There are a few schools throughout the United States that offer online Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree programs. Programs may have a combined focus on mass communication. Some online journalism majors are degree completion programs that require students to have previously completed general education, roughly equivalent to an associate's degree.
While students may not need to visit the home campus for classes, they may need to complete practical assignments involving field research and face-to-face interviews. Online students will also need to have word processing software.
By the end of a program, students can often assemble a portfolio highlighting skills in interviewing, report writing and layouts for print and online media. Prospective online students should find out if they will have opportunities to get practical experience, such as through working on a school newspaper or completing an internship. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employers prefer job applicants with these types of experiences.
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BA in Journalism
An online Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree program provides a general education in writing and communications skills. Students will learn how to research and write stories for newspapers, magazines, television broadcasts and other forms of mass media. Students will also study the history of journalism, as well as journalistic ethics and the role that journalists play in modern society; however, students should be aware that most courses will focus on the development of their writing and news reporting skills. Online BA programs in Journalism are relatively common, although students may find that online programs tend to focus more heavily on writing and reporting for electronic media.
Program Information and Requirements
As with most bachelor's degree programs, students completing a BA in Journalism degree program can expect to spend about 3-4 years of full-time study. The program can be completed with only online study. Most programs have no on-campus meeting requirements. Students should keep in mind that many journalism classes require students to research news stories, which often requires in-person interviews and research.
A laptop computer can improve a student's experience in the degree program, as its portability can be beneficial when researching stories or conducting in the field. Beyond that, no special software outside of a word processing program is required. As with all online degree programs, a reliable high-speed Internet connection is a must.
Common Journalism Courses
The classes in an online journalism bachelor's degree program are meant to improve a student's writing and news reporting skills. Students will also study the history of the field and the professional ethics and responsibilities of journalism professionals.
News Writing and Reporting
In this class, students will learn how to compose journalistic pieces for newspapers and magazines. Students will study different forms of news writing, including investigative journalism and feature writing. As part of the class, students will find sources of news stories, conduct interviews and write news stories. In many courses, students will edit the work of their peers to provide feedback and constructive criticism.
Ethics for Journalists and Media Professionals
Journalists, broadcasters and other media professionals must hold themselves to a high standard of professional ethics. In this class, students will examine this set of ethics and the reasons for their existence. In addition, students will examine case studies of real-world journalists who have faced ethical dilemmas. Additionally, this course will touch on the responsibilities that journalists have to their readers and viewers and the importance of impartiality and honesty in the field.
Students will examine the emerging field of e-journalism, also known as online journalism. Students will learn how writing for news websites and blogs differs from writing for newspapers and other forms of traditional mass media. This is an important course for students as the potential of the Internet as a source for news is virtually limitless.
Introduction to Advertising and Public Relations
In many programs, journalism students are encouraged to study the fundamentals of advertising, marketing and public relations, as many of the communications and writing skills possessed by journalists can be applied to these fields. Students will learn how to write copy for print ads and prepare press releases. The class will aim to highlight the similarities and differences between careers in advertising and public relations and journalism.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts, including news reporters, will decline by 9% between the years 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Increased reliance on reporting from wire services and shrinking circulation among traditional print media will contribute to this decline. Optimistically, the BLS believes that there may be job growth in some journalism sectors, most specifically online journalism. As of May, 2015, reporters and correspondents earned an average salary of $46,560 according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Master's degrees in journalism are available and programs may be completed online or in traditional college settings. These programs provide students with the opportunity to further study the theory and practice of journalism.
The value of earning an advanced degree is difficult to quantify; PayScale.com lacks sufficient salary data on journalism master's degree holders to compare salaries to bachelor's degree holders. It may be more beneficial for students to directly enter the workforce upon earning an undergraduate degree and begin building professional experience, since PayScale.com reports that in 2016 journalists with five to ten years of experience can expect to earn about $7,000 more per year than those with less than five years of experience.
Online Bachelor of Arts in Journalism programs cover concepts like public relations, news reporting and ethics. Graduates of these programs are qualified to work as news reporters, though they can also continue their education at the graduate level.