Investigating the 10 Best Journalism Schools for Undergrads
Posted by Lindsay Welch on Tuesday, February 28, 2017
More Americans are attending college than ever before, which means wonderful things for our nation’s prosperity and future generations’ quality of life. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “between 2004 and 2014, enrollment increased 17 percent, from 17.3 million to 20.2 million.” Yet for recent college graduates, navigating the job market has become increasingly confusing and competitive.
This is no different for high school juniors and seniors who have pinpointed a passion in journalism. That's why I've compiled the ten best journalism schools for students seeking both a great undergraduate experience and to enhance job prospects out of college.
Students interested in the humanities sometimes worry about their job prospects. While nobody wants their child to live a life filled with debt, students shouldn’t choose a career path that doesn’t interest them, purely for financial gain. If your child is passionate about a subject like journalism, there are plenty of excellent undergraduate programs out there.
The Ten Best Journalism Schools
The following ten programs both educate students on the principles of journalism and provide unique opportunities that enhance students’ job prospects after college:
Located in Washington, D.C., the private American University draws students from all over the country who are passionate about politics. With a 2016 acceptance rate of 24.7%, the school requires applicants to work hard in their high school classes and perform highly on the SAT or ACT. A total enrollment of approximately 13,000 ensures students have plenty of resources, but won’t get lost in the crowd.
The University’s Communications school offers a B.A. in Journalism, as well M.A. programs in Journalism and Digital Storytelling, and Journalism and Public Affairs. If your child is interested in political journalism, American is the place to be. According to the University website, “students regularly report on Capitol Hill, the D.C. government, the federal agencies, as well as policymakers for the nation and the world.” Students have opportunities to participate in high-profile internships around D.C., all but guaranteeing solid work experience upon graduation.
High school students interested in the Journalism program must apply to American, then hold a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.50 to declare the major. American requires students to submit scores from the SAT or ACT (without writing or essay sections).
Spread across five campuses in the Phoenix area, with a total enrollment of almost 72,000, Arizona State is among the largest universities in the country. The University’s acceptance rate in 2015 was 83%, but that doesn’t make the academics easy.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication “fosters journalistic excellence and ethics among students as they master the professional skills they need to succeed in the digital media world of today and tomorrow.” Cronkite offers B.A. programs in Journalism and Mass Communication, Sports Journalism, and Mass Communication and Media Studies. Students enjoy a unique “teaching hospital” model, which provides them with real-life newsroom training. Students interested in sports broadcasting have the chance to report on Phoenix and Los Angeles sports through Cronkite News. Advanced students can apply to an “accelerated program,” which allows them to complete both a B.A. and M.A. within 5 years.
High school students must meet at least one of several requirements to earn a place at Arizona State. More details can be found on the University’s website.
The University of Texas at Austin is the premier institution of the UT system, with a semi-competitive acceptance rate of 39% in 2015. The University’s 51,000 students enjoy access to the lively city of Austin, which has become a popular destination for young people in recent years.
The Moody College of Communication offers a B.A. in Journalism, accepting new students for the fall semester only. Moody’s undergraduate students build digital portfolios throughout their four years, making them attractive candidates for post-graduation jobs. The program also features Communications Career Services, which connects students with internships in journalism and beyond. Students even have the opportunity to earn a certificate in Sports Journalism.
Those interested in the major must complete UT Austin’s regular application process for freshmen. A single online application is used to apply to all public universities in Texas. UT Austin requires students to submit scores from the ACT Writing Test or SAT Essay. So students should spend time preparing for the writing/essay part of one of these tests.
Located in the ultimate college town, Boston University’s College of Communications is a longtime favorite among aspiring journalists. With a 2016 acceptance rate of 26%, BU is among the more selective options on this list. Total enrollment is around 35,000, and the city offers plenty of off-campus opportunities and diversions.
The College of Communications offers B.S. and M.S. degrees in Journalism, as well as an M.S. in Science Journalism. BU’s liberal arts orientation ensures students will develop solid backgrounds in other topics, while honing their journalistic skills. The BU News Service gives students the chance to cover happenings at Boston’s State House, or travel to D.C. and report on the United States Congress. Students have access to both on-campus and off-campus internships, including programs in Australia and London.
Students hoping to study journalism at BU must complete the University’s regular application process for freshmen. BU requires students to submit scores from either the SAT (without essay) or ACT (without writing).
Emerson College calls itself “the nation's only four-year college devoted exclusively to the study of communication and performing arts.” Located in downtown Boston, Emerson combines the benefits of a smaller student body (around 4,000) with the resources of a major city. With a 49% acceptance rate, it’s less selective than nearby unspecialized colleges like Boston College and BU.
In 2015, U.S. News and World Report awarded Emerson’s Journalism program the top rank nationwide. As a smaller college, Emerson offers just one B.S. in Journalism, but a variety of classes in Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs, Broadcast Platform, Writing Platform, and Multimedia Platform are available. In 2011, the College implemented a “multimedia” curriculum: students contribute to on- and off-campus radio, television, and newspaper outlets. Journalism Department Career Services connects students with a wealth of internship opportunities.
