In this guide, we dive deep into ten undergraduate journalism schools that consistently make it to the top of ranking lists. These are presented here in alphabetical order to de-emphasize the importance of rank when choosing from top-tier institutions.
Every school that tops ranking lists has something different to offer in terms of both its journalism program and overall school culture.
We encourage you to explore and identify factors that are most important to you and then make an informed decision from there. Here are the top journalism schools and what makes them stand out!
1. Boston University – College of Communication
To study journalism at Boston University, students must select the College of Communication (COM) for their college of choice in their undergraduate application. It offers a BS degree in journalism, and there is no separate application or additional materials required for COM.
Reasons to consider Boston University
- BU is a highly regarded school with name recognition: as stated on their page, the school has produced 24 Pulitzer Prize winners.
- In addition, COM offers great post-graduate employment prospects. 89% of bachelor graduates are currently working in jobs that are related to their COM degrees, and 83% of students from the class of 2019 found employment within 6 months.
BU is supportive of its students: all new students are paired with a COM Ambassador – a peer who has experienced what it is like to be a freshman and is used to student life broadly and COM specifically.
The COM Ambassador is a great resource for students to seek advice and support from during their transition period to a whole new campus and life!
- COM understands the importance of personalized writing support. While most universities will have general writing centers that are available to all students, BU’s College of Communication has its own writing centers to assist COM students. This means there will be writing tutors and editors that understand journalistic writing to help journalism students.
The College of Communication has five focus areas for a BS in journalism: online journalism, broadcast journalism, journalism, magazine journalism, and photojournalism, so students can further customize their degree according to their interests.
2. George Washington University – School of Media and Public Affairs
George Washington offers a Journalism and Mass Communications major through its School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA). Students can apply for the major as part of the undergraduate application, or they may apply later as a sophomore year in GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
Reasons to consider George Washington University
- George Washington University is right in the heart of Washington, D.C. Former students speak of their experiences and opportunities in Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, among many others. This means greater accessibility to great journalists, politicians, and publications like the Washington Post. For students whose love and interest for journalism go hand in hand with politics, George Washington is an ideal choice.
Similarly, George Washington’s SMPA offers two combined degree programs for students interested in the intersection of politics and journalism and do not want to choose between the two: 1) a BA in Journalism with a MA in Media and Strategic Communication and 2) a BA in Journalism with an MPS in Political Management.
- George Washington values hands-on experiences: the SMPA has an exclusive list of internships – including internships at political firms, news agencies, advocacy groups, and congressional press offices – available only to its students. In addition, juniors and seniors can get credit for internships.
The university also offers state of the art broadcasting facilities and equipment. All SMPA students are able to utilize the Media and Public Affairs Building, which has industry-standard equipment, including high-definition cameras, digital audio recorders, and Adobe Creative Loud video editing stations.
These resources may be important for students who are interested in less traditional journalism, like digital and photojournalism.
3. Northeastern University – College of Arts, Media, and Design
For journalism at Northeastern University, students apply to the College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) as part of their undergraduate application (within CAMD is the School of Journalism and Media Innovation). Students may choose to submit a portfolio of their work in their application, making CAMD a potential choice for students who have had experience and are sure about their commitment to the field.
Another option is to apply to Northeastern University’s Explore Program, designed specifically for undeclared students. This offers flexibility and support for those who are interested in journalism (or another major) but are unsure if they want to commit yet.
Reasons to consider Northeastern University
- Northeastern University’s School of Journalism is a dynamic program that does its best to keep up with changing times and changing modes of news delivery. It provides an education simultaneously focused on writing, and analytical and critical thinking skills and how to apply these skills to many different contexts. For example, the College of Arts, Media, and Design partners with the computer and engineering colleges to integrate data into journalism. This type of collaboration ensures that students’ journalism skills have room to grow into other fields.
The CAMD offers four different BA degrees, as well as four different BS degrees in journalism. Aside from the traditional Journalism BA, the seven other degrees integrate journalism with another field – including English, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Computer Science, and Data Science.
- With so many options, students are more likely to find one that fits their specific interests and needs.
Like George Washington University, Northeastern’s CAMD values hands-on experience. In fact, experiential learning is built into its program through its Cooperative Education Program, and students are strongly encouraged to participate in it.
If students choose to participate, they have the option between a four-year or five-year co-op program. Students are then paired with a Co-op Faculty Coordinator who helps students find and secure relevant co-ops for the duration of their time at the university. Students may complete up to three co-ops!
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4. Northwestern University – Medill
Students who want to study Journalism at Northwestern University simply indicate on their undergraduate application that they would like to attend Medill, Northwestern’s School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications.
Of course, keep in mind that Northwestern is a top-tier institution that is challenging to gain admission to by its own right.
