If you have determined to buck trends and attend journalism school, you may be a romantic, well-supported by a spouse, or perhaps you know your calling and also know you need to be able to afford your vision.
On the job front, while some have branched into editing and/or proofreading, often specializations are necessary to distinguish yourself. Therefore, science, sports, or other forms of media or technical areas of expertise can provide your niche. The elements of journalistic ethos: doggedness, the ability to produce memorable copy, and maintaining standards of objectivity are all valuable qualities in any number of walks of life.
We have drawn up this list of the top online master’s in journalism for 2019 by weighing the following criteria: per credit hour tuition rate, Payscale.com rating, the presence of further specializations or being an already specialized degree, and a regional accreditation that allows the school to receive federal financial aid monies. In cases of a tie on points, the school with the lower hourly tuition is ranked more highly.
Hourly tuition rate
- Under $250 – 5 points
- Under $400 – 4 points
- Under $550 – 3 points
- Under $700 – 2 points
- Under $850 – 1 point
Payscale.com Salary Report Ranking
- Top 100 – 5 points
- Top 250 – 4 points
- Top 500 – 3 points
- Top 750 – 2 points
- Top 1100 – 1 point
Number of Specializations
- Degree is specialized – 1 point
- Two Specializations – 2 points
- 3-4 Specializations – 3 points
- 5-6 Specializations – 4 points
- Regional accreditation – 5 points
- Digital students charged lower rate than traditional students – 3 points
#1 – University of Alabama
Online MA in Journalism
Payscale Ranking: 426
The University of Alabama online master of arts in journalism degree is a 31 unit affair, offering four specializations: writing and reporting; digital media and information; entrepreneurialism and management; and social science and research for journalism. The degree also involves a master’s project or master’s thesis. The University of Alabama online MA in journalism is one of the more affordable options on this list of the top online master’s in journalism at just $394 per credit hour, regardless of residency.
#2 – University of Nebraska Lincoln
MA in Journalism and Mass Communications – Professional Journalism Specialization Online
Payscale Ranking: 387
The master of arts in journalism and mass communications – professional journalism specialization online at the University of Nebraska Lincoln offers three options, one with a thesis required. There is no GRE required for the 30-36 credit program. An electronic portfolio of work required for application as is a $50 application fee. There are three admit dates per year. The University of Nebraska Lincoln’s online MA in journalism and mass communications – professional journalism specialization requires an online tuition rate of $628.50 per credit hour.
#3 – Texas Tech University
MA in Strategic Communication and Innovation Online
Payscale Ranking: 227
In the Texas Tech University master of arts in strategic communication and innovation online degree, 30 credit hours are comprised of classes like communication in organizations and research methods. There are four start dates each year for this program. There is no GRE requirement for admission, but the school does ask for three references. Texas Tech University’s online MA in strategic communication and innovation charges a tuition rate of $465.50 per credit for online study with no out of state fees.
#4 – The New School
New York, New York
MS in Media Management Online
Payscale Ranking: 253
The New School has a master of science in media management online degree that can be had in six specializations: innovation and entrepreneurship; marketing and media sales; integrated media strategies; data analytics; business development; and project leadership. It can be completed in just 33 credits. The New School MS in media management online charges an online, graduate tuition rate of $1,567 per credit. The departmental site is excited to note your peers will likely already be media leaders, managers, and start-up “makers,” and that cohort will also be diverse and international.
#5 – University of Oklahoma-Norman
Online MA with a Major in Communication
Payscale Ranking: 292
The University of Oklahoma-Norman has an online master of arts with a major in communication that can be completed in 32 semester credit hours. The school operates this non-thesis program with a rolling admissions basis, with core courses that value “leadership principles,” and approaches to research data. This program is a blend of online and on-site instruction. Courses are offered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Washington, District of Columbia. The University of Oklahoma-Norman online MA with a major in communication tuition is just $408.15 per credit hour. The school site emphasizes careers in marketing, event planning, and public relations.
#6 – University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Online Master’s in Strategic Communications
Payscale Ranking: 267
The University of Iowa, which has among the strongest reputations in graduate-level writing, has structured a 30-hour online master’s in strategic communications program. This program includes coursework in strategic communication writing and strategic communication research. The program has three admit dates per year, with no GRE requirement. The University of Iowa’s master’s in strategic communications is 100% online and goes at the rate of $500 per credit for online study, regardless of residency. The school offers a special balance affordability and international academic standing.
#7 – Harvard University Extension School
Online Master’s in Journalism
Payscale Ranking: 5
The Harvard University Extension School online master’s in journalism is a 36-hour program that involves coursework in feature writing and news reporting for the web. One course must be taken on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. The Harvard University Extension School online master’s in journalism charges an online, graduate tuition rate of $916.67 per credit hour. Before you can matriculate, you will need to take courses in graduate-level research, writing, and bibliography. Once prerequisites are complete, the program balances classic, shoe-leather reporting skills with contemporary concerns and other likely interests including legal, ethical, and market-related skills.
