Journalism Degree Guide | Salary & Requirements 2023

Written by James Mielke
Published on January 15, 2023 · Updated on January 16, 2023

Journalism Degree Guide | Salary & Requirements 2023

Written by James Mielke
Published on January 15, 2023 · Updated on January 16, 2023

What Is Journalism?

Whether you work for a newspaper, television news, blog, or podcast, the skills that these news and content creators use rely on the same foundational skills. From writing and reporting to storytelling and effective interviewing, these skills are indispensable for those in various news, media, and storytelling careers.

Throughout this page, we explore journalism degrees, what you can expect, and what you can do with this surprisingly versatile degree. Additionally, we spotlight three standout online journalism programs to help jumpstart your college search.

Keep reading to learn more about this vital career, and see what a journalism degree can do for you.

What Is A Journalism Degree?

A journalism degree supplies students with the essential skills they need to begin a journalism career. Often a comfortable academic home for strong writers and critical thinkers, journalism programs typically encompass a 120-credit curriculum that students can complete in about four years. Students can expect to encounter foundational journalism classes like theseL

  • News writing
  • Journalism ethics
  • Iinterviewing
  • Reporting

Additionally, most programs strongly encourage students to complete an internship at an approved news or media organization. Let’s dig a bit deeper into what you can expect from a journalism program.

What to Expect at a School of Journalism

Types of Journalism Classes at a School of Journalism

When reviewing prospective journalism programs, you'll notice that academic requirements vary. That said, you'll inevitably notice some similarities, too. The best journalism programs provide you with the theoretical knowledge and practical professional skills that prepare you for a journalism career. We spotlight some common journalism classes below:

  • Principles of Journalism
  • Media Ethics
  • News Writing and Reporting
  • Data Journalism
  • Digital Media Production
  • Multimedia Writing
  • Intro to Broadcast Journalism
  • Investigative Reporting

Skills Learned in a Journalism Degree Program

Even though the media landscape is unrecognizable compared to thirty years ago, the foundational elements, skills, methods, and ethics of journalism are still relevant today. The best journalism programs evolve similarly to keep up with a rapidly changing digital landscape, offering degree-seekers the skills they need to compete in the modern journalism marketplace. We spotlight some skills that students hone as they journey through journalism school.

  • Writing
  • Data Research
  • Interviewing
  • Storytelling
  • Social Media
  • Editing
  • Digital Skills
  • Photography
  • Video
  • Journalism Ethics

How Long Does it Take to Get a Journalism Degree?

The time it takes to earn your journalism degree can vary, but full-time undergraduate students typically graduate in about four years. On the other hand, part-time students inevitably take much longer to complete their degrees. For students wanting to graduate as quickly as possible, online programs can provide year-round coursework and accelerated options.

The academic path for students with an associate degree or past undergraduate coursework often looks quite a bit different from first-time undergrads. These students can complete degree requirements in just a few semesters. 

Journalism Degree Specializations

While journalism leans on various foundational skills, the field is broad enough to encompass various academic and professional specializations. The academic path for students pursuing broadcast journalism can look significantly different from those tackling sports journalism. We spotlight some common journalism degree specializations below.

  • Investigative Reporting
  • Broadcast Journalism
  • Sports Journalism
  • Digital Journalism
  • International Journalism
  • Multimedia Journalism
  • Feature and Magazine Journalism

Journalism Certification and Training

While working as a journalist doesn't require any specific certifications or licenses, earning a degree in journalism can arm you with the skills you need to get your foot in the door and thrive professionally. Throughout your journalism program, you will hone various digital skills while learning the ins and outs of journalistic writing, research, interviewing, and editing.

What Can I Do With A Journalism Degree?

A degree in journalism not only prepares you for a journalism career, but it helps you develop a professional toolbox that applies to other fields as well. Journalism graduates commonly work as freelance writers, public relations professionals, and technical writers. Journalism grads also utilize their skills while working for newspapers, podcasts, television, and magazines.

