Posts Tagged ‘Journalism School’

50 Best Journalism Schools and Programs at U.S. Colleges and Universities [Updated for 2013]

A faculty colleague in another field recently asked me what journalism schools I would most recommend for her college-bound son, who is apparently an aspiring newshound.  Below is a listing of the ones I offered her in response AKA what I consider to be the best college and university journalism schools nationwide AKA places I would strongly consider enrolling if I woke up tomorrow back in high school.

The list is NOT meant to be all-inclusive or objective.  It is based on nothing more than my personal knowledge of various schools’ and colleges’ reputations, faculty, affiliated student media, classes, and feedback I’ve received in spurts from students and (mostly younger) alums.

It is strongly biased in favor of schools that are exciting me in the digital journalism realm and that are in some way aligned with quality campus media or professional publishing opportunities.  It is biased against journalism programs and departments (only schools included here) and certain schools I simply do not know enough about (although in some respects the fact that they have not crossed my daily college media blogging radar is a sign).

In alphabetical order, here are what I consider to be the best j-schools in the country:

Arizona State University

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Indiana University

School of Journalism

Iowa State University

Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

Michigan State University

School of Journalism

New York University

Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

Northwestern University

Medill School of Journalism

Ohio University

E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

Syracuse University

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

University of Florida

College of Journalism & Communications

University of Georgia

Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication

Kansas University

William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications

University of Iowa

School of Journalism & Mass Communication

University of Maryland

Philip Merrill College of Journalism

University of Minnesota

School of Journalism & Mass Communication

University of Missouri

School of Journalism

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School of Journalism & Mass Communication

University of Oklahoma

Gaylord College of Journalism & Mass Communication

University of Oregon

School of Journalism & Communication

University of Southern California

Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism

University of Texas at Austin

School of Journalism

Please let me know, politely: What other schools should be on the list???  Depending on their merits, I will add them immediately.  (To be clear again upfront, I did not include journalism programs, departments or graduate schools.)

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Two recent pieces brought journalists’ love/hate relationship with journalism school back into the spotlight.  In the hate camp, Richard Sine writes on HuffPo with exasperated astonishment that anyone would pay for a journalism education given the current state of the economy and field.

In his piece, headlined subtly “Close the J-Schools,” Sine opines, “These kids are paying upwards of $70,000 . . . for a ghost’s chance of landing a job, at pitiful pay, in an industry that is rapidly collapsing. What’s going to be the next hot field in graduate study? Blacksmithing? Bloodletting? Steamship design?

His points are well-argued retreads of the traditional if there’s no job, where’s the beef? line of reasoning.  It’s certainly one philosophy, but it fails to consider that many, many, many, many, many students do not major in an academic field of study solely for the purpose of landing a job in that field upon graduation. Colleges and universities are not purely factory lines.

This sentiment is shared in a (slightly) more optimistic post about j-education by the blogger DigiDave.  At the close of a thoughtful, if rambling post, he summons the journalism Gods with this pronouncement: “I think there is a misconception that they hand out jobs at the end of J-school. I think 10 years ago this may have been true, but it isn’t right now, perhaps never will be again. The goal for when you come out of J-school is to start at the bottom, but be so refined and qualified that they’ll recognize how good you are quickly. Whereas others straight out of undergrad will be learning on the job– you’ll be showing off on the job. And there is real practical benefit to that in one’s career. So that’s how I see it. Go forth and journalize.”

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While it has been reported with increasing regularity by evermore news media and with ever-greater blogysteria over the past 18 months, the trend apparently did not become real until a few days ago when The New York Times said so: Journalism schools are struggling to stay ahead of the new media curve in planning their curricula and larger philosophical and practical directions.  Or in the words of the NYT story headline : “J- Schools Play Catchup.”

My first reaction: Duh.  My second reaction: The tense is wrong.  My suggestion for a revised hed: “J-Schools WILL Play Catchup, Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever . . .

The most important truth j-schools (and all media outlets) need to accept: We will never be caught up again.  New media are dynamic.  Even the name, or at least the first word, hints at their always-innovating nature.  Once we conquer or devise a course to wrap our heads around some aspect of them, it is inevitable (and exciting) that something else will change.  This does not mean a quality curriculum cannot generally capture the skills and theories j-students of tomorrow will need to succeed, but the notion that we will ever again be ‘caught up’ or on top of things is a myth- one that is rooted in our experiences with old media.

What are some foundation and fun courses that should be slotted into any new j-school curriculum?  Here is a slightly serious, slightly snarky top five:

1) Mobile Phone Use 101: The power of a reporter’s mobile phone is already great and growing evermore infinite. This class would be a field-based exercise in mobile blogging, vlogging, photography, audio recording, interviewing, and related Web uploading, downloading, and hyperlinking.

2) Twitter-tastic 140: The entire course would be rooted in the Twitter culture. The syllabus, assignments, class discussions, and exams would all need to fit into the bite-sized tweet format. 

3) Investigative Reporting: A majority of blogging is personal.  A vocal minority discuss issues.  Most of those bloggers critique or expand upon reports already presented elsewhere.  For journalism to remain relevant and needed, it must continue to do the one thing the blogosphere generally does not: in-depth, long-term, beneath-the-surface ‘tough’ stories on complex individuals or issues. (A great recent example is this ESPN investigative report on former baseball great and current entrepreneurial mess Lenny Dykstra.)

