How To Get Into The Best Journalism Schools

journalism student holding a black camera
August 30, 2022
The 8 Best Journalism SchoolsTips to Get into the Best Journalism SchoolsJournalism Career Outlook and SalaryFAQs: Best Journalism Schools


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/5/22

What college is best for journalism? And how do you ensure your application stands out? Read on to learn more about some of the nation’s top journalism schools. 

You may consider majoring in journalism if you’re an aspiring reporter, writer, and editor. Journalism studies have become increasingly interdisciplinary as mass media and communications advance with technology. It’s a field where you can gain meaningful experience before graduation. 

Our guide can help you kickstart your school research to find the best journalism programs. Read on to build your college list based on factors that matter most to you in a journalism program! 

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The 8 Best Journalism Schools

Journalism has evolved with the digital era, allowing you to pursue various careers with a degree. So, what schools are good for journalism? Our list of the eight best journalism schools focuses on undergraduate journalism programs.

CollegeRank rates the best journalism schools in the country based on affordability, program accreditation, and potential salary after graduation. Below we’ll break down the top undergraduate journalism programs. 

1. The University of Texas at Austin 

Degree: Bachelor of Journalism

picture of the

Source: UTexas at Austin

The School of Journalism and Media at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin started in 1914. Its journalism program has grown into the largest of its kind in Texas and is the best journalism program on our list. 

The faculty is known “for its hands-on approach in teaching, mentoring and editing to provide students with both the sensibilities and the skills to be complete journalists and valuable contributors to an open, democratic society.” 

Notable classes offered include:

You can join organizations such as ORANGE and the UT National Association of Hispanic Journalists (UTHJ). ORANGE is UT’s student-run magazine, where students work in all aspects: from advertising and editorial to production and writing to finances and public relations. 

UTHJ supports Hispanic student journalists, and members can participate in a mentorship program, multimedia workshops, internships, and professional development. 

How to Apply & Application Requirements

You can submit the ApplyTexas application or the Common Application. You’ll need to pay the $75 application fee and submit application materials, such as:

Standardized test scores are optional, but you can still send them if you want to. Other optional documents you can submit include an expanded resume and up to two letters of recommendation.

2. University of Florida 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism

picture of the college of journalism and communications at the University of Florida

Source: UF College of Journalism 

The College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida (UF) was established in 1925. Students learn interviewing, writing, multimedia/visuals, and broadcasting skills. 

You can focus your studies on journalism or sports and media to gain a foundation in reporting, writing, public records, and more. You can also choose a two-course specialization in your interest area, such as: 

The sports and media specialization emphasizes sports-related coursework, though the curriculum is rooted in traditional journalism.

The University of Florida also has several student organizations, such as the Florida Magazine Student Association, dedicated to serving the needs of students who want to pursue a career in magazine writing, editing, designing, and publishing. The Tower Yearbook documents memories and captures moments for the UF community. 

How to Apply & Application Requirements

To apply to UF, you can submit the Coalition or Common Application. Required application materials include: 

UF has no preference for either test and considers the most competitive score for admission. Your test scores will be superscored, meaning your highest subsection scores across multiple test dates for the same exam are combined. 

3. University of Maryland

Degree: Bachelor of Arts 

Picture of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism Building

Source: Philip Merrill College of Journalism

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism is located near Washington, D.C., and aims to educate and prepare journalists and media scholars for fulfilling careers. The school offers three specializations for undergraduate students: 

If any of these specializations interest you, you must obtain nine to 18 credits in related courses (depending on your course combination) to earn your specialization. Elective class options as part of the core requirement include: 

Merrill College offers numerous organizations for students to immerse themselves in journalism from day one: 

There are many other organizations and initiatives to choose from, including the student-run radio station, WMUC Radio.

How to Apply & Application Requirements

If Merrill College sounds like the right fit for you, the school recommends applying before the early action deadline to receive priority consideration for admission. You can apply through the Common App. Admissions requirements include: 

You can choose whether or not you want to submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration. 

