Columbia Journalism School

M.A. Seminars

The seminar in a chosen concentration, taken in both the fall and the spring semesters, is the most intensive part of the M.A. degree.

Arts & Culture

Professors: David 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.

Science, Health & the Environment

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.


Professors:  Thomas Edsall 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.

Select the academic degree that interests you: