Journalism Major: Is It Good or Useless?

According to a Pew Research Center research, 86% of the respondents said they get their news from digital sources rather than traditional ones. Does this mean that journalism as we know it is already useless and dead?

Contrary to popular belief, journalism is not a useless degree. It’s not dying, either, although journalism majors have to choose concentrations and minors carefully to have more marketable resumes. The median annual wage for journalists is $63,230. The job growth rate for them within the decade is 6%.

Read on if you are on the fence as to whether or not you should enroll in a journalism program.

No matter if you are intending to earn a degree in journalism traditionally or online, this post will tell you some of the most important things you need to know about the major before you finally make a decision.


Is Journalism Hard in College?

The general consensus is that journalism is not a particularly hard degree to earn. As a matter of fact, it is #7 in the Top Easiest Majors by CollegeVine. While majoring in journalism is doable for most students, having specific skills and qualities can increase one’s chances of completing a journalism program successfully.

Nowadays, the work of a journalist can be harder to define than before the digital age, what with the need for journalists to be proficient, too, in online publishing, social media use and multimedia utilization.

It’s for this reason why choosing a journalism program with a more modern curriculum is important.

Because journalism is under the liberal arts umbrella, you can be certain that majoring in it is not going to be as difficult as majoring in a STEM-related discipline of study. Still, it’s a must that you prioritize your study if you want to graduate and earn your degree. Having certain skills can help you succeed as a journalism major and, ultimately, a journalist.

Wondering whether or not journalism is the right major for you? Check which of the skills or qualities below you possess — the more of them you have, the more suited you are to earn a degree in journalism:

  • Boldness
  • Communication (verbal and/or written)
  • Detail-oriented
  • Digital literacy
  • Ethical
  • Investigative
  • Objective
  • Persistence
  • Problem-solving
  • Research
  • Social media savvy

A lot of colleges and universities enable their undergraduate journalism students to choose from a variety of concentrations, which allows them to have a specialization and thus create a more streamlined career path.

Some common examples of journalism concentrations include:

Broadcast journalism

This allows journalism majors to learn about all the essentials of broadcasting. They include anywhere from newsgathering, writing, editing, producing to reporting. It also provides degree-seeking students with the foundations of an ethical framework as well as social responsibility for their future careers as broadcasters.

Magazine journalism

Students working on a journalism degree may choose to concentrate on magazine journalism, which is entirely different from newspaper journalism in terms of target audience and frequency of publishing. This prepares undergraduate students for coming up with longer stories for consumer and trade magazines.


Learning about media photography helps journalism majors to develop the artistic and technical skills necessary in order to be able to work as photojournalists one day. Some of them are lighting techniques, photo composition and photo editing. Simultaneously, students acquire traditional journalism skills.

Writing and publishing

Basically, this particular concentration equips journalism degree-seeking students with a deeper understanding of the writing, editing and production components of news stories, columns and other pieces intended for print, electronic and online media outlets. Both traditional and shorter forms of journalism are covered, too.

new journalism

News and features

The concentration prepares journalism majors for coming up with stories that focus on hard-news topics, combining hard-news reporting style with a feature writing approach. Besides training students to write accurate and unbiased news, a concentration on news and features also teaches them to write ethically.

Convergent media

In this day and age, concentrating on convergent media can help make bachelor’s in journalism holders more marketable. That’s because the concentration is designed to provide students with an assortment of skills in areas like traditional journalism, audio and video production, broadcasting, and web design.

Sports and media

Journalism majors who would like to become sports journalists one day may consider concentrating on sports and media, which will prepare them to work not only in traditional but also on more modern media platforms. Core courses include sports communication, multimedia sports reporting and sports media law.

Besides choosing a concentration, if the school with a journalism program provides such an option, it’s also a good idea to pick the right minor. This is especially true if the goal is to have a more rounded out bachelor’s degree.

The following are just some of the minors that go really well with a journalism major:

  • Advertising
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Foreign language
  • History
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Philosophy
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Public relations
  • Sociology
  • Statistics

It’s true that working on a minor that complements your major allows you to have a more in-depth knowledge of your specialization. However, opting for one that has very little to nothing to do with journalism allows you to acquire transferable skills outside your major, thus allowing you to be more flexible.

Needless to say, consider the career path you would like to take when choosing a minor.

Many colleges and universities offering journalism programs have dual-degree journalism programs, too, which usually aim to allow students to obtain skills and perspectives outside the journalism sphere at the same time.