4. University of Wisconsin–Madison 

Degree: Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Journalism

Picture of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Source: UW - Madison

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is one of the nation’s best and earliest communication programs. The journalism school blends training, theoretical learning, and real-world practice in its competitive program.

You can choose between the Strategic Communication track or Reporting track. Some notable classes include: 

UW Madison has many student publications and media organizations. The Badger Herald is one of the nation’s largest, fully independent student daily newspapers, and students with all experience levels can join. 

WSUM is UW Madison’s student radio station broadcasting on 91.7 FM, where you can get involved in news, sports, programming, promotions, and audio journalism. 

How to Apply & Application Requirements

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication doesn’t offer direct admission for first-year students. You can apply as an upperclassman if you demonstrate written communication skills and have some journalism-related experience (student media organizations can fulfill this requirement).

To apply, you’ll need to submit a personal statement, resume, two writing samples, and a PDF of your transcript at UW Madison. 

5. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism

The College of Media at the University of Illinois allows students to gain real-world journalism experience in small classes that are “in effect, working newsrooms.” You can pursue five different interest areas, including: 

The University of Illinois prides itself in blending the best of both worlds: one-on-one mentoring mixed with a large research university’s resources and opportunities. Course offerings include: 

The College of Media offers numerous ways for journalism students to get involved and gain valuable real-world experiences. You can work for various online publications such as Odyssey or join the student-produced UI7 News newcast, to name a few. 

How to Apply & Application Requirements

You can apply using the Common App or the university’s online application portal. Application requirements include your: 

The University of Illinois doesn’t accept recommendation letters and has a test-optional policy. You can apply without SAT or ACT scores if you wish! 

6. Ohio University 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism

Picture of the school of journalism building at the Ohio University

Source: Ohio University 

The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism aims to prepare students for journalism’s ever-changing landscape, including jobs that may not even exist yet. The school emphasizes professional excellence, critical thinking, and social responsibility: essentials for the future journalist. 

There are three major tracks journalism students can pursue

Remember, the best journalism major colleges have to offer are the ones that align with your interests. 

A key part of Ohio University’s journalism degree is hands-on experience. All students complete an adviser-approved internship and can participate in various on-campus/local opportunities. 

How to Apply & Application Requirements

To apply to Ohio University, you must apply through the Common App and provide

Although not a requirement, Ohio University recommends you submit an essay explaining how you want to shape the future of journalism. 

7. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Picture of The UNC Hussman School of Journalism building

Source: UNC Hussman 

The UNC Hussman School of Journalism prepares students for careers in journalism, advertising, communications, and other related fields. The Media and Journalism major allows students to choose one of two study areas: Advertising and Public Relations or Journalism. 

Some core courses you’ll take at UNC Hussman include: 

UNC Hussman is also well known for its Bloomberg-UNC-Berkeley Business Journalism Diversity Program. The program shows how business journalists report on current issues, the economy, global stock markets, and more. 

Multiple student organizations at Hussman cater to any future journalist’s special interests. For example, broadcast journalist fans can join the TV newscast Carolina Week, whereas those interested in experimental news can check out the Reese Innovation Lab.

How to Apply & Application Requirements

You can apply to UNC through the Common App. You must include the following as part of your application

You can choose whether or not you want to submit SAT or ACT scores. 

8. Arizona State University

Picture of The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Source: ASU 

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is regarded as one of the best colleges for journalism majors. The school offers many undergraduate degree programs: 

The school operates Arizona PBS, one of the country’s largest public TV stations. Students can pursue various immersive learning opportunities through Arizona PBS, making it a “testing ground” for new journalistic approaches, techniques, and hands-on experiences. Some of the school’s professional immersive learning programs include: 

Cronkite offers many organizations and opportunities for students to get involved, including the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, Blaze Radio, and The Cut Network. 