#8 – University of Arkansas Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
MA in Mass Communications Professional Mass Media Option Online
Payscale Ranking: 1179
The University of Arkansas Little Rock’s master of arts in mass communications – professional mass media option online clocks in at 33 credit hours and contains coursework in new media writing and new media publishing. $383 per credit hour, online, with no out of state fees is the University of Arkansas Little Rock’s tuition rate for the online MA in mass communications – professional mass media option. Two letters of recommendation and a professional resume’ are required with the submission of the application packet.
#9 – University of Florida
Online MA in Mass Communication with a specialization in Political Communication
Payscale Ranking: 228
The online master of arts in mass communication with a specialization in political communication at the University of Florida is 38 credit hours delivered 100% online. A GRE score that is less than 5 years old and three letters of recommendation are required for admission. The program offers three start dates per year. The University of Florida online MA in mass communication with a specialization in political communication tuition rate for out of state students is only $484.47 per credit hour.
#10 – West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
MA in Communication Studies Online
Payscale Ranking: 303
The 36 hour master of arts in communication studies online at West Virginia University has two start dates per year. West Virginia University’s MA in communication studies online charges an online tuition rate of $597 per credit hour, with no out of state fees. To get into the program, a 2.75 GPA is expected, though the program may provisionally accept students that must attain grades of B or better in their first two courses. Part of the arts and sciences division, the program especially welcomes “working professionals” who require communications skills to advance in their careers. Careers suggested by the school include public relations specialist, education administrator, and technical writer.
#11 – New York University
New York, New York
Online MS in Professional Writing
Payscale Ranking: 72
New York University confers an online master of science in professional writing 30-hour program consisting of six core courses and four electives. The school operates on a rolling admission basis with three start dates per year and no GRE requirement. New York University’s online MS in professional writing charges an online tuition rate of $1,989 per unit of instruction. Core courses–such as principles of professional writing, writing for digital media, and principles of information architecture–establish a basis upon which to draw your path from among the electives, including promotional writing, writing proposals and grants, and media production for professional writers.
#12 – Marshall University
Huntington, West Virginia
Online Master’s in New Media Studies
Payscale Ranking: 1089
Marshall University was established in 1873 and bears the name of John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of these United States. The school offers an online master’s in new media studies is a 30 credit hour program that is offered 100% online, and the cost per online credit hour is $405.75 for resident and non-resident students alike. Coursework in the program includes depth reporting and photojournalism. Marshall University requires a specific GRE score and undergraduate GPA combination and an earned bachelor’s degree for admission to the online master’s in new media studies.
#13 – Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Online Master of Communication and Media Management
Payscale Ranking: 373
The Colorado State University online master of communication and media management comprises 30 credits of coursework like managing communication systems and strategic digital communication. As with other online degrees, the master’s here is a cohort model that emulates live classes. The online master of communication and media management at Colorado State University costs $709 per online graduate credit, with no out of state surcharges. The program offers an exploration of emerging media and state-of-the-art digital tools in an increasingly niche-driven media landscape. Among these tools is fluency in analytics and data presentation.
#14 – University of Missouri
Online MA in Journalism
Payscale Ranking: 300
The online master of arts in journalism at the University of Missouri is 37 hours in length. One campus visit required is required in the duration of the program. The University of Missouri’s online MA in journalism charges an online tuition rate of $794.57 per credit hour, regardless of residency. Three application essays, three letters of recommendation and a GRE score required are required for consideration for acceptance. The job market emphasized includes positions such as director of major gifts and positions in media relations.
#15 – Drexel University
Online MS in Communication
Payscale Ranking: 125
The online master of science in communication at Drexel University offers three concentrations: public communication; science and health communication; and technical communication, for the 45 quarter credit program. Concerned about “the future of communications,” the school acknowledges the changing methods of delivering content. Drexel University’s online MS in communication charges $1,265 per credit hour. For your money, you will have invested in serious portfolio development, learned via 6-month internships, and regularly made contact with industry professionals. The site focuses on public relations, advertising, and marketing types of positions.
#16 – Johns Hopkins University
MA in Communication Online
Payscale Ranking: 78
The Johns Hopkins University master of arts in communication online consists of an offering of two tracks: strategic planning; and research, each coming in at 30 hours in length. The program operates on a rolling admissions basis with three admit dates per year. Though Johns Hopkins University’s online MA in communication comes in for tuition at $1,403,33 per credit, the school offers scholarships and fellowships. To get in, you must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, relevant coursework, and proper testing, including TOEFL or IELTS for non-native speakers.
#17 – University of Memphis
MA in Journalism Online
Payscale Ranking: 908
The University of Memphis’ 33 hour master of arts in journalism and strategic media online consists of five core courses and six courses in one of four emphases: news and storytelling; integrated strategic media; visual media; or research. The program also includes a capstone project or thesis. The University of Memphis’ 100% online MA in journalism and strategic media charges a rate of only $603 per credit hour, with no out of state fees. The value, of course, also rests in a robust online degree program with more than a dozen highly-ranked online degrees, including the graduate journalism degree.