Additionally, Bachelor's in Journalism graduates often pursue graduate-level degrees in communications, public relations, media communications, and journalism. 

Journalism Salary and Career Information

Journalism has certainly changed over time. As it has been forced to evolve in a digital world, the number of journalism jobs has continued to decline over the past couple of decades and is projected to decline by 9% between 2021-2031—a loss of over 4,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary of $48,370 for journalists.

And while journalism is a noble profession vital to a functioning democracy, college students interested in a growing career might want to look elsewhere. That said, idealists passionate about the press will inevitably figure out how to make a journalism career work.

Traditional journalism careers may be in decline, but other careers are projected to grow at or faster than the national average. Writers, editors, and public relations professionals can all expect their fields to grow modestly over the next decade. In addition to job growth, these professionals tend to make more than journalists who are just beginning their careers.

Journalism Career Paths

From public relations to freelance writing, the career options for journalism grads are more varied than you might think. We spotlight some vital salary and job growth data below.

  • Median Salary: $48,370 
  • Career Outlook: -9% (2021-2031)
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Journalists work for groups spanning from blogs to news networks and cover local, national, and international news.

  • Median Salary: $62,800 
  • Career Outlook: +8% (2021-2031)
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

Whether working with individuals or large organizations, PR specialists craft, manage, and maintain their client's image.

  • Median Salary: $69,510 
  • Career Outlook: +4% (2021-2031)
  • Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

These professionals create written content for everything from magazines to blogs.

Outstanding School Of Journalism Programs In U.S.

Finding the “best” schools for a certain major is a tough undertaking. Here at Universities.com, we’ve actually put together a “Top 10 Schools For Journalism” ranking just for you. However, we’ve also highlighted 3 outstanding programs below that have really invested in their schools of journalism to offer a fantastic degree program to their students. So here are some programs we’d like to highlight.

  1. Penn State—World Campus

The Penn State World Campus is home to numerous online programs, including a standout Bachelor's in Digital Journalism and Media. This flexible, 120-credit program tackles an ever-evolving professional landscape and prepares students for various careers, including writers, marketing specialists, and digital journalists.

Online learners complete core classes such as basic news writing skills, principles of multimedia journalism, and news media ethics. Prospective students must hold a high school diploma or GED with a minimum 2.0 GPA. 

  1. Texas State University

Based in San Marcos, Texas State University is a public research institution home to a Bachelor's in Journalism that students can complete entirely online. In addition to core journalism coursework, online learners can pursue a specialization in sports media. 

Throughout this 120-credit online curriculum, degree-seekers complete required classes, including introduction to mass communication, fundamentals of digital media, and media law and ethics. In addition to traditional coursework, students are also encouraged to complete an internship at an approved site.

  1. Colorado State University

Established in 1870, Colorado State University offers a standout online journalism degree that full-time students complete in about four years. Online students hone research and editing skills while developing digital skills that are vital for advancement in journalism careers.

Throughout this 120-credit journalism bachelor's, students complete 42 credits of upper-division journalism classes. Core coursework covers topics such as news writing, media in society, visual communication, and online storytelling. Before graduation, students complete an internship and a degree-culminating capstone class.

Online Journalism Degree Programs

Especially for working and non-traditional students, online programs dramatically expand access to higher education. While offering the same rigor and course content as in-person programs, a virtual degree allows you to complete course requirements while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, online programs often cost less than in-person options. 

How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?

The time it takes to earn your online journalism degree can vary between programs, but most full-time undergraduates can graduate in about four years. When reviewing prospective programs, be sure the online delivery aligns with your scheduling needs. 

Some programs utilize an asynchronous delivery where online learners tackle coursework at their own pace. Conversely, synchronous programs maintain scheduled classes that students attend virtually at a specific time each week. Additionally, some programs can utilize a blend of these two online deliveries. Some online programs also offer a hybrid option where students complete both online and on-campus coursework.

The length of your online journalism classes can also vary. Some online programs boast 7-week classes while others align more closely with the traditional fall and spring semester schedule. 

