Best Investigative Journalism Master’s Degrees

Best Investigative Journalism Master's Degrees

Investigative Journalism is a form of Journalism where the journalists themselves actively discover the story to be reported, and are not passively reporting on events with which they had no involvement. As the name implies, these journalists investigate.

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Investigative Journalists dig and get to the bottom to the truth, so as to uncover the story. Thomas Jefferson is credited with the quote: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” A free press is essential for liberty. Investigative Journalists are an integral part of this, for they uncover things like corruption to the highest level, such as the Watergate scandal under president Nixon.

But Investigative Journalism is pertinent to all facets of life, not just political. It’s also necessary to uncover crime and corruption in private domains.

Best Investigative Journalism Master’s Degrees Ranking Guidelines

Investigative Journalism Career Information

Investigative Journalists with Cameras


Best Investigative Journalism Master’s Degrees

1
Columbia University
School of Journalism
New York, NY
Columbia University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Private
54
Master's, Doctorates
Degree Information:
Master of Science in Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Journalism
School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 54
Types of Online Programs: Master's, Doctorates
Degree Information: Master of Science in Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Journalism

The School of Journalism at Columbia University is one of the oldest and most comprehensive programs available to students. With a history that dates back to Joseph Pulitzer, the School continues to uphold the values of excellence, innovation, leadership, and dedication.

Students have 12 areas of journalism study to choose from including data, investigation, multimedia, audio, international, and writing. Students can pursue the Master of Science, the Master of Arts, dual degrees, or doctorate programs. Several professional development classes for non-degree students are also available. Both the MS and the MA offer students ample opportunity to learn investigative reporting techniques. Students in the MS program may apply to the Toni Center for Investigative Journalism.

The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism offers students further classes, as well as financial and editorial support. The Center has alumni working for The New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Wall Street Journal, and more. In addition to the general required classes for all journalism students, those in the Investigative Journalism program also take an Investigative Tools class and an Investigative Seminar. The Center encourages students to travel, and pursue fellowships.

Credit requirements:

Selection of required courses:

  • The Written Word
  • Image and Sound
  • Investigative Techniques
  • Journalism Essentials

Students complete the program with the Master’s Project.

Learning enrollment options: Full or part time

Program length: Approximately 10 months to two years depending on enrollment status.

Start dates: Full time students begin in August, part time students begin in May

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, resume, a personal essay, and journalistic work samples. Students pursuing investigative or documentary programs must submit an additional specialized essay. The admissions team does not require GRE results, with the exception of certain dual degree programs.

The Master’s programs through the School of Journalism do not accept transfer credits.

Accreditation: Columbia University receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

2
University of California, Berkeley
Graduate School of Journalism
Berkeley, CA
University of California, Berkeley
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public
5+
Master's
Degree Information:
Master of Journalism with specialization in Investigative Reporting
School Type: Public
Number of Online Programs: 5+
Types of Online Programs: Master's
Degree Information: Master of Journalism with specialization in Investigative Reporting

Berkeley has the distinction of being the only school in the University of California system to offer graduate level study of Journalism, and is one of the few schools left in the nation to offer a two-year master’s degree in the subject. Areas of concentration include:

  • Audio Journalism
  • Documentary
  • Multimedia
  • Narrative Writing
  • Photo Journalism
  • Video Journalism

The core program enrolls approximately 120 students in small class sizes under the instruction of master journalists. Students create a portfolio of published work in all media. Students also have access to much of the technology transforming journalism today.

In 2006 reporter Lowell Bergman established the Investigative Reporting program. The Investigative Reporting program includes courses, an annual symposium, a non-profit news room, post-graduate fellowships, and a recently developed non-profit production company called Investigative Studios. Students gain practical investigative, research and writing experience through the programs teaching-hospital model.

Publications such as The New York TimesLos Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Intercept and The Atlantic have published student work from the Investigative Reporting program.

Credit requirements: 36 semester units minimum

Selection of required courses:

  • Reporting the News
  • Multimedia Bootcamp
  • Data Immersion Bootcamp
  • Introduction to Visual Journalism
  • Law and Ethics
  • Reporting Internship

There are additional requirements for students interested in the Multimedia, Video Reporting and Storytelling, and Documentary concentrations.

