Master’s in Journalism Career Guide
What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Journalism Program?
Journalists research and write news reports for print, broadcast and
digital media. An online master’s in journalism program can open up new
professional career paths or revive a stagnant career. Students learn
valuable journalistic skills with most advanced degree programs
emphasizing the growing field of digital media, which veteran
journalists may not have been previously exposed to. Besides an
undergraduate degree, some online journalism graduate programs require
applicants to have some professional experience in the field, but others
don’t. For working journalists, one of the primary benefits of
continuing your education online is the flexibility it offers.
Professionals can continue working while enhancing their professional
knowledge and leaderships skills by earning their master’s degree.
Because programs vary greatly, compare curriculum, concentrations,
format and cost to find the right program for your career goals.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Journalism
|CONCENTRATION||DESCRIPTION||POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR|
|Investigative Journalism||Covers the investigative process with an emphasis on the importance of documentary evidence and the traditional forms of investigative materials.||Investigative print or broadcast reporter/journalist|
|Documentary||Trains students in the craft of long-form visual storytelling and the business side of documentary production.||Documentary writer, documentary producer, documentary filmmaker|
|Politics||Learn how politics works, including social and political affairs and the formation of the nation state and political institutions.||Political journalist, political correspondent, press secretary|
|Business and Economics||An online master’s in journalism with a concentration in business and economics emphasizes the global marketplace, global economy, national economy, financial markets and corporate and individual economics.||Investigative journalist, business and economics reporter, features writer|
|Arts and Culture||Helps students develop historical knowledge and contextual understanding across a broad range of disciplines and examine the emotional force of the arts while finding news value and writing with authority without buying into this emotion.||Cultural reporter, art critic|
|Science||Focus on scientific fields with an emphasis on understanding the culture and practice of science, whether it involves hard sciences, health or technology a solid understanding of the fundamental tools of economic analysis.||Investigative reporter, medical writer|
Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Journalism
Curriculum for online master’s degrees in journalism vary by school,
but most programs have similar core courses and allow you to enroll in a
wide variety of electives to customize your degree. Choosing a specific
concentration helps meet your personal and professional needs and
goals. Some programs are offered fully online, but some are hybrid
programs offered partially online and on-campus. Many programs require a
capstone project or thesis to conclude the program and finish your
degree. Despite the differences, many programs offer similar coursework,
which may include these courses.
|News Writing and Reporting||Improve your reporting and news writing skills, including interviewing, researching and fact-checking.|
|Investigative Techniques||Develop in-depth researching skills using multiple sources of information and the many ways to gather, verify and evaluate facts to create unique and accurate written materials.|
|Feature Writing||Learn to balance informative reporting with an earnest narrative that gives issues the human touch while helping expand their interview skills and develop their writer’s voice.|
|Deadline Writing||Focus on the techniques and ability needed to put together accurate, clearly-written stories on a deadline.|
|Journalism Ethics||Explore the ethical issues that often arise in journalism, including the importance of verifying information and the relationship between personal values and journalistic decisions like the pressure of writing on a deadline.|
|Journalism Law||Cover the protections and restrictions of the law as they apply to journalism, including significant court cases and legal rules and journalistic standards both domestically and internationally.|
|Business of Journalism||Examine the historic challenges and changes in the journalism industry and business issues that affect journalism organizations.|
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Journalism?
The time it takes to complete your online master’s degree in
journalism depends on many factors, including whether you enroll as a
full-time or part-time student. Another big factor is whether the
program allows you to work at your own pace or if it’s a cohort-based
program that requires you to complete the program requirements along
with your classmates. Whatever the format, programs typically range from
30 to 36 credits, and most students complete their degree in two years.
However, accelerated programs may be completed in as little as one
Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Journalism Prepares For
|Certified Journalism Educator||Completing your online master’s in journalism could help fulfill some of the requirements to apply for Certified Journalism Educator status from the Journalism Education Association.|
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Journalism
Accreditation assures students a school meets the basic standards of
educational excellence when measured against national standards.
Colleges and universities may be accredited in three ways, including
national, regional or program-specific accreditation. Regional and
national accreditation agencies are recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation
and assess the school as a whole. To ensure eligibility for federal and
state financial aid and many private scholarships, always choose an
Program-specific accreditation is less common and only assesses a
specific department or degree path. While online programs have gained in
popularity, it’s relatively new for them to receive accreditation.