#18 – Arizona State University
Online MS in Business Journalism
Payscale Ranking: 285
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University confers a 100% online master of science in business journalism that takes 30 credit hours to complete. Better business reporting and basics of financial performance reporting are two of the eleven required courses. This specialized degree operates on a 7.5 week long class schedule. The Arizona State University’s nationally recognized online MS in business journalism charges just $572 per unit of credit for online, out of state study.
#19 – Ball State University
MA in Journalism Online
Payscale Ranking: 919
The Ball State University master of arts in journalism online degree has two specializations: reporting and storytelling; and media analytics and management. The program is 36 credits long. In the second year of the degree, students undertake a Capstone Project that is a graduation requirement. Ball State University’s online MA in journalism charges an online tuition rate of $616 per credit for out of state students. Ball State’s program features the only student-run analytics agency of its kind, Cardinal Metrics.
#20 – Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
MA in Journalism Online
Payscale Ranking: 1228
Regent University confers a master of arts in journalism online which takes 33 credit hours to complete. The school has eight start dates a year and requires a $50 application fee. Regent University’s online MA in journalism charges an online tuition rate of $650 per credit hour. As the tuition tends to be more reasonable than others on this list, Regent also makes a serious effort to advise students to take advantage of the school’s own institutional grants and aid.
#21 – Thomas Edison State University
Trenton, New Jersey
Online MA in Liberal Studies – Professional Communications
Payscale Ranking: 459
Thomas Edison State University features an online master of arts in liberal studies – professional communications which is a 36 credit degree. Professional communications theory and practical grant writing are two of the required courses for this degree. Thomas Edison State University, for the online MA in liberal studies – professional communications charges an online out of state tuition rate of $668 per credit. There is a $75 application fee and a requirement that applicants have a 2.75 undergrad GPA and three to five years of professional experience for consideration for admission.
#22 – Concordia University Wisconsin
Online MBA with a Focus in Communications and Public Relations
Payscale Ranking: 1111
Concordia University Wisconsin features a master of business administration with a focus in communications and public relations that is offered online and can be completed in just 39 credits. There is no GRE requirement for admission to this program. Concordia University Wisconsin’s MBA with a focus in communications and public relations online is a unique offering on this list of the top online master’s in journalism as an MBA with a communication focus and charges an online tuition rate of $719 per credit.
#23 – Webster University
St Louis, Missouri
Online MA in Media Communications
Payscale Ranking: 878
Webster University’s online master of arts in media communications takes 36 credit hours to complete. Media communications and media production management are two of the required courses and there is no GRE requirement for admission. The MA in media communications that Webster University offers online goes at the tuition rate of $780 per credit hour. To get in, students must have a “B” or better in prerequisite courses, though these are not part of the degree itself. The expectations of program graduates is a balance of effective media presentation, mastery of research methodologies, and professionally-developed critical evaluation skills.
#24 – Clarion University of Pennsylvania
MS in Mass Media Arts and Journalism Online
Payscale Ranking: 853
The master of science in mass media arts and journalism offered online by Clarion University of Pennsylvania consists of 36 credits, like journalism foundations and mass communication research. The degree can be completed in as little as 18 months but was set up for part-time study with full-time parents and employees in mind. Clarion University of Pennsylvania’s MS in mass media arts and journalism online charges $557 per credit for online out of state students. Relatively inexpensive, the program requires a six-credit Capstone project.
#25 – University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
MA in Digital Communication Online
Payscale Ranking: 300
The 30 credit master of arts in digital communication online at the University of North Carolina has two required on-campus experiences: an orientation experience the first (Fall) semester and a summer residency in the middle of the 27 month program. This program is for part-time study at two courses per term. The University of North Carolina MA in digital communication online charges a tuition rate of $1,526 per credit for out of state students. Alumni pages feature program graduates in areas of news production, community-owned digital media, public affairs, and analytics and marketing.
#26 – Kent State University
MA in Journalism and Mass Communication Online
Payscale Ranking: 928
The Kent State University master of arts in journalism and mass communication online comprises 33 hours of coursework with thesis and non-thesis options and allows up to nine hours of transfer credit. To graduate students must also pick a capstone project or thesis. Kent State University’s MA in journalism and mass communication online charges an online tuition rate of $905.30 per credit for out of state students. Once you have been admitted and met the minimum requirements of an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and minimum GRE scores, the program focuses on practical professional development.
#27 – University of South Florida St Petersburg
St Petersburg, Florida
MA in Digital Journalism and Design Online
Payscale Ranking: 1188
The University of South Florida at St Petersburg master of arts in digital journalism and design online is 30-36 credits in length. $871.42 per credit for out of state students is the tuition rate for the program. The MA in digital journalism and design online at the University of South Florida at St Petersburg has two admit dates per year, asks for a 3.0 GPA or better in last 2 years of undergraduate courses, and requires the GRE or GMAT. The program’s recent accreditation emphasizes the latest approaches to media and communications and design.