Journalism is no joke these days. In this competitive field it’s up to students to ensure they’re competing amongst the best. We’re talking programs that demand ten published clips a semester, classes where one simple spelling mistake will cost its offender a full letter grade and an industry that hires only the cream of the crop.
Beyond the purely academic components, the journalism programs that rank the highest are often the ones with solid connections within the industry that help their students land coveted internships and jobs. After researching admittance criteria, distinguished faculty, ranked campus media outlets, available technology and internship opportunities, we reveal the best 10 journalism schools (in alphabetical order) among those that have been recognized by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
University of Florida – College of Journalism and Communications
University of Florida’s journalism school may be the newest one to join the ranks, but what it lacks in experience it makes up in size, as the second largest behind Michigan. The college’s four journalism departments hit all the big targets, but the mass appeal of this particular program lies within its ability to give its students instant hands-on training.
Tyler Jett, a senior at the university, has found great comfort in the quality of professors that University of Florida attracts. “They have experience working for publications like the Tampa Bay Times, Washington Post and Yahoo! Sports, and those teachers know that journalism isn't like most professions,” Jett said. “You don't just learn it in a classroom; you have to be working and willing to make mistakes. And when you are making mistakes, professors are there to call you out or just share their own embarrassing stories.”
While the school had provided journalism courses in the past, its new school’s modern stance has kept it ahead of the curve, which has been pivotal for this ever-changing career path. We’re talking four working newsrooms, four radio stations, two television stations, a 110-seat library, research facilities, a 250-seat auditorium, 11 satellite ground stations, and an Interactive Media Lab.
University of Georgia – Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications
The Grady College has three major programs in advertising, journalism and telecommunication that consistently rank among the top in the nation in rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report. As such, the school has produced powerhouse alumni who are working in all aspects of the media and include Pulitzer Prize and Emmy winners.
The journalism school is famous for establishing the renowned Peabody Award and is home to some of the most coveted centers and institutes, which bring a level of prestige to the community. UGA also provides hundreds of media-focused positions in their list of over 600 registered student organizations, ensuring that journalism students get plenty of hands on experience. And those working for the daily newspaper, The Red and Black, can boast their 5 Pacemaker Awards.
The faculty in particular is a large drawing point. The Grady College touts a list of 54 professors, of which more than 75 percent earned terminal degrees, including a former Associated Press vice president and an NBC international news correspondent. “Being a student in Grady College has given me valuable class time with amazing professors andconnected me with seasoned journalism veterans through visiting lectures and events — but more importantly, the Grady College fosters a sense of community,” Julia Carpenter, a junior, said.
Indiana University, Bloomington – School of Journalism
Unlike other programs that focus on a specific formula for success, Indiana University School of Journalism is unique because of its less restrictive nature and ability to adapt to the desires of its students. And its flexible environment has certainly paid off as their alumni consist of more than 30 Pulitzer Prize winners and countless barons in the field.
Current students continuously earn recognition within their sphere; just this past year, the school won the Hearst Intercollegiate Writing Competition (often considered the "Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism") for the second year in a row.
The program resides in a hall named after one of its most famous alumni, Ernie Pyle, and just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Attracting students from across the globe, students are promised a comfortable, technologically advanced learning space in which they will be taught the vital skills necessary in today’s competitive market. “The School of Journalism at IU is an amazing place and I was really lucky I ended up here,” said Lauren Sedam, a senior who will be working for the New York Times. “Professors become mentors and friends. They have helped me become the confident writer I am today, and it's really helped me find my voice.”
University of Kansas – School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Many have long praised the University of Kansas, including the 2008 Fiske Guide to Colleges, for its strength as a teaching institution. However, the majority of this praise has been directed towards the journalism school for its remarkable capabilities and outstanding facilities as one of the country’s leading professional schools. KU is one of the few schools with a journalism program that encompasses everything from traditional print to multimedia to photojournalism. Moreover, students at the KU J-School are granted responsibilities such as maintaining on campus media including the award-winning The University Daily Kansan and KUJH TV.
Faculty members also encourage their students to join in on research projects that connect the field of media to social issues. In addition to the deep bank of contacts that the alumni and faculty provide, KU J-School also offers minors in journalism studies and even posts exciting new media opportunities that students can pursue on the school’s website as a mean to help students further explore their interest in this field.
University of Maryland, College Park – Philip Merrill College of Journalism
As a Limited Enrollment Program with merely 600 of the university’s 40,000 undergraduate students, the competitive Philip Merrill College of Journalism takes a special interest in its students. This institution boasts a powerhouse faculty that includes seven Pulitzer Prize winners and notable editors and correspondents from media outlets like NBC, ABC, CNN, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and ESPN. Not to mention, over the last few years, the school’s independent publication The Diamondback has been recognized as one of the best college newspapers by The Princeton Review and The Society of Professional Journalists.