At some institutions, on the other hand, journalism majors are required to double-major.

NYU is one of those schools where double-majoring is a must for all journalism majors in order for them to graduate. The prestigious university does not have any restrictions on what their journalism students’ second majors are. However, it’s not unlikely for them to be limited to the available majors at their home school or college.

Since different schools for students seeking a bachelor’s in journalism have different journalism programs and requirements, too, it’s of utmost importance that you check out the program being offered by your target institution.

Besides traditional jobs for journalism majors, there are also non-traditional ones available as a response to growth in new technologies and globalization of the media. This is why more and more journalism programs equip degree-seeking students with skills that can make them marketable as traditional and modern journalists.

Journalism Degree Careers and Salaries

A journalism degree lets students take on traditional as well as more modern journalism jobs. They may also opt for careers that are somewhat or remotely related to the discipline of study where the learned skills can prove to be useful.

Up to 65% of journalism majors are employed six to eight months after graduation.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the things that you can do with a bachelor’s in journalism:

News producer

  • Median annual salary: $79,000
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 24%

What news producers are responsible for is taking all the elements that have been captured throughout the event or day and fashioning a newscast out of them. One of the most hectic moments in the everyday work of news producers is in the morning or afternoon during which the assignments are brainstormed and/or assigned.



  • Median annual salary: $69,510
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 9%

The primary role of copywriters is to write clear and concise copy or advertisements to promote services or products for various industries and types of target audience. Commonly, copywriters work with clients, which allows them to come up with exactly what’s needed. Copywriters usually have at least a bachelor’s in journalism or a related field.

Social media planner

  • Median annual salary: $62,800
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 11%

It’s a must for social media planners to have a strong grasp of the target audience and brand of their clients as they are the ones responsible for developing strategies in order to develop social media trends, which is necessary for maximizing return on investment (ROI). Some social media planners work for advertising agencies, while others are self-employed.

Digital strategist

  • Median annual salary: $63,785
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 20%

Also sometimes referred to as digital marketing strategists, digital strategists are the ones who work on integrating digital assets, leading digital activation ventures, collaborating on various marketing campaigns, raising brand awareness, and measuring the effectiveness of various digital channels employed.

Public relations specialist

  • Median annual salary: $62,800
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 11%

Simply put, public relations specialists are tasked with making sure that their clients, no matter if individuals, groups or companies, maintain a good image. While public relations specialists have offices, it’s not unlikely for them to travel regularly. Educational and advertising services are some of their top employers.

Marketing manager

  • Median annual salary: $133,380
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 10%

What marketing managers do is come up with programs in order to make heads turn towards a product or service. Some marketing managers work for marketing firms, while others are self-employed. Journalism majors can have a more marketable resume if they minor in a related field, such as marketing or advertising.

Broadcast journalist

  • Median annual salary: $45,810
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 15%

In essence, broadcast journalists conduct research, investigation and presentation of news and current affairs for television, radio and, since the dawn of the digital age, the internet. As the job title suggests, broadcast journalists typically have a bachelor’s in journalism, broadcast journalism, communication, interactive media or a related field.


  • Median annual salary: $48,370
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 6%

The primary role of reporters is to keep the public updated about current events and aware of stories and happenings they might be interested in. Reporters can be working in television or radio broadcasting. They can also be working for newspapers, magazines and websites. Most reporters need to have at least a bachelor’s.

Technical writer

  • Median annual salary: $78,060
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 12%

Making complex and technical information easier to understand by the target audience — such is what technical writers do. They can specialize in creating manuals, handbooks, guides, articles and others. In many instances, employers look for technical writers with a background or an experience in the subjects or topics they will write about.


  • Median annual salary: $38,950
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 17%

Like journalists, photojournalists provide news and stories for the public. However, instead of using words, they use captured images. Having an undergraduate degree in photography, visual communications or journalism is required by most employers. An extensive portfolio can make a photojournalist’s resume more marketable.


  • Median annual salary: $60,360
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 29%

Simply put, videographers record live events (weddings, birthday parties, sports events, corporate affairs, etc.) as well as small-scale video productions (short films, documentaries, marketing videos, customer testimonials, etc.). It’s a huge advantage for videographers in terms of job market value to be able to edit their own materials.

Which Famous People Majored in Journalism?

In order to have an idea of what sort of careers journalism majors tend to have, in many instances, you simply have to switch on the TV or radio, pick up a magazine or check out social media stories and events.

