Best Online Master’s in Journalism: Students Before Profits Award

The Students Before Profits Awards were created to recognize nonprofit colleges and universities offering degrees that put students before profits and education before the bottom-line.  For our ranking of the 2017 Online Master’s in Journalism winners, we chose online Journalism degree programs from nonprofit colleges and universities, accredited by independent and trusted accreditation boards, with lower than average tuition costs, and have ranked them by affordability.

Picking the right degree program can be a very overwhelming process for many students. With so many available options, it can be quite difficult to find the program that is right for you.  Many students today have started to examine online degree programs as their preferred option for pursuing their degree.  Online degree programs have many benefits over their on-campus counterparts.  First and foremost, online degree programs are almost always cheaper than their on-campus version.  By eliminated a lot of the overhead that comes with offering a degree in-person,  colleges are able to cut costs and pass those savings on to the students.  Another major benefit of pursuing a degree online is the flexibility in both scheduling and geography.  Students are able to create a schedule for their course load that best suits their current needs.  That means students can pursue an education without it interrupting their job or internship.  Students are also able to pick programs that they’d normally not be able to take due to geographical constraints.  Through online degrees, students can enroll in any degree program no matter the location.

Students studying a Master’s in Journalism degree program will undergo a curriculum that is a confluence of tried-and-true journalism practices combined with courses that will prepare students to navigate the many ways that the field of journalism has changed in the past decade.  As new media forms are on the rise, journalism has radically changed to leverage these new forms.  Due to the rise of social media and the Internet, the news cycle has sped up rapidly.  Master’s in Journalism degrees prepare students with the necessary ethical, communication, and writing skills needed to be successful journalists while teaching them how to execute their skills at the breakneck speed required of todays news cycle.  By gaining a Master’s degree in Journalism, students will be viewed as more “job-ready” than their non-Master’s degree counterparts.

Note that tuition rates listed below are based on cost per credit and individual programs may have additional fees.

 #1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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One of three school able to claim the title of oldest public university in the United States, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the flagship of the University of North Carolina system of schools.  Established in 1789 and opened to students in 1795, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long and rich history of providing high-quality education to its students.  Having been part of the town of Chapel Hill for over two centuries, the University of Chapel Hill has become intertwined with the city. Across its fourteen different schools, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers student 250 different degrees from which to choose from.  With a student body of over 29,000 students, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the second-largest public university in the state of North Carolina.  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public institution.

Program Overview

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are able to enroll in a Master of Arts in Technology & Communication degree.  This program of study has students focusing on topics related to journalism including digital economics, mass communication, and issues that are reshaping the field of journalism.  This program is available entirely online except for two visits that must be made to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.  A minimum of 30 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Master of Arts in Technology & Communication degree is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $15,000

#2. Arizona State University

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The Territorial Normal School accepted its first class of students in 1885 in the town of Tempe, Arizona.  The precursor to Arizona State University, the Territorial Normal School’s Tempe campus is still the site of Arizona State University to this day.  Growing over the past century, Arizona State University has had to add additional campuses to accommodate for its growing student population.  Along with its Tempe campus, Arizona State University operates five additional campuses across the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area.  Recently, Arizona State University has adopted a new ideology known as the “New American University” model.  Rather than priding itself on exclusionary practices, Arizona State University strives to accept as many students as possible in order to foster their best traits.  This has resulted in Arizona State University’s student population to balloon up to 82,000 students making it one of the largest schools in the nation.  Arizona State University is a public institution.

