If you’re an aspiring journalist, you’re likely searching for the best colleges for journalism majors to apply to. The schools you apply to and the one you end up attending will be instrumental in shaping your entire career.
Maybe you already know which school is your top pick. Maybe you are just starting your search and have no idea what your choices are. Either way, it’s important that you become familiar with your options to ensure you end up at the best institution for your needs and goals.
So what are the best journalism colleges in the U.S.?
How the Best Colleges for Journalists are Ranked
Many schools offer journalism as a major area of study, but they are not all created equal. Just having a dedicated journalism program for undergraduates is not enough; schools must also excel in several areas to be ranked as one of the best. Some of those areas include the following:
Some fields don’t require professionals to get real-world experience while they are still students — but journalism is not one of those fields. It’s a career choice that demands that students get plenty of hands-on experience before they graduate from college.
Therefore, the best colleges for journalism majors are those that prepare their students for their careers with internships and a host of other opportunities.
It makes sense to say that a good college for journalism has a good journalism program. Look for a program that offers a range of core skills, including:
The program should also provide you with the means to learn the required technical aspects of journalism, including editing, audio, web design, video, content management, and shorthand.
Along with the program’s reputation, the school’s reputation is also an important factor to consider. Journalism is more interdisciplinary than ever, which means you need a college that provides students access to strong departments within the school, from computer science to English and everything in between.
The college you choose must fully support how journalism has changed with technological advances in communication and media.
The best journalism schools also offer a wide range of unique classes that help build strong foundational knowledge. Journalism classes that focus on niche areas are especially valuable, as they are often taught by faculty members who are interesting and creative and have plenty of resources to use in class.
Graduate School Reputation
Even though many students may not be considering graduate school right off the bat, it’s good to have colleges in mind that offer reputable graduate programs to journalists. Undergraduates who study journalism can gain much from schools with the faculty and resources of reputable graduate programs.
A Strong Alumni Network
Great schools churn out great alumni, and this holds true for journalism graduates. When colleges and their programs have many renowned and notable alumni, it speaks very well of those programs.
It also gives undergraduate students a wealth of opportunities to network with these alumni, which can be very beneficial when you begin your job search after graduation.
What Are the Best Colleges for Journalists?
Checking out rankings and “best of” lists is an excellent starting point in your quest to find the best college for you, but it should be just that — a starting point. You must take plenty of time to research everything journalism schools offer. This will help you find the one that best suits your needs and goals.
Taking into consideration the above qualities of the best journalism colleges, the following schools are some of the finest institutions of higher learning for students interested in a journalism career.
Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University is a private research university founded in 1851. For good reason, many consider Northwestern to be the number one school for journalism in the country.
This college is home to one of the world’s top journalism graduate programs and a prestigious creative writing program. The school is renowned for its dedication to programs that ensure students are prepared for their careers as journalists. Some of those programs are:
- The Journalism Residency Program, where students work as reporters or public media specialists at locations around the country
- Medill Investigative Lab, where students examine criminal justice issues and look into questionable convictions
- The Media on the Hill Program, where students act as mobile journalists and quickly update information about events happening in Washington, D.C.
In addition, Northwestern University offers unique courses that aren’t offered anywhere else, such as Journalism in a Networked World and The Googlization of America.
The University of Florida
One of the best features of the University of Florida journalism program is that students are encouraged to get all the real-world experience they can before graduation. The College of Journalism and Communications has a large and well-established program that emphasizes that commitment.
The Innovation News Center produces more than six hours of broadcasted content daily. It’s also the location where journalism students can cover breaking news and work with clients as part of class projects. Students gain exceptionally valuable field-related experience as they spend time at any of the university’s seven radio and television stations.
The University of Missouri (Mizzou)
If you’re searching for a large public university with well-known graduate and undergraduate journalism programs, look no further than the University of Missouri in Columbia. Mizzou boasts more than 30 different concentrations available to journalism students, some of which include magazine publishing and management and entrepreneurial journalism.
If that’s not impressive enough, if none of the 30 concentrations are exactly what a student is looking for, they are able to design their own! Students can also enjoy plenty of hands-on experience in media labs focusing on each concentration area.
In addition, relevant student campus groups are not in short supply; groups like the Student Society of News Design and the Association for Women in Sports Media help make Mizzou one of the best colleges for journalists.
New York University
Better known as NYU, this top-ranking school is a popular destination for students who are interested in a career in journalism, thanks in part to its revolutionary creative writing program. Students at NYU are given the choice to follow one of two undergraduate tracks: media criticism or journalism. Both programs focus on the importance of craft, the social role of journalists, and professional ethics.
Students who major in journalism must also major in one other discipline, and the fact that the school is located in NYC means its surrounded by some of the most prestigious media outlets in the world. However, many students also enjoy opportunities to study abroad.
Boston U. is a prestigious school in “America’s biggest college town,” lending students of journalism an impressive array of opportunities. The intensive liberal arts background Boston University is known for has produced no fewer than two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners.
Students at this university enjoy ample pre-professional hands-on training and can focus on one of several concentrations. Many journalism majors consider BU one of the best journalism colleges in the U.S. because of the opportunity to intern at reputable local news organizations like the Boston Globe. The Master of Journalism degree program is also considered one of the nation’s best.
Another heavy hitter in Boston for journalism is Emerson College, located just a few blocks from the state house. Focusing on the technological advances in journalism, this college boasts several award-winning media outlets on campus that give students real-world experience.
Emerson adopted a new multimedia curriculum in 2011, and in addition to journalism, the curriculum includes digital communication, film, marketing, and more. With radio stations and newspapers galore, there are several hands-on opportunities for journalism students to hone their skills before they graduate.
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin makes frequent appearances on many lists of the best colleges for journalism majors. Journalism is a popular degree at this college, in part because of the high caliber of the supporting departments, including the Digital Communication department and the Communication & Media Studies department.
Students are supported by being active in any number of relevant student groups on campus, including UT’s student magazine ORANGE Magazine and the University of Texas Association of Hispanic Journalists. Digital skills training for journalism students is a priority for UT Austin, which has 18 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni.
Choosing the Best Journalism School for You
When you’re considering all of the excellent journalism programs in schools across the U.S., keep in mind your specific needs, professional and academic goals, finances, and preferences. If you know you want to major in a certain concentration within journalism, make sure the schools you send college applications to offer that opportunity.
Begin your research early and make the effort to speak with current students, alumni, faculty members, and admissions personnel every chance you get. Visit the campuses that are top contenders. In turn, you’re sure to gain the best education for a rewarding career in journalism.