2020 Best Colleges Badge

25 Best Journalism Schools 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated February 21, 2020

The 25 schools on this list offer the top journalism bachelor's degrees, based on median alumni salaries one year out of college. With a median starting salary of $43,400, Washington and Lee University outranks the other schools on the list. Number two on the list, Northwestern University, has a median salary of $42,000 and the lowest median debt, at $15,500. The range of median salaries for the top 25 schools is $34,400-$43,400.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Lexington (VA) Lexington (VA) $52,455 Not Reported $43,400
#2 #2 Evanston (IL) Evanston (IL) $54,568 $15,500 $42,000
#3 #3 Washington D.C. Washington D.C. $55,230 $25,000 $42,000
#4 #4 Burlington (MA) Burlington (MA) $51,522 $21,901 $41,600
#5 #5 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $56,225 $19,500 $40,600
#6 #6 Minneapolis (MN) Minneapolis (MN) $30,438 $19,873 $38,200
#7 #7 Storrs (CT) Storrs (CT) $38,098 $21,500 $37,700
#8 #8 Madison (WI) Madison (WI) $36,805 $20,010 $37,600
#9 #9 Lawrence (KS) Lawrence (KS) $27,358 $21,672 $37,400
#10 #10 Milledgeville (GA) Milledgeville (GA) $28,060 $24,625 $37,400
#11 #11 Columbia (MO) Columbia (MO) $27,042 $23,250 $37,300
#12 #12 College Park (MD) College Park (MD) $35,216 $23,000 $37,100
#13 #13 Orange (CA) Orange (CA) $52,724 $17,500 $36,800
#14 #14 Fort Worth (TX) Fort Worth (TX) $46,950 $21,992 $36,600
#15 #15 Boulder (CO) Boulder (CO) $37,286 $18,500 $36,200
#16 #16 Syracuse (NY) Syracuse (NY) $51,853 $25,608 $36,100
#17 #17 Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) $18,629 - $28,336 $21,250 $35,900
#18 #18 Bloomington (IN) Bloomington (IN) $35,456 $19,500 $35,800
#19 #19 Waco (TX) Waco (TX) $45,542 $25,000 $35,500
#20 #20 Des Moines (IA) Des Moines (IA) $41,396 $16,000 $35,400
#21 #21 Hempstead (NY) Hempstead (NY) $45,700 $26,000 $35,300
#22 #22 Auburn (AL) Auburn (AL) $30,524 $19,900 $35,200
#23 #23 Dallas (TX) Dallas (TX) $54,492 $19,500 $34,900
#24 #24 Ames (IA) Ames (IA) $23,392 $23,500 $34,500
#25 #25 Oxford (OH) Oxford (OH) $34,896 $25,300 $34,400

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Journalism degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Lexington (VA)
Median Salary $43,400
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $52,455
Graduation Rate 95%

Washington and Lee University features a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in the school’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. The degree requires 128 credits, including 53 credits for the major. The major requires two internships of 100 hours each. The school also offers an option in Business Journalism, which focuses on journalism-related to business and the economy.

The program emphasizes research, analysis, journalistic ethics, and communication skills—especially writing for media. Students will learn the history of journalism and the importance of the press, evaluative research, ethics, and skills appropriate for a variety of media. A senior portfolio is required.

Courses in the degrees include Introduction to News Writing, Introduction to Digital Journalism, and Reporting on Business. Graduates often go into print, online, and broadcast media, as well as into public relations.

Washington and Lee was founded in 1749, making it one of the country’s oldest liberal arts colleges. A donation in 1796 by George Washington resulted in a name change. After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee became president of the college, which later adding his name. The school is located in Lexington, Virginia.

Visit Washington and Lee University’s website.

#2
Evanston (IL)
Median Salary $42,000
Median Debt $15,500
Annual Tuition $54,568
Graduation Rate 95%

Northwestern University features a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. The degree is offered through the highly-rated Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

Uniquely, students are required to have a concentration in some academic field outside of journalism, such as economics or political science. The overall program focus is journalistic competency in a variety of media, a grounding in the history of journalism, the role of the free press, professional ethics and writing skills. Students will develop research, writing, and reporting skills, as well as an awareness of the importance of emerging media.

Courses offered include Philosophy of Modern Journalism, Journalism in Practice (which usually involves travel), Multimedia Storytelling, and Journalism in a Networked World. Internships are a key part of a student’s experience. Northwestern has media internship partners in Argentina, South Africa, and Qatar. Students may study at the school’s campus in Qatar or at a partner campus in China. There are also a wide variety of internship opportunities in nearby Chicago.

The school is located in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago.

Visit Northwestern University's website.

#3
Median Salary $42,000
Median Debt $25,000
Annual Tuition $55,230
Graduation Rate 82%

Through its Journalism and Mass Communications program, George Washington University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. The major requires 34 core credits, and a total of 53 to 56 credits depending on the courses chosen. There is an internship requirement, and also a capstone project in which students display their knowledge and skills.

The program stresses critical thinking and a mix of classroom and newsroom experience, with a particular focus on research and writing for all forms of media. Students learn the history and importance of the press, focus on writing skills, and develop skills and techniques for the range of contemporary media. The university’s location in the nation’s capital gives students a significant advantage in terms of internships and the ability to observe journalism in action. Recent students have completed internships in print, broadcast and internet media, political and lobbying groups, government, and nonprofit institutions and business.

Courses in the program include Journalism: Theory and Practice, Data Analysis for Journalism, Broadcast News Writing, and Photojournