How To Get Into The Best Journalism Schools

journalism student holding a black camera
August 28, 2023
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 7/26/23

If you’re interested in a career focused on communication, writing, and current issues, journalism may be right for you. Read on to learn more about the best schools known for journalism and tips to get in. 

If you are an aspiring reporter, writer, and editor, you may consider majoring in journalism. Journalism studies have become increasingly interdisciplinary as mass media and communications advance with technology. It is a field where you need as much firsthand experience as possible before you graduate. 

Our guide can help you start your research for schools with excellent journalism programs. You can get a good idea of which schools best fit your interests and goals. Try not to focus on the rank of these schools and look at their characteristics instead. 

Consider what you want out of a journalism program and build your college list based on factors that matter most to you. Read on to learn more about the best journalism programs and how to get in.

Tips to Get into the Best Journalism Schools

The journalism schools on our list vary in terms of acceptance rates and competitiveness. Here are some tips to help you get into your desired schools, no matter which ones you apply to. 

Research the Schools Thoroughly

Remember that our list of good journalism schools is meant to be a starting point for you to build your college list. When you do your research, check out the curriculum, professors, student media organizations, and local opportunities. 

Ensure you consider the college as a whole and think about admissions requirements, location, finances, and your fit. 

Get Involved in High School

Get some writing experience before going to college if you can. Join the yearbook club, school newspaper, other media opportunities, or community service organizations. Participating in various activities show you are a well-rounded, passionate student and have experience in the major you want to pursue. 

Use Online Essay Guides and Resources

Essays are one of the most crucial ways to demonstrate your personality and fit. Many schools require at least one essay, so you need to know how to stand out. Submitting the best essay possible begins with a good strategy, compelling anecdotes, and a logical flow. 

Achieve a Competitive GPA and High Test Scores

Consider average GPAs and test scores of the incoming class of students at your prospective schools. Make sure your scores are at least in the middle 50% for the schools you want to apply to. 

Though most schools have adopted a test-optional policy for the next year or two, you can still submit your scores to be a more competitive applicant and get into a top journalism school.

The 8 Best Journalism Schools

Journalism is a field that has evolved with the digital era, allowing you to pursue various careers with this degree. Our list of the eight best schools for journalism focuses on undergraduate journalism programs: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Journalism. 

A Bachelor’s degree in journalism requires at least 120 credit hours in communications and journalism courses, electives, and practical experience with an internship.

Admissions requirements vary depending on the school, but you typically need a high school diploma, strong communication skills, and related extracurricular activities.

1. 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. Its journalism department is one of the best in the nation. You will learn skills in interviewing, writing, multimedia/visuals, and broadcasting. 

You can focus your studies on either journalism or sports and media. You gain a foundation in reporting, writing, public records, and more in the journalism specialization. 

You can also choose a two-course specialization in your area of interest, such as: 

  • Photojournalism 
  • Coding 
  • Social media 
  • Magazine writing 
  • And more

The sports and media specialization’s curriculum still has its roots in traditional journalism, but it emphasizes sports-related coursework. 

The University of Florida has several student organizations you can join to gain journalism experience. The Florida Magazine Student Association is a professional organization dedicated to serving the needs of students who want to pursue careers in magazine writing, editing, designing, and publishing.

How to Apply to College of Journalism and Communications

To apply to UF, you can submit the Coalition Application or the Common Application. The school has no preference for one application over the other. You will need to submit: 

  • An application fee of $30 or fee waiver 
  • High school transcripts 
  • Extracurricular activities list 
  • Information about your parents/guardians
  • Short answer supplements 
  • Essay responses 
  • SAT or ACT scores

UF has no preference for either test, and will consider the most competitive score for admission. They superscore tests, meaning that they combine your highest subsection scores across multiple test dates for the same exam.

2. The University of Texas at Austin 

Degree: Bachelor of Journalism

picture of the University of Texas
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. 

