Most colleges and universities have at least a traditional journalism program among their academic portfolios. This being said, if you are not looking to be a traditional journalist this is not necessarily the path for you and you should look for alternative degrees. For example, digital media, communications or a subject-matter focus, such as environment or politics might just be the right choice, if that is what you are looking to write about.
Of course, many journalists are also self-taught. You can learn by studying journalists and writers that came before you and by practicing. Today, it is easier than ever, since you have the option of running your own blog or generating a following on a social media platform. Another option is to find a mentor. Keep in mind, however, that if you would like to have a stable job at an agency, newspaper, etc, it might be little bit more difficult for you if you don’t have a degree, since a lot of your competition will.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE TO BECOME A JOURNALIST?
- University of Missouri
Located in Columbia, Missouri, the University of Missouri offers one of the top journalism programs in the US. On the undergraduate level, students can choose one of more than 30 specializations, such as Emerging Media, Television Reporting, News Editing and many more. The department also offers Masters and Doctorate level studies. Estimated tuition for undergrads is $10,286 for in-state and $24,312 for out-of-state.
- Penn State University
This school in State College, Pennsylvania, offers a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism through its College of Communications. Students can specialize in broadcast, print or photojournalism. They also have the option to obtain a Sports Journalism certificate. Resident tuition is estimated at $17,502 per year and non-residents pay $30,452.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC Chapel Hill offers a variety of majors, specializations and special programs to students interested in journalism. These include advertising, broadcast, business journalism, Latino/a journalism, multimedia, and more. Students may also participate in international exchanges in Australia, England, France, Spain, Argentina and Hong Kong. In-state students pay an estimated $8,374 per year, while out-of-state pay $33,624.
- Western Kentucky University
Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, WKU offers 6 different journalism-related majors, including photojournalism, advertising and broadcasting, as well as related minors and certificates. The program makes a strong focus on integrating technology within all journalism programs. Students may also pursue Master’s level studies. Tuition per semester for residents is $4,570 and $11,676 for non-residents.
- Northwestern University
The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, offers a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, with a curriculum strongly focused on a well-rounded education, integrating courses from other departments. Graduate students can also take an Integrated Marketing Communications Master’s program, if they wish to further their studies. Tuition here is $46,836 per year.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
Finding a source of income as a journalist will depend almost entirely on the type of journalist you would like to be. If you are looking for a traditional newspaper job, whether print or digital, a great way to get in is by taking an internship and proving yourself. This might either result in a job or a wealth of freelancing opportunities. In either case, getting published is your best bet at getting your name out there and receiving invitations to write articles and columns, possibly leading to a permanent position in the future.
Another great way to get started is to focus. If you would like to write about politics, or environment or entertainment, make sure that a wealth of your work is on the subject you are interested in. Become an expert and always be on top of what is going on with regards to that topic, this will make you extremely valuable to focused publications.
As mentioned before, another wonderful tool is the internet. There are hundreds of free platforms, such as WordPress, where you create your own blog for free. You get to curate your content and it will allow you to be pro-active in building a readership. Later, these can often be converted into a source of income or lead to a job opportunity.