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in American Media and Popular Culture degree is offered to students at Arizona State University.  In this program, students will study and analyze culture including topics such as film, television, computer games, new media, screenwriting.  By applying historic methods and critical theory students will learn to analyze and write about American popular culture.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the Arizona State University campus.  A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: Arizona State University’s Master of Arts in American Media and Popular Culture degree is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Tuition: $18,072

#3. Ball State University

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The Eastern Indiana Normal School opened on the current location of Ball State University in the year 1876.  Operating until 1901, the Eastern Indiana Normal School eventually was shut down due to funding concerns.  Just one year later, Palmer University was opened on the site and began accepting students.  Shortly thereafter, the Palmer name was dropped and the school was renamed to Indiana Normal College.  This was short-lived as the school was eventually closed again in 1907.  It wasn’t until 1917, when the Ball brothers purchased the school that it had begun to really hit its stride.  As patrons of the school, the two led the university to success. In 1961, the school was renamed Ball State College in honor of the Ball brother and eventually renamed to Ball State University in 1965.  Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University enrolls nearly 22,000 students.  Ball State University is a private institution.

Program Overview

Students are able to pursue a Master of Arts in Journalism degree at Ball State University.  This program of study offers two different tracks: Reporting and Storytelling; and Media Analytics and Management.  Through this program, students will learn to enhance their storytelling skills while learning various multimedia formats.  Students will learn how to use their journalistic endeavors to engage their communities, as well.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the Ball State University campus.  A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: Ball State University’s Master of Arts in Journalism degree is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Tuition: $21,240

#4. Regent University

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Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University was established in 1977. Originally known as the Christian Broadcasting Network University, Regent University was not renamed to its current name until the year 1990.  Founded by Pat Robertson, Regent University was established with a close affiliation to the Christian faith.  Regent University still honors its Christian heritage but is welcoming of people from all background.  Regent University was one of the earliest innovators in the space of distance education.  In 1997, Regent University began offering its Master of Arts in Business and Leadership degree entirely online, making it one of the first schools to do so.  Currently enrolling 6,100 students, Regent University offers seventy different courses.  Regent University is a private institution. 

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Journalism degree is offered to students at Regent University.  Students in this program will learn how to apply journalistic theory to all areas of media and society, understand the changing forces of journalism standards, and explore the interactive nature of the internet and how it influences the way people interact with journalism.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the Regent University campus.  A minimum of 33 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: Regent University’s Master of Arts in Journalism degree is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $21,450

#5. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Located in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is commonly referred to by its students and alumni as “Nebraska”.  After receiving statehood, the Nebraska State legislature passed an act that called for the creation of the University of Nebraska in the year 1869.  After receiving funding and a large land grant, construction began on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Four years later, students began taking classes at the university.  Quickly, the school became very large. Just shy of three decades later, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln had become the fifteenth largest university in the country.  The largest school in the University of Nebraska system, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln enrolls just over 25,000 students.  University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a public institution.

Program Overview

Students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are able to enroll in a Master of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communications degree.  Through an interdisciplinary curriculum, students will learn practical, applicable skills in regards to journalism. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers students three different tracks within the degree program: Integrated Media Communications, Media Studies, and Professional Journalism.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.  A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Master of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communications degree is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Tuition: $21,924

#6. University of Missouri

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In 1839, the Missouri legislature passed the Geyer Act.  Upon the passing of this key legislation, the University of Missouri was established, becoming the first public university west of the Mississippi River.  The first public university located within the Louisiana Purchase territory, the University of Missouri began its storied history of providing education to the Midwest.  Following the public education ideals set forth by Thomas Jefferson,  the University of Missouri quickly grew to become the largest school in the state.  Offering over 300 different degree program, the University of Missouri enrolls a student body of 33,000 students.  Located in the city of Columbia, Missouri, the University of Missouri is the flagship school of the University of Missouri system.  Officially called the University of Missouri, students and alumni commonly refer to the school as “Mizzou”.  University of Missouri is a public institution.

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Journalism degree is offered to students at the University of Missouri.  Students in this program of study will examine topics including health communication, interactive media, media management, and strategic communications.  By enrolling in this program, students are ensured that they are able to take all of their courses online and will not be required to visit the University of Missouri to complete their studies. A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: University of Missouri’s Master of Arts in Journalism degree is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Tuition: $22,032

#7. National University

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Originally located in San Diego, California, National University grew so quickly in its early days that it had to change locations to La Jolla, California.  Created to provide students with a greater flexibility over their education, National University has continued throughout its history to serve its students varied ways to pursue their education.  From the beginning, National University offered students night and weekend program, eventually adding online programs when the technology became available.  Founded in 1972, National University was founded by Former Lieutenant Commander of the United States David Chigos.  Now, National University has grown to become the second-largest university in the state of California.  National University is a private institution.