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: 

  • Digital Storytelling Basics
  • News for a Mobile Audience
  • Media Cultural Survey of Photography
  • Covering Live Performances

You can join student organizations such as ORANGE and UT National Association of Hispanic Journalists (UTHJ). ORANGE is UT’s student-run magazine, and the staff works on all its elements, 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 to the School of Journalism and Media

To apply to UT Austin, you can submit the ApplyTexas application or the Coalition Application. You will need to pay the $75 application fee or a fee waiver, and submit: 

  • All transcripts 
  • An essay 
  • Short answer responses 

Standardized test scores are optional, though you can still send them for consideration. Other optional documents you may submit include an expanded resume and up to two letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or people you know well within or outside of high school.

3. Northwestern University 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism

Northwestern Campus
Source: Northwestern

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University (NU) was founded in 1921, and its journalism degree is a STEM-designated program. The curriculum comprises three components: core courses, an outside concentration, and journalism electives. 

Some notable courses offered at Medill include: 

  • Philosophy of Modern Journalism
  • Multimedia Storytelling
  • The Googlization of America
  • Documentary

You can join many student media organizations, like North by Northwestern and the Northwestern News Network (NNN). North by Northwestern is a student-run magazine printed thrice yearly, aligned with academic quarters. Its website is regularly updated with campus news, lifestyle, and entertainment stories, and photos and videos. 

The NNN is a news channel where students create shows. You can experience all aspects of TV news production here. 

How to Apply to Medill

You can submit either the Common Application or the Coalition Application to apply for NU. You will need to submit: 

  • An application fee of $75 or a fee waiver 
  • High school transcripts 
  • One counselor recommendation
  • At least one teacher recommendation
  • Mid-year report 

You must submit an Early Decision Agreement if you want through Early Decision. SAT and ACT scores are optional, though you are welcome to submit scores. NU’s system combines the highest section scores across multiple dates and calculates a superscore.

4. University of Southern California 

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism

University of Southern California
Source: USC News

The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC) was founded in 1971. The journalism program is well known for its innovative curriculum, encouraging students to “embrace technology, assess it critically, and employ it in the service of powerful and effective journalism.”  

You can acquire skills in editing, production, and digital storytelling across a range of media platforms. Before you graduate, you’re required to produce a digital portfolio and personal website featuring your best work. 

Some notable courses at USC Annenberg include: 

  • Culture of Journalism: Past, Present, and Future
  • Multi-Platform Editing
  • Engaging Diverse Audiences
  • Journalism Ethics Goes to the Movies

USC Annenberg offers over a dozen student organizations specifically for journalism students, two of which include Annenberg Media and SPEC Magazine. 

Annenberg Media is a student-run news organization that gives students hands-on experience with editorial and operational aspects of the newsroom. SPEC Magazine is a culture, lifestyle, and fashion publication providing students with an outlet for creative expression. 

How to Apply to Annenberg

You can apply for USC using the Common Application. You will need to submit: 

  • A $65 application fee
  • High school transcripts 
  • Letters of recommendation from your counselor and teacher 
  • A mid-year report 
  • The USC writing supplement

Like several other schools on this list, USC currently does not require students to submit test scores. If you decide to submit your scores, the school will record the highest scores for each section, even if they were on different test dates. 

5. New York University 

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism

NYU Campus
Source: NYU

The Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University (NYU) is another top journalism school. New York City is home to the headquarters of some of the world’s most prominent news organizations like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. 

Journalism majors can specialize in either the Print/Online or Broadcast track. You are required to double-major in an additional field of study to complement your studies. Notable classes offered at NYU's journalism school include: 

  • Journalism as Literature
  • Women and the Media
  • Computer Programming for Journalists
  • Culture Vulture

Depending on your interests, you can choose from several student-run media outlets. CooperSquared is an online platform highlighting the work of journalism students. You can do original reporting and shoot and edit your videos and photography. WNYU is a student-led radio station broadcasting on 89.1 FM and streaming online. 