4) New Media Ethics: It is obvious even the professionals are not yet entirely sure how to handle all the issues new technology and a 24-hour news cycle hath wrought.  Students must be taught the basics, so as not to end up like Washingtonian Magazine, as reported today by CNN in this linked story and video below.

Washingtonian Video


5) Internet Famous Class: Nowadays, it’s all about getting eyeballs and Web hits in our “attention economy.”  The video below, linked here, explains it all.

Internet Famous Class

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OK, so a series of recent news items have proved that the reports of j-school enrollment increases amid the profession’s economic doom-and-gloom have NOT been greatly exaggerated.  While some pieces have provided glimpses into possible reasons, the lingering larger-picture question remains: WHY?

Here are general answers I have come across or personally consider applicable:

1) Students’ Love of Writing/The Creative Angle: They want to create, but not in iambic pentameter.  A j-major still treads a nice middle ground between creative writing/English (too esoteric) and PR/advertising (too selling-out-while-still-young or too foreign a concept).

2) Their infatuation with the pop culture aura of the journalist-as-superhero: A recent Baltimore Sun piece on the enrollment trend cites a University of Maryland j-student saying, “All of the kids in journalism school still have idealized visions of journalism. We’ve all seen All the President’s Men and that’s the journalism we fell in love with.”

3) Their loathing of other subjects like math and science: Let’s face it, even with its burgeoning high-techness, journalism is still seen as much more do-able to many students than the pre-med, engineering, or advanced physics tracks.

4) Their idealistic belief that they will be one of the remaining few to merge the words newspaper and career together: Ironically, many recent pieces not only note that students still aspire to be j-schoolers but also still want a career in newspapers.  Why oh why?  Well, even with imminent death warnings being bandied about like North Korea’s promises of a satellite launch, newspapers still provide the most jobs of any other medium in j-world.  And at least for one last batch of incoming j-students, they provided  their most regular exposure to journalism while growing up.

5) Their hope that new media’s worldwide (web) domination will soon lead to an explosion of related j-jobs: Columbia University’s dean of academic affairs recently said he views the current journalistic slash-and-burn “as being like a forest fire. It damages a lot of trees, but once the smoke clears, you see the buds come out.” (Does he mean blogs?) Basically, while j-jobs might be scarce in the near future, j-CAREERS may still exist (something the Sun piece notes), catering to those with specialized techy skills or knowledge bases or the ability to draw a following.

6) Their acceptance that a j-degree will help beyond the traditional j-job-seeking: It’s an audio-video-Flashified-bloggerific-podcastastic time in not only journalism but marketing, advertising, PR, corp comms, etc.  I have a friend here in Singapore who developed and runs a daily-updated Web site full of all-things new media and a faux-journalistic spirit.  Her field: real estate.

7) J-student extraordinaire Daniel Bachhuber commented on my last post that one possible reason behind the enrollment spike is an increase in non-traditional students– older folks, career-switchers or print-and-ink journos looking to get a new media leg-up in a tough economy.  I think it definitely might be one more factor fleshing out all of the above.  No professional press pieces have yet touched on it.


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Even amid an industry-wide shrink-fest and an upside-down-inside-out topsy-turvydom to all-things-journalism, students still want to study the craft- more than ever.  It’s not a fluke.  It’s seemingly fact.  A sampling of recent reports:

As the Press Gazette report notes, in England, applications from students aspiring to obtain journalism degrees from the country’s universities are up 24 percent (?!?!) from last year, even while 1,000 j-jobs were shed in the UK since last summer.

Interim Dean of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism about the shrinking industry and current j-state (via Washington Post):   “Everyone is looking at it in horror.  It’s just a drumbeat, isn’t it?  It’s frightening. Yet our applications here at Merrill are up.  Students want to come to journalism.”

The School of Journalism & Mass Comm. at Colorado University also reports “an odd enrollment trend,” according to The Daily Camera (via Romenesko): “The number of students applying for the school is climbing.  Even more mystifying is the solid increase in the number of applicants who want to be ‘news-editorial’ majors, a degree track that has traditionally groomed graduates for newspaper jobs.”

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports: “Unlike in the rest of the world, journalism is thriving at Penn.”  The Annenberg School will soon potentially add a journalism minor to its famously non-journalistic slate of programs after a campus survey revealed ample student interest.  As the director of the university’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing told the DP: “‘There is a hunger for journalism.  I’m already meeting with people in the class of 2013′ interested in journalism.”

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“Campus gossip Web site tests freedom of speech”: One student’s take on the continuing Juicy Campus saga (Poughkeepsie Journal)


“Students see the possibilities”: A journalism professor writes about what keeps students joining J&MC programs (Miami Herald)


“College students learn records may be open, courtesy not a given”: A rundown of j-students’ experiences gathering public documents in River Falls, Wisc., as part of an information gathering course (River Falls Journal)


“Back home again in Indiana”: Sports journalism program starting at Indiana University  (Reporter-Times)

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