Best Schools for Journalism

There’s been a fair amount of chatter lately about whether or not students should enroll in journalism school. If you want to be a journalist someday, it can’t hurt. Do you need a journalism education to be successful? No. Will it prepare you better than a major in English or Biology? Yes.

There are plenty of people that question the value of a journalism education. Others question whether or not journalism programs are keeping up with the pace of change in the industry. Despite the criticism, enrollment is up at journalism schools around the country. So the big question in my mind is which schools are doing the best job at preparing students for a career in a much different media world than many of us grew up in? Which schools are teaching Internet and social media skills, while sticking to a solid foundation of fundamentals? Which schools put the greatest emphasis on quality reporting and writing?

If I were a journalist, I might have spent a month interviewing professors and students. I would have talked to recent grads and students who plan to step onto campus this coming fall. I would have poured over all the research that’s already been done on this subject, and the quality of this post would have been much better. But I’m not a journalist. I’m a blogger. An amateur blogger at that. So I took the easy way out. I asked you, specifically my Twitter followers, to voice your opinion on which journalism school is doing the best job at preparing students for a career in the new world of journalism? 205 votes were cast in my informal poll during the month of June. Based on your votes, the top 10 schools doing the best job at preparing students for a career in journalism are (drum roll please):

  1. University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications
  2. University of California, Berkley Graduate School of Journalism
  3. University of Missouri, Missouri School of Journalism
  4. Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
  5. St. Bonaventure, The Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  6. Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism
  7. Northwestern University, Medill
  8. UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  9. Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University
  10. The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

So there’s the top 10 for you, based on your votes. In addition to the top vote-getters, I have to name the following schools as honorable mentions, since they all received votes in my poll:

There were also 28 votes for “other” in which no school was indicated. I can only assume those votes were for Utica College, my Alma Mater. I guess we’ll never know.

Now before you get your feathers all ruffled, let me say I don’t think there is such thing as a “best” anything. You voted for the school you like best, and the one you probably know the most about. If anything, this list is probably a more accurate predictor of which schools provide students with an introduction to social media, since all the voting was conducted through Twitter. Either way, I’m very excited to see all the support for journalism schools from my Twitter followers. I’m excited to see that enrollment is up at journalism schools and that a fresh new class of journalism graduates will enter the workforce in the year to come, much better prepared to operate in an online and social media environment. These students won’t have preconceived notions of how journalism should be or whether or not you should charge for news. They’ll bring fresh ideas into media organizations when they need it most.

I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the following topics in the comments on this post:

  • What types of course do you think journalism programs should offer these days? What do you wish you had learned in J-school?
  • If you voted in the survey, why do you think your choice is doing such a great job?
  • Which colleges or universities are leading the way in transforming journalism education? Who are the innovators?
  • Who are some of the most well-known journalists that went to your school?
  • Did I miss a school that should be on the list? Share your thoughts below as well.

Thanks to everyone that participated in this poll. I think it was an interesting experiment in how social media can be leveraged to gather public opinion.

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

47 Comments

  1. I didn’t make up the list – it was based off of votes from our Twitter followers over the course of the month. You should only be mad that you didn’t vote. Also, if you read the post, you’ll see that I acknowledge this isn’t a real assessment of education quality for j-schools.

  2. Not that this data is easily accessible, but I would think the best metric for determining the success of J-schools is the percentage of students that get hired or start their own news business.

  3. What types of course do you think journalism programs should offer these days? What do you wish you had learned in J-school?
    I think J-schools should spend more time learning about the basics of business and community cultivation while understanding the important tenets of good journalism. I work at Mizzou and I’m striving to improve those connections for our students.
    I went to Mizzou and worked in the broadcast industry for a number of years before coming back here to teach and work in our NBC affiliate. I am now focused on line journalism and hope to help more and more journalists (students and professionals) expand their view of this profession.
    I’ve been so busy working on improving our online focus at KOMU-TV and KOMU.com, my personal nerd blog is out of date… but I’m working on some fun ways to interact with our audience and the many communities in our market.

  4. As a J-School grad (graduated 2002), I think Indiana University – Bloomington did a pretty good job of at least preparing us for whatever seismic shift was to come in journalism. We spent lots time talking about new media and the impact it would have. In various classes we learned everything from “electronic” searches and using online resources to building a site based on a feature story. We learned the basics of writing copy for the web. Even the Indiana Daily Student was doing great things with its website, which seems like so long ago for students to be engaged with that sort of thing (7 sevens is a looong time online).
    I’m biased, yes, because I’m an IU grad, but I really think it deserves a slot on this list.

  5. I may be the Debbie Downer of the group , but don’t you think your “sample” was more than likely skewed towards this answer? Athenians? UGA students? People who read the Grady website who then follow you on Twitter?

    If so, do we really think these are valid results? I was an Ad major a few years back & graduated from Grady, but I don’t think this poll is saying anything meaningful really. Just a lil’ something about proper sampling that my other major (Sociology) taught me.