How to Apply to Arthur L. Carter

NYU only accepts the Common Application, and the application fee is $80 unless you qualify for a fee waiver. You will need: 

  • Contact information for your school counselor and teachers you completed your evaluations 
  • One to two teacher recommendations 
  • High school/college transcripts 
  • Mid-year report

SAT and ACT scores are optional, but you can submit one of the tests for NYU’s consideration. 

6. Boston University 

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism

Boston University campus
Source: Boston University

The College of Communication at Boston University (BU) combines a solid liberal arts background with professional journalism. The school is located in a bustling city with plenty of local news and media opportunities. 

The journalism program emphasizes narrative writing and digital and visual journalism across platforms. You can choose from classes in many different focus areas. Some notable courses include: 

  • Arts Criticism
  • Radio Station Management
  • Art of the Interview
  • Editorial Design

Among the many opportunities for journalism majors are the student media organizations at BU. The BU News Service brings the public breaking news, politics, sports, and features reported by students. 

BUTV10 is the university’s student-led video content production and distribution network. Students can create news, sports, drama, comedy, and variety programs, which are available on campus channel ten and online. 

How to Apply to the College of Communication

You must submit either a Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application to apply to BU. You will need submit: 

  • An $80 application fee 
  • Two essays 
  • High school/college transcripts
  • One counselor recommendation
  • One teacher evaluation
  • A grade report for your senior year

If you apply through Early Decision, you should have your counselor submit your grades for the first quarter or trimester. If you apply through Regular Decision, your counselor should submit your first semester or trimester grades. 

Standardized test scores are optional, and you can indicate whether you want BU to consider your scores. If you do, BU will superscore your SAT and ACT scores. 

7. University of Wisconsin–Madison 

Degree: Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Journalism

University of Wisconsin–Madison
Source: University of Wisconsin

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison is one of the nation’s best and earliest communication programs. The journalism school offers a blend of skills training, theoretical learning, and real-world practice. It is a fairly competitive program to get into. 

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

  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Science and Environmental Journalism
  • Interpretation of Contemporary Affairs
  • Long Form Video. 

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 levels of experience are invited to join. 

WSUM is UW Madison’s student radio station, where you can get involved in news, sports, programming, promotions, or any aspect of audio journalism. 

How to Apply to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

You can apply to UW Madison using either the Common Application or the UW System Application. You will need to submit: 

  • An application fee of $60 
  • One essay 
  • High school transcripts 
  • One letter of recommendation 

Optional documents include standardized test scores and an additional letter of recommendation. 

Please note: The School of Journalism and Mass Communication does not offer direct admission for first-year students. You will need to be a sophomore, demonstrate written communication skills, and have some journalism experience, usually in student media organizations. 

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

8. University of Missouri in Columbia 

Degree: Bachelor of Journalism

University of Missouri in Columbia
Source: University of Missouri

The Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia was established in 1908 and is one of the first journalism and mass communication programs in the U.S. Mizzou’s journalism curriculum is designed for you to take hands-on and theoretical courses in your first year and become acquainted with various career options. 

Some offered courses include: 

  • Digital Audio and Visual Basics for Journalists
  • Using Infographics
  • Newsroom Content Creation
  • Branded Strategic Storytelling

You can focus your studies on one of the following six career paths or even take courses in more than one path: 

  • Television
  • Cross-Platform Editing and Producing
  • Photojournalism and Documentary
  • Reporting and Writing
  • Social and Audience Strategy
  • Strategic Communication

Mizzou also allows you to gain real-world experience in six professional newsrooms. Vox is a cross-platform city magazine where students work as writers, editors, designers, photographers, and managers. KOMU-TV 8 is an NBC affiliate and the only university-owned commercial major-network affiliate in the country. 

How to Apply to Mizzou

You can submit either the Mizzou Application or the Common Application to apply for Mizzou. You will need to submit: 

  • High school transcripts 
  • A personal statement 
  • Resume 
  • Application fee of $55 or a fee waiver 

Your SAT or ACT scores may automatically admit you if you meet admissions requirements for standardized tests. Mizzou superscores for both tests. 

