*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/reporters-correspondents-and-broadcast-news-analysts.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
Depending on your program, a journalism degree should take between three and four years. However, if you take lighter credit loads each semester or skip any terms, it could take 4-5 years. You should always check the graduation rate of any program you are considering, as that information could be vital in letting you know how long it could take to earn your own degree.
The cost of a bachelor's degree in journalism is dependent on many things. If you live in the same state as a publicly funded program, then you will pay in-state tuition, which can be rather affordable. If you go to a school in another state, institutions often charge out-of-state rates that are higher than those for in-state students. Typically, students should expect to pay somewhere between $58,000 and $300,000 for a bachelor's degree.
The low figure assumes that students study for two years in a community college before transferring to an in-state university. The high figure is for the most expensive private schools, often in very expensive locations, such as San Francisco or Manhattan. Do your own math when looking at your schools of choice.
Coursework for a typical journalism bachelor's degree can cover a wide range of subjects. Students might delve into professional ethics, social issues, politics, and technical skill areas. When a program is large enough to offer a wide range of courses, students will have the opportunity to explore the various corners of the profession and determine which is the best for them. Some courses which journalism students might choose from include, but are not limited to:
Not every institution of higher learning is created equal. When considering a college or university, it's vital to determine whether or not they offer the major fields of study that interest you. As an extreme example, students won't find an English degree in a technical university. Nor is it likely to find engineering courses in an arts college.
When you find schools that have the majors that interest you the most, do more research. Some departments will have particular specialties that may or may not appeal. For instance, some English departments focus on classical literature and only have one or two courses that feature contemporary novels. Journalism schools have similar focuses, with some emphasizing work on the university newspaper and others pressing students towards long-form journalism and book authorship.
These days, it's less and less likely that a first-time college student will complete their degree in four years. In fact, most measures seem to assume a six-year window for degree completion. Some of this is due to the fact that some schools have added extra requirements that make it mathematically impossible for a student to finish in four years, assuming a normal full-time load and a free summer term.
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that students at private non-profit institutions are slightly more likely to graduate within six years. Private for-profit institutions showed the worst figures, with only 26% of students receiving diplomas within six years.
The retention and six-year graduation rates were highest for institutions that had the toughest admissions rates. When colleges restrict their admissions to 25% of applicants or less, their graduation numbers rise to 88%. Institutions that admit 25-49.9% of applicants see a 70% success rate with six-year graduations.
NCES researchers also found that female students tend to meet the six-year window 63% of the time, overall. Their male counterparts meet the six-year mark 57% of the time.
Journalism programs, like many other fields, are accredited by a specialized agency, in this case it’s the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC.) This independent agency visits institutions every year to determine their worthiness in the field. They evaluate journalism programs using a number of criteria, including:
Post-graduate job placement services are vital to the successful completion of a college experience. While independent associations, corporations, and institutes often have fellowships that can lead to employment, a college needs to also provide career guidance or assistance.
When researching the best programs, students should ask for graduates' job placement rates. In particular, it's vital to see how many graduates are working in newspapers, magazines, or otherwise in the pursuit of journalism. Seek out programs who track these numbers to get a good idea of how the program supports its students in the job search. Admissions counselors should be able to provide this information.
Journalism students should be careful to attend well-ranked and/or ACEJMC-accredited programs. Employers will be primarily interested in interviewing students from the best programs. Further, those with the beset academic credentials will be in a position of strength when it comes time to negotiate a compensation package. While this may seem a bit unfair to some, ratings and accreditation are criteria that are easy to apply when searching through a stack of resumes.
ACEJMC-accredited programs are more likely to offer students the best instructors, resources, and career support. These programs frequently have daily, student-run newspapers that cover campus and community news. They also may have well-established ties to newspapers that can hire students for internships or who are happy to hire entry-level journalists.
Students who have determined that journalism is their calling should waste no time in finding the best program for themselves. A large part of this process lies in determining which schools have the top accreditations. In particular, students should seek out institutions that have been certified by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). This agency maintains the highest standards for journalistic education and students who graduate from an ACEJMC-accredited institution will find that their credentials open new and exciting opportunities.