Do you devour the news of all sorts, spending much of your free time reading articles on how technology is changing our lives, how the politicians du jour are faring, and how badly the most recent reality television show is tanking? If you enjoy consuming news, and in turn writing about it, consider majoring in journalism. Journalists communicate with readers and viewers through a variety of platforms, such as magazines, newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet.
Students will develop writing, reporting, and editing skills for broadcast and print journalism alike. Skills such as persistence, initiative, and determination are essential in the tough, but often rewarding, field. Students should also cultivate other interests in areas such as business, the arts, or politics because this will strengthen their reporting skills. The best journalists offer a broader explanatory context for current events.
Classes and Assignments of a Journalism Major
In journalism classes that emphasize real-world experience, students will find and interview sources, record and edit sound, write radio and TV scripts, sharpen their writing and editing skills, and more – and all under the pressure of a looming deadline. Since journalism also requires a working knowledge and awareness of other fields, students will be required to take a broad range of liberal arts courses in economics, history, and more. Studying a foreign language may also prove beneficial to aspiring journalists. Students will learn about libel laws, ethics, and civic responsibility. Involvement in on-campus newspapers, magazines, or broadcast stations, as well as internships, will strengthen students’ reporting and writing skills.
Degree Levels for a Journalism Major
- Bachelor’s. For most journalism positions, online associate journalism degrees are not enough. Rather, online bachelors journalism degrees are required to pursue a career in the highly competitive field. While some journalists studied journalism as undergraduates, others majored in English, political science, history, communications, and other fields. Majoring in an area aside from journalism may be advantageous, since the field requires a working knowledge of history, culture, and current events. Employers also prefer candidates who gained hands-on experience through campus outlets and internships with news organizations.
- Master’s. Online masters journalism degrees affords an individual the opportunity to strengthen and update their reporting, writing, and editing skills. Individuals who studied another field, such as political science, as undergraduates may choose to pursue a master’s degree in journalism. Similarly, students who studied journalism as undergraduates may pursue a master’s degree because they want to update their skills in areas such as digital journalism or online media. The degree typically takes two years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated programs that let students earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years.
- Doctoral. Students who pursue doctoral degrees in journalism are interested in pursuing research or teaching at the university level. They must have prior journalism experience. A Ph.D. in journalism may take between five to seven years to complete and usually involves a dissertation.
A Future as a Journalism Major
The journalism industry is a highly competitive one. It requires individuals to have not only credentials and experience, but also gumption and strong networking skills. Journalism majors may become local beat newspaper reporters, magazine feature writers, social media managers, and foreign correspondents, and the duties required in these positions are varied. Journalism majors who leave journalism may become professors, researchers, and analysts.
Employment rates for news analysts, reporters, and correspondents are expected to decline moderately, by 6%, through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salaries also vary widely, depending on your employer and experience. According to the BLS, broadcast news analysts‘ average yearly earnings were $72,710 as of May 2010. Reporters and correspondents reported average yearly earnings of $43,780.