However, some distance learning programs, including some online master’s
in journalism programs, are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Also, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
is the agency responsible for the evaluation of professional journalism
and mass communications programs in colleges and universities. Some
schools have sought accreditation through this organization for their
online journalism programs.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Journalism Graduates
Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s
Earning your bachelor’s degree in journalism prepares you for many
entry-level jobs; however, journalists seeking higher level positions,
especially managerial roles, often find quicker promotion with a
master’s degree. Besides quicker advancement, your advanced degree also
sets you up for a higher salary. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce,
journalism professionals with bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of
$56,000, but those with a master’s degree earn a median salary of
$71,000. Earning your master’s degree in journalism online offers the
same upward mobility and salary capacity as completing the same program
through a traditional on-campus program.
Besides the level of your education, your salary is dependent on the
size of the company that employs you and your years of professional
experience. For an idea of what various journalism-related professionals
earn, consider the salary ranges of these popular careers.
|Job Title||Salary Range|
|Editor in Chief||$43,280–$134,272|
The expected salary of journalists also varies greatly based on where they work. As demonstrated below, reporters and correspondents make much more in some states than others. This table illustrates the vast different between the top three paying states compared to the three states with the lowest expected salary for reporters and correspondents.
Your online master’s in journalism program provides you with highly
transferable skills that open up numerous professional opportunities.
Your learned skills provide you with the ability to perform accurate
research and write concise, entertaining stories of interest to a broad
audience. This makes you a valuable asset whether you work for print,
broadcast or digital media outlets. You also have the option to work
freelance and cater to a variety of clients.
|JOB TITLE||JOB DESCRIPTION||MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE|
|Writer or Author||Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, which may include fictional stories, novels, poetry or script or nonfiction reporting, blogs, advertising material, biographies or technical papers.||$61,820 per year||8%|
|Editors||Editors assign, review and revise content for print or online publication in newspapers, magazines, books, broadcast news, websites and other media.||$58,770 per year||-1%|
|Technical Writers||Technical writers transform technical information into more easily digested material as they prepare journal articles, instruction manuals, technical guides and other supporting documents for distribution through various channels of communication.||$70,930 per year||11%|
|Public Relations Specialist||Public relations specialists use their writing skills to create and maintain a favorable public image for the individuals, companies or organizations they represent, which may include crafting print and/or online media releases and social media programs. If your online master’s in journalism program had a concentration in politics, you may work for government officials or agencies in a public relations capacity as a press secretary.||$59,300 per year||9%|
Journalists are part of a tight-knit group that offers support to
other professionals in all types of workplaces, from small-town
newspaper reporters to foreign correspondents working for major news
networks. Joining professional organizations provides the support new
journalists need to succeed with networking, training, mentoring, job
leads and other members-only benefits. Some notable organizations for
journalism professionals include:
Society of Professional Journalists:
As one of the most broad-based journalism organizations in the nation,
the SPJ strives to inspire and educate current and future journalists.
SPJ membership offers numerous benefits, including national and regional
conferences, numerous training programs, career support and job
listings, industry insights, professional publications and advocacy in
your chosen vocation.
National Press Club:
Designed for journalism, communications and public relations
professionals, the NPC is a vigorous advocate of freedom of press
nationally and worldwide. It offers numerous career development,
networking and social opportunities, including professional training and
workshops, internal newsletters, conferences and other members-only
Online News Association:
Intended especially for digital journalists, the ONA is a nonprofit
organization that connects journalism and technology. Benefits include
networking and training opportunities like volunteer-led local meetups, a
premier journalism industry conference, a career center, online
journalism awards and significant members-only discounts for events and
workshops from partner organizations.
Financing Your Online Master’s in Journalism
While online master’s in journalism programs typically cost less than
on-campus programs, paying for an advanced degree is still a financial
investment some students have trouble affording. Online students have
many of the same financial aid resources as traditional students. Start
by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to
learn about scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programs offered
through the federal government. Many states also use this form to see if
you qualify for state aid, but some require a separate form. There are
also numerous scholarships, fellowships and other financial assistance
available from a variety of professional organizations, nonprofits and
corporations, including some especially for online students. Review the
following resources for more information on financial assistance.
|Financial Aid for Graduate Students|
|Knowing Your Options|
|State Financial Aid Programs|
|White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarships|
Eligibility: All college students from all communications and journalism disciplines at any school; degree program must have an outdoor communications emphasis.
Eligibility: Full-time or part-time graduate students enrolled in a journalism program.
Award: $1,000 (renewable)
Eligibility: Full-time graduate students enrolled in a 2-year or 4-year accredited college, whose journalism program includes a concentration in sports journalism with a special interest in golf.