What you need to know to major in journalism | Best colleges
A journalism major studies how to report, write, and deliver news to a particular audience. Journalism majors learn to research and interview, and then communicate the information they discover with clarity and precision.
It wasn’t that long ago that most journalism programs gave students the choice of print or broadcast tracks. Today, many programs have adapted to the changing news industry and consolidated their skills into a single track to teach writing and reporting for all mediums. Depending on the school and program, students may still specialize in areas such as broadcasting, data, investigative journalism, or political journalism. Students with a natural curiosity, a desire to communicate the truth, and an interest in research, interviewing, and storytelling should consider majoring in Journalism.
What is a major in journalism?
A journalism major is a practical field of study that trains students in research, reporting, and objective communication for print, web, or broadcast media. A journalism program typically includes a mix of classroom learning and hands-on experience to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the workforce directly after graduation. For example, students learn how to turn an idea into a packed story, supplemented with pictures or other media.
In addition to learning the basics of reporting and interviewing, students work to incorporate ledes, nut graphics, and quotes into a clear and compelling story. Students also develop editing skills and learn to adhere to the Associated Press Stylebook, which is the style guide commonly used by journalists.
Those who specialize in broadcast journalism have a slightly different experience, learning to write, edit, and report for television. A traditional broadcast journalism track covers public speaking, live and studio interviews and reporting, as well as news production.
Journalism majors usually also do an internship, which gives them practical, real-world experience and helps them develop their professional networks as they move into the workforce.
Common courses journalism majors can expect
The core curriculum of a Journalism major introduces them to American media institutions, mass media, basic writing skills, multimedia tools, news gathering and judgment, etc. Students can take a Philosophy or Principles of Journalism course that offers a history of journalism, as well as how it has evolved over the years. Journalism majors take reporting and writing courses, which include researching stories and sources, interview techniques, and the inner workings of story building and editing.
In addition to the basic requirements, journalism majors go deeper into subjects of their choice, such as data journalism, digital audio production, opinion writing, publication design, and feature writing.
Students also learn about the impact of journalism on society through courses such as Communications Law, which provides an overview of the U.S. legal system with respect to media laws and regulations, and covers topics such as the copyright and libel. And journalism ethics gives students an understanding of journalists’ responsibility to society and allows them to explore the ethical dilemmas they will face in the field.
Many programs, such as the Missouri School of Journalism and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, require students to practice their skills in a magazine, newspaper, website, or television station or radio. Some programs require students to choose a concentration or minor outside of journalism or communications school, such as political science or history.
How to know if this major is right for you
- Do I have a curiosity for the world and for people? Journalists find themselves asking questions about the world around them which become the basis for ideas and article pitches.
- Does the prospect of interviewing people turn me on or terrify me? Reporting, which involves finding sources and talking to people who sometimes don’t want to talk to you, is a key part of the business.
- Do I like to organize information and communicate it clearly and precisely? The practice of putting pen to paper is something that should invigorate a prospective journalism student.
What can I do with a major in journalism?
Journalism majors can take a number of different career paths in magazines, newspapers, websites, or TV shows. They can choose to work as reporters, editors, or content producers. The skills of a communications journalism major translate well into other areas as well, such as public relations and marketing.
Although the industry has taken a hit in recent years, there is still a great need for journalists. As Jim Lehrer, the late co-founder and presenter of PBS NewsHour, once told the Columbia Journalism Review: “In my opinion, there is a need and a clear need for more journalism now than there is. there never was.
Schools offering a major in journalism
Check out a few schools that offer journalism specializations below, and find the full list of schools here that you can filter and sort.
Name of the school
|Northwestern University||Evanston, Illinois||# 9 in national universities|
|Washington University at St. Louis||St. Louis, Missouri||# 14 in national universities|
|University of Washington and Lee||Lexington, Virginia||# 11 in National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|University of Richmond||Univ. from Richmond, Virginia||# 22 in National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Butler University||Indianapolis, IN||# 1 in Midwest Regional Universities|
|College of the Ozarks||Point Lookout, Missouri||# 1 in Midwest Regional Colleges|
|High Point University||Highest point, North Carolina||# 1 in Southern Regional Colleges|
|Taylor University||Highlands, IN||# 1 in Midwest Regional Colleges|
|Bradley University||Peoria, Illinois||# 2 in Midwest Regional Universities|
|California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo||San Luis Obispo, California||# 2 in Western Regional Universities|