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Complete Guide to an Online Journalism Degree

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Accreditation: ACEJMC
Available Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Certificate
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An online journalism degree will prepare you for researching, writing, and editing stories for print, broadcast, and online media. Jobs in this field include newspaper, radio, or television reporter, as well as careers in online reporting and social media. Journalists work for newspapers, magazines, online news organizations, as well as TV and radio stations. Journalists are interested in current events and conveying the facts of a story in a timely manner.

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) provides accreditation to journalism and mass communication programs. Accreditation ensures that a college or university meets established standards and that your degree will be recognized by future employers. Accreditation ensures that you are receiving a degree that meets qaulity levels. Read More

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Overview of Available Online Journalism Degrees

There are a variety of degree and certificate programs available for those interested in pursuing a career in journalism. Online degrees in journalism include associate degrees, Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism, Master’s of Arts in Journalism, and online journalism certificate programs. Some journalism degrees are part of a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication, which encompasses not only journalism but broader communication issues. While a journalism degree prepares students for a career in media, a communications degree prepares students for careers in journalism, public relations, communication, and media production.

Those seeking entry-level positions in the field of journalism may be interested in obtaining an online associate degree in journalism, which can be completed in two years, or completing an online certificate program, which can be finished in one year. A Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism is a four-year degree program that will provide a broader liberal arts educational background while focusing on journalism. A Master’s of Arts in Journalism will require an additional two years of coursework after completing a bachelor’s degree but will provide more specialized training.

Journalism programs teach students to write, edit, and report articles for broadcast or publication. Classes also include media and ethics and basic business concepts, such as advertising, marketing, and public relations. A degree or certificate in journalism will prepare students for a variety of careers in media. Students obtaining a degree in journalism will enter the workforce prepared with skills in communication, research, writing, and reporting.

Online Associate Degree in Journalism

Online associate degrees in journalism prepare students to pursue careers in media. Jobs in this field include newspaper, radio, or television reporter as well as careers in online reporting and social media. An associate degree in journalism teaches students to communicate effectively and write critically, providing a way for them to qualify for entry-level positions open to journalists. Programs are 60 credits and take two years to complete. Classes taken when obtaining an associate degree can also be transferred to a four-year university with the credit applied toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree, should you decide to pursue that instead.

You can obtain an associate degree from community colleges, technical colleges, online colleges, and universities. The only prerequisite for an associate degree in journalism is a high school diploma or GED. Classes include a variety of journalism courses focusing on writing and communication, media and ethics, as well as some basic business concepts such as advertising, marketing, and public relations. Students obtaining an associate degree in journalism will enter the workforce prepared with skills in communication, research, and writing.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Journalism

The Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism prepares students for careers in print, online, and broadcast journalism. Coursework includes writing and the ethics of reporting as well as broader topics such as web development, and photo and video editing. Programs are 120 credits and take four years to complete.

Bachelor’s degree programs are offered at colleges and universities, with many offering programs online. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission as well as letters of recommendation and application essays. Students are often asked to submit SAT or ACT scores, depending on the school.

All Bachelor’s of Arts degrees have a liberal arts component. Coursework in this area is typically taken during the first two years of study. Classes specific to your major are taken during the final two years. Some schools offer internships, allowing you to gain experience in your field as you pursue your degree. A bachelor’s degree is required for those wishing to seek an advanced degree. Students obtaining this degree will be equipped with skills in communication, research, and writing.

Graduates of a bachelor's degree in Journalism should be well prepared to enter the workforce as a journalist, news reporter, writer, or a number of other interesting careers in the field. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is predicted that employment in the field of journalism will decline slightly over the next decade or so. This predicted decline is primarily due to the shrinking use of traditional print media in favor of online media and reporting from wire services. They do, however, believe certain areas of online journalism may experience some job growth in coming years.

Once a student has completed the necessary requirements for a bachelor's degree in journalism, he or she may decide to pursue a master's degree to further a career or expand their education.

Online Master's Degree in Journalism

The Master’s of Arts in Journalism allows students who already have a bachelor’s degree to focus on a specific area of study and gain greater expertise. Students will expand their critical thinking skills and be able evaluate situations in a greater context in regard to their reporting. Examples of areas of concentration include interactive media, media management, and strategic communication. In addition, some schools offer concentrations in specific subjects, such as politics or arts and culture.

Master’s degree programs are offered at colleges and universities, with many offering programs online. Master’s programs typically involve two years of coursework, ranging from 37-48 credits, as well as a master’s thesis. A bachelor’s degree is required to apply to a master’s program. The application process usually requires a writing sample or essay, letters of recommendation, as well as GRE scores. A resume should also be provided by those students who already have work experience in the field. Master’s coursework will allow students to expand their critical thinking skills and focus on a specialized area of study, preparing them for a career in journalism.

