and manage an organization’s positive image. They may work alone or as part of a larger team.

    Public Relations Specialist


Sources: BLS 2018

Your salary potential in any career will vary based on different factors. The credentials you hold, your experience in the field, skill level, industry, and employer all help determine your salary. Geographic location is also a factor, as where you live and work can significantly influence your career. For example, reporters and broadcast journalists working in the District of Columbia, New York, and Alaska report higher mean wages than journalists in states like Idaho and Arkansas. You can learn more about the salaries for these professionals in your state using the list below.


  • Alabama
    Median Annual Salary: $40,630

    Number Currently Employed: 470

    Projected Job Growth: -16 percent


  • Alaska
    Median Annual Salary: $65,440

    Number Currently Employed: 140

    Projected Job Growth: -31.6 percent


  • Arizona
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Arkansas
    Median Annual Salary: $32,080

    Number Currently Employed: 380

    Projected Job Growth: -0.5 percent


  • California
    Median Annual Salary: $55,070

    Number Currently Employed: 3,900

    Projected Job Growth: +2.6 percent


  • Colorado
    Median Annual Salary: $54,740

    Number Currently Employed: 710

    Projected Job Growth: -5 percent


  • District of Columbia (DC)
    Median Annual Salary: $88,350

    Number Currently Employed: 2,630

    Projected Job Growth: +12.8 percent


  • Connecticut
    Median Annual Salary: $43,210

    Number Currently Employed: 350

    Projected Job Growth: -14.2 percent


  • Delaware
    Median Annual Salary: $39,690

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Florida
    Median Annual Salary: $46,770

