Earning a Master's in Journalism Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Journalism Online?

As the field of journalism continues to change, the media needs qualified journalists with passion to cover news that matters. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts will decline by 9% from 2016 to 2026. However, graduates with an online master's degree in journalism can set themselves apart from those who possess only a bachelor's degree.

Journalists who pursue a master's degree in journalism devote their careers to upholding the First Amendment. A master's degree in journalism prepares graduates to work as editors, journalists, and marketing managers. What's more, the flexibility and accessibility of online courses allow journalists with busy work schedules to find the time to go to school. Keep reading this guide to learn what you can do with a master's degree in journalism.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Journalism Graduates

Master's in Journalism Salary

With a master's degree in journalism, journalists can land lucrative, fulfilling positions. The exact salary a journalist receives depends on numerous factors, including where he/she works. For example, the highest-paying locations for journalists include the District of Columbia, with an average annual salary of $88,350; New York, with an average annual salary of $76,590; and Alaska, where journalists earn an average annual salary of $65,440. Nationwide, journalists receive an average annual salary of $51,550.

A journalist's work experience also plays a role in his/her salary. For instance, entry-level journalists receive an annual salary of $35,000 and journalists with 20 or more years of experience receive $54,000.

Top-Paying States for Reporters and Correspondents

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 1,960 $88,350
New York 4,240 $76,590
Alaska 90 $65,440
California 3,570 $55,070
New Jersey 790 $55,000
United States 38,790 $51,550

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Writers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $35,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $43,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $51,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $54,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Journalism Careers

While most journalists tend toward extroversion, the field attracts various personalities. Online master's degree in journalism graduates go on to work as journalists, reporters, and editors. Graduates also find work in public relations, fundraising, advertising, and marketing. What job a graduate lands ultimately depends on his/her personality, work habits, abilities, and experience. Read more below to explore possible occupations open to online master's degree in journalism graduates.

Journalist

Annual Median Salary: $39,484

Projected Growth Rate: -9%

Journalists generally need a bachelor's degree in journalism. As the field becomes more competitive, they sometimes need a master's degree in order to stand out. Journalists report, cover, and write about news. They also pitch ideas, collect data, and conduct interviews. They work from desks in newsrooms and/or report from the field.

Reporter, Correspondent, or Broadcast News Analyst

Annual Median Salary: $40,910

Projected Growth Rate: -9%

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts work for newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. They work under tight deadlines, investigating stories and reporting in a timely manner while maintaining accuracy and balance. Broadcast news analysts serve as news anchors or commentators, appearing on television to provide insight on specific subjects.

Editor

Annual Median Salary: $58,770

Projected Growth Rate: -1%

In the field of journalism, editors copy edit articles, correct spelling and grammar, and ensure articles follow Associated Press style. Editors also fact-check articles and assign stories to staff reporters and freelance writers. They work with designers to lay out newspapers or edit TV and radio stories. Editors may also manage the newsroom and interview new employees.

Public Relations or Fundraising Manager

Annual Median Salary: $111,280

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

With a bachelor's in journalism, public relations, or communications, graduates can become public relations or fundraising managers. Sometimes these positions require a master's degree. Public relations managers oversee the public image of their clients. Fundraising managers supervise campaigns or plan donation events to raise funds for an organization.

Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Manager

Annual Median Salary: $129,380

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Advertising, promotions, or marketing managers work on staff or as freelancers. To land a job, they typically must have a bachelor's degree in journalism or advertising. While employers generally do not require a master's degree, many ask that candidates have work experience. Their daily duties may include negotiating advertising contracts or designing advertising and promotional campaigns.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Journalism Program?

Before you invest in an online master's degree in journalism, you likely want to know what you can expect to learn in a program. Curricula differ from school to school, but most core classes remain the same. See the sample classes listed below to learn more.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Journalism

Mass Media Issues and Ethics

This class examines the moral and ethical issues that journalists often face. Through critical thinking and applied reasoning, students learn how to report and cover issues in an ethically responsible manner. The lessons learned in this course prepare students for careers as journalists and editors.

Mass Media Law

This course focuses on freedom of speech, freedom of information, and freedom of the press. Students become intimately familiar with libel law, defamation, and fair use. The class also looks at the legal constraints reporters face while gathering and publishing news. Reporters and editors can apply the knowledge gained in this class to their jobs.

Multimedia Reporting

In the age of digital media, journalists and editors must know how to use audio, photography, and video to tell stories. More and more journalists also use their smartphones for work, so this course touches on mobile reporting and the use of apps such as Videolicious and Audacity to make video content. This course provides skills journalists can use in the field.

Race, Class, and Gender in the Media

How the media represents race, class, and gender helps shape the public's perception. In this class, journalism master's students learn about problems that arise when stereotypes appear in the media. This class benefits students who want to work as public relations specialists, journalists, correspondents, and editors.

Photojournalism

A class in photojournalism provides hands-on training for future journalists, reporters, and correspondents. Students learn how to compose photo essays and delve into the history of documentary photography in the news. Students also learn about copyright laws, grants, and contracts.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Journalism Prepares For

  • Teaching Certification: An online master's degree in journalism prepares students for teaching certification. Generally, graduates interested in teaching must complete additional teaching courses, finish supervised teaching hours, and pass an exam. Some states require only that teachers have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college, while other states require teachers to have a master's degree.

  • Cornell University Digital Marketing Certification Program: Graduates who earn a master's in journalism online can earn this certification, which prepares media professionals to work as advertising, promotions, or marketing managers. Students identify strategies to help them improve content marketing and paid advertising. This online program takes two months to complete and requires students to take four two-week classes.

Professional Organizations and Resources

The competitive field of journalism requires journalists to make connections for stories and career opportunities. Professional organizations offer the best opportunities for journalists to network. Joining a professional organization also allows students or recent graduates to find scholarships and access job boards. Additionally, members can pay discounted fees for professional journalism conferences and workshops.

  • Society of Professional Journalists: SPJ provides a forum for journalists, offering career support and discounted rates to conferences. Students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and awards. SPJ's website also offers members access to training videos, webinars, and a freelancer directory.

  • Public Relations Society of America: PRSA aims to make communications professionals smarter, better prepared, and more connected. Members can attend workshops, certificate programs, and webinars. PRSA also provides access to an online community and access to conferences, events, and a member directory.

  • National Association of Black Journalists: Founded in 1975, NABJ serves to strengthen the connection between black journalists. The NABJ Media Institute also provides career workshops and fellowships for its members. Members can access the career center to post their resume and find jobs.

  • National Press Club: The NPC, established in 1908, offers fledgling journalists and veteran media professionals the opportunity to connect through training events, workshops, and speaking series. Members can also use the club facilities in Washington, D.C.

  • Asian American Journalists Association: AAJA has worked since 1981 to promote diversity in newsrooms. Members can take part in social events through local chapters, workshops, and national networking events. Student members can access fellowships and scholarships through the AAJA Career Center.

  • Committee to Protect Journalists: Founded in 1981, CPJ protects the freedom of the press and defends the rights of journalists around the globe. Its resource center offers information on journalist security and access to organizations that help reporters.

  • Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication: ASJMC connects faculty from about 190 journalism and mass communication programs. Members can access the JMC directory and receive discounts to conferences and workshop.

  • Journalist's Resource: Headquartered in Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, this resource curates research for journalists. Journalists can also find advice on everything from conducting interviews to covering Islam.

  • Freedom of Information Act: Journalists can find everything they need to know about filing a Freedom of Information Act request on the U.S. Department of State's website. The website also explains how to find information about FOIA exemptions and exclusions.

  • American Society of News Editors: The ASNE works to promote leadership in journalism and protect the freedom of the press. Members receive discounted rates for the annual convention and conferences. They can also access the free legal hotline to find answers to their legal questions.