Many schools offer fully online stand-alone courses, certificate programs, bachelor's degree programs, and master's degree programs in the field of journalism. Students can take stand-alone courses and certificate programs for college credit or for non-credited continuing education. Students interested in pursuing a degree can select a program that focuses on a specific type of journalism or opt for a general journalism program with a diverse curriculum.
Online learning in these programs usually requires nothing more than Internet access. Course scheduling options vary but often include recorded material students can complete at any time and synchronous classes completed during specific days and times.
Individual Courses and Certificates
Although rare, journalism certificate programs are available online at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Programs can take as little as a semester or two up to two years. Some schools allow students to earn college credit to apply toward a program or degree, while others only provide courses in an uncredited, non-degree format. Some courses might also have prerequisites that must be completed prior to enrolling.
Courses and certificate programs may include a foundational course in newswriting, as well as a series of journalism courses in a student's area of interest. A few common course topics include the following:
- Online Criticism
- Travel Writing
- Professional Ethics
- Digital-Era Photojournalism
- Science Journalism
Distance learners enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in journalism can often select a concentration, such as online journalism, public relations, advertising, print journalism and broadcasting.
In addition to concentration-specific courses, students also complete general education courses in the liberal arts and electives in areas such as column writing, publication design and urban reporting. Some courses could cover the following subjects:
- American Journalism History
- Feature Writing
- News Reporting
- Communication Theories
- Mass Media and Society
Often tailored to currently practicing journalists who want to expand their education in the field, online master's degree programs in journalism typically require a 2-year commitment. Master's candidates complete assigned readings and research papers independently, but could also participate in real-time class meetings via conferencing software. Certain assignments and tests must be completed within a given time frame. Online students may often select either a thesis or non-thesis track and choose a specialization in areas such as media management, news-editorial journalism and broadcasting.
Although the specific curriculum for master's students hinges on the area of concentration, graduate journalism programs typically require all students to complete a few basic courses, which could include the following:
- Media Economics
- Research Methods
- Mass Communication History
- Theories in Mass Media
- Strategic Communication Principles
Online journalism programs teach students skills related to newswriting, and can have specific areas of concentration, such as online journalism or public relations. Graduate programs are generally geared towards practicing journalists, and may require a thesis for completion.