Reasons to consider Northwestern University
For Medill students, Northwestern offers a robust curriculum structure made up of three components: core curriculum, outside concentration, and journalism electives. Some benefits of this structure are listed below:
- Foundational skills. Medill’s core curriculum is designed to level the field and put first-year students on the same page in terms of journalism knowledge and practice before delving deeper. This may be especially helpful for students who want to pursue journalism but do not have much experience yet.
- Breadth of knowledge. Students are required to choose a concentration in a field outside of Medill for the “outside concentration” portion of the curriculum. This allows students room to explore (and integrate) different ideas, interests, and skills to their journalistic practice, as well as encourage a well-rounded education.
Lastly, once students have a solid foundation, they can choose journalism electives that will further develop specific interests in the field.
- Medill has many unique opportunities and resources available to its students – so much so that it has an “Exclusive Opportunities” tab on its webpage. These opportunities include a Journalism Residency program for students who want practical, hands-on experience in the field, Medill on the Hill for students who want experience covering political topics in Congress, the White House, etc., and Double Major Opportunities.
Such resources are great for students who want to develop their expertise even further or who want more of a challenge from their education.
- Medill offers a five-year Accelerated Master’s Program. Students earn both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in journalism upon completion.
5. University of Maryland at College Park – Philip Merrill College of Journalism
Students who wish to study journalism at the University of Maryland choose the Philip Merrill College of Journalism as their college. Admission is competitive because the school is part of the Limited Enrollment Programs.
This means that the college’s admission standards are higher than the university’s. In fact, getting into the University of Maryland does not guarantee a spot in the college, like with Northwestern’s application process.
Reasons to consider the University of Maryland
- Merrill offers undergraduate, master, and doctoral level education in journalism. While getting a BA in journalism does not guarantee admission into Merrill’s graduate programs, it does mean students may have opportunities to connect with many experienced peers, mentors, and professors who are dedicated to the craft. Their education will be informed by an environment steeped in, and specialized for, journalism.
While Boston University has produced Pulitzer Prize winners, Merrill is staffed by many renowned faculty members, including those who have won Pulitzer prizes and Emmy awards.
- What’s more, Merrill’s competitive admission means small classes, a lower student-teacher ratio, and more opportunities for students to interact and learn from these experienced faculty members.
- Like Northwestern’s Medill, Merrill also values a well-rounded education. One-third of student course work is completed in Merrill, while the rest are focused in the humanities or liberal arts.
Merrill offers three journalism specializations for students looking for focus in these areas: Broadcast Specialization, Investigative Reporting Specialization, and Sports Specialization.
6. University of Missouri at Columbia – Missouri School of Journalism
There are two ways for students to be admitted to the Missouri School of Journalism (J-School). The first way is by applying to the School of Journalism in their general undergraduate application and obtain admission to both the university and the school (Directly Admitted Students).
Directly Admitted Students demonstrate their competency with high school grades, academic achievements, and standardized tests.
The second way is to be admitted to the university and then become a pre-journalism major and demonstrate their competency for the J-School through college course work (Pre-Journalism Students).
Keep in mind that students who take the second way will not be eligible for journalism scholarships through the J-School or to become a Walter Williams Scholar.
Reasons to consider the University of Missouri
- The University of Missouri was the first school to create a school of journalism (in 1908), as well as the first school in the world to offer a doctorate degree! Like Merrill, J-School offers undergraduate, master, and doctoral level education in journalism. An education at J-School is an education that is steeped in history and well-regarded by many.
The curriculum at J-School does not have requirements for outside concentrations. While this may come at a cost for students who prefer a more well-rounded or diverse study, it could be ideal for students who are looking for a more focused study program.
- Freshman year at J-School is dedicated to teaching students foundational knowledge and principles, sophomore and junior years are when students flesh out their education and choose areas of concentration, and senior year is where it all comes together with a Capstone project based on individual student interest and expertise.
Students further focus their studies by choosing from one of six career paths: Broadcasting, Cross-Platform Editing and Producing, Photojournalism and Documentary, Reporting and Writing, Social and Audience Strategy, and Strategic Communication. Career path courses are rooted in experiential learning and allow students to gain real-world experiences.
7. University of Southern California (USC) – Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Aside from the general undergraduate application, there is no separate application or additional materials required for admission into USC to study journalism at Annenberg.
At the same time, admission is competitive. This is because USC adjusts their admission review according to the student’s intended major.
If students choose journalism, they may be judged in relation to other students applying to Annenberg for Journalism and held to a higher standard compared to a general application.
Reasons to consider the University of Southern California
- Annenberg has a Progressive Master’s Degree Program. This is a great program for highly ambitious and motivated students. This program allows students to apply some of their undergraduate coursework credits towards a master’s degree. While the PDP cannot be applied for every type of master’s degree, Annenberg offers seven, including degree programs for an MS in Digital Social Media, MA in Specialized Journalism, and MPD in Public Diplomacy.