Learning enrollment options: Full time

Program length: Two years, four consecutive semesters

Start dates: Fall semester only

Admissions and transfer credit information: In addition to undergraduate transcripts, the admissions team also strongly considers the personal essays, letters of recommendations, interviews, and work samples of the students.

Admissions does not accept transfer credits.

Accreditation: UC Berkeley receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC).

A Journalism minor program is available for undergraduates.

3
Northwestern University
Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications
Evanston, IL
Northwestern University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Private
15+
Master's
Degree Information:
Master of Science in Social Justice and Investigative Reporting
School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 15+
Types of Online Programs: Master's
Degree Information: Master of Science in Social Justice and Investigative Reporting

The Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing offers both undergraduate and graduate level studies in these areas. The Master’s Journalism program offers specializations in Health, Environment and Science; Magazine; Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Politics, Policy and Foreign Affairs; Social Justice and Investigative Reporting; Sports Media; and Video and Broadcast.

The Social Justice and Investigative Reporting specialization allows students to investigate current popular issues including drug policy, criminal justice, and poverty and immigration. Students learn research and interviewing skills and have opportunities to network with the Medill News Service and the Social Justice News Nexus.

Alumni of the program have written for publications such as The New York Times and the Chicago Chronicles.

Credit requirements:

Selection of required courses:

  • Ethics and Law
  • Journalism Methods
  • Frameworks for Modern Journalism
  • Foundations of Video Journalism
  • Foundations of Interactive Journalism
  • News Reporting

Students complete the program with a Practicum or Master’s Project.

Learning enrollment options: Full time

Program length: One year

Start dates: Summer or Fall

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous transcripts, a Statement of Purpose, and two letters of recommendation. Additional requirements include GRE or GMAT test scores, resume, and an admissions interview.

Accreditation: Northwestern University receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

4
University of Missouri, Columbia
School of Journalism
Columbia, MO
University of Missouri, Columbia
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
100+
Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, Education Specialist, Certificate
Degree Information:
Master of Arts in Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Reporting
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 100+
Types of Online Programs: Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, Education Specialist, Certificate
Degree Information: Master of Arts in Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Reporting

The Missouri School of Journalism offers both undergraduate and graduate level studies with on campus and online options for traditional and non-traditional students. The curriculum provides a comprehensive study of a variety of media fields with a liberal arts foundation and numerous hands-on training opportunities.

At the graduate level, students can create their own area of specialization to meet their career goals through a variety of elective classes. Several professional organizations and workshops support the classroom theories and give mid-career professional students the networking opportunities that benefit careers.

Students pursuing graduate studies in Investigative Reporting must have prior journalism experience or must have completed an introductory reporting class.

Credit requirements: 37 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Mass Media Seminar
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Journalism OR Qualitative Research Methods
  • Computer-Assisted Reporting
  • Controls of Information
  • Investigative Reporting

Students complete the program with a Professional or Capstone project.

Program length: Two years

Start dates: Fall or Spring

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous transcripts, three application essays, a resume, GRE test scores, and letters of recommendation.

Accreditation: The Missouri School of Journalism receives accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Minimum GPA requirement: 2.75
Minimum GPA of transfer credit: 2.75
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
In general, graduate students must show a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 credit hours of course work.
GRE or GMAT requirement: Varies based on the department

5
University of Maryland – College Park
Philip Merrill College of Journalism
College Park, MD
University of Maryland – College Park
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public
63
Master's, Doctorate
Degree Information:
Master of Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Reporting
School Type: Public
Number of Online Programs: 63
Types of Online Programs: Master's, Doctorate
Degree Information: Master of Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Reporting

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism offers undergraduate and graduate level studies. The curriculum maintains a liberal arts foundation while highlighting a skills-intensive, hands-on approach that prepares students for careers in media, research, and journalism.

At the graduate level students may choose from the Master of Arts in Journalism or the Master of Journalism. The MA program requires 30 credits and is thesis oriented, with classes best suited for experienced journalist.

The MJ program is a non-thesis program that does not require previous journalism experience. Students gain experience in a wide variety of platforms and may choose from three specializations: Sports Journalism Focus, Investigative Focus, or Computational and Data Journalism Focus.

The Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, just recently opened in 2019, assists students with networking opportunities and further education. Through this program students have worked internships at the Washington Post, Reuters, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal.

