Earning an accelerated online Master’s in Journalism degree is an incredible opportunity for pre-service and in-service professionals in the field. With so many publications demanding qualified candidates, it is imperative that graduate education in journalism be within reach of any professional who is committed to completing it. And now with debate about biased reporting along with the mainstream use of the term “fake news,” it has never been more important to impart to these professionals the traditional theory and skills that have created some of the most respected journalists, reporters, anchors, and analysts in the country.
What are the Top 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Journalism Programs?
- Marshall University
- University of North Carolina
- University of South Florida
- Stephen F. Austin State University
- University of Memphis
- Ball State University
- University of Florida
- Michigan State University
- University of Missouri
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Keep reading for the full Top 25!
Journalists often work away from home, reporting on stories that take place in different parts of the country or even abroad; they work long hours, on the weekend, and never cease their reporting until the story is done. That means that their graduate degree must be flexible; online degrees with little to no residency requirements, as well as accelerated and affordable programs, make it much easier for them to complete this degree. This has created a need for an updated ranking of the best schools for students to earn an online Master’s in Journalism degree in America.
Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Accelerated Online Master’s in Journalism
To rank online journalism master’s programs, Fast Online Master’s editors researched trusted, accredited schools to find online programs with low cost and accelerated options. We rank programs using their current tuition rate, according to IPEDS data.
1. Marshall University
Marshall University’s Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications offers a Master’s in New Media Studies that is ACEJMC Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism & Mass Communications) accredited for the past four decades. Marshall University’s online Masters in Journalism requires candidates to finish a minimum of 30 graduate credits. The core curriculum for this Masters in Journalism online degree program includes law and ethics, depth reporting, and design thinking, among others. This online journalism masters degree offers electives in photojournalism, web design, and organized storytelling, to name a few.
Marshall University is a public higher learning institution in Huntington, West Virginia, that was established in 1837. Marshall University is organized into nine colleges/schools that serve more than 12,550 students online and on the school’s urban campus.
Highlight: The school’s name honors the 4th US Chief Justice, John Marshall.
2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Media offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) in Digital Communications that is among the most innovative of online Masters in Journalism degree programs. The University of North Carolina’s Masters in Journalism online degree program is available for part-time students in about 2.5 years. The University of North Carolina’s This online journalism masters degree does require a summer residency of five days and a two-day orientation. Applicants to UNC’s graduate journalism degree are required to have three years of professional experience.
Founded more than two centuries ago in 1789, the University of North Carolina is among the top schools in the United States and North Carolina’s flagship school. In addition, the University of North Carolina serves more than 30,050 students.
Highlight: The University of North Carolina is recognized to be one of the Public Ivies and a model of public higher education.
3. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida offers an MA in Digital Journalism and Design that is among the Sunshine State’s leading online Masters in Journalism degree programs. The Masters in Journalism online degree program from the University of South Florida requires the completion of 30 graduate credit units. Students enrolled in USF’s online journalism master’s degree can complete the degree in three semesters or just a bit over one year.
The University of South Florida is located on the west coast of Florida in Tampa. USF operates as a space-grant school that is also a member school of Florida’s state university system. USF is recognized to be the fourth-largest school in the Sunshine State, with a student body that exceeds 50,550 students each year.
Highlight: USF maintains several campuses in Tamp, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg, plus a robust distance-learning platform.
4. Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University offers an MA in Mass Communication with an academic specialty in Journalism that is one of the most innovative online Masters in Journalism degree programs in Texas. Stephen F. Austin State University’s Masters in Journalism online degree program offers a thesis, non-thesis, and media project for a culminating educational experience. Featured coursework for this online journalism masters degree includes topics in mass communication, media theory, media law & ethics, and media sales, to name a few.
Established as a teacher’s college in the 1920s by state legislation, Stephen F. Austin State University now operates as a comprehensive university comprised of eight colleges/schools offering programs in business, education, fine arts, agriculture, liberal/applied arts, science/math, and the graduate school.
Highlight: Stephen F. Austin State University’s student enrollment is approximately 13,050 students studying online and on-campus.
5. University of Memphis
The University of Memphis’s Department of Journalism and Strategic Media offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) in Journalism and Strategic Media that is a nationally ranked online Masters in Journalism degree program. The University of Memphis’s Masters in Journalism online degree program offers these concentrations – visual media, storytelling & news, mass media research, and integrated strategic media. Core classes for this online journalism master’s degree include data journalism, advanced media writing, media research methods, and media theory core, to name a few.