Not everyone with a degree in journalism, however, ends up working in a field that’s directly or somewhat related to it — others are in entirely unrelated jobs, either by choice or by chance. Of course, it will be completely up to you how you plan on using your bachelor’s in journalism after earning it.

Here are a few famous people with a degree in journalism (and one who almost had it) but have different jobs:

Sarah Palin

The 9th governor of Alaska, from 2006 until her resignation in 2009, Palin is also an author and a reality TV personality. In 1986, she graduated from the University of Idaho, which is both #1 in Best Colleges in Idaho and #103 in Top Public Universities in America by Niche, with a bachelor’s in communications with a focus on journalism.

Olivia Munn

Munn is popular for co-hosting Attack of the Show and her roles in The Newsroom and X-Men: Apocalypse. She attended the University of Oklahoma, which is ranked #127 in National Universities by US News, where she graduated with an undergraduate degree in journalism with a minor in dramatic arts and Japanese.

Brad Pitt

One of the most easily recognizable Hollywood actors and primarily famous for his good looks, Pitt is just two weeks short of earning a college degree. Before moving to California to pursue a career in show business, he was a student at the University of Missouri, a flagship school, where he majored in journalism with a focus on advertising.


Best Schools for Journalism Majors

Want to earn nothing but the best possible journalism major?

Then feel free to add some of the following recommendations of US News for graduating high schoolers who are seeking a good journalism program:

Northwestern University#9 in National Universities
Dartmouth College#13 in National Universities
Brown University#14 in National Universities
Vanderbilt University#14 in National Universities
Washington University in St. Louis#14 in National Universities
Cornell University#17 in National Universities
Rice University#17 in National Universities
University of Notre Dame#19 in National Universities
University of California – Los Angeles#20 in National Universities
Emory University#21 in National Universities
University of California – Berkeley#22 in National Universities
Georgetown University#23 in National Universities
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor#23 in National Universities
Carnegie Mellon University#25 in National Universities
University of Virginia#25 in National Universities
University of Southern California#27 in National Universities
New York University#28 in National Universities
Tufts University#28 in National Universities
University of California – Santa Barbara#28 in National Universities
University of Florida#28 in National Universities
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill#28 in National Universities
Wake Forest University#28 in National Universities
University of California – San Diego#34 in National Universities
University of Rochester#34 in National Universities
Boston College#36 in National Universities
University of California – Irvine#36 in National Universities
Georgia Institute of Technology#38 in National Universities
University of Texas at Austin#38 in National Universities
Boston University#42 in National Universities
University of Wisconsin – Madison#42 in National Universities
Best Schools for Journalism Majors

Top Online Schools for Journalism Majors

Many online schools allow non-traditional students to earn a bachelor’s in journalism in the most convenient and practical way, without requiring them to step foot inside a traditional classroom on a regular basis. Fully accredited institutions operating on the web make it possible for them to obtain degrees employers will respect.

If you are planning on getting an online journalism degree, consider these institutions:

Texas State University

  • Location: San Marcos, Texas
  • Cost: $317.36 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 54%
  • Population: 37,812
  • Average starting salary: $38,300 per year
  • College ranking: #7 in America’s Best Online Schools (Newsweek)

University of New Mexico

  • Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Cost: $369.22 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Acceptance rate: 96%
  • Graduation rate: 48%
  • Population: 22,311
  • Average starting salary: $31,900 per year
  • College ranking: #1 in Most Diverse Colleges in New Mexico (Niche)

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

  • Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $590 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Acceptance rate: 54%
  • Graduation rate: 29%
  • Population: 2,564
  • Average starting salary: $50,100 per year
  • College ranking: #16 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs (US News)

Colorado State University

  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Cost: $476 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Acceptance rate: 84%
  • Graduation rate: 66%
  • Population: 32,428
  • Average starting salary: $37,700 per year
  • College ranking: #148 in National Universities (US News)

Mississippi College

  • Location: Clinton, Mississippi
  • Cost: $641 per credit hour
  • Accreditor: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Acceptance rate: 29%
  • Graduation rate: 54%
  • Population: 4,667
  • Average starting salary: $34,100 per year
  • College ranking: #3 in Best Value Colleges in Mississippi (College Simply)

Just Before You Apply to a Journalism Program

There is no need to turn your back on a bachelor’s in journalism if it’s what your heart desires simply because many have the impression that it’s a useless and dying degree. Despite what’s said and done, journalism is still alive and kicking, albeit certain inevitable yet welcome changes have taken place in the field since the digital age.

Read Next: Is Mechanical Engineering Degree Worth It?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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