Earning an Online Journalism Degree

Journalists find, capture, and report news and information. The field has undergone significant change in recent years as the media through which news is disseminated have shifted dramatically. The growth of the internet and the ubiquity of mobile devices has led most readers to consume their news electronically. While print media and conventional broadcasts still exist, viewership and readership has declined noticeably. In turn, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts will drop 9% between 2014 and 2024. It’s not all doom and gloom for the field though: positions in web-based news reporting are projected to increase over the same period.

Today’s journalists must be prepared for the new job responsibilities required in the field. In addition to strong reporting and communication, you’ll need to develop a few multimedia skills, like recording, editing, and video production. Journalists should be just as prepared to record and edit a podcast as they are to write a breaking story.

If you’re thinking about a career in journalism, you might want to consider pursuing an online journalism degree. Online degrees are flexible and convenient for working professionals and traditional students alike. Classes are generally taught asynchronously, allowing you to study and prepare for exams at your own convenience, and the course material you’ll encounter in an online degree is identical to what you’d find on campus. If you’re interested in journalism, and want to learn more about distance education, be sure to read our guide to online programs in the field.

Online Journalism Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $7,201 18.63% 2 years $33,750 $43,500 7.7%
Bachelor's $19,769 6.82% 4 years $43,520 $53,989 6%
Master's $20,567 5.69% 2 years $42,881 $58,326 4%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

While some journalists can get their foot in the door with an associate degree, most hiring managers in the field want candidates with at least a bachelor’s. Pursuing a four-year journalism degree online not only gives you time to learn the craft, but also to build professional relationships that can help you land an internship or introductory position in the field. Furthermore, most bachelor’s degree online programs require students to intern at local news or publishing companies where they fact check and write copy, among other tasks.

From there, many journalists go on to pursue graduate work that lets them specialize in a particular subfield, and to develop a network of relevant contacts while they’re in school. While a graduate degree in journalism isn’t for everyone, there are a few benefits for master’s holders. More education often leads to better-paying, long term jobs in the field, and the loan default and unemployment rates decrease with each passing degree you obtain.

Online Journalism Degrees

/

Online Associate’s Degree in Journalism

An associate degree in journalism is a good way to launch your career: programs are only two years long, and tuition is much less expensive than it will be at a four-year school. There are a few entry level positions available to degree-holders, and while certain opportunities are shrinking, those with strong digital communication skills will have a leg up on their competition. A typical associate curriculum for journalism includes a number of general education courses combined with classes that cover the foundations of the field, including editing, the ethics of journalism, graphic design, and digital production.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Communication Studies; Digital, Radio, and Television Broadcasting; Graphic Communications

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Mass Communications, Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Publicist, Copywriter, Associate Correspondent, Technical Writer

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $35,000-$54,999

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Broadcast Technicians – 7% growth between 2014-2024
    Desktop Publishers – 21% decline between 2014-2024

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism

Like a two-year program, an online bachelor’s degree in journalism allows graduates to enter the field as writers, editors, and technicians. However, an applicant with a bachelor’s degree does have a few advantages over associate-degree holders. They are usually more knowledgeable in the fundamentals and nuances of the field, and they often have closer connections in the industry through internships or other work experience. Those with a bachelor’s degree are also generally able to find work quickly after graduation. This partially explains why bachelor’s degree-holders have substantially lower student-loan debt than journalists with just an associate degree.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    News Writing and Reporting; Ethics for Journalists and Media Professionals; E-Journalism; and Introduction to Advertising and Public Relations

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Journalism, English Composition, Mass Communications, Strategic Communications

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    News Reporter, Media Researcher, Magazine Writer, Photojournalist, and Public Relations Specialist

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $55,000-$74,000

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Reporters/Correspondents – 9% decline between 2014-2024
    Broadcast news analysts – 9% decline between 2014-2024
    Editors – 5% decline between 2014-2024
    Technical Writers – 10% growth between 2014-2024
    Writers and Authors – 2% growth between 2014-2024
    Public Relations Specialists – 6% growth between 2014-2024

