Journalism is a great career for students with keen insight and deep-seated curiosity. It is the industry responsible for disseminating news accurately, fairly, and quickly and encompasses all types of social media. International students who wish to study journalism in the US will need to work well under pressure and tight deadlines, have excellent writing skills, and an inquisitive nature.
Covering a wide-range of writing styles and issues, journalism appeals to students from a variety of backgrounds. Students who wish to study journalism in the US should make sure the school they apply to offers journalism courses in the specialty of their choosing. Specialties include broadcast journalism—in radio or television; print journalism—encompassing newspapers and magazines; online journalism—including online newspapers, blogs and other social media; or photojournalism.
Choose a school
A decent bachelor's and master's degree program can be found throughout the country. When searching, take a good look at location. Gaining experience—and making connections with news outlets and journalists in the industry—while still in school is a major advantage, especially for international students looking to work in the US after graduation. Students interested in an internship or job with a specific news outlet should research schools where that internship is based. Likewise, students interested in reporting for a specific industry may want to stick to schools near that industry's headquarters: for example, technology is based in the Silicon Valley near San Francisco, politics near Washington D.C, and finance in New York City.
Some top journalism schools (or j-schools) include the world's first journalism school, opened in 1908, at the University of Missouri, UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina, which offers combined programs in business, science, health, or law to better prepare students looking to practice journalism in those industries; or most well-known is Columbia University, situated in the heart of the publishing industry in New York City. Renowned for its graduate journalism programs, it does not offer a bachelor's degree in journalism.
In addition to the requirements for American citizens, international students who wish to study journalism in the US may be asked to supplement their applications with the following:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores; in most cases these are only required for students who's first language is not English. Keep in mind that admissions committees are looking for students with a strong grasp of the English language. Journalism is very heavy in writing and these scores will need to reflect that.
- English translations for any transcripts or writing samples/clips.
- Proof verifying there are sufficient funds to cover the total cost of attending school in the US. This can be a bank statement or an official form provided by the school. In some cases, this is only necessary once accepted.
If you need additional funding to study journalism, explore financial resource options like scholarships and loans.
In the US, a bachelor's degree in journalism takes four years where, upon graduation, students will receive either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA). Students will begin with core journalism courses such as writing, reporting, editing, media law, journalism history, and ethics. To gain practice, professors will expect students to work outside of the classroom and report on community and/or school issues for class assignments. Once these basics are mastered, students will focus on the area of their interest and take journalism courses tailored to their specialties -in photojournalism, magazine writing, or newspaper writing for example.
However, a good journalist is a well-rounded one, and the majority of a journalism major's classes are not journalism related. In addition to the courses mentioned above, students are expected to gain a broad base of knowledge in the arts and humanities—students can choose classes in history, literature, science, philosophy, religion, art, etc. What journalism students might also consider is a double major in another subject. Having expertise in another field, political science, for example, will make a student interested in reporting politics that much more knowledgeable, as well as give them a more competitive resume when job hunting after graduation.
The only thing that will make a good journalist better is practice, and many schools require that students complete an internship. J-schools will help students find a placement, but if the internship is located in a different city it is the student's responsibility to find and pay for housing.
Additionally, take advantage of the campus newspaper, magazine, radio, or broadcast station. These are present on nearly every college or university across the country and are an important and accessible way to gain experience.
International students interested in a master's degree can expect an additional 1-2 years of schooling. While a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite, potential graduate students need not obtain a bachelor's in journalism to be considered for a journalism graduate degree program.
Journalism doesn't necessarily mean a career in investigative journalism—in fact, those jobs, while not unattainable, are limited and highly selective. Career prospects for journalism majors are varied and include:
- Foreign / War Correspondent
- Technical Writer
- Sports Commentator
- Broadcast news anchor
- Radio Commentator
- Journalism/Communications Professor
- Public Relations Specialist