The 10 Best Journalism Schools for Undergraduates

Students broadcasting from the university's radio station
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Journalism as a field has gone through radical changes in recent years, and the best schools for studying the subject have kept pace with those changes. Whether you want to work in print, radio, or television, whether you hope to be a writer, researcher, reporter, or correspondent, the ten schools below have broad strengths in journalism.

To make this list, a college or university needs to have a robust journalism program backed by significant campus resources and opportunities. A strong college newspaper, radio station, and television station are a plus. Schools should have labs for editing sound and video, and broad faculty expertise in a wide range of journalism sub-fields. Keep in mind that journalism isn't always its own university department—it may be housed within English, communication studies, media studies, or a related department.

Because these schools vary significantly in size, focus, and personality, they have been listed here alphabetically rather than being forced in to a rather arbitrary ranking.

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Arizona State University

Hayden Library at Arizona State University
Hayden Library at Arizona State University (click photo to enlarge). Photo Credit: Cecilia Beach

Located in Tempe, Arizona, ASU's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication consistently ranks among the best in the country. At the undergraduate level, the school offers a BS program in Digital Audiences, and BA programs in Journalism and Mass Communication, Mass Communication and Media Studies, and Sports Journalism. The school also offers several master's degree programs including one designed for mid-career students, and a PhD program in journalism and mass communication. The school is home to Arizona PBS, the world's largest media outlet operated by a journalism school. The school takes pride in the hands-on experiences its students gain through Cronkite News, a daily news network with offices in LA, Washington, and Phoenix.

While admission to Arizona State University isn't overly selective with an acceptance rate of 86%, admission to the Cronkite School has a higher bar than the university as a whole.

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Boston University

Curved corner of modern Boston University building
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Boston University's College of Communication's program in journalism has produced 24 Pulitzer Prize winners, and the college is home to WTBU, an award-winning student-run radio station. BU works to produce well-rounded journalists who understand the history, law, principles, and ethics of journalism in addition to the art of effective story telling. Students can focus on areas including broadcast journalism, magazine journalism, photojournalism, and online journalism. BU students have plenty of opportunities to expand their education outside of Boston including the Wasgington DC Journalism Program where students can spend a semester in the nation's capital.

Boston University is highly selective with a 19% acceptance rate, so you're going to need an impressive high school record to be admitted.

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Emerson College

Emerson College
Emerson College. John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Another Boston college, Emerson is located near downtown right on the edge of the Boston Common. The school has a more specialized focus than the other universities on this list. Areas of study are limited to communication sciences & disorders, communication studies, journalism, marketing communication, performing arts, visual and media arts, and writing, literature & publishing. As a journalism major at Emerson, you'll be surrounded by plenty of kindred spirits who have a passion for telling stories.

Emerson's journalism students learn effective story-telling strategies, and they also gain significant hands-on experience through internships, class projects, and activities such as on-street interviews and coverage of the Emmys.

About a third of all applicants get into Emerson College. SAT and ACT scores are optional, but you will definitely need to have a strong high school record and well-crafted application essay to be admitted.

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Northwestern University

Northwestern University Hall in Evanston, Illinois
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Northwestern University consistently ranks among the nation's top private research universities, and its journalism program is no exception to the school's excellence. The Medill School of Journalism frequently it finds itself earning the number one or two spot in national rankings of journalism schools. The main campus is in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago, but Medill has other campuses in Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Qatar.

Medill has a learn-by-doing approach to teaching journalism, and students gain a strong background in writing, reporting, editing, and critical thinking. Students work with emerging media in the Knight Lab, and they conduct data-driven research in the Medill Spiegel Research Center. Students are also required to gain expertise in an area outside of journalism such as economics, computer science, political science, or a foreign language.

Northwestern is the most selective university on this list, and the school has a single digit acceptance rate. You'll need grades and standardized test scores that are significantly above average to be a competitive applicant.

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Syracuse University

Syracuse University
Syracuse University.

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Located in Central New York, Syracuse University is home to the Newhouse School of Public Communications where students have eight degree options at the bachelor's level: advertising; broadcast and digital journalism; magazine, news and digital journalism; public relations; graphic design; photography; television, radio and film; and the Bandier Program in recording and entertainment industries. The Newhouse School also has 11 master's programs and a doctoral program in mass communications.

Journalism students have the opportunity to produce live newscasts in a digital studio, and they learn how to report from the field. Then can also participate in NCC News, a student-run news source that covers breaking news, sports, weather, health, and other topics of interest to its Central New York audience. Students studying magazine journalism participate in the NYC Magazine Experience Trip where they spend three days in the city meeting with successful alumni, top magazine editors, and other industry professionals.