If your scores do not meet the minimum requirements, you can apply the “test-optional” way where the school considers your application holistically. Along with the other requirements, you will need to submit three short essays. Letters of recommendation are optional, but you can submit them if you need supplemental materials.

Comparing the Best J Schools

You have been given a lot of information about top-ranked journalism schools, their journalism departments, and their admissions requirements. Here is a chart comparing the application processes for each school.

School Requirements Early/
University of Florida Coalition App or Common App
$30 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
One essay
Five short answer supplements
SAT or ACT scores
Nov. 1 March 1
(based on space
University of Texas at Austin ApplyTexas App or Coalition App
$75 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
Required essay
Three to four short answer prompts
Nov. 1 Dec. 1
Northwestern University Common App or Coalition App
$75 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
One essay
Counselor recommendation
At least one teacher recommendation
Mid-year transcript
Nov. 1 Jan. 3
University of Southern California Common App
$65 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
USC writing supplement
One letter of recommendation
Fall grades
N/A Jan. 15
New York University Common App
$80 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
One essay
Counselor submit school report
Teacher evaluation
Mid-year grades
I: Nov. 1
II: Jan. 1
Jan. 5
Boston University Common App, Coalition App, or QuestBridge App
$80 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
Two essays
Counselor recommendation and school report
Teacher evaluation
Senior year grades
I: Nov. 1
II: Jan. 4
Jan. 4
University of Wisconsin– Madison UW System App or Common App
$60 application fee or fee waiver
High school and college transcripts
Two essays
One letter of recommendation
Nov. 1 Feb. 1
University of Missouri in Columbia Mizzou App or Common App
$55 application fee or fee waiver
Standardized test scores (if you meet the requirements)
Test-Optional App:
High school and college transcripts
Personal statement
Three short essays
N/A Dec. 1

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 $48,370 in May 2021, the most recent update from the BLS as of 2023. 

In May 2021, the median annual wages for news analysts, reporters, and journalists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

  • Other information services: $73,180
  • Radio and television broadcasting: $49,720
  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: $38,210

Employment in this field is projected to decrease by 9% from 2021 to 2031.

FAQs: Best J Schools

If you still have questions about the best undergraduate journalism schools in the U.S., check out these FAQs. 

1. What Is the Number One Journalism School in America? 

Northwestern is considered the best journalism school in the United States.

2. What Degree Is Best for Journalism? 

The best undergraduate degrees for journalism are a Bachelor’s of Journalism, or any other undergraduate degree that heavily focuses on journalism, communication, or English. 

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. What Can You Do With a Journalism Degree? 

You can pursue various careers because of the writing, communication, and critical thinking skills you will learn are highly sought after. 

The most popular career path is to become a news writer and reporter. Still, you can also go into editing, content management, photography, public relations, audio journalism, production, and other fields. 

5. Why Should I Attend a Top-Ranked Journalism School? 

We chose these eight schools because of their reputation, career preparation, and class options. The most significant benefits of attending these schools are that they provide students with the best resources and hands-on experience. 

There are numerous student organizations, local media opportunities, and varied classes available.  

6. What Should I Consider When I Research Journalism School? 

You should first consider how well a journalism program fits with your career goals. A college may be highly ranked, but you can look elsewhere if it does not have enough classes or internship opportunities in your field. You should research the curriculum at each school, the professors, campus, and local opportunities to gain experience.

7. How Can I Prepare to Go to College for Journalism? 

One of the best things you can do is get as much journalism experience as possible; it can be writing, editing, photography, videography, podcasting, and other forms of media. Extracurricular activities show the admissions committees you are passionate about your major. You should keep your GPA up and prepare well for tests if needed.

Get Into the Best Journalism Schools, Change the World

With the rise of the digital era, journalism has become even more prevalent. Getting into one of the best j schools can prepare you with an array of versatile skills, such as critical thinking, writing, editing, interviewing, and multimedia production. 

Now you can begin your search for the perfect journalism program. Consider looking for opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Journalism is a field where you need to have as much professional experience as possible, so find the school that will give you those resources. Good luck!

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