Technological advances have radically changed the way information makes its way around the world. The global appetite for news is increasing each day and new media channels are making their impact felt. With all of these changes, the one thing that has stayed the same is the need for trained journalists – individuals who can disseminate news and information in a responsible, objective, and engaging fashion.
If you have decided on pursuing a career in journalism, there are a few important decisions you need to make. First and foremost, before you begin the application process, the best journalism schools must be identified. After all, the right degree and qualifications will form the foundation upon which you can build a successful career as a journalist. So, which US schools offer the best journalism education and credentials? There are fewer rankings of journalism schools as compared to, say, business schools or law schools. In addition, the manner in which one measures the value of a journalism program may differ. While some prioritize the careers of the school’s graduates, others prefer to focus on the merits of the program itself.
The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) evaluates of professional journalism programs in colleges and universities. In the words of the ACEJMC, accreditation “is a measure of the program’s compliance with basic standards and of how well the program achieves its stated mission”. Currently, the agency has 114 fully accredited programs on its list. This is a good place for students to start looking at options; however, one must keep in mind that accreditation with the ACEJMC is voluntary and remember that there are more than 400 schools where you can study journalism in the US.
That said, there are a few top US journalism schools that are generally agreed upon as excellent choices for any aspiring journalist. The University of Missouri, a public university in Columbia, is home to one of the most reputed journalism departments in the world. It employs the “Missouri Method”, which consists of providing students with hands-on experience to prepare them for real world situations. At a bachelor’s degree level, students can focus on one of thirty interest areas. The master’s degree is offered in two formats: on-campus or online. The latter requires three years of journalism experience and is an ideal option for those who want to keep working as they study.
Another renowned institution is Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, which counts more than thirty Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni. The program focuses on providing a well-rounded education; thus, a large portion of the curriculum is outside of journalism. Other top-notch journalism schools include Syracuse University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and Columbia University.
Once you have shortlisted the schools you want to apply to, you must consider financial aid. There are a number of great journalism scholarships out there with varying submission requirements – some are essay based, others ask you for a specific journalism project, while yet others are structured as contests and need you to submit a sample of your work as a competing entry. Scholarships may also depend on the state your college is in, your financial situation, and your area of focus. Investigate all of your options and pay attention to the details of each scholarship, making sure your submissions meet all the criteria. Well-known journalism scholarships include the New York Women in Communications Inc. Foundation Scholarship, the National Association of Black Journalists Scholarships, the Ohio Newspaper Association Scholarships, the Ed Bradley Scholarships, and the AQHA Journalism or Communications Scholarship.