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How do I get a Master's Degree in Journalism?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 May 2018
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If you are considering a career in the media, you may wish to enhance your job prospects by earning a master’s degree in journalism. Graduate-level study of journalism will strengthen your writing technique, enhance your understanding of the media in its many forms, and in many cases allow you to commence the job search bearing a valuable portfolio of clips. To earn a master’s degree in journalism, you must first select the right school for you. After securing admission, you will be required to complete a number of mandatory classes as well as some electives. Many graduate programs in journalism also require students to submit a thesis or major project during the final stages of the course.

It is important to choose a journalism school that fits your needs, interests, and timetable. Consider, for instance, whether you would like to be a general reporter or would prefer to build a career around a specific issue or area. Many graduate programs last for one year and focus predominantly on the craft of journalism. Some last for a longer period, but allow students to concurrently complete class work in an area such as world politics or fine arts, thus giving them a highly specialized knowledge which they can bring to a future career.

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Location is also a significant consideration when deciding where to earn a master’s degree in journalism. It may be convenient to enroll at a college or university that is near your home. Relocating to a large, busy city like New York or Chicago for the duration of your studies, however, may give you a chance to flex your reporting muscles in a way that a smaller town cannot.

Once you have selected a school, you must apply. Admission to graduate programs in journalism can be highly competitive. Those with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, or a similar area may have some advantage over applicants with undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields. Additionally, relevant work experience — such as a post on your undergraduate school paper or an internship at a local news station — can strengthen your application.

After enrolling in a master’s degree in journalism course, you will likely be required to complete several mandatory classes. These will normally cover topics such as basic reporting and journalistic ethics. You will in most cases also take classes which will familiarize you with the various computer programs commonly utilized by today’s media.

Through electives, you will likely be able to tailor your master’s degree in journalism to your own interests. For instance, you may prepare yourself to work in a particular area of the media by taking classes in broadcasting, magazine writing, or multimedia journalism. Some programs may offer opportunities for further specialization, allowing you to complete class work in subjects like sports writing, narrative non-fiction, or religious reporting.

Most master’s degree in journalism programs also require students to submit a major project or thesis at the culmination of the course. You will likely commence this project, which will revolve around a journalistic issue of your choice, in the early stages of your program. During the months that follow, you will research your chosen issue and turn that research into a long-format piece. This project will give you valuable practice crafting sustained pieces, and may even be used as a writing sample when you apply for jobs.

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