Online Certificate Degrees in Journalism

Undergraduate and graduate online certificate degrees in journalism are available through most accredited schools. These programs generally take a year to two years to complete, depending upon the level of certification and whether the student commits to a full-time or part-time status.

Undergraduate certification programs generally require completion of an introductory, college-level journalism or English course, and students may need to maintain at least a 2.0 to 2.75 GPA. A passing grade in foreign language and math courses is also required. To enter a Graduate-level certificate program, you must have already obtained a bachelor's degree.

A certificate program at the undergraduate level is often pursued by students who are majoring in a field that requires writing, such as mass communication, public relations, marketing, or sociology. In this program, students typically will study different styles of journalism and develop their own style and voice. English and media studies may also be included in the coursework.

A graduate certificate program is primarily designed for journalist professionals seeking to advance or enhance their current careers. Specialty training in a selected area, such as immersion journalism or feature writing, is included. Those enrolled in a graduate certificate program focus on techniques, research, and analysis in journalism careers while expanding on their writing skills. Program coursework may include copy editing, business journalism, investigative journalism, and more.

Students pursuing an undergraduate certificate may apply their skills to careers in blogging, publishing, technical writing, or broadcast journalism. Other career options may also be open to students with an undergraduate certificate. Those who obtain graduate-level certification may wish to pursue a career as a news reporter, creative writer, editor, or magazine journalist.

The Importance of an Accredited Online Journalism Degree

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) provides accreditation to journalism and mass communication programs. Accreditation ensures that a college or university meets established standards. The curriculum of journalism and communications degrees can vary from school to school. Attending a school that has been accredited ensures that you are receiving a degree that meets or exceeds the quality level set forth by the ACEJMC.

Accreditation is important so that the student and employer know you are receiving a quality degree. It also is important to attend a school that has been accredited, because if you choose to transfer schools or obtain a higher degree, accreditation ensures that your prior coursework and degree will be recognized by other institutions.

Online Mass Communications Degrees

The Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications prepares students for careers in journalism, public relations, communication, and media production. Coursework typically includes classes in writing and journalism, public speaking, technology, business, leadership, and conflict resolution. Programs are 120 credits and take four years to complete. Accreditation for communications programs is provided by The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

Bachelor’s degree programs are offered at colleges and universities, with many offering programs online. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission. Students are often asked to submit SAT or ACT scores, depending on the school.

Students obtaining a communications degree can often choose to focus on a specific concentration or minor, such as journalism. Some schools do not offer a separate journalism degree and instead combine communication and journalism into one area of study.

Students pursuing degrees in communications have many opportunities after graduation, as companies all over the world hire people to work in the communications field. Careers for this major include journalism, public relations, sales, and human resources.

Careers in Journalism

Many students who pursue an online journalism degree look to standard forms of media in hopes of entering the field as a newspaper, television, or magazine reporter. However, with the ever-expanding world of new media, a wide variety of careers are available to those who graduate with a journalism degree.

Editor

Editors are often employed by newspapers, magazines, and publishing companies to oversee the overall content and quality of work submitted by reporters and writers. Many times, editors assign stories or articles to their contributors and proceed to suggest new directions in the piece or shape a developing story with new ideas. They are also often responsible for making sure finished work is presented without mistakes and that it meets all necessary guidelines. In addition to checking the work of others, editors may submit their own articles or stories for publication. As mass media steadily expands, there is a growing need for editors at online magazines and newspapers.

News Analyst

News analysts often work closely with editors. They advise journalists about trending subjects and the bigger picture of a story. Analysts work with editors to shape a newspaper or news program with interesting content that will hold audience attention. They often weigh public interest in a story with the media's obligation to keep the public informed of current events. News analysts may also write their own columns or appear on the broadcast to directly share their insight on current events with the public.

Reporter

Journalists working on the front lines to gather news often either work on regular beats or take assignments from an editor. Reporters follow up on stories, conduct interviews, gather facts, and produce quality research that is transformed into stories by editors and staff writers in the newsroom. Broadcast news reporters, however, often directly deliver their research and findings to the audience via remote broadcasts.

Public Relations Specialist

Publicists manage publicity for individuals, businesses or corporations. The majority of pubic relations specialists handle multiple clients in a private practice. Their primary functions are to present a positive public image for the individual or business, generate press coverage, and serve as a bridge between clients, media, and the public. A successful publicist manages campaigns, writes press releases, and performs a variety of other public relations functions.

Major strides and advances in media have opened up a wide pool of tools and career opportunities to those interested in a journalistic career. This demanding field requires commitment and diligence to be successful. Prospective journalism students would do well to interview local professionals about industry trends, typical work days, and other industry-related issues before deciding if journalism is the right career path.

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