2020 Best Online Journalism Degrees

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated October 23, 2020

Investigating and reporting news is a proud tradition that’s inextricably linked to democracy and civil rights. Students who decide to pursue online degrees in journalism will learn the essential skills of properly sourcing information, expertly interviewing sources, carefully interpreting facts, and writing well, along with delivering the news through modern communications media. Those who opt for careers in broadcasting will also learn to present themselves on camera. Reporters typically earn a median salary of around $36,000, while broadcast reporters earn significantly more, approximately $53,000. The following is a ranked list of the best schools offering online degrees in journalism. Continue reading to learn more about choosing an accredited journalism program, careers in the field, and answers to frequently asked questions.

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Journalism Degrees

2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in Journalism Badge

Distance students seeking bachelor's degrees in journalism will find that these 24 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. Ranked #1 is New England College, with a reported mid-career salary of $100,777. Tuition for New England College's BA in Communication/Journalism is $12,150 per year. Southern Utah University, ranked #2, offers an annual tuition of only $6,006.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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2020 Online Colleges Offering Journalism Degrees - Ranking Details

Online Journalism Degree Overview & Career Information

There are a variety of online degree and certificate programs available for those interested in pursuing a career in journalism. Online degrees in journalism include associate degrees, Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism, Master’s of Arts in Journalism, and online journalism certificate programs. Some journalism degrees are part of a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication, which encompasses not only journalism but broader communication topics.

Those seeking entry-level positions in the field of journalism may be interested in obtaining an online associate degree in journalism, which can be completed in two years, or completing an online certificate program, which can be finished in one year. A Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism is a four-year degree program that will provide a broader liberal arts educational background while focusing on journalism. A Master’s of Arts in Journalism will require an additional two years of coursework after completing a bachelor’s degree but will provide more specialized training.

Journalism programs teach students to write, edit, and report articles for broadcast or publication. Classes also include media and ethics and basic business concepts, such as advertising, communications, marketing, and public relations. A degree or certificate in journalism will prepare students for a variety of careers in media. Students obtaining a degree in journalism may enter the workforce prepared with skills in communication, research, writing, and reporting.

Online Associate Degrees in Journalism

Online associate degrees in journalism are a good starting point for students interested in pursuing careers in media. Jobs in this field include newspaper, radio, or television reporter as well as careers in online reporting and social media.


An associate degree in journalism will focus on teaching students to communicate effectively and write critically, providing a way for them to qualify for entry-level positions open to journalists. Classes include a variety of journalism courses focusing on writing and communication, media and ethics, as well as some basic business concepts such as advertising, marketing, and public relations.

Program Requirements

Online associate degrees in journalism can be found at community colleges, technical colleges, online colleges, and universities. The only prerequisite for an associate degree in journalism is a high school diploma or GED. Programs are typically 60 credits and take two years to complete. Classes taken when obtaining an associate degree can often be transferred to a four-year university with the credit applied toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree, should students decide to pursue that at a later date.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Journalism

An online bachelor's degree in journalism can help prepare students for careers in print, online, and broadcast journalism.


Almost every online bachelor's degree in journalism will have a liberal arts component in addition to journalism-specific coursework. General education requirements typically include courses in math, science, social science, and the arts and humanities. Classes that are specific to journalism often include writing and the ethics of reporting as well as broader topics such as web development, and photo and video editing. Some schools offer internships, allowing you to gain experience in your field as you pursue your degree.

Program Requirements

Online bachelor's degrees in journalism typically require the equivalent of around 120 semester hours, or 4 years of study. Such programs can be found at a variety of public and private colleges and universities. Most schools require a high school diploma or GED for admission as well as letters of recommendation and application essays. Students may also be asked to submit SAT or ACT scores, depending on the school.

After completing an online journalism bachelor's degree, some students may go straight into the workforce. Others may pursue a master's degree to further their careers and their journalism expertise.

Online Master's Degrees in Journalism

The online Master’s of Arts in Journalism allows students who already have a bachelor’s degree to focus on a specific area of study and gain greater expertise. Students can expand their critical thinking skills and be able to evaluate situations in a greater context in regard to their reporting. In addition, some schools offer concentrations in specific subjects, such as politics or arts and culture.


Master’s coursework will allow students to expand their critical thinking skills and often focus on a specialized area of study. Examples of areas of concentration include interactive media, media management, and strategic communication. Students in an online master's degree program in journalism can expect to take classes in qualitative and quantitative research methods, journalism theory, content strategy, and multimedia.

Program Requirements

Online journalism master’s programs are offered at colleges and universities. Master’s programs typically involve two years of coursework, ranging from 37-48 semester credits, as well as a master’s thesis. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply to a master’s program. The application process usually requires a writing sample or essay, letters of recommendation, as well as GRE scores. A resume may also be required for those students who already have work experience in the field.

Online Certificates in Journalism

Undergraduate and graduate online certificate degrees in journalism are available at a variety of accredited schools. These programs generally take one to two years to complete, depending upon the level of certification and whether the student commits to a full-time or part-time program.