How to Apply & Application Requirements 

You can apply through ASU’s portal or the Common App. Application requirements include

You can choose to submit SAT or ACT scores, but ASU is test-optional. 

Tips to Get into the Best Journalism Schools

The journalism schools on this list vary in acceptance rates and competitiveness. These tips can help you get into your desired schools, no matter which ones you apply to. 

Research Schools Thoroughly

Remember that this list is a starting point for you to build your college list. When evaluating journalism schools, you should check the curriculum, professors, student media organizations, and local opportunities. 

Ensure you consider the college as a whole, admissions requirements, location, finances, and how you envision yourself fitting with the school’s culture. 

Get Involved in High School

Get some writing experience before going to college, if possible. You can: 

Participating in various activities shows you’re a well-rounded, passionate student with experience in the major you want to pursue. 

Ace Your Admissions Essays

Your admission essays are crucial to demonstrate your personality to the admissions committee. Many schools require at least one essay in their applications, so you need to know how to stand out. 

Beyond showing off your personality and experiences, consider your essays a litmus test for your writing and communication abilities. Journalism careers require effective communication and adept writing skills; don’t miss your chance to show your aptitude!

Earn Competitive Grades and Test Scores 

Evaluate average GPAs and test scores of the incoming class at your prospective schools. Your application will be more competitive if your scores are at or higher than the middle 50% range. 

Though most schools in this list have adopted a test-optional policy for at least the next year, you can submit high scores to be a more competitive applicant at the best journalism universities. 

Journalism Career Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for news analysts, reporters, and journalists was approximately $48,300 annually. 

The median annual wages for news analysts, reporters, and journalists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Employment in this field is projected to grow 6% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 

FAQs: Best Journalism Schools

If you still have questions about the number one journalism schools, read on to learn more! 

1. Do You Need a Bachelor's Degree to Work In Journalism? 

You don’t necessarily need a degree to work in journalism: there’s no education level required. However, attending one of the country’s top journalism undergraduate programs can make it much easier to break into the industry.

2. What Is the Best School for Journalism? 

The School of Journalism and Media at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin is ranked as the number one journalism school. However, there are many colleges good for journalism majors: review each school’s offerings to determine which is best for you. 

3. What type of degree is a journalism degree?

Undergraduate journalism programs can be a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Journalism. The degree requirements depend on which school you attend, but journalism programs require 120 credit hours of communications and journalism courses and electives. 

4. Is Journalism a Good Major? 

Whether or not journalism is a good major depends on your career goals and interests. If you love writing, keeping up with current events, or are interested in radio or TV, journalism might be for you. 

5. What Kind of Job Can You Get With a Journalism Degree? 

You can pursue many careers because the writing, communication, and critical thinking skills you learn in journalism are highly sought after. The most popular career path is to be a news writer and reporter. Still, you can go into editing, content management, photography, public relations, production, and other fields. 

6. What Should I Consider When Researching Journalism Schools?

You should first consider how well a journalism program fits your career goals. The best journalism program is always the one that caters to your interests most. A college may be highly ranked, but you can look elsewhere if it doesn’t have enough classes or internship opportunities relating to your interests. 

You should research the curriculum at each school, the professors, the campus, and local opportunities to gain experience. 

7. How Do I Get Into Good Journalism Colleges? 

One of the best things you can do is get as much journalism experience as possible. Look for opportunities in writing, editing, photography, videography, podcasting, and other media forms. Various extracurriculars show admissions committees that you’re passionate about your major. 

As with any school, you should keep your GPA up and prepare well for standardized tests. 

Is a Top Journalism Program Right for You?

Journalism degrees prepare you by teaching versatile skills, such as critical thinking, writing, editing, interviewing, and multimedia production. Now that you know more about the best journalism programs, you can determine which is right for you. 

Remember that you should look for opportunities to gain hands-on experience during college. Journalism requires you to have as much professional experience as possible, and any of these schools can provide those resources. Good luck! 

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