Next Steps To Get Started In A Journalism Program

The admissions process can feel daunting, but taking steps to prepare can ease your mind while simultaneously boosting your chances of being admitted into your top school. From college prep in high school to extracurricular activities, keep reading to see how you can make the college admissions process stress-free.

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED
  2. Take a college prep curriculum, including AP classes
  3. Hone your writing skills
  4. Maintain a high GPA
  5. Maintain an active extracurricular schedule
  6. Volunteer
  7. Seek out schools that mirror your academic and career goals

Admissions Requirements for Journalism Degree Programs

Admission requirements inevitably vary between schools, but here are some elements that you can expect across applications. Keep reading as we list some requirements and materials you'll likely encounter as you apply for journalism programs.

Be ready to apply online. Additionally, some schools utilize the Common App, allowing you to apply to multiple schools simultaneously.
Whether you're transferring from another college or applying as a recent high school graduate, you'll need to provide official transcripts from all past schools. Sometimes there is a small fee required.
Grade point average admission requirements can vary, but a GPA threshold you'll see consistently is a cumulative 3.0. That said, don't be discouraged if you fall short of that. You can make up for it in other ways.
Recommendation letters are an excellent way to enhance your applications. Seek out people who can vouch for your college readiness and character. Common letter writers include teachers, counselors, coaches, and religious leaders.
Although SAT and ACT scores are falling out of favor in determining your college readiness, some schools still require them. Additionally, above-average test scores can offset GPAs that fall short of school requirements.
Your personal statement is where you get to showcase your writing skills while also highlighting your personal story, goals, and what makes you a quality candidate.
Colleges and universities look for well-rounded individuals. A resume allows you to highlight any work experience, volunteer work, and any other extracurricular activities.

Journalism Scholarships

Whether you attend online or on campus, earning your college degree typically requires a significant investment of time and money. Thankfully you have access to various financial aid  resources, including loans, grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and tuition reimbursement initiatives. 

  1. First, complete the FAFSA to see what kind of government aid you qualify for. 

  2. Second, take a moment to review our handy scholarship tool. We've highlighted a few scholarships for journalism students below.

Pete Wilson Journalism Scholarship

Sponsored by the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, this scholarship is earmarked for journalism students from or studying in the San Francisco Bay area. This one-time scholarship awards at least $2,000 to full-time undergraduate or graduate students.

Valley Press Club

This annual award financially supports high school graduates from Western Massachusetts. Applicants must be current high school seniors committed to pursuing a journalism major or minor.

Bernard Kilgore Memorial Scholarship

This annual scholarship is awarded to high school students pursuing a journalism degree. Applicants must be current high school students and document at least two years of high school journalism experience.

Journalism Degree FAQ

  • Is journalism a good career?
    • It depends on how you define "good." Is journalism vital to the functioning of democracy? It absolutely is. That said, journalism might not be for you if you're searching for a growing field that offers generous salaries.
  • Is journalism hard?
    • If you have a knack for writing and enjoy telling stories, journalism won't feel oppressively challenging. Throughout a journalism program, you'll hone the necessary research, writing, and technical skills that can help jumpstart your journalism career.
  • How long does it take to complete a journalism degree?
    • For full-time degree-seekers, a Bachelor's in Journalism often takes about four years. Because some online programs offer accelerated options, ambitious students can complete a virtual journalism program more quickly. Students transferring with an associate degree can often complete requirements in about two years.
  • Can I complete a journalism degree online?
    • Yes. There are a number of quality online journalism programs that allow you to complete coursework from the comfort of your home. Remember, self-guided online programs require a lot of self-discipline, so be sure you're ready for an online program.
  • Are journalists in high demand?
    • Unfortunately, the job market for journalists is continuing to shrink. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that journalism jobs will decline by 9% by 2031. But that doesn't mean that a journalism degree is without value. The research, writing, critical thinking, and digital skills gained by journalism students apply to a long list of careers.