    Number Currently Employed: 2,450

    Projected Job Growth: -10.5 percent


  • Georgia
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 1,050

    Projected Job Growth: -17.1 percent


  • Hawaii
    Median Annual Salary: $48,540

    Number Currently Employed: 110

    Projected Job Growth: -7.5 percent


  • Idaho
    Median Annual Salary: $32,500

    Number Currently Employed: 280

    Projected Job Growth: +1.1 percent


  • Illinois
    Median Annual Salary: $44,040

    Number Currently Employed: 1,590

    Projected Job Growth: -14.7 percent


  • Indiana
    Median Annual Salary: $41,060

    Number Currently Employed: 950

    Projected Job Growth: -16.2 percent


  • Iowa
    Median Annual Salary: $38,610

    Number Currently Employed: 870

    Projected Job Growth: -16.2 percent


  • Kansas
    Median Annual Salary: $43,410

    Number Currently Employed: 550

    Projected Job Growth: -17.2 percent


  • Kentucky
    Median Annual Salary: $48,100

    Number Currently Employed: 700

    Projected Job Growth: -23.3 percent


  • Lousiana
    Median Annual Salary: $50,790

    Number Currently Employed: 480

    Projected Job Growth: -5 percent


  • Maine
    Median Annual Salary: $39,010

    Number Currently Employed: 220

    Projected Job Growth: -14.7 percent


  • Maryland
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 530

    Projected Job Growth: +3.8 percent


  • Massachusuetts
    Median Annual Salary: $53,190

    Number Currently Employed: 1,200

    Projected Job Growth: -19.3 percent


  • Michigan
    Median Annual Salary: $48,800

    Number Currently Employed: 1,360

    Projected Job Growth: -9.6 percent


  • Minnesota
    Median Annual Salary: $49,030

    Number Currently Employed: 1,010

    Projected Job Growth: -6.1 percent


  • Mississippi
    Median Annual Salary: $30,380

    Number Currently Employed: 340

    Projected Job Growth: -3.2 percent


  • Missouri
    Median Annual Salary: $44,790

    Number Currently Employed: 710

    Projected Job Growth: -8.3 percent


  • Montana
    Median Annual Salary: $32,490

    Number Currently Employed: 290

    Projected Job Growth: -8.4 percent


  • Nebraska
    Median Annual Salary: $36,610

    Number Currently Employed: 560

    Projected Job Growth: -15.3 percent


  • Nevada
    Median Annual Salary: $49,370

    Number Currently Employed: 290

    Projected Job Growth: -10.5 percent


  • New Hampsire
    Median Annual Salary: $38,680

    Number Currently Employed: 260

    Projected Job Growth: -27 percent


  • New Jersey
    Median Annual Salary: $55,000

    Number Currently Employed: 930

    Projected Job Growth: -11.2 percent


  • New Mexico
    Median Annual Salary: $40,060

    Number Currently Employed: 200

    Projected Job Growth: -12.4 percent


  • New York
    Median Annual Salary: $76,590

    Number Currently Employed: 4,180

    Projected Job Growth: -4.2 percent


  • North Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $38,940

    Number Currently Employed: 1,290

    Projected Job Growth: -18.3 percent


  • North Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 240

    Projected Job Growth: -13.6 percent


  • Ohio
    Median Annual Salary: $39,280

    Number Currently Employed: 1,810

    Projected Job Growth: -17.9 percent


  • Oklahoma
    Median Annual Salary: $38,070

    Number Currently Employed: 540

    Projected Job Growth: -9.3 percent


  • Oregon
    Median Annual Salary: $50,050

    Number Currently Employed: 640

    Projected Job Growth: -8.3 percent


  • Pennsylvania
    Median Annual Salary: $40,570

    Number Currently Employed: 1,630

    Projected Job Growth: -20.6 percent


  • Rhode Island
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 140

    Projected Job Growth: -7.1 percent


  • South Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $43,260

    Number Currently Employed: 530

    Projected Job Growth: -0.6 percent


  • South Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $29,790

    Number Currently Employed: 290

    Projected Job Growth: -9.1 percent


  • Tennessee
    Median Annual Salary: $34,690

    Number Currently Employed: 800

    Projected Job Growth: -8.6 percent


  • Texas
    Median Annual Salary: $41,190

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Utah
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 330

    Projected Job Growth: +1.8 percent


  • Vermont
    Median Annual Salary: $37,610

    Number Currently Employed: 200

    Projected Job Growth: -8.2 percent


  • Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $45,260

    Number Currently Employed: 830

    Projected Job Growth: +5.6 percent


  • Washington
    Median Annual Salary: $50,100

    Number Currently Employed: 880

    Projected Job Growth: -1.6 percent


  • West Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $39,560

    Number Currently Employed: 320

    Projected Job Growth: -14.6 percent


  • Wisconsin
    Median Annual Salary: $36,570

    Number Currently Employed: 1,020

    Projected Job Growth: -21.6 percent


  • Wyoming
    Median Annual Salary: $30,030

    Number Currently Employed: 220

    Projected Job Growth: -17.7 percent


What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Journalism Degree?

Every bachelor’s in journalism program will differ based on which school you attend, and that program’s specific requirements. There are a few types of classes, however, that most journalism students can expect to take, particularly in areas like communication, writing, and digital media. The courses below are just a few examples of classes you might take while earning your journalism bachelor’s degree online; make sure to check your school’s specific courses, electives, and degree requirements.

Ethics in Journalism

Journalists must have a strong knowledge of the laws, policies, and procedures in ethical reporting. This course, sometimes taught in multiple levels over the course of the program, covers ethical reporting and ethics in journalism.

Multimedia

This course explores digital mediums and platforms for journalism. This class may appear in different forms over the course of the program, as many journalism programs emphasize digital media.

Visual Reporting

This course covers photography and video editing as forms of reporting fundamental to any journalists’ skill base. This course may explore both analog and digital forms of visual reporting.

Composition

Journalism students may take extra courses in composition and rhetoric throughout their program. These courses emphasize writing skills, including grammar, syntax, and rhetorical analysis of written work.

Narrative Journalism

This course may include aspects of creative writing to craft narratives in journalism. Students may learn about ethnography and the ethics of human observation, as well as navigating storytelling in ethical, unbiased representations of experiences.

