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Journalism profession John Watson teaching a classroom of students

Reporting from the Media Capital of the World

We are the storytellers for the digital age. Washington, DC is our lab, and the nation's thought leaders are our sources.

The AU School of Communication master of arts in Journalism and Public Affairs prepares you for a contemporary career as a news and information professional. Our 11-month program, fully accredited by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), begins with an intensive three-week summer Boot Camp for journalists. You'll focus your program studies in one of three areas: Investigative Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, or International Journalism. Our students hone their digital storytelling skills and sharpen their critical thinking with classes in writing, editing, production, scholarly research, communication theory, law, and ethics.

You'll learn from Pulitzer Prize-winning faculty and have access to some of the most advanced university-based production facilities in the region. The School of Communication's Media Innovation Lab is a high-tech, high-touch multimedia marvel for showcasing student work, and our Media Production Center features an HD-equipped television studio, a broadcast newsroom with the Associated Press's ENPS, and editing suites for both digital video and audio.

Our students dive deeply in the policy and politics of official Washington, side-by-side with major global media. You can explore our ever-widening world through internships and fellowships with top media organizations- The Washington Post, USA TODAY, National Geographic, the Center for Public Integrity, Bloomberg BNA, PBS Frontline, and more. Our alumni include top radio and television anchors, news and wire service reporters, digital editors and reporters, videographers, designers, web producers, and managers for media and trade organizations.

If you want to build your portfolio of bylines and credits and leave here able to report and produce across multiple platforms-online, broadcast, print and mobile-our master's program in Journalism and Public Affairs is for you.

Demonstrate Your Commitment and Interest

The School of Communication operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity.

While previous academic or professional work in the field is not required, you'll need to demonstrate a serious commitment to a career in this field. Your essay on your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the program will be essential, along with the other required application materials.

Our Journalism and Public Affairs master's is a full-time program. Students are generally expected to complete the 33-credit hour program within 11 months.

Faculty

School of Communication faculty color outside the lines. They create and innovate, originate and evaluate, initiate and agitate.

They are investigative journalists and visual reporters; documentary filmmakers and book authors; anchors, editors, and producers. They are scholars of history, literature, culture, and ethics whose articles appear in peer-reviewed journals. They have won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other national and international awards.

Their fields of focus range from the intersection of media, politics, and government to the junction of young people, popular culture, and niche audience; from issues of race and identity to immigrant advocacy and representation; from law enforcement and media relationships to propaganda and corporate media ownership.

They report locally, nationally, and worldwide -on paper, on-air, and online. Their work shapes the way we think and act today.

Our faculty are part of a wave of media experimentation, and they use their years of real-world experience to mentor and help launch the careers of media innovators. They teach you how to create knowledge in the public interest and how to convey that knowledge with a clear and powerful voice.

Financing Your Education

The MA in Journalism & Public Affairs is a 33 credit program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Communication offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards are administered by the SOC Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. A number of prestigious fellowships and scholarships are also available for students in the Journalism and Public Affairs master's program. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

All merit awards are based on academic merit and professional experience, specifically undergraduate grades and leadership activities as well as career-related accomplishments. Merit awards are valid for one year-they vary in amount, are typically divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters, and are not typically renewable.

Some merit awards come in the form of graduate assistantships, which consist of graduate tuition remission, a stipend, or both. Tuition remissions will vary in the number of credits offered. If you are offered a stipend, you must be employed as a graduate assistant for a School of Communication faculty member for 10 hours per week.

Fellowships

The School of Communication offers prestigious merit-based fellowships in partnership with leading Washington, DC-based organizations. These fellowships provide varying amounts of tuition remission and stipend. Separate applications are required. The following fellows are available to Journalism and Public Affairs master's candidates:

  • The Washington Post is one of the world's premier news institutions in print and online. The Post's staff is the region's dominant news-gathering organization. Post reporters cover government, politics, crime, social issues, transportation, development, and education. They write feature and trend stories; they investigate major local institutions; and they shoot video, create podcasts, chat online, and work intensively with databases. The Washington Post is looking for graduate fellows with two-to-five years of newspaper experience, with a focus on deep reporting and elegant writing. A background in or experience reporting on religion, transportation, education, law enforcement, or government is a plus, as is the ability to create other engaging digital content.

  • The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) is a nonprofit digital news organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. Journalists, FOIA experts, researchers, and data experts conduct domestic and cross-border investigations into a wide range of topics, including the environment, health policy, national security, juvenile justice, government accountability, federal and state lobby, and financial regulatory reform. Projects and stories are produced on the CPI website as well as distributed through mainstream media outlets. CPI is looking for graduate fellows with deep reporting experience and an interest in investigative journalism.

  • The Investigative Reporting Workshop (IRW) conducts significant multimedia investigative journalism projects on a national and international scale. IRW mentors enables the work of a new generation of investigative reporters while also enlarging the public space for leading journalists of our time to work with IRW as Senior Fellows or contract writers. IRW is looking for graduate fellows with solid reporting experience and a digital journalism skill set.

  • Research fellowships at academic centers within the School of Communication and throughout the university may also be available.

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Investigative Reporting Workshop. Over 80 investigations since 2009. Partners include Showtime, Frontline, NBC, and the Washington Post.

Specializations

All Journalism and Public Affairs candidates will choose a specialization and complete 9 credit hours in their chosen area of focus.

A specialty in Investigative Journalism equips you with the skills to become a top investigative reporter or editor on any media platform. Our students learn how to undertake solid, accurate reporting; to write clearly and concisely; and to create and organize long narrative and investigative stories for all platforms. They also gain a strong foundation in journalism law and ethics. You'll learn from Pulitzer Prize-winning professors, including faculty who work at the School of Communication's Investigative Reporting Workshop, founded and directed by Charles Lewis, best-selling author, investigative journalist, and former 60 Minutes producer. Our students have gone on to notable careers writing and editing for national and international magazines, newspapers, trade publications, websites, and private and non-profit organizations.

Courses include:

If you're looking to launch a career as a writer, newscast or segment producer, editor, reporter, anchor, videographer, graphics producer, assignment editor, or news director, our specialty in Broadcast Journalism is ideal. Our students hone both on-air and producing news skills for television, radio, online, and mobile. You'll be able to take advantage of some of the most advanced university-based video production facilities in the region. American University's Media Production Center features digital video and audio editing suites, a computer-based newsroom system featuring Associated Press' ENPS, an HD-equipped television studio, and the Ed Bliss Broadcast Newsroom. The McKinley Building, home of the School of Communication, boasts a 145-seat theater with 4K digital cinema projection and a state-of- the-art Media Innovation Lab. Our graduates have found success in television, radio, production companies, websites, public and private organizations, and converged news operations with writing, audio, and video storytelling needs.

Courses include:

Students who specialize in this field see journalism through an international lens. They want to report from international locations, from US locations about international topics, or for internationally-based media organizations such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, and others. With its base in Washington, DC, our program is ideally situated to help you integrate international aspects into your journalism. You'll take courses that show how the media interact with foreign policy, how you can conduct investigative reporting on global topics, and how international viewpoints can be included in your reporting. International organizations such as the Organization of American States and the World Health Organization have key bases of operation here, as do embassies and consulates from nearly every country in the world. Our students have gone on to pursue ground-breaking journalistic projects in Europe and other international locations.

Courses include:

Journalism Scholarships

This scholarship was established in 2005 in honor of renowned newsman Ed Bliss, Jr. As a pioneer in journalism, he served as editor to Edward R. Murrow and founded the journalism program at American University. His life and dedication to excellence in journalism inspired many School of Communication students who now hold key positions in print, broadcast, and interactive journalism. Each year, this prestigious scholarship is awarded to an outstanding graduate student with financial need who exemplifies Ed Bliss’s passion for journalism, embodies his respect for journalistic values, and embraces his commitment to excellence in writing.

Robert Bunnell, MA ’82, attended American University as a visiting student his senior year and completed his graduate education here in 1982 before his early death at age 38. The scholarship is awarded to an incoming graduate student in Journalism and Public Affairs with both financial need and academic merit.

Pauline Frederick Robbins was a trailblazing female network news correspondent who graduated with a bachelor’s from American University in 1930. Pauline worked for NBC for 21 years and helped further the role of numerous women in the field of news broadcasting. This scholarship is awarded to a female graduate student in broadcast journalism who shows outstanding potential in and passion for the field of radio or television broadcasting.

This scholarship is awarded to a graduate student specializing in print journalism who demonstrates exceptional promise for professional excellence and achievement in their chosen field. This scholarship was made possible by the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Earl K. Van Swearingen, friends of American University and ardent supporters of excellence in print journalism and writing.

Investigative Reporting in a Shifting Landscape

Investigative reporting is journalism's greatest strong suit.

Winning the Merriman Award for excellence in broadcast writing, visual storytelling, and reporting is a milestone for Jordan Houston. As a graduate assistant at the Investigative Reporting Workshop, she wrote about topics critical to journalism's shifting landscape. She believes investigative reporting has the power to expose hypocrisy, hold powerful individuals and institutions accountable, spark reform, and ultimately, change lives. Later this year, she will continue her work covering water contamination in the U.S., an issue that resonates across the country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Boot Camp gives you the first picture of what journalists face every day. During this immersive program, students learn the basics of researching and reporting under deadline conditions. The intense schedule focuses on information gathering, writing, and producing for a variety of media platforms, all against a backdrop of the constantly changing media industry. With classes running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, you'll build strong fundamentals in critical thinking, news judgment, interviewing, ethics, and verification, as well as a basic skill set in digital audio and video editing.

In Washington, DC—where local news is national, or even international—not only will you have opportunities to report on Capitol Hill, the DC government, federal agencies, and national and global policymakers, you can gain even more experience through internships and fellowships at major national and international news outlets including The Washington Post, USA TODAY, Politico, NBC4, and National Public Radio. Our Investigative Reporting Workshop allows you to work with preeminent journalists on significant national and international investigative journalism projects about government and corporate accountability, ranging from the environment and health to national security and the economy, and to experiment with new models for creating and delivering investigative projects.

The School of Communication has a distinct advantage among comparable institutions for the many different experiential learning opportunities offered to students. Internships are a way of life here. Graduate students can receive course credit for one internship, but most students have two or three, thanks to faculty and alumni who share their professional contacts. 

We also have an active and effective alumni mentoring program that will help you build your professional connections and networks. Through our Dean's Internships, we work with world-class partners to select, highly-qualified students with meaningful real-world assignments that create future pathways to jobs.

Plus, we have two full-time career advisors to help you land internships and plan your career.

Both our bachelor's and master's degrees are accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). We are the only accredited journalism program in Washington, DC. Accreditation is an important mark of external validation. It means our programs have been vetted by industry influences, including scholars and professionals. Practitioners who hire our students know they have a firm grounding in the field.

Still have questions? Send us an email: GradComm@american.edu