Master of Science Degree
Columbia University Journalism School’s Master of Science program offers aspiring and experienced journalists the opportunity to study the skills and priniciples of journalism in a digital world using words, data, images and sound. Using New York City as their laboratory, students in the M.S. program learn how to think critically and deeply, to be both ethical and street smart. Experienced journalists are your teachers, and they critique assignments and closely supervise your work.
Those goals and methods have been cornerstones of the Journalism School’s curriculum for a century. The way we teach them is going to change significantly in the 2013-14 academic year, so please read the description below carefully.
Unlike in past years, applicants will not be asked to state a preference for media concentration (such as “broadcast” or “magazine”). Students will be admitted based on their intellectual accomplishments, their journalistic experience, and their awareness of the world around them. Applicants can opt for either the full-time, 10-month program or the part-time program, which takes two years to complete.
Enrolling full-time students begin in August with a 10-week course titled Reporting. The first three weeks are devoted to digital training, and the remaining seven to reporting methods. During this course, faculty will cover such topics as how to gather and evaluate information, how to interview people, and how to write a story in a cogent and compelling fashion. Students will be assigned beats and will be expected to produce stories from those coverage areas.
The Part-time Program is a more flexible (but no less rigorous) version of our 10-month degree program. The curriculum is the same as that taught to full-time students, and classes are taught by the same professors. In most cases, full-time and part-time students take the courses together.
Part-time students begin the program in May with Reporting, which is completed during the summer months. Students are required to take 6 points each semester to finish the required courses in the M.S. program within two years. (More details about the Part-Time program.)
Before graduating, all M.S. students will also be required to take one course in three modules:
The Written Word, which we expect will encompass such topics as Deadline News, Profile Writing and Feature Writing;
Image and Sound, with classes in video, audio, photography and data visualization;
Audience and Engagement, with courses in such possible topics as Aggregation and Curation, Social Media for Journalists, and Digital News Design.
Full-time students will take two of those module courses in the second half of the fall semester. Part-time students will take two of those module courses in the first fall they are enrolled.
In the spring term, you will tailor your schedule to your particular interests. Concept courses include the in-house broadcasting of nightly news or magazine-format TV programs, production of a magazine, television documentary, a variety of news websites including TheBronxInk and TheBrooklynInk, the Columbia News Service or in digital media, such as nyc24.org.
In the spring semester, full-time students will take their third module class, plus two 15-week Seminar and Production classes similar to seminars and workshops that have been offered in past years. Those longer classes could include topics ranging from National Affairs Reporting to Video Storytelling, from Literary Journalism to Data Visualization.
In their first spring semester, part-time students will take one of the 15-week classes similar to seminars and workshops that have been offered in past years. They will take their second required 15-week class during their second spring semester.
In addition, full-time M.S. students will complete four short courses in the law, business, ethics and history of journalism during the fall. Part-time M.S. students will take these courses (or two equivalent courses) during their first fall enrollment.
Part-time students will take third module along with the Journalism, Law & Society and Critical Issues in Journalism classes during their second fall of enrollment.
All M.S. students will complete a master’s project that will test ability to conduct and sustain in-depth research, challenge you to gather and organize large amounts of material, and train you to present that material in a clear, accessible, and professional way. Full-time students do the project throughout the academic year as a fall and spring course. Part-time students do the project during their second summer of enrollment.
The faculty considered and approved these changes last spring, recognizing that news organizations are increasingly seeking graduates who understand the core values and principles of newsgathering, along with the ability to deliver stories in platforms that span the realm of words, images, sound and data.
If you are accepted and decide to attend, you will be automatically registered for the Reporting class and the Essentials (or Law/Critical issues for Part-time students).
You will be asked to register online for your module courses.
You will also be informed which spring classes require you to take a specific module, such as video, to be considered for enrollment. (This will be explained in more detail several weeks before registration opens.) We cannot guarantee enrollment in all students’ first choices.
In order to graduate, M.S. students must have completed all required courses, passed Reporting, their master’s project, two 6-point spring courses and have accumulated at least 30 graduate credits.
The required courses for M.S. students equal 18-19 points per semester.
Thirty earned credits are required for a degree, but most students graduate with 34 or more. If you've begun graduate-level work in journalism or a related field, please note our Transfer of Credit Policy.