The University of Memphis was established as a normal school to train teachers in western Tennessee in 1912. This public research school’s urban campus and online platform is home to approximately 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Highlight: The University of Memphis’s alumni includes athletes, actors, doctors, musicians, and politicians, among others.
6. Ball State University
Ball State University offers an MA in Journalism that is among the leading online Masters in Journalism degree programs in Indiana. This Masters in Journalism online degree program is AEJMC accredited and available to both part-time and full-time students. Enrolled students in Ball State University’s online journalism master’s degree complete coursework in data journalism, media analytics, literary journalism, eye-tracking research, data visualization, and content strategy.
Founded by two brothers more than a century ago, in 1918, Ball State University now serves more than 21,450 students on its 1,100+ acre campuses in Muncie, Indianapolis, and Fishers. Ball State University is comprised of seven colleges/schools offering programs in architecture, business, communication, fine arts, health, science, and education.
Highlight: Ball State University is ranked among the best midwestern schools by the Princeton Review.
7. University of Florida
The University of Florida’s College of Journalism & Communications (CJC) offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) in Mass Communication among the leading online journalism master’s degree programs in Florida and beyond. These Masters in Journalism online degree programs offer academic specializations in analytics, political communication, web design, public relations, global strategic communication, and digital strategy. Classes for UF’s online Masters in Journalism degree program include video storytelling, mass communication theory, and foundations of communication, plus a capstone, to name a few.
The University of Florida (UF) was established in the 1850s under the Morrill Land Grant Act. In addition, UF serves more than 56,450 undergraduate and postgraduate students online and on the school’s campus.
Highlight: The University of Florida is organized into sixteen colleges/schools offering programs in business, law, medicine, engineering, and dentistry, to name a few.
8. Michigan State University
Michigan State University’s School of Journalism/College of Communication Arts & Sciences offers an online journalism master’s Graduate Certificate that requires ten credits to meet program completion guidelines. Classes for Michigan State University’s Masters in Journalism online degree program include journalism studies seminar, contemporary issues in journalism, and disruptions in journalism, among others. Graduates from this online Masters in Journalism degree program possess the skills required to understand how various media types may impact society at large.
Established under the Morrill Act in the 1850s, Michigan State University is a triple designation school – sea, space, and land grant. Michigan State University’s academic degrees and programs consistently rank among the best in the country. The student enrolment online and on the East Lansing campus is approximately 49,850 students.
Highlight: The first women were admitted to Michigan State University about two decades after the school was established.
9. University of Missouri
The University of Missouri offers an MA in Journalism with an academic emphasis in Interactive Media that can be completed 100% online. The University of Missouri’s online Masters in Journalism degree program requires candidates to complete 37 credit hours at the master’s level. Graduates of the University of Missouri’s Masters in Journalism online degree program find rewarding careers as a senior proposal coordinator, media relations manager, or writer/journalist, among others. Coursework for UM’s online journalism master’s degree program includes infographics, digital strategy and mass communication, and visual communication, among others.
The University of Missouri (MU) is the state’s flagship campus that was established under the Morrill Act in 1839. In addition to being a land-grant institution of higher education, the University of Missouri is a space-grant school and the first public institution of higher education located to the west of the Mississippi River’s western banks.
Highlight: The University of Missouri’s campus is also home to the state’s official historical society.
10. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The University of Nebraska Lincoln’s College of Journalism & Mass Communications offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) in Professional Journalism that is one of the leading and most innovative online Masters in Journalism degree programs in Nebraska. The University of Nebraska’s Masters in Journalism online degree program mandates degree candidates to complete 36 graduate semester units, which includes a six-credit professional project that is completed over the last two semesters of the program. The featured coursework for UM’s online journalism master’s degree program includes ethics and issues in mass communication, entrepreneurial journalism, and multi-platform journalism, to name a few.
Established in the 1860s, only a few years after Nebraska achieved statehood, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln is a land-grant and space-grant school that serves approximately 25,450 postgraduate and undergraduate students.
Highlight: The University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s athletes have won five national titles in volleyball.
11. Regent University
Regent University offers a Masters in Journalism online degree program that requires students to complete at least 33 graduate semester units to meet Regent’s graduation criteria. Regent University’s online Masters in Journalism degree program includes coursework in journalism technology tools, social media, news writing & reporting, story, popular culture & worldview, multimedia reporting, and mobile field and media research, to name a few. Additionally, Regent’s online journalism master’s degree program also requires a three-credit culminating directed project or thesis.