How to Choose the Best Online Journalism Program

Choosing the best journalism bachelor’s degree online for you may seem a bit daunting or confusing, but with careful consideration, you can easily navigate the process and start your academic journey. The questions and responses below will help you better understand the importance of things like a school’s reputation in the industry, accreditation, tuition costs, and specific degree requirements.

What should I look for in regards to a school’s reputation in the field of journalism?

Consider whether the program has won any accolades or awards. This includes individual faculty members; what experience has each faculty member had in the field? Where have they worked before, and what projects are they currently working on outside of teaching, if any? Consider whether the department has a reputation in the field and if the curriculum seems progressive and adaptable to the current state of the industry.

What accreditation should I look for?

Attending an accredited school should be a top priority. Schools generally hold either national or regional accreditation, and the latter is the more prestigious and common certification. Accreditation adds an important weight and significance to your degree, and also allows you to transfer earned credits more easily to other institutions, should you need to. Some journalism programs may also hold programmatic accreditation through agencies like the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

What should I look at when comparing tuition costs?

Tuition can vary a great deal from school to school, and even from state to state. Think about your personal budget, and whether or not you plan to receive any financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, or loans. Remember also that private institutions usually cost more than public schools. The length of your degree will also impact your total tuition costs, and how many credit hours you must earn before you graduate. Consider the cost-per-credit at each school, and calculate an estimation of your total tuition costs based on the required credits to help you compare tuition costs for different programs.

Should I look for a program with a specific curriculum?

Consider your personal career goals, and what you would like to get out of an online journalism degree. Look for a program with a curriculum that best aligns with these goals. For example, if you want to eventually work specifically with digital and online media, consider evaluating programs that offer concentrations in this area, or that offer a range of courses in those subjects.

How will this degree help me reach my goals?

A journalism degree underscores your skills in writing, speech, content creation, and digital media. Earning this degree helps you develop the knowledge and experience you’ll need to thrive in a variety of careers, both inside and outside of reporting and broadcast news.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Journalism Programs

Once you choose the right program, figuring out how you’ll fund your education can be stressful. Many students fund their bachelor’s degree through federal aid, including student loans. However, scholarships and grants provide funding that doesn’t need to be repaid. Below, you’ll find a few examples of scholarships and grants available to students in journalism, with information on how to apply and the criteria required for eligibility.

American Copy Editors Society Scholarships

ACES offers six scholarships each year to students at colleges and universities who demonstrate a love and passion for language, regardless of their specific major. The amounts range from $1,500 to $3,000. Applicants must demonstrate success in academics and experience in editing, while also providing a 500-word response to a prompt in the entry form.

Association for Women in Sports Media Scholarships

The Association for Women in Sports Media offers a number of scholarships each year. Each scholarship includes a $1,000 prize, as well as placement in an internship with a sports media outlet, and a complimentary one-year membership to the AWSM. Members can waive the scholarship application fee. The organization’s website provides information about other internship opportunities, as well.

Broadcast Education Association Scholarships

The Broadcast Education Association offers over $75,000 each year to students pursuing degrees in all broadcast and reporting fields. The Peter B. Orlick Award, for example, awards one student $3,000 for pursuing studies in an electronic media area. Applicants to all available BEA scholarships must provide letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Applicants for most available awards must be enrolled full-time in their program to be eligible.

David J. Morrow Scholarship for Business Journalism

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers sponsors this scholarship for students studying to become business journalists. The scholarship fund began with a $50,000 contribution to honor David J. Morrow, a member of the SABEW board who died of cancer. Awards vary depending on available funds. The scholarship is open to any student with a passion or interest in business journalism. The funds contribute to tuition costs as well as expenses associated with attending the SABEW conference.

Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award

This award, sponsored by the Association of LGBTQ Journalists, is one of many scholarships offered by the association. This award honors Leroy F. Aarons, a prominent journalist who emphasized accurate and unbiased coverage of LGBTQ people and issues. Applicants for the award must submit work samples, including a new story/project crafted specifically for the award, based on a prompt in the application. Students must identify within the LGBTQ community. An award of up to $5,000 is awarded to one recipient, intended to cover tuition costs and fees.

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