Syracuse University admissions are selective, and fewer than half of all applicants get in. Grades and standardized test scores that are well above average will be important to be a highly competitive applicant.

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University of Missouri

Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri
Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri. bk1bennett / Flickr

The Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia ("Mizzou") consistently ranks among the best in the country. Undergraduate journalism students are taught using the hands-on "Missouri Method" that includes conducting a capstone project working for real-world clients. The university prides itself in graduating students who are prepared to make a valuable contribution from the first day of their employment.

Opportunities for gaining meaningful, real-world experience include working for a community newspaper, Columbia Missourian; the cross-platform city magazine Vox; an NBC affiliate; an NPR member station; a digital business newsroom, Missouri Business Alert; a global newsroom, Global Journalist; and two advertising agencies, AdZou and MOJO Ad. Working for these business is part of the curriculum, not an optional opportunity.

Mizzou students tend to have above average high school records, but most hard-working students will have a very good chance of getting in. Roughly four out of every five applicants are accepted.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Old well with snow
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One of the top public universities in the country, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is home to the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. The school enrolls about 1,000 undergraduates and 125 graduate students, and it takes great pride in debunking the claim that "journalism is dead," for well over 90% of the school's graduates are either admitted to graduate programs or find employment. Media and Journalism is the third most popular of the university's 91 majors.

The Hussman School has a range of state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratory spaces, and media production facilities. Like all good journalism schools, the curriculum includes plenty of experiential learning opportunities including a capstone course in fields ranging from magazine writing to photography projects.

Admission to UNC Chapel Hill is competitive with a 23% acceptance rate, and students have to have a strong academic record at UNC before they can apply to the Media and Journalism major.

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University of Southern California

University of Southern California campus, Los Angeles, California, USA
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The University of Southern California takes advantage of its location in Los Angeles, one of the nation's major media hubs. Students in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism average 3.4 internships during their time at USC, and they gain practical experience at companies including CBS Sports, Business Insider, CNN, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire Magazine, NBC Nightly News, and Voice of America.

While USC is a large private university of about 30,000 students, Annenberg is home to about 300 undergraduate journalism students, and the average journalism class has just 16 students. Students gain practical experience by contributing to Annenberg Media, a student-run news organization. Students produce nine shows a week from the Media Center where they have access to state-of-the-art production facilities and equipment. Students can also choose from 16 organizations and associations focused on communication, journalism, and public relations.

Admission to USC is highly selective with an 11% acceptance rate. Applicants will need a strong academic record and impressive extracurricular achievements to be competitive.

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University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin.

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The University of Texas at Austin can almost always be found near the top of rankings of the nation's best journalism schools. The UT Moody College of Communication is home to the School of Journalism and Media. It's the largest program of its kind in Texas, and it has produced 31 Pulitzer-Prize winning alumni. With a history going back over a century, the school has accomplished alumni throughout Texas, the country, and the world to help students obtain meaningful internship experiences. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad in the summer in locations including Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom.

The journalism curriculum trains students to use the latest digital tools while also emphasizing essential writing, critical thinking, and journalism skills. Students are introduced to print, broadcast, photo, and multimedia journalism, and they develop a digital portfolio of their work to demonstrate their skills to potential employers.

UT Austin is one of the nation's top public universities, and admission is selective. About a third of applicants are admitted, although the bar is likely to be higher for out-of-state and international students.

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University of Wisconsin - Madison

Bascom Hall
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The University of Wisconsin's School of Journalism and Mass Communication has a rich history dating back to 1904, yet the program is always contemporary with its emphasis on emerging digital technologies. Despite UW being a school with over 44,000 students, the journalism program keeps class sizes small in important skills classes so that students have plenty of hands-on learning opportunities. The school has strong connections to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Television, so students can gain real-world practical experience in broadcast and investigative journalism. Undergraduates in the school can choose from a BA or BS program in journalism. The school is proud of its outcomes, for 97% of graduates find jobs in their chosen fields.

Outside of the classroom, UW has a range of student organizations focused on communications, media, and journalism. Options include the Association for Women in Sports Media, The Black Voice, WSUM Radio, the Society of Professional Journalists, Curb Magazine, and two newspapers, The Badger Herald and The Daily Cardinal.

The University of Wisconsin - Madison is a top public university, so the admissions process is selective. Roughly half of applicants get in, and they almost always have grades and standardized test scores that are well above average.

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Grove, Allen. "The 10 Best Journalism Schools for Undergraduates." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2021, Grove, Allen. (2021, February 11). The 10 Best Journalism Schools for Undergraduates. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "The 10 Best Journalism Schools for Undergraduates." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).