Regent University was founded in the 1970s and operates as a private evangelical Christian university. Regent University’s student enrollment is approximately 10,250 students, attending classes online and on the Virginia Beach campus.
Highlight: Regent University’s neo-Georgian architecture has placed it among the most beautiful campuses in the southern United States.
12. George Mason University
George Mason University offers an online Data Journalism Graduate Certificate that is among the leading programs in Virginia. George Mason University’s online Journalism program can be completed as a full-time or part-time student. This online journalism program from George Mason University requires the completion of 15 credit units, including these core courses – web-based GIS, selected topics in geography and science, and the public, among others.
George Mason University (GMU) is a public university that maintains several campuses across the northern portion of the state and a satellite facility located in South Korea. Founded in the late 1940s, George Mason University was originally an extension facility of the University of Virginia but now serves nearly 40,000 students each year.
Highlight: George Mason University offers students an impressive faculty-to-student ratio of 1 to 17.
13. Kent State University
Kent State University Center for Scholastic Journalism offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) for Journalism Educators that is among the most innovative Masters in Journalism online degree programs in Ohio and beyond. Degree candidates enrolled in KSU’s online Masters in Journalism degree program must finish a minimum of 33 graduate semester hours to meet KSU’s graduation criteria. Required coursework for this online journalism master’s degree program includes theory & societal role of mass media, teaching journalism ethics, and mass communication law & ethics, among others.
Kent State University is a public, space-grant higher learning institution that was founded more than a century ago, in 1910. Kent State University operates multiple campuses across Ohio, other states, and internationally in Italy.
Highlight: The total student enrollment across all campuses of Kent State University exceeds 35,750 students.
14. University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst offers an online Journalism Graduate Certificate that requires the completion of 16 to 17 graduate credits in five classes. UMass Amherst’s Masters in Journalism online degree program is taught by award-winning professors with professional journalistic experience. Students enrolled in this online Masters in Journalism degree program are required to take classes in news writing & reporting, journalism ethics, and introduction to journalism/news literacy, among others
UMass Amherst is one of the campuses of the Massachusetts state university system. Located in western Massachusetts in the beautiful Berkshires, UMass Amherst is also a member of the Five College Consortium with a student enrollment that exceeds 30,230 students.
Highlight: UMass Amherst is the state’s third-largest school, with only Harvard and Boston University having more students.
15. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama offers an MA in Journalism & Media Studies that is among the leading Alabama Masters in Journalism online degree programs. UA’s online journalism master’s degree program requires the completion of 31 graduate credits to meet the university’s criteria for graduation. In addition to a professional master’s culminating project, this online Masters in Journalism degree program includes core curriculum classes in the history of journalism, communication research methods, and contemporary issues in journalism, to name a few.
The University of Alabama operates as the state’s flagship school. The University of Alabama was founded more than 200 years ago, in 1820. The University of Alabama is also a space-grant and sea-grant higher learning institution with a student enrollment of approximately 37,650 students.
Highlight: The Tuscaloosa campus of the University of Alabama is home to a variety of historical landmarks and museums.
16. University of Colorado Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media Communication & Information offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) in Journalism Entrepreneurship recognized among the leading Colorado online Masters in Journalism degree programs. The University of Colorado’s Masters in Journalism online degree program is a professional degree with core classes that include journalism law and ethics and data journalism. Classes for the online journalism master’s degree program with the specialization include funding journalism in the 21st century and the practice of entrepreneurial journalism.
The University of Colorado (UC Boulder) is the flagship school and public ivy of the state of Colorado. Founded in 1876, the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus is home to more than 35,150 students each year.
Highlight: The University of Colorado athletes play as Buffaloes, who have won more than 25 national championships.
17. Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media & Culture offers a Master of Science (MS) degree program in Mass Communications-Multimedia Journalism that is one of Virginia’s most innovative and leading online Masters in Journalism degree programs. Degree candidates enrolled in this online journalism master’s degree program must complete a minimum of 30 graduate semester units. Feature core coursework in VCU’s Masters in Journalism online degree program includes communication research, digital production, media law & ethics, and topics mass communications, plus a capstone project, to name a few.
Founded in the 1830s as the medical extension of another local school, Virginia Commonwealth University is now a multiple campus university was more than 29,550 students attending classes online or on one of the Virginia Commonwealth University campuses.
Highlight: Virginia Commonwealth University is organized into eighteen schools and colleges.