Journalism majors can chose from concentrations in either broadcast, news/editorial, or online and benefit from the program’s new home base, which features amenities such as a 24/7 “news bubble” and unrestricted access to its media equipment.
“They really want to see the students succeed,” Alexa Lardieri, a freshman, has said regarding the stellar faculty. “Everyone is very personable, and you're definitely not just a number, like at other larger schools.”
University of Missouri at Columbia – Missouri School of Journalism
Its program has more than 30 interest areas that are available within each sect of the media world. Several affiliated professional organizations, including Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Pictures of the Year International, allow students to interact with working journalists.
If sub-specialties like design for magazine, producing for radio/television/multimedia, and account management weren’t enough, students can design their own course of study if they so choose. This unique program has had an excellent track record: many of its graduates have won Pulitzer Prizes, the news profession’s highest honor, Silver Anvils, the top prize for public relations professionals, and similar awards.
Mizzou’s journalism school has eight buildings dedicated to the practice and teaching of journalism with top grade equipment. Additionally, The Futures Lab and Technology Demonstration Center at the Reynolds Journalism Institute allows students to work alongside professionals to discover new ways to serve democracy through journalism.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Part of the UNC School of Journalism’s mantra is to “train the next generation of media professionals”, and therefore they have gone to great lengths in order harness the most advanced technology on the market and create an incredibly comprehensive program. This includes an entire revamp of their previous curriculum with modifications, such as a focus on new technology, which aim to help ensure success in the new-media world regardless of if their students chose to pursue journalism as a career.
In addition to thoroughly preparing their students for the future of journalism, they continue to dominate traditional media sources on campus. The student-run newspaper The Daily Tar Heel has consistently ranked highly on Princeton Review’s annual list and was awarded the National Pacemaker Award from the Associated Press in 2004-5.
UNC’s program is unique in the sense that it also offers special programs in business journalism, Latino journalism, medical and science journalism, and sports and health communications. The enrollment rate is about 800 undergraduate students and the relatively small size of the program enables faculty to nurture them on a more direct level.
Northwestern University - Medill School of Journalism
With around 55 esteemed faculty and just under 700 students, this undergraduate program caters to each individual student and provides a truly immersive program. The Medill School, unlike many others, also prides itself on its focus on liberal arts education as well as its emphasis on journalism. Additionally, journalism students can engage in over 20 media-related organizations like the school newspaper The Daily Northwestern, which is a frequent winner of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the coveted Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award.
Northwestern has always proven itself to be a top tier school and in respect to new media, it jumped on the technology bandwagon fairly early in the game. To maintain its place among the top schools, Northwestern opened up the McCormick Tribune Center in 2002, which has a professional-grade television studio and multimedia classrooms. In fact, this year the school extended its name to “Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications” to reflect its shift towards this broader focus.
Medill has produced a list of journalists and political activists that includes thirty-eight Pulitzer Prize laureates, numerous national correspondents for major networks, and many well-known reporters and columnists.
Ohio University – E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
Regardless of specialty, students can also get involved with on-campus publications like the independent newspaper The Post or WOUB News, which airs on the university’s public broadcast stations. With state-of-the-art technology and courses ready to prepare its students for the fast-paced world of new-age journalism, Ohio University is an excellent place for budding reporters to develop the skills they need to succeed.
Ryan Pfefferle is a senior studying online journalism at Ohio University and thinks one of the most beneficial aspects of E.W. Scripps is the chance for hands-on training, especially since a Scripps alumnus hired him for his first internship. "By diversifying my skill set and putting an emphasis on outreach for internships, E.W. Scripps has made me prepared to hit the real world running in the Journalism industry…" Pfefferle said.
Syracuse University – S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
As a freshman at Newhouse, Laura Cohen is particularly impressed with the technology and experiences presented to its students. “Besides the amazing computer labs, recording equipment and studios, the school brings in many inspiring guest speakers and hosts various seminars,” Cohen said. “Some of these events are held by Newhouse alumni, which proves how far we can go by attending this school.”
“There are also a ton of extracurricular activities to get involved in, from the campus newspapers and magazines to television and radio stations,” Cohen added. “This gives students real experience outside of class, where we can put our skills to use." In addition for sustaining a program that notably provides students with real-world experience, Syracuse’s journalism school is also one of the few journalism programs that has full-fledged majors in more unconventional types of reporting, such as photojournalism.