Credit requirements: 36 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Fundamentals of Writing and Editing
  • Introduction to Multimedia Skills
  • Theories of Journalism and Public Communication
  • News Videography
  • Seminar in Mass Media History
  • Seminar in Public Affairs Reporting

Students complete the program with a capstone course.

Learning enrollment options: Full or part-time

Program length: 12 – 15 months average

Start dates: Fall only

Admissions and transfer credit information: Admission is highly competitive with only 36 students entering each year. Admissions requires previous official transcripts, a statement of purpose, three writing samples, and letters of recommendation.

Accreditation: The School of Journalism receives accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

6
Arizona State University
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Tempe, AZ
Arizona State University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
75+
Undergraduate Certificates, Bachelor, Master, Graduate Certificates, and Doctorates
Degree Information:
Master of Arts in Investigative Journalism
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 75+
Types of Online Programs: Undergraduate Certificates, Bachelor, Master, Graduate Certificates, and Doctorates
Degree Information: Master of Arts in Investigative Journalism

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a comprehensive division of Arizona State University offering undergraduate, graduate, online, and professional programs. Hands-on experience is a core part of the curriculum in any class. Professor encourage students to pursue dual degrees and global experience through internships.

The Master of Arts in Investigative Journalism program is one of the first of its kind in the country. The curriculum caters to students with previous professional experience. Classes are interdisciplinary in nature covering an array of investigative techniques and multimedia skills essential to success in the field.

An optional Summer experience is available for students interested in networking with the Carnegie-Knight News21 Program.

Credit requirements: 36 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Journalism Skills
  • Ethics and History of Journalism
  • Media Law
  • Data Journalism
  • Accountability Journalism
  • Techniques of Investigative Reporting

Students complete the program with a Capstone course.

Learning enrollment options: Full or part time

Program length: 12, 15, or 20 months

Admissions and transfer credit information: Admission reviews applications on a rolling basis. Students must submit official transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, GRE scores, a personal statement, resume, and three letters of recommendation.

Accreditation: Arizona State University receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Minimum GPA requirement: 3.00
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 credit hours (or 90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study.
GRE or GMAT requirement: Yes
7
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
College of Media, Department of Journalism
Champaign, IL
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public, Research
93
Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorates, Certificates
Degree Information:
Master of Science in Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Journalism
School Type: Public, Research
Number of Online Programs: 93
Types of Online Programs: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorates, Certificates
Degree Information: Master of Science in Journalism with emphasis in Investigative Journalism

The College of Media offers students undergraduate and graduate studies in Advertising, Journalism, or Media and Cinema Studies. Students who complete Journalism studies find careers as producers, web designers, public relations, speechwriters, multimedia reporters, and more. Faculty members include Pulitzer Prize winners with extensive hands-on experience to share with classes

The Master of Science in Journalism program is best suited for students with previous study or professional experience in the field. Courses provide a solid foundation in practical skills immediately applicable to any journalism related career. Students have three electives to work towards their career goals in a specialized area such as Investigative Journalism.

Credit requirements: 32 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Multimedia Storytelling
  • Journalism Proseminar
  • Current Issues in Journalism

Students complete the program with a Masters project

Program length: One full year, including a Summer session

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additionally, admission requires a 350-word personal statement and letters of recommendation. Admissions exempts students from submitting GRE scores if they are already a University of Illinois student or have an approved post-secondary degree.

Accreditation: The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

8
University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Madison, WI
University of Wisconsin-Madison
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
16
Master's, Certificates
Degree Information:
Professional M.A. with emphasis in Investigative Reporting
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 16
Types of Online Programs: Master's, Certificates
Degree Information: Professional M.A. with emphasis in Investigative Reporting

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the country. Students have a well-rounded curriculum that emphasized critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation skills. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available.

The Professional M.A. program allows students to construct their own unique curriculum. Students work with an academic adviser to develop a specialty in journalism which includes topics such as Investigative Journalism. Investigative journalism students often work with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

The curriculum requires students to complete 12 Core Skills credits, seven Journalistic Concepts credits, six electives outside of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and an internship. The program targets undergraduate students without experience seeking Journalism skills as well as general reporters seeking a specialization.

Credit requirements: 30 credits minimum

Selection of courses:

  • In-Depth Reporting
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Magazine Publishing
  • Investigative Journalism
  • Long Form Video

The only required course all students must take is Principles and Practices of Reporting.