    Just sayin’…

  6. I’m not sure what the Grady website has to do with my blog, unless there’s a post there that I don’t know about. I did wonder if maybe I had a disproportionate percentage of followers from GA, since that’s where I am. I didn’t find that to be the case.

    Valid-schmalid. Not to single you out, but I can’t believe how many people comment on blogs without reading the post. I made it a point to say – in the post – that this poll doesn’t really say anything. It was merely a reflection of opinion, based off what Journalistics’ Twitter followers thought. I even detailed the steps I would take if I wanted a more statistically valid outcome.

    That said. Thanks for commenting. I hope you’ll read a future post.

  7. Back in my day, the U. of Missouri was the top J-school in the country. I’m glad to see things haven’t changed too much. Northwestern and Illinois rounded out the top three. Syracuse was also in the top 10.

    Since I couldn’t afford to pay out-of-state tuition for all four years, Missouri was not an option. Northwestern and Syracuse are private schools and way out of my price range. Being raised in Chicago, I was not willing to go from Florida back to the brutal winters of the Syracuse area, either. My dad went to Illinois but didn’t finish.

    I was accepted at the University of Florida, the best school for journalism in the Southeast. When I learned that the dorms weren’t air conditioned, I scrapped that idea.

    I got my solid education at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Class sizes were small, 25 students or less. Only one quarter of my courses were in the major. I learned from some of the best men in the business, including Arthur “Sandy” Sanderson and George Meyer. We had computers donated by the St. Petersburg Times in 1983, when some schools probably still had typewriters.

    I’m proud that I got my education where I have worked my whole career. Famous grads include Kerry Sanders of NBC and Leo Gallagher the comedian. Kerry is a class act and is mentioned in my upcoming book, “Fearless Phyllis: The Mother Confessor of the University of South Florida.”

  8. This is a very interesting topic — and I’ll throw my anecdotal story out re: Georgetown’s Masters of Journalism program. I have never been to J-school, but have a JD/MBA and work in New Media business development. I will be co-teaching a new course at G’town this Fall that will cover the business of Web-only news and blog sites and how journalists can leverage new media to help drive the distribution and monetization of the content they create. Students need a basic understanding of how their content impacts a new media business to make smart career decisions and drive their own success. This was a touchy subject with the Dean, as it pokes holes in the traditional wall that divides the journalism and business sides of a news organization, but ultimately she agreed that this was a subject matter to which students needed exposure.

  9. New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury (Long Island). Why? When it comes to broadcast journalism, two words: Real experience. While students in Syracuse are covering the latest college basketball game or infighting on the student council, those at NYIT are covering the 2.3 million residents of Long Island.

    Students regularly rub elbows with reporters from WNBC, WABC and WCBS — not as interns; but jockeying for position during interviews. In just two years in the program, I interviewed local, state and national politicians, professional athletes, and renowned scientists. I covered trials, plane crashes, scientific breakthroughs, elections and murders.

    The professors all have real-word experience in front of and behind the camera; and that’s just where graduates end up: everywhere from producing cable news shows to reporting at local affiliates to anchoring major networks.

  10. Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. has an excellent journalism program. I’m a 1980 graduate who majored in journalism and government. The focus was on writing, writing, writing … and then editing. Since I graduated, they’ve added a public relations program (which I personally don’t think belongs anywhere near a journalism program, even though I’m ex-APR) and a world-class science writing program (no, not technical writing; SCIENCE writing).

    Unfortunately, the things I cherish most about my j-school education seem to be increasingly irrelevant in the blog-o-nautic universe: great writing (technical excellence and good form), great editing (brevity and clarity), and–perhaps most importantly–accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.

    Thanks Joe McFadden, Bob Sullivan, Sharon Friedman ….

  11. Hm, I might argue that percentage of graduates who (do/achieve … whatever) is not a useful measure for this. Reason: So many journalism graduates never even intended to do any kind of journalism work.

    A lot of students major in journalism for personal reasons not related to journalism, such as “I want to be Conan O’Brien when I grow up”; “I want to write the Great American Novel, and my mom won’t let me major in English”; “I want to go to law school, and I think I can get a 4.0 GPA in journalism undergrad.” So can you call the j-school a failure because those guys never work at a journalism job? I’d say no.

    The only way to get a useful result would be to survey the graduates on what kind of job they wanted to get. Even then, there would be some discrepancies in the results. The kid who wanted to be a TV news anchor and applied only to big-city TV stations for jobs? No luck there. The kid who wanted to be a movie critic or a political analyst at age 22? No luck, sorry.

    So you’d also have to measure whether the graduate’s ambitions were insane, or practical.

  12. I would certainly like to see someone comment here in reply to this question:

    Which colleges or universities are leading the way in transforming journalism education? Who are the innovators?

    I’d like to say that my school, the University of Florida, is one of the innovators. But I teach there, and I don’t want to see every journalism professor jumping in here and saying Me! Me! Me! What would be much better, in my opinion, would be if some former students (from any j-school) would comment and say specifically what they got at their school — besides writing, reporting and editing — that helped them land a job. Recently. I mean, within the past two years.