Students interested in the Journalism department complete Emerson’s regular application process for freshmen. The College requires students to submit either SAT or ACT scores.
The University of Missouri at Columbia, or “Mizzou,” is a public university with a student body of almost 33,000. Its 77% acceptance rate makes it an accessible destination for students who qualify academically.
The Missouri School of Journalism allows students to choose from six degree areas: Convergence Journalism, Magazine Journalism, Photojournalism, Print and Digital News, Radio-Television Journalism, and Strategic Communication. Journalism courses are taught according to the Missouri Method, which emphasizes learning through real-life experience. Students may contribute to the Columbia Missourian, an award-winning series of publications, or the Global Journalist, a multimedia newsroom. The New York Internship and Washington D.C. Internship allow students to gain hands-on journalistic experience over the course of a summer or semester.
Aspiring Mizzou journalists must be accepted separately to both the University and School of Journalism. While some students are immediately accepted into the Journalism major, others begin their degrees in pre-journalism through the College of Arts and Sciences. To be directly accepted into the School of Journalism, applicants must meet the requirements detailed here. Pre-journalism students must meet the general requirements for Mizzou freshmen, detailed here.
With a 2016 acceptance rate of 10.7%, Northwestern University is the most selective college on this list. Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern provides direct access to the diverse resources and entertainment Chicago has to offer. With a student body of about 20,000, Northwestern is large enough to offer a wealth of opportunities.
Northwestern’s Medill School requires undergraduates to complete a core curriculum in journalism and offers unique electives such as “Journalism of Empathy.” All undergraduate students choose an area of concentration, but are required to continue taking classes on other topics. The Medill Journalism Residency allows students to work as full-time reporters or PR specialists for one quarter. Students also may report in Washington, D.C. as part of the Medill on the Hill Program. In the Bay Area Immersion Experience, students spend a quarter in San Francisco immersing themselves in the world of entrepreneurship.
Students interested in Northwestern’s journalism major must complete the University’s application process for all freshmen. Applicants can submit either the SAT or ACT, and Northwestern also recommends taking 2 SAT Subject Tests. Because of Northwestern’s competitive acceptance rate, students should invest significant time in SAT or ACT prep.
New York University’s 2015 acceptance rate of 33% reflects the influx of students hoping to study in the Big Apple. With a total enrollment of over 50,000, NYU students enjoy the abundant resources of a large university in a major city. Located in the trendy Greenwich Village, NYU attracts many creative types, including those interested in journalism.
NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute offers undergraduate concentrations in Journalism and Media Criticism. Journalism students choose between a Print/Online or Broadcast focus. Both Journalism and Media Criticism students must choose a second major within the College of Arts and Sciences. Carter also offers its own honors program, requiring students to complete a yearlong project. Finally, students can spend 6 weeks reporting abroad as part of the Journalism in Ghana program.
Students interested in the Journalism major must apply to the NYU College of Arts and Science. The University allows students to submit scores from one of many standardized tests, rather than exclusively from the SAT or ACT.
USC’s Los Angeles location makes it a popular choice among both California natives and those hoping to escape frigid East Coast winters. A 16% acceptance rate (2016) makes USC even more selective than the gems of the University of California system, UCLA and UC Berkeley. A total enrollment of 44,000 makes USC’s size similar to UCLA’s and Berkeley’s, as well.
The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism recently updated its B.A. in Journalism to reflect the discipline’s digital nature. New classes allow students to explore journalism’s intersections with social media, virtual reality, and coding. Students can gain real-life journalism experience through writing, reporting, and producing at the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center. To conclude the B.A., students put together digital portfolios and personal websites.
Annenberg hopefuls must fulfill requirements for first-year applicants, including submitting either SAT (without essay) or ACT (without writing) scores. They also must write a 250-word Statement of Intent, describing their qualifications for the Journalism major.
A private research university known for its sports, Syracuse offers its 21,000 students excellent academic opportunities, as well. Its 48% acceptance rate makes it a less selective option than many colleges on this list, but solid grades and scores are still expected.
Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications offers eight undergraduate degrees. Bachelor’s programs include Broadcast & Digital Journalism, Magazine, Newspaper & Online Journalism, and Television, Radio & Film. The Newhouse Studio & Innovation Center, completed in 2014, features Dick Clark Studios, the Alan Gerry Center for Media Innovation, and the Diane and Bob Miron Digital News Center. Internship opportunities include the Bollywood Internship in India, the Dubai Internship Program, and NBC Olympics Internships.
Students applying to Syracuse must submit either SAT (without essay) or ACT (without writing) scores. There are no additional requirements for students applying directly to Newhouse.
Your Next Steps to Investigating Journalism Schools
If your child is interested in attending journalism school, I suggest using this list of the best journalism schools as a starting point. You’ve seen that the list includes schools in a variety of locations, offering a wide range of academic and professional opportunities. Based on your child’s grades and SAT or ACT scores, selectivity is an equally important factor to consider.
There may be particular schools that piqued your interest, or sound like a good fit for your child. Regardless of what your child is interested in studying or pursuing professionally, you can help prepare a competitive college application by learning more about SAT and ACT prep options.
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