Journalism Degrees | Top Universities

Are you interested in global affairs and politics? Or maybe you have a passion for celebrity news and events? Do you want to raise awareness about social problems, or want to visit new places and meet people from all kinds of backgrounds? If you answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions, then maybe you should consider a career in journalism. Since media is such a competitive industry, it will often help if you formally study journalism, as well as establishing a portfolio of work, before applying for jobs. Read our guide to find out all you need to know about journalism degrees, career prospects and specializations.

What do journalism degrees cover?

There are numerous varieties of journalism degrees available, some offering a broad overview of the field and others with a specialized focus from the start. The two most common pathways are print and online journalism and broadcast journalism. Based on your choice, the course will focus on different roles and functions within journalism, as well as allowing you to develop the professional skills needed for a journalism career. Generally, if you study journalism you will learn about how to work in a newsroom; how to find sources and how to present information to the public, using various media and focusing on different topics and target audiences for both print and online journalism. Often you’ll have opportunities to complete work experience and lots of practical project work.

Entry requirements for journalism degrees

The entry requirements for journalism degrees are quite flexible, and may vary between institutions. Usually you will be required to present a good diploma of secondary education with excellent grades in languages, literature or other arts and humanities subjects. However, students from all academic backgrounds are likely to be considered, as long as they can prove their motivation and determination to study journalism. Postgraduate-level applicants may be asked to provide a cover letter and/or attend a live interview with the course leader. Some universities may also ask you to present a portfolio of articles and feature stories you have written.

Course structure and assessment methods

At bachelor’s level, journalism degrees usually last for three or four years depending on the country, while a master’s degree lasts for one or two years. Some universities offer courses with more of a theoretical approach, while others are highly vocational and practical. Usually the program includes lectures, seminars and practical modules, which may focus on working in a newsroom, reporting, filming a documentary and other tasks associated with journalism careers. Assessment methods may include exams, coursework, essays, articles, video/audio projects and others, depending on the specialization you have chosen.

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Journalism topics

Journalism is becoming an ever broader field of study. You can specialize in pretty much any area of interest and any form of media you are interested in, choosing from a huge variety of journalism topics. Usually students will need to choose between the two main  pathways – print and online journalism, or broadcast (TV and radio), though it may also be possible to combine elements of both. Here are some of the most popular journalism topics:

Arts and entertainment journalism

The field of arts and entertainment journalism encompasses everything connected to the entertainment industry – theatre, cinema, music, celebrities, exhibitions, shows and more. You will learn how to review plays, movies and music albums; how to interview stars and other industry professionals; how to cover events and festivals; and simply how to walk the line between entertainment and information. You should have the opportunity to attend shows, exhibitions and other cultural events during your studies, gaining hands-on experience and honing your expertise as a critic.

Current affairs journalism

Among the most popular journalism specializations, the field of current affairs requires analysis of newsworthy events which have happened locally, nationally or internationally. In order to study this journalism topic, you’ll need to keep pace with various major events and issues around the world today, and be able to research and dig deep. You will learn how to prioritize the most important news stories for your target audience, and analyze the background and underlying factors behind each event, as well as making informed assessments about the implications.

Data journalism

A relatively new and fast-growing specialization, data journalism means presenting news information based on numerical data, often using formats such as interactive digital graphics, charts and maps. This field forms a link between core journalism skills and areas including statistics, design, computer science and data visualization. If you choose to study data journalism, you will learn how to transform abstract data into a compelling story, and master a wide range of practical techniques in order to access, analyze and present data in a way that makes sense to your target audience.

Investigative journalism

Those who want to use their journalism skills to make a difference in the world by bringing new information into the public arena should consider studying investigative journalism. This course will tackle topics ranging from business and financial journalism to conducting investigations into individuals, companies and corporations. Students will gain journalism skills in producing news material, and interviewing, and also study related legal and ethical issues. Specializing in investigative journalism will also teach you how to effectively use public records and databases, and you may also learn how to record evidence while under cover, using hidden microphones and cameras.

Lifestyle journalism

A lifestyle journalism specialization is designed for students who wish to develop a journalism career in the highly competitive lifestyle media industry. You may specialize in a particular aspect of the broad lifestyle category, such as fashion, food, properties, family, health or leisure, becoming proficient in identifying new angles, and researching and presenting feature articles or broadcasts.

Sports journalism

Are you obsessed with sports? Whether your passion is for football or baseball, tennis or Formula 1, sports journalism may be the perfect way to combine your interests and expert knowledge with a career in journalism. Today’s international sports industry is huge, occupying a major place in the news agenda and servicing the demands of fans across the globe. Apart from developing general journalism skills such as shorthand and reporting skills, specializing in sports journalism will teach you all about the economics, evolution and organization of the sector. You will gain experience in event coverage, interviewing and reporting, and develop your own voice as a commentator.

Travel journalism

If you are adventurous and love exploring new places, you may want to consider specializing in travel journalism. This course will aim to prepare you for writing about different destinations, describing various cultures and customs, and getting a feel for what excites your audience the most. Travel journalists write (or broadcast) about numerous topics – from means of traveling to country guides, and from interviewing local people to describing traditional cuisines. During the course of your travel journalism studies you should have the chance to experiment with different topics and techniques in order to find where your interests and strengths lie.

In addition to these journalism topics, there are many more available. You could choose to specialize in reporting on developments in the fields of science, education, business and finance, politics, human rights, technology, criminal trials, environmental issues – or anything else people are interested in hearing about. Whichever specialization you choose, there are likely to be plenty of opportunities to keep learning new skills, meeting new people and discovering those essential new angles.

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Journalism careers

The journalism topics you study should start to give you an indication of the types of journalism career you’re heading for. The industry is highly competitive, so you need to be prepared to be persistent and work hard. If you can start gaining work experience through placements, part-time jobs, internships or voluntary roles during your studies, this should help when you come to apply for jobs. Here are the most common career options in journalism:

Journalism careers in print and online media

Many journalism students will be looking to enter roles within the print or online media sectors. This may include writing news or feature articles for newspapers, magazines or websites, either as a permanent staff member or as a freelance journalist. You’ll need excellent writing skills and be able to present new information to the public in an original, attention-grabbing way. As your career progresses, you should have the opportunity to develop your own personal style, and you may choose to specialize in writing about a particular field – such as current affairs, politics, sports, travel or finance.

Journalism careers in radio and TV

Alternatively to writing for print and online, you can choose a career in broadcast media, meaning radio and TV. There are career opportunities here both in front of the camera (or microphone) and behind the scenes, include reporter, presenter, producer, editor, researcher and director. You may be involved in overseeing the content of each broadcast, presenting the content, finding interviewees and locations, or working on the technical side of production. In order to get a job in this competitive sector, you’ll need to be highly creative and imaginative, able to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines, and willing to work long and often irregular hours.

Journalism careers in documentary making

Another pathway which would allow you to make use of your journalism skills is the field of documentary making. This could involve producing broadcasts for either TV or radio, with a similar range of roles available – reporter, director, camera person, and editor. As your progress, you may come to specialize in making documentaries with a particular theme or style, typically working on each project on an individual contract basis. Again, this sector is competitive and demanding, but the experience of working on a project from the initial idea through to final product can be immensely creative and rewarding.

Journalism careers in media management

After some years of experience of working in journalism, you may go on to a role in media management. This could mean taking on a leadership role within a media publication, channel, platform or other organization. Responsibilities could include managing budgets, recruitment and human resources, commercial strategy, branding and creative development. You may specialize in leading an organization’s digital strategy, find a role at the helm of a news desk, or lead on issues such as intellectual property law, profitability or project management.

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