- Thanks to the university’s prime location in Southern California, Annenberg students enjoy the benefit of being able to intern at major companies, including news and multimedia agencies. Former students have had opportunities to intern at Hulu, Harper’s Bazaar, CNN, Fandango Inc., CBS Sports, and many others. USC states that, on average, students participate in 3.4 internships.
Annenberg students also benefit from a low student-teacher ratio. The average number of undergraduate students studying journalism is 298, and the journalism class size is 16!
This is ideal for students who prefer more intimate class settings and opportunities for one-on-one connections with professors.
8. University of Texas at Austin – Moody College of Communication
Admission into the Moody College at the University of Texas, Austin works similarly to Annenberg. On the general undergraduate application, students choose journalism as their major.
While no separate application or additional material is required for Moody, the college will look for students who demonstrate competency and passion, among many other factors, in that specific major they choose.
If students are accepted into UT Austin but not their first-choice major, they will be delegated to their second-choice major within the university. Another option is for students to apply for or be admitted to another major and attempt to transfer into Moody for journalism later on.
Reasons to consider the University of Texas
- Moody is comprised of several degree programs and departments. The School of Journalism of Media alone boasts 31 Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni.
Moody is great when it comes to supporting hands-on experience and future employment. The School of Journalism facilitates internship opportunities by allowing students to earn credit for them and integrate them into their academic schedule.
In addition, while every university will have a career center, Moody has a separate Career Center that is tailored to their students’ unique needs. Students may utilize the Center to find the best fit internships and ongoing career help.
- The college is overall a very supportive and nurturing environment for students. For example, Moody also has its own Writing Support Program that is staffed by coaches with journalistic writing expertise.
It also has a First-Year Interest Groups (FIG) program, which aims to help students connect and foster relationships with others, including peers, faculty, and staff across different majors. This means Moody may be a good choice for students who are excited to study journalism but may be nervous about a university experience in general.
9. University of Wisconsin at Madison – School of Journalism and Mass Communication
UW’s School of Journalism does not offer direct admission to freshmen. Instead, students must be admitted to UW and have at least a sophomore standing in order to apply to the J-School.
The J-School states that, while admission is selective, many students who apply for the major get in. Its admission rate is between 50 and 55 percent, and students may apply more than once if they do not get in the first time.
Reasons to consider the University of Wisconsin
- The UW’s J-School is part of the College of Letters and Sciences. Like some of the other schools on this list, this means that students will get a well-rounded education. In fact, they can choose to pursue either a Journalism Bachelor of Arts (JBA) or Journalism Bachelor of Science (JBS) depending on which fields students want to inform their journalistic skills with.
The J-School prides itself on its approach, which is a mix of “practice and theory.”
- The J-School offers two concentration tracks: Strategic Communication and Reporting. Strategic Communication is well suited for students who are interested in fields like advertising, social media management, digital marketing, and media planning among many others, while Reporting is for students interested in more “traditional” journalism, working for newspapers, magazines, news sites, etc. It is also possible for students to “double-track” in both concentrations.
Lastly, the J-School offers further opportunities for specialization through certificate programs in Sports Communication, Digital Studies, and Investigative Reporting.
10. New York University – Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
Students who are accepted into NYU may declare journalism as their major. While students do not have to specifically apply to the Journalism Institute, NYU students are required to take the Journalism JOUR-UA 50 or Journalistic Inquiry course first.
Reasons to consider New York University
- One of NYU’s’ biggest draws is its location. New York City is one of the busiest cities in the word and is home to many news organizations and agencies.
NYU advocates for “Learning by Doing.” It offers internship for credit, and NYU’s Journalism internships span over 23 pages. This, coupled with its location, is a great combination for building job experience and for employment outlook. Students have opportunities to experience what it is like to work in real, fast-paced environments.
- NYU faculty comprises professors who are still active in the field, as well as part-time instructors who work as journalists from “all the major news media.” This means that instruction at NYU will always be fresh and up-to-date with changing standards.
NYU hosts a Journalism-specific Career Fair every year. This is a great networking opportunity for students.
More of the Best Journalism Schools
Below, we’ve added some more of the best schools for journalism. Take a look and do your research on these fine institutions!
- Emerson College
- Syracuse University
- Washington & Lee University
- American University
- University of Colorado – Boulder
- University of Kansas
- University of North Carolina
- University of Minnesota
- University of Connecticut
- George College & State University
- Chapman University
- Ohio State University
- Arizona State University
Conclusion: Best Journalism Schools
If you’re looking to become a journalist, reporter, or even a filmmaker, the schools we mentioned above might be a great fit for you.
Remember, don’t focus on prestige. Focus on fit! Ask yourself where you’d thrive and enjoy your time in college.
If you have any questions feel free to drop us an email!