While a bachelor’s degree in journalism can lead to an exciting, dynamic career in reporting, it also can prepare you for an array of positions in other fields. Graduates of online journalism degrees work in corporate communications and public relations, for example, where an understanding of media and the ability to craft messages are crucial skills. Additionally, these positions are in high demand; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects careers in public relations to grow 9% by 2026. With mass media moving increasingly online, and the demand for digital content growing rapidly, the skills learned from an online bachelor’s degree in journalism have never been more relevant.
What are the Best Online Bachelor's in Journalism Programs?
University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA
ADMISSIONS RATE 58%
GRADUATION RATE 78%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11%
RETENTION RATE 91%
DEFAULT RATE 5%
UMass Amherst knows that life experience can be just as valuable as knowledge gained in the classroom. Its University Without Walls (UWW) program, designed for adult learners, allows students to transfer up to 75 course credits for prior schooling, military service, professional training, and work and life experience. Through the UWW, students can pursue a journalism degree online.
It is possible to complete UMass Amherst's bachelor of arts with a journalism studies concentration entirely online, though students may also opt to take courses in a blended on- and off-campus format. The program requires 120 course credits, 12 of which students must acquire prior to applying. The school's tuition and fees structure remains the same for all distance learners, and remote students do not pay for on-campus services they don't receive. The program welcomes applicants who have not yet earned a bachelor's degree and reside outside of Alabama and Arkansas.
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
ADMISSIONS RATE 75%
GRADUATION RATE 68%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 20%
RETENTION RATE 84%
DEFAULT RATE 4%
DU's online journalism degree reaches far beyond the city of brotherly love. With no in-person requirements and up to 135 of its 180 required quarter credits transferable from other institutions, DU's bachelor of science in communication with a journalism concentration appeals to distance learners across the U.S.
The program focuses on the intersection of journalism and technology, offering courses on topics such as mass media, new technologies in communication, and publication design. Students take classes during four 10-week quarters each year, and distance learners pay 60% of DU's regular tuition rate. Military members and other qualifying students may receive further tuition reduction. Transfer students must have earned at least 24 credits with a grade "C" average or higher, while first-year students must be at least two years out of high school and may bring in up to 23 credits.
Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
ADMISSIONS RATE 84%
GRADUATION RATE 49%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 66%
RETENTION RATE 80%
DEFAULT RATE 5%
Regent University, a Christian university founded by Southern Baptist minister and media mogul Pat Robertson, offers an online journalism degree within an evangelical context. Students can earn a bachelor of arts in communication studies with a journalism concentration while taking classes that center on Christian fellowship and ministry.
U.S. News & World Report ranked two of RU's online programs as Virginia's best in 2017, and the school is renowned for its accessibility to military members and working professionals. The average age of RU students, most of whom are part-time learners, is 36. Tuition reductions are available for ROTC participants and residents of Virginia and North Carolina.
DePaul University Chicago, IL
ADMISSIONS RATE 72%
GRADUATION RATE 73%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 8%
RETENTION RATE 84%
DEFAULT RATE 6%
The nation's largest Catholic university, DePaul traces its roots to 19th-century Chicago. Fully embracing the potential of technology in education, the school offers 53 degrees and certificates online, including a bachelor of arts in communication and media. Transfer students who meet the school's prerequisite core requirements and remain in good standing at their last attended school may complete this online journalism degree in two to three years.
The degree requires 192 quarter hours and offers an optional concentration in Latino media and communication. The interdisciplinary major pulls content from DePaul's cinema, communications, journalism, and public relations programs. Courses include business and professional communication, media and cultural studies, and storytelling and style in cinema. The school welcomes applications from students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Immaculata University Immaculata, PA
ADMISSIONS RATE 79%
GRADUATION RATE 70%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 7%
RETENTION RATE 83%
DEFAULT RATE 6%
A Catholic institution located in the Pennsylvania town whose name it bears, IU welcomes working professionals and military veterans. Its College of LifeLong Learning offers individual support to these students, and the school offers most components of its journalism degree online. Students pursuing a bachelor of arts in communication in the public relations and journalism track must take some courses on campus, but they can complete others online in an asynchronous format.
Transfer students can apply up to 72 previously earned credits toward their degree, and they may receive course credit for workplace, computer, and military training; Bible school service; professional licensure; technical school courses; and noncredit educational programs. Students also complete two internships during their time in the program. Most students complete the degree in four years, but ambitious self-pacers may earn it in two.
Mississippi College Clinton, MS
ADMISSIONS RATE 82%
GRADUATION RATE 54%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 5%
RETENTION RATE 79%
DEFAULT RATE 7%
The oldest college in the state MC offers a journalism degree online and on campus. Students may opt to pursue the bachelor of science in communication entirely online, through in-person night classes, or as part of an accelerated degree program designed for working learners. The degree, which offers an optional journalism concentration, requires learners to complete 130 semester hours.
The Christian school requires students to complete Bible and communication courses as part of its core requirements. Coursework includes diverse classes on New Testament and Old Testament analysis and an introduction to graphics software. MC accepts up to 65 transfer hours from community colleges and more from four-year universities. Distance learners pay a reduced tuition rate.
National University La Jolla, CA
|GRADUATION RATE 33%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 60%||RETENTION RATE 64%||DEFAULT RATE 7%||
Navy veteran David Chigos founded NU in 1971, and today the San Diego university offers reduced tuition for military personnel and their dependants. The school also administers a veteran center, which assists veterans in transitioning to civilian life. In keeping with its focus on veterans and working professionals, NU allows students to complete more than 70 degree programs entirely online.
Among them is the school's bachelor of arts in digital journalism, which focuses on the ethical and legal implications of news reporting. Students can focus on print, video, radio, or multimedia journalism. Classes include global journalism, new journalism technology, and long-form nonfiction. In their final year, students complete an investigative capstone project or newsroom internship. They also compile a professional portfolio of their best coursework. Students must earn 180 quarter credits, at least 45 of them from NU, in order to complete the online journalism degree.
Louisiana State University-Shreveport Shreveport, LA
ADMISSIONS RATE 76%
GRADUATION RATE 36%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 35%
RETENTION RATE 65%
DEFAULT RATE 11%
The Shreveport branch of Louisiana's flagship university has one of the most accessible online journalism degree programs available. Students can complete LSUS's bachelor of arts in mass communication with a journalism concentration entirely online. Admission to the 120-hour program requires no educational stats, prerequisites, or standardized test scores for admission, and distance learners pay a reduced tuition rate.
Among the program's required 40 courses is a mandatory opinion writing class, as well as a senior seminar in which students produce a professional portfolio and a media-assisted capstone presentation. Seniors also receive assistance in developing their résumés and must complete at least one job interview before graduating. LSUS accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities, as well as some credits from non-accredited institutions.
California State University-Bakersfield Bakersfield, CA
ADMISSIONS RATE 69%
GRADUATION RATE 39%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 1%
RETENTION RATE 76%
DEFAULT RATE 9%
California State University's Bakersfield campus maintains a partnership with College of the Canyons (COC), with which CSUB offers a hybrid journalism degree program. Students may pursue a bachelor of arts in communications with an emphasis in journalism through online CSUB courses and in-person classes at COC. The COC courses take place in the evenings and on weekends.
In addition to studying journalistic standards and strategies, students earn a sociology minor and take courses on topics ranging from film aesthetics and criticism to gender, race, and ethnicity. CSUB offers a discounted tuition rate to distance learners. Students who have already earned 60 transferable credit units and completed their general education requirements are welcome to apply.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale, IL
ADMISSIONS RATE 81%
GRADUATION RATE 45%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 0%
RETENTION RATE 68%
DEFAULT RATE 9%
The mascot of Southern Illinois's flagship university, founded in 1869, is the ancient Saluki dog. SIU students chose the Saluki in the 1950s to celebrate the southern portion of the state's "Little Egypt" nickname. The mascot is a reminder of an old institution's history, but today's Salukis look to the future through adaptable online learning.
SIU offers an online bachelor's degree in journalism that students can personalize to their needs. Distance learners can pursue a bachelor of science in journalism online on a full-time or part-time basis. Students opt to take courses in four-week, eight-week, or 16-week segments. Emergent journalists typically complete the degree's required 120 credit hours over the course of four years. Transfer students, however, often take on an accelerated schedule and earn their diplomas in two years.
What Will I Learn in an Online Journalism Program?
Students in an online bachelor's degree in journalism program take courses in the mechanics of producing journalistic content, as well as the theories and concepts behind mass media and the press. Different programs offer different areas of emphasis -- and curriculums may differ -- so students should check with their prospective school to confirm which courses are offered.
Newswriting and reporting
This course covers the basics in writing and news gathering, like interviewing and public records researching. Students also learn writing and editing for news, and check for logic, accuracy, and consistency in style.
Visual and multimedia
Students learn journalistic photography and videography, and ways to create a visual narrative. Multimedia courses also cover social media, digital platforms, web production, and podcasts.
Students write and prepare long-form pieces for publication in magazines. The course builds on newspaper writing to blend a writer’s point of view into their reporting.
This course covers building and maintaining relationships with the public. Students explore media campaign design and create the concrete parts of a campaign, including press releases, newsletters, and media kits.
Law and ethics
A study of responsibilities and freedom of the press, and the First Amendment Supreme Court cases that have shaped it. This course also teaches concepts like censorship, libel, and privacy.
What Can I do with an Online Journalism Degree?
There is an array of careers in media production and circulation available to graduates with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Online and print newspapers and television news networks hire journalism majors to create content; corporations and other organizations hire media specialists to manage relations with media or produce content that promotes their goals. Many of these jobs can lead to more advanced, related careers, as seen in the table below.
Median Salary: $39,733
Median Salary: $50,372
Median Salary: $50,006
Digital Media specialist
Median Salary: $45,733
Public Relations Specialist
Median Salary: $45,727
Job Outlook and Salary for Journalism Graduates
While job growth in traditional print journalism and editing has stalled in recent years, careers that require similar skills and expertise found in online degree programs in journalism are growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that public relations specialist positions are projected to increase in number by 9% by 2026, while public relations and fundraising managers are projected to increase by 10%
Salaries for these careers vary based on industry and location. For example, senior editors in San Francisco earn 29% over the median salary. In Washington, D.C., a public relations specialists averages 50% more than the median salary, while journalists earn 62% more.
|Employment, 2016||Projected Employment, 2026|
Salary Growth by Experience for Journalism Professionals
Like most other career fields, the field of journalism rewards experience. As employees advance in their careers, they can expect a higher salary, especially for editors. Many of these roles lead to advanced positions with even greater salaries. For example a public relations manager can expect to earn a median $63,192, and a senior editor $67,011.
To determine the best online bachelor's in journalism programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor's in journalism programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.