    That would make interesting reading.

  13. I agree that Kent State deserves a spot on this list – especially considering its fully conglomerated state-of-the-art news room and hard-hitting teaching staff.

  14. St. Bonaventure University is a great choice. They have a bunch of Pulitzer Prize-winners teaching there, and that graduated from Bonas.

    Best years of my life.

  15. How about Indiana University?!

    http://journalism.indiana.edu/

    Went to Mizzou for a year… transfered to IU because you could start taking j school classes right away, along with your gen-ed classes, unlike Mizzou.

    Mizzou, however… great, great journalism school. But so is IU.

    Check out the Journalism/abroad internship programs.

  16. Hi I’m interested in being a Journalism major. I’m just curious to know everyone’s opinion on Bradley U’s J-program (undergraduate). It seems as if it is nowhere near the range of the top 10 schools, unless my assumption is wrong: According to several websites, it was rated as a top J-school by Newsweek. However, no other sources even mention Bradley. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the comment Mia. If Newsweek mentioned them, I’m sure it’s a reliable source. However, I am not familiar with the program.

  17. This list is a joke… UGA over Columbia? UNC? UF? NORTHWESTERN? NYU?

    You look at any real college ranking list… these school are always in the top 5 or 6. UGA’s J school cannot hold a fading candle to any of these other schools.

    I understand this was just a small random sample… but a very amateur one at that. I would suggest a more thorough research outline next time.

    • Gwen, thanks for your comment, but where’s the love?

      When I did this post back in July, I fully addressed the flaws in how the sample was conducted. I’m sorry UF wasn’t higher up on the list, but maybe more people from your school read the blog now?

      I’d love to see one of these “real college ranking” lists you speak of – I’d be happy to share it as a resource for readers here.

      That said, if you remain this passionate about the topic, and can be objective, I invite you to help me out to do this research the right way this summer. You up for it?

      Thanks for taking the time to provide the honest feedback.

  18. This was very helpful! I’m currently a high school junior very interested in journalism. My college counselor suggest that I look at Syracuse, and I’m also considering UC Berkeley and Columbia

  19. I am a high school student and I’m very intrested in a career in the journalism field. I recived information for Hollins, and all girl school in Virginia. Is this a good writing school?

  20. St. Bonaventure is an Amazing Journalism school. I got into both Syracuse University and St. Bonaventure. SBU had a much better program. They have a ton of famous professors. One of them is John Hanchette. He was a FOUNDING editor of USA Today, has won both a Peabody and a Pulitzer, and worked for the White House. The school stresses internship, ethics, experience, and written communication. And what amazing internships and networking and successful alumni. I am glad I chose Bonaventure over SU.

  21. Great article! It is not easy to find the best education for you. I was in deep trouble, while I was looking for education for my daughter.A friend of mine recommended me one of the best sites.You can browse thousands of the colleges and universities there.This is the only one site that offers this absolutely for free. Here is a link

    http://EducationFindr.Com

    Hope that helps …

  22. Can any one tell me about the CUNY Graduate school of journalism , it is comparatively a very very new institution of journalism , but how is it. Is it worth it ??????

  23. I think it’s worthwhile to point out, somewhere in bold, that you’re speaking to masters programs, and not undergrad majors. Or, did you intend for some undergrads to be in there too? There’s a difference between majoring in journalism and post grad study of the same. UC Berkeley is probably not a top choice for undergrad journalism school, where the grad program is top notch and highly competitive. Also consider that it can often hurt your chances at a grad school program if you majored in journalism in your undergrad, since often the best journalists are those with some quantitative work in their background, history, political science, etc.

    But given that, I agree with some posters. New media, entrepreneurial journalism, and a heavy dose of law and ethics are things prospective j-schoolers should look for in a program. If your j-school isn’t teaching you how to use the web to your advantage, it’s not teaching you how to be a modern journalist.

    • Thanks for the comment Sal! Funny you should ask this question, because I was just thinking the other day that this is one of the posts I desperately need to update/refresh in 2016. I suspect many of the same schools would be on the list, but my initial research approach was a bit flawed and misleading back when I first wrote the post. I’d like to include more objective and quantitative metrics in my next assessment. Please feel free to share any suggestions for inputs you think would be valuable to review in creating a fresh ranking in 2016. I want to be fair and objective in my evaluation of the best schools – I also think it would be worth doing a variation of the post for public relations or social media studies (or new media) as well. I’ll keep you posted as I look to refresh the listing in 2016.

      • I noticed that St. Bonaventure has been dominating a journalism contest sponsored by the Jim Murray Foundation in California. Thirty top programs are permitted to enter and little Bonaventure has won about 25% of the awards. USC is in second place but has won about half as many times.

      • I noticed that St. Bonaventure has been dominating a journalism contest sponsored by the Jim Murray Foundation in California. Thirty top programs are permitted to enter and little Bonaventure has won about 25% of the awards. USC is in second place but has won about half as many times.

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