Columbia Journalism School

The M.A. Program in Specialized Journalism: Depth. Rigor. Expertise.

As the M.A. Program celebrates its 10th year and is showcasing work of its early graduates on Twitter @MAcolumbiajourn.

The Master of Arts Program equips journalists with subject-area expertise, so they can unpack complicated issues for the public. The program, now in its tenth year, is designed for journalists who have 3 to 15 years of professional experience but want to go deeper. M.A. students develop a strong subject-matter grounding that enables them to ask more informed questions, to situate news events in their larger context, and to evaluate competing evidence. They learn to produce stories that are nuanced, compelling, and sophisticated.

We are looking for intellectually curious students with demonstrable reporting experience. Applicants do not need to have any background in the concentration to which they apply.

The M.A. Program is animated by the idea that deep understanding--of subject matter and of the inherent but ever-changing demands of journalism--will be required of the leading journalists of tomorrow.

About the M.A. program #‎cjsMAstories
Rob Eshelman, M.A. Science, Environment, and Medicine '12
Jacob Kushner, MA Politics & Global Affairs '13
Khadeeja Safdar, MA Business '13
Luke Malone, M.A. Arts & Culture '13

Applicants choose a subject area:

Arts & Culture

ProfessorsDavid Hajdu and Alisa Solomon

Develop historical knowledge, analytical understanding, and nimble thinking about arts and culture across a range of disciplines. Through extensive reading, case studies, site visits, and collaborations with scholars and artists, you’ll consider not only the emotional force of the arts but also how they function as commodities in a global marketplace. You’ll develop the skills, analytical habits of mind, and flexibility to become a cultural reporter and critic in the fullest sense.

Respected experts from Columbia and elsewhere are often brought in as guest teachers. Recent guests have included Jane Ginsburg, an expert on intellectual property at Columbia Law School; Frances Negron-Muntaner from Columbia’s English department; Andreas Huyssen, a comparative literature professor and an expert on the Frankfurt School; Shakespearian James Shapiro; anthropology professor Page West; and art dealer Louis Salerno.

Business & Economics

Professors:  Sylvia Nasar and James Stewart

Master the three attributes of excellent economics reporting: a firm grasp of basic economic theory and institutions; hands-on knowledge of data for measuring economic performance and assessing the validity of economic arguments; and the ability to find and report compelling stories. We’ll teach you simple, fast, and effective ways to break down complicated problems, locate relevant data, and compensate for inherent biases. You’ll also gain the analytical skills to conceive and execute stories about the business sector. 

Academic subjects are not taught in the abstract, but in the context of current events. As an MA student, you’ll learn basic skills in accounting, corporate finance, securities law, securities analysis, and portfolio management, while staying firmly rooted in the journalistic process.

Recent guest lecturers have included economists Bruce Greenwald and Ed McKelvey.

Politics and Global Affairs

Professors: Nicholas Lemann and Alexander Stille

As an MA student, you’ll receive a concentrated introduction to what a journalist needs to know about politics: a historical context for our political systems and institutions as well as the tools to analyze and understand stories and situations you’ll confront on the political beat. This concentration jumpstarts a career as a foreign correspondent, legal reporter, education reporter, city hall reporter, or political reporter. 

The seminar is organized around eight themes: power; identity and nationalism; mobilization; collective action and social conflict; rights; institutions; the distribution of resources; and bargaining and negotiation. As a Columbia student, you’ll explore these themes across the New York area.

Recent guest lecturers have included political strategist Howard Wolfson; former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake; and Cornell behavioral economist Robert Frank.

Science, Environment & Medicine

Professors:  Marguerite Holloway and Jonathan Weiner

We cover everything from quarks and black holes to the quirks of the human genome; from Galileo’s funding troubles to NASA’s travails. When we study the contemporary debate over global warming or evolution, we start back before the fever began. You’ll learn to see science in the widest perspective and to write about it with all the tools of narrative nonfiction.

The field of science writing is changing explosively, and this course is designed to make our students the very fittest to survive in it, adapt to its transformations, and shape its future.

Recent guest lecturers have included physicist and author Brian Greene; Daniel Kevles, a historian of science and the Stanley Woodward professor of history at Yale University; Frances Champagne, a neuroscientist and psychologist at Columbia; and Dr. Marc Dickstein, attending anesthesiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

  • Each student completes a Master's Thesis, an ambitious reporting project, many of which get published in major news outlets.
  • Students complete ambitious reporting projects, many of which get published in major news outlets. To see their most recent work, follow us on Twitter.
  • Most successful applicants have 3 to 15 years of professional journalism experience. The program is full-time and runs from September through May.
  • MA students work closely with professors from both the journalism school and relevant academic departments and professional schools across Columbia University.

During their year at the Journalism School, M.A. students produce strong, thought-provoking journalism. Their theses have been published by leading newspapers, including the New York Times and the Guardian, and by top-tier magazines like Harper's and the New Yorker.

Graduates of the M.A. program are now working for magazines including Wired, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, Fortune, Vice, and The Caravan. They have jobs with major newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Financial Times. They work for television networks including CBS, PBS and Al Jazeera English. M.A. grads can also be found at international wire services like The Associated Press and Reuters, at digital startups like Fusion, and at nonprofits like Pro Publica.




Select the academic degree that interests you:
  • Master of Science in Journalism

    Study the skills and principles of journalism using words, data, images and sound. Full or part-time.

    More Info »Apply »

  • Master of Arts in Journalism

    Go deeper: Arts & Culture, Science, Politics or Business training for experienced journalists.

    More Info »Apply »

  • Ph.D. in Communications

    Take the lead with a multi-disciplinary approach to Communications.

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  • Dual Degree: Journalism & Computer Science

    Apply computer science, engineering and related skills in a digital news environment.

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  • Lede Program

    Intensive, post-bac certification program turning data into narrative.

    More Info »Apply »