Learning enrollment options: Full or part time

Program length: One and a half to two years for full time students

Start dates: Fall only

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous academic transcripts from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students applying to the Professional MA program must submit writing samples.

Accreditation: The University receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Applicants should submit official transcripts and letters of recommendation.
9
CUNY School of Professional Studies
Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism
New York City, NY
CUNY School of Professional Studies
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
25+
Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates
Degree Information:
Master of Arts in Journalism with specialization in Investigative Reporting
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 25+
Types of Online Programs: Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates
Degree Information: Master of Arts in Journalism with specialization in Investigative Reporting

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism offers four comprehensive Masters programs for students interested in advancing their reporting careers. Students have the option of an MA in Journalism, an MA in Journalism with a unique Spanish-language component, an MA in Entrepreneurial Journalism, which is also available in a shorter Certificate format, or an MA in Social Journalism.

The 16-month MA in Journalism program offers students a variety of concentrations and specialty areas to choose from, including the specialty of Investigative Reporting. The specialty classes for Investigative Reporting allow students to focus their skills on source identification, interviewing, and compiling and organizing data. Students gain in-depth knowledge of Freedom of Information Laws and how to work within ethical and legal constraints.

Credit requirements: 43 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Craft of Journalism I and II
  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Fundamentals of Multimedia Storytelling: Audio and Video
  • Fundamentals of Multimedia Storytelling: Interactive Journalism

Learning enrollment options: Full time

Program length: 16 months

Admissions and transfer credit information: Applicants must submit official undergraduate transcripts along with a one-page resume, a personal statement of 1,000 words or less, three letters of recommendation, and three writing samples. GRE scores are optional. Students must submit all information online; admission does not accept hard copies. Admissions may also request an interview.

Accreditation: CUNY receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: No
Minimum GPA requirement: 2.5
Total transfer credit accepted: 90 credits
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Graduate applicants must hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0
GRE or GMAT requirement: No

Notable Related Program:

1
Harvard University
Extension School
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Private
None
None
Degree Information:
Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: Journalism
School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: None
Types of Online Programs: None
Degree Information: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: Journalism

The Harvard Extension School focuses on providing quality education to non-traditional students. Both undergraduate and graduate level degrees are available in part-time, online, or hybrid formats.

Students interested in the Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies with an emphasis on Journalism have several additional graduate certificates to choose from including Business Communication, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, International Relations, and Marketing Management.

Students must complete 12 courses, one of which must be on campus. Students may take three journalism electives and four additional general electives, leaving plenty of room for students to customized their educational experience.

Classes such as Investigative Reporting in the Digital Age, Foreign Correspondence, and Psychology of Diversity enhance students research abilities and encourage creative thinking and problem solving.

Credit requirements:

Selection of required courses:

Feature Writing
News Reporting for the Web, Print, and Other Platforms
The Constitution and the Media
Journalism Capstone

Learning enrollment options: Full or part-time

Program length: Maximum of five years to complete all requirements

Start dates: Fall, Spring, and Summer

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must complete a Proseminar on the Fundamentals and Practices of Journalism and one class on Feature Writing or News Reporting for the Web, Print, and Other Platforms before submitting an official application to the Master’s program. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA minimum during these courses. Additional materials to the official application include previous official transcripts and a current resume.

Accreditation: Harvard University receives accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.


Best Investigative Journalism Master’s Degrees Ranking Guidelines and Career Information:


Best Investigative Journalism Master’s Degrees Ranking Guidelines

Successful Student creates rankings for the benefit of students. In this Best Investigative Journalism Master’s Degrees ranking, we looked at AcademicInfluence.com, which ranks school programs based on the academic influence of the schools’ faculty and alumni in the field of Journalism. We then looked at which Journalism programs have Investigative Journalism degrees. Our ranking then considered the variety of instruction and the Investigative Journalism degrees offered in particular, and the school’s academic reputation.


Investigative Journalism Career Information

According to the PayScale, Investigative Journalists earn $63,966.00 per year. Investigative Journalists work for media outlets, in radio, television, newspapers, internet-based news, and others outlets. Broadcast news reporters made $66,880.00 in 2018, and reporters and correspondents made $41,260.00 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.