Online Master’s Degree in Journalism

An online master’s degree in journalism allows you to pursue additional field experience and to specialize in a variety of subfields, such as television and radio, newspaper, or magazine reporting. Many students have worked in journalism for some time, and are returning to school to gain access to better paying jobs at bigger news outlets, or higher salaries in their current position. In a tight job market, a more accomplished degree may also help you stand out among a pool of applicants. And while an online master’s in journalism does cost more on average than a bachelor’s degree, graduate programs are usually better funded, allowing you to access grants and scholarships not offered to undergraduates.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Copy Editing, Opinion & Feature Writing, Investigative & Broadcast Reporting, Radio news Writing, Photojournalism

  • COMMON MAJORS

    News Media Journalism, Communication – New Media & Marketing, Public Relations & Advertising, Business Journalism

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Fundraising Writer, Editor, Public Information officer, Digital Journalist

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $55,000-$110,000

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Reporters/Correspondents – 9% decline between 2014-2024
    Broadcast News Analysts – 9% decline between 2014-2024
    Editors – 5% decline between 2014-2024
    Technical Writers – 10% growth between 2014-2024
    Writers and Authors – 2% growth between 2014-2024
    Public Relations Specialists – 6% growth between 2014-2024
    Fundraisers – 9% growth between 2014-2024

Online Doctorate Degree in Journalism

Like with master’s programs, a PhD in journalism program is designed for experienced specialists. Doctoral students generally want to either conduct research in the field itself or pursue a teaching career in higher education. The curriculum in a doctoral program is flexible, and independent research will be the primary focus during your time in school. Doctorate programs are well-funded, due in part to the small population of those interested in pursuing such a rigorous degree; doctoral candidates generally do not have to pay tuition.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Media Studies Research Methodology, Quantitative Media Research, Media Content Analysis, Contemporary Issues in Journalism, Advertising Theory

  • COMMON MAJORS

    DBA and PhD – Media Studies, Mass Communications, Journalism, Media Business Administration

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    College or University Professor, Research Consultant, Advertising Specialist, Journalism Education Program Administrator

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $55,000-$110,000 per year

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    Postsecondary Teachers – 13% growth between 2014-2024

Online Journalism Choose Your Career

Average Journalism Salaries

$70,240
$60,250
$56,010
$37,720

Technical Writers

Salary: $70,240
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
10% 52,000 Bachelor's N/A

Also called technical communicators, these writers research, create, and disseminate complex and specialized information in the form of manuals, how-to-guides, and other supporting documents. Most technical writers work for a company or corporation, ranging from truck manufacturers to clothing sales and beyond. Because the writing they produce is meant to make difficult information as clear and concise as possible, technical writers must have superb communication skills and a detailed knowledge of their topic. Industries are not static entities, and these writers must be dedicated and savvy enough to stay up to date on the latest technology in their field.

Writers and Authors

Salary: $60,250
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
2% 136,500 Bachelor's N/A

Writers and authors create content for a variety of media, including magazines, blogs, television scripts, and advertisements. Because they have opportunities to work in a variety of positions, writers must have the motivation to keep learning and the acuity to adapt to the needs of their employer. It’s important that writers and authors specialize in what they do: learning the conventions and trends of their genre(s) of choice allows them to establish authority in their writing — which is crucial for success and longevity.

Editors

Salary: $56,010
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-5% 117,200 Bachelor's N/A

Editors ensure that content is engaging, accurate, punctual, and grammatically correct. Experienced editors often generate story ideas for reporters to pursue. They’re also responsible for ensuring that any published articles meet their company’s journalistic and tonal standards. Good editors are curious and meticulous multi-taskers, able to keep up with ever-shifting demands placed on them by their employer and the public. They must be able to edit the work of other writers, fact-check submitted pieces, and ensure that any published material is both accurate and interesting.

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Salary: $37,720
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-9% 54,400 Bachelor's N/A

Journalists in these positions work for news media organizations, informing the public about important, breaking stories. They’re involved in every aspect of the news cycle, from research to reporting to any subsequent follow-ups on their story. While reporters and correspondents must supply traditional, fact-based coverage, broadcast news analysts are sometimes required to voice their opinion, particularly if they are experts in a certain field. Regardless of their particular assignments, these journalists must be motivated and persistent in order in order to get the information they want and to supply engaging and dynamic news stories. They must also have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as they’ll constantly be interacting with sources, community members, and other journalists.