Online journalism certificate programs at the undergraduate level are good choices for students who are majoring in a field that requires writing, such as mass communication, public relations, marketing, or sociology. In these types of certificate programs, students typically will study different styles of journalism and develop their own style and voice. English and media studies may also be included in the coursework. Undergraduate certificate programs generally require completion of an introductory, college-level journalism or English course, and students may need to maintain at least a 2.0 to 2.75 GPA. A passing grade in foreign language and math courses may also be required. To enter a graduate-level certificate program, you must have already obtained a bachelor's degree.

A graduate certificate program is primarily designed for journalist professionals seeking to advance or enhance their current careers. Often these programs focus on a specific journalistic specialty, such as immersion journalism or feature writing. Those enrolled in an online graduate certificate program focus on techniques, research, and analysis in journalism. Program coursework may include copy editing, business journalism, investigative journalism, and more.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Journalism Degree

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) provides accreditation to journalism and mass communication programs. Programmatic accreditation from ACEJMC helps to ensure that a journalism degree program offered by a college or university meets established standards. The curriculum of journalism and communications degrees can vary from school to school. Attending a school that has been ACEJMC-accredited ensures that you are receiving a degree that meets or exceeds the quality level set forth by the ACEJMC.

Regional accreditation is also important to look for when deciding which school to attend. Agencies that offer regional accreditation have been approved by the United States Department of Education and they work to ensure that entire academic institutions are meeting nationally agreed upon standards for higher education. Attending a regionally accredited school will make you eligible for federal financial aid and will help to ensure that you can transfer credits between intsitutions of higher education.

Online Broadcasting Degrees

For individuals interested in working in front of or behind a broadcasting camera, a broadcast journalism degree may be the right fit. With behind-the-scenes career options that include writing, editing, and producing, or center stage careers as a news anchor, broadcast journalism programs provide technical and practical experience. The diversity of the program affords students the ability to combine critical thinking and masterful storytelling to reach diverse audiences through ethical reporting.

Bachelor's coursework includes newsgathering fundamentals, media research and analysis, television news reporting, and information graphics and visualization. Applicants typically must submit documentation of high school transcripts or GED, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation. This degree, along with an internship, is a good choice for students pursuing positions as news anchors, reporters, content writers, station managers, or production assistants.

Professionals with three or more years of experience may pursue a graduate degree. A master's degree program allows individuals to choose a specialty area to focus on, including long-form audio and video documentaries, online multimedia news production, or app creation, among many others. A doctoral degree in broadcast journalism may prepare a professional for the field of academia and administration, as well as positions in media entities, strategic communication firms, and corporations. Master's and doctoral degree students complete a thesis or a dissertation respectively.

Careers in Journalism

Many students who pursue an online journalism degree look to standard forms of media in hopes of entering the field as a newspaper, television, or magazine reporter. However, with the ever-expanding world of new media, a wide variety of careers are available to those who graduate with a journalism degree.


Editors are often employed by newspapers, magazines, and publishing companies to oversee the overall content and quality of work submitted by reporters and writers. Many times, editors assign stories or articles to their contributors and proceed to suggest new directions in the piece or shape a developing story with new ideas. They are also often responsible for making sure finished work is presented without mistakes and that it meets all necessary guidelines. In addition to checking the work of others, editors may submit their own articles or stories for publication. As mass media steadily expands, there is a growing need for editors at online magazines and newspapers.

News Analyst

News analysts often work closely with editors. They advise journalists about trending subjects and the bigger picture of a story. Analysts work with editors to shape a newspaper or news program with interesting content that will hold audience attention. They often weigh public interest in a story with the media's obligation to keep the public informed of current events. News analysts may also write their own columns or appear on the broadcast to directly share their insight on current events with the public.


Journalists working on the front lines to gather news often either work on regular beats or take assignments from an editor. Reporters follow up on stories, conduct interviews, gather facts, and produce quality research that is transformed into stories by editors and staff writers in the newsroom. Broadcast news reporters, however, often directly deliver their research and findings to the audience via remote broadcasts.

Public Relations Specialist

Publicists manage publicity for individuals, businesses or corporations. The majority of pubic relations specialists handle multiple clients in a private practice. Their primary functions are to present a positive public image for the individual or business, generate press coverage, and serve as a bridge between clients, media, and the public. A successful publicist manages campaigns, writes press releases, and performs a variety of other public relations functions.

Major strides and advances in media have opened up a wide pool of tools and career opportunities to those interested in a journalistic career. This demanding field requires commitment and diligence to be successful. Prospective journalism students would do well to interview local professionals about industry trends, typical work days, and other industry-related issues before deciding if journalism is the right career path.

Frequently Asked Questions About Journalism Degrees

What is the career outlook for journalists?

The demand for new journalists is admittedly declining. Due to major shifts in the news media industry, including many mergers and the rise of the internet, news media outlets are now able to consolidate their resources, which means fewer jobs for journalists. However, the skills and knowledge acquired while pursuing an online degree in journalism are transferable to many other professions. The ability to research, analyze, and synthesize information and to effectively communicate are extremely useful, especially for careers in marketing and communications.

How much can I expect to earn as a journalist or reporter?

According to ONET Online, the annual median salary is $46,270 for reporters. Demand for journalism professionals has decreased significantly over the last decade, and is projected to continue declining slowly at a rate of about -2% over the next eight years.


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