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Digital Journalism degree is offered to students at National University.  Students in this program will gain skills including the understanding of emerging media business models, the ability to create original enterprise projects regarding public issues, how to conduct polling for journalism, and much more.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the National University campus to complete their studies. A minimum of 63 quarter units are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: National University’s Master of Arts in Digital Journalism degree is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Tuition: $26,208

#8. University of Memphis

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One of the largest research universities in the entire state of Tennessee, the University of Memphis is also home to the Center for Earthquake Research and Information, a facility integral to the monitoring and understanding of earthquakes.  Commonly known as the “U of M”, the University of Memphis was established in 1912.  Along with three other state universities, the University of Memphis was established by the General Education Bill passed by the Tennessee State Legislature.  Originally called the Western Tennessee Normal School, the University of Memphis underwent several name changes throughout its history until it was finally named the University of Memphis in 1994.  Enrolling 22,000 students, the University of Memphis is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and offers many different degree programs.  University of Memphis is a public institution.

Program Overview

Students at the University of Memphis are able to enroll in a Master of Arts in Journalism and Strategic Media degree.  This program of study is designed for students hoping to improve their skills in journalism, advertising, public relations, strategic communications and visual media.  The University of Memphis offers four different emphases: Integrated Strategic Media, News and Storytelling, Visual Media, and Mass Media Research.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the University of Memphis campus.  A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: University of Memphis’ Master of Arts in Journalism and Strategic Media degree is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Tuition: $30,960

#9. Kent State University

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In 1910, the Ohio State Normal College at Kent was established.  It would be decades before the name of the school was changed to the much simpler, Kent State University.  Over the course of the 20th century, Kent State University grew immensely resulting in the expansion of seven additional regional campuses located in Ashtabula, Burton, East Liverpool, Jackson Township, New Philadelphia, Sale, and Warren.  Named after William S. Kent, the son of the city’s founder Marvin Kent, Kent State University is located just north of Akron along the Cuyahoga River in a city called Kent, Ohio. Currently, Kent State University enrolls over 41,000 students.  Kent State University is a public institution. 

Program Overview

The Master of Arts for Journalism Educators degree is offered to students at Kent State University.  This program of study has students taking courses including Reporting for Mass Media, Law of Scholastic Journalism, Ethics in Communication, Social Role of the Mass Media, Media Management, and much more.  Kent State University offers this program entirely online and does not require any visits to the Kent State University campus. A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: Kent State University’s Master of Arts for Journalism Educators is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Tuition: $31,716

#10. Syracuse University

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The Genesee Annual Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church convened in Lima, New York in 1831 to found the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary.  Originally just a seminary, it was decided that it would be converted into a college that would eventually become Genesee College, and even further down the line become Syracuse University.  It was eventually decided that its location in Lima, New York would not be sufficient for growth and it was decided to move the institution to Syracuse, New York. Founded as a coeducational institution, Syracuse University was one of the first of its kind.  The school’s name was changed after being relocated to Syracuse University, although many students who attend the school refer to it as “‘Cuse”.  Currently, Syracuse University enrolls almost 22,000 students.  Syracuse University is a private institution.

Program Overview

Students at Syracuse University are able to enroll in a Master of Science in Communications Specialization in Journalism Innovation degree.  This program of study has students learning how to engage with mass media and digital communications.  Students will gain insights into the ways that readers consume news while gaining skills in data analysis, news gathering, editing, and information visualization for social and digital media.  This program is available entirely online and does not require any visits to the Syracuse University campus.  A minimum of 36 credits are required to complete this degree.

Accreditation: Syracuse University’s Master of Science in Communications Specialization in Journalism Innovation is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Tuition: $51,948