18. University of Tennessee Knoxville
The University of Tennessee Knoxville offers an MS in Communication and Information – Strategic and Digital Communication. This UT online journalism master’s degree has no GRE requirement during application. Degree candidates enrolled in the University of Tennessee’s Masters in Journalism online degree program will take classes in social informatics, strategic communication tactics, interpersonal conflict, audience analytics, information architecture, web design, and information architecture, among others.
The University of Tennessee (UT Knoxville) was founded as Blount College in the 1790s, a couple of years before Tennessee achieved statehood. UT is a land and sun grand school with more than 30,350 students attending classes online and on the Knoxville campus.
Highlight: The University of Tennessee holds the distinction of is recognized to be the oldest secular higher learning institution situated to the west of the Continental divide.
19. National University
National University offers an MA in Journalism that is among the leading Masters in Journalism online degree programs on the west coast. The faculty for National University’s online Masters in Journalism degree program are recognized to be award-winning journalists. This coursework from National University’s online journalism master’s degree is delivered in four-week formats. National University is a military-friendly institution of higher education. Classes cover data journalism, enterprise reporting, and international journalism, to name a few.
National University is a multi-campus university headquartered in California. National University’s student enrollment nears 24,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students across its many campuses in California and its satellite facility in Nevada.
Highlight: National University was originally developed to meet the needs of non-traditional working learners in 1971. National University is comprised of six colleges/schools offering programs in education, business, engineering, health, and professional studies, among others.
20. St Bonaventure University
St Bonaventure University’s Jandoli Communication School offers a Master of Arts degree program (MA) in Sports Journalism that is recognized among the leading Masters in Journalism online degree programs in the Empire State. This online journalism master’s degree is ACEJMC accredited and considered a best value for New York State, according to US News. Students enrolled in St Bonaventure University’s online Masters in Journalism degree program can complete the degree in approximately 18 months, without any required campus visits.
Located in upstate New York, St Bonaventure University (Bona’s)was founded in the 1850s by Franciscan Brothers in Utica, New York. St Bonaventure University’s rural campus covers more than 500 acres and serves approximately 2,400 students each year.
Highlight: St Bonaventure University’s alumni include six Pulitzer Prize winners, including Dan Barry for investigative journalism and other journalistic achievements.
21. Full Sail University
Full Sail University offers an online Master’s in Journalism degree (MA) in New Media Journalism that can be completed entirely online. In addition, Full Sail University’s online journalism master’s degree program can be completed in as few as twelve months. Featured coursework for Full Sail University’s Master’s in Journalism online degree program includes research & investigation skills development, legal aspects of media, digital news production, new media publishing & distribution, public relations & reputation management, and writing for interactive media, to name a few.
Full Sail University is a for-profit school that was established in Ohio as a recording studio in the 1970s. The university moved to its current Winter Park location about a decade after its inception. FSU now serves more than 10,000 online and on-campus.
Highlight: Full Sail University focuses its academic programs on the production of film, audio, and media.
22. Georgetown University
Georgetown University offers an online Graduate Certificate in Journalism and Digital Media (known as the Communication Culture & Technology program) that is a leading program in the greater Washington DC area. Degree candidates for GU’s online Journalism program must finish 18 graduate academic credits to meet the university’s graduation criteria. Classes for Georgetown University’s online journalism program include journalistic content production, critical theory & contemporary media, plus an elective from a list of twenty options.
Georgetown University is a Roman Catholic (Jesuit) school located in the nation’s capital. It is recognized to be the oldest Catholic higher learning institution in the country, having a date of establishment in 1789.
Highlight: Georgetown University serves more than 18,900 students as one of the globe’s top schools.
23. Northeastern University
Northeastern University offers a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Digital Media that is one of Boston’s leading online Masters in Journalism degree programs. Northeastern University’s STEM-designated online journalism masters degree program is available to full and part-time students, with full-time students finishing in about 15 months. Featured classes for this Masters in Journalism online degree program include foundations of digital storytelling, web creation for content management systems and information technology & creative practice, plus a capstone, among others
Established in the late 1890s as evening classes at the local YMCA, Northeastern University now operates as a space-grant school with multiple campuses across the country and the world. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 27,250 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year.
Highlight: Northeastern University is recognized to be a ‘most selective’ institution of higher education.
