Imagine going to class in the morning, then grabbing a quick lunch before
hitting the phones to interview people for a newspaper story. Then it's off
to the local hospital to shoot a story about cuts to health-care funding.
Then you come back to the school to edit some video. Journalism programs are
fast-paced, with a lot of variety.
In the U.S., bachelor's programs in journalism are available at over 410
colleges. Many two-year colleges also offer journalism programs leading to
an associate's degree.
Most schools offer broad-based programs designed to expose you to each
type of journalism: print, radio, TV and Internet journalism.
Many schools require students to take classes in more than one type of
media for the first year or two, then allow them to specialize in one area
in the final years. Several programs offer internships, which provide
a unique opportunity for on-the-job training.
"It gets you out into the real world, where you have to meet deadlines,
where you have to produce just like everyone else," says Klaus Pohle, a journalism
professor. "It also affords you the opportunity to make contacts in the field."
Four-year programs usually focus on a well-rounded education in the
arts and sciences before becoming more journalism-oriented. Courses in
the first year or two will focus on such subjects as English, history and
the social sciences. There may also be math and science requirements.
Pohle believes a liberal education is a key part of a journalist's training.
"To be a good journalist, you have to be able to contextualize events," he
says. "You're not just reporting events, you're telling people why they're
important. To do that, you need an academic background, the training in critical
Two-year programs are more specialized. Students often choose to
study either print or broadcast media.
Most two-year programs allow students to put their college credits towards
a four-year degree.
Many journalism schools in the U.S. are accredited by the Accrediting Council
on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). Accreditation
is strictly voluntary -- a non-accredited school is not necessarily a bad
In high school, classes that focus on English, journalism and social
studies will be useful to you.
Working on the high school newspaper or yearbook, volunteering at the local
community station, or joining the school camera club all teach you useful
"It gives you a taste of what's involved. It gets you into a team situation.
It helps you to hone an interest in community affairs," says Pohle. "Those
are very important in the development of a journalist."
Luckily, journalism students don't have to buy that many textbooks, which
cuts costs significantly. But you may have to buy a camera, voice recorder,
or other equipment.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: News
Analysts, Reporters and Correspondents
See how a website is used to promote freelance journalism
A web resource for and about journalists