24. Syracuse University
Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications offers a Master of Science (MS) degree program in Communications with an academic emphasis in Journalism Innovation that ranks as one of New York’s most innovative and leading online Masters in Journalism degree programs. This online journalism master’s degree program includes nine classes, two immersions, and one capstone project to meet SU’s criteria for graduation. Degree candidates can complete Syracuse University’s Masters in Journalism online degree program in less than 18 months. Core classes include media law, multimedia storytelling, and social media for public communicators, to name a few.
Syracuse University is located in Upstate New York. The school was founded in 1870 as a seminary in Lima, New York. Syracuse University is comprised of thirteen colleges/schools offering nationally recognized programs in library science, information studies, business, and communications, among others.
Highlight: Syracuse University’s alumni include an impressive list of Nobel Prize laureates, Pulitzer Price recipients, Rhodes Scholars, and Olympic medalists.
25. New York University
New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute offers an American Masters in Journalism online degree program that is available entirely online. New York University’s online journalism master’s degree program includes coursework like audio storytelling, reporting the news, and investigative reporting, to name a few. It is noted that part-time students enrolled in New York University’s online Masters in Journalism degree program must complete the graduate degree program within five years but has no residence or campus visit requirements.
New York University’s main campus is located in the heart of the iconic Greenwich Village. Established in 1831, NYU now serves 51,750 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year from its campuses across the world and online.
Highlight: New York University is recognized to have the largest student enrollment of any private institution of higher learning.
Why Should I Get My Master’s in Journalism Online?
An online Master’s in Journalism will take you beyond simply writing stories or creating reports. Journalism is the type of career that starts with a business description. The more experience you gain, the more you are able to create your own career path. Some choose television. Others choose radio or newspapers. With the introduction of the digital age, more and more people have started telling their stories or sharing ideas. Earning a journalism degree gives you the skills to tell a story or inform others of events in your world.
Investigating and researching involves being able to uncover important information. You must learn how to verify the information and make sure that your sources are credible. With an online Master’s in Journalism, you learn what it takes to conduct a proper interview and take notes that you can rely on to be accurate and concise. You learn how to create an outline and tell a story that flows naturally. The beauty of journalism is learning how to communicate and share important information with large groups of people.
Professionalism and ethics are key factors in what makes journalism such a trusted source of information. With an online Master’s degree in journalism, you will see the importance of ethics and how to protect your reputation. The professionalism you show while doing your job will speak volumes and it will allow those who follow you to trust you and rely on the information you provide in your content and photographs.
What Can I Do with a Master’s in Journalism?
There are several things you can do with an online master in journalism. One of the most common careers in journalism is reporting the news. Television, radio, newspapers, and magazines are all ways that news is relayed to the masses. Each medium has its own way of collecting, analyzing, and distributing content. Each method is also unique in how it presents the information to those who are interested. Investigative reports, sportscasters, news anchors, and disc jockeys all fall into these categories and can have quite interesting careers if they put their mind to it.
Journalism is also known for its numerous specializations. Some journalists report fashion, while others may find economics and financial reports more interesting. If you have a specific topic or subject in mind, writing for a magazine may be more along the lines of what you are interested in. With an online Master’s in Journalism, you will be able to gain the skills you need to attract a reader’s attention and hold it for as long as you need to.
If you are already working at a radio station, magazine, or any other type of journalistic publication, enrolling in an online Master’s in Journalism degree program is the best way to keep up your momentum. Earning a Master’s degree may be the next step in working your way up to a program manager or administrative assistant. When you start to work your way up, you get a new understanding of what it takes to manage any type of media outlet. Each one is different and once you are enrolled in your journalism degree program, you will begin to find out what skills and abilities are necessary.
How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Journalism?
The salary you earn as a journalist will greatly depend on what type of journalism you are involved in as well as how much experience you have. If you are just starting out and don’t have very much experience, you can expect to earn between $25,000 and $30,000 per year. If you take the opportunity to return to school and earn an online Master’s in Journalism, you may be able to boost your earning potential to around $75,000 to $100,000 per year.
When it comes to the type of journalism you choose, being a radio or television personality may lead to higher than expected earnings. You may be able to make even more if you choose a specialization and become proficient with it. The key is learning as much as you can and understand how to make the information you are sharing interesting and exciting. For those who choose to embrace the printed media forms, you can expect to earn more as your audience begins to expand.
Journalism is a type of career that you can pursue from almost any location. It is up to you how far you choose to take it. With the introduction of the internet and live streaming, you can create your own news or information channel. While you may not be paid while you are working for yourself, you may be able to find a job with a media outlet that likes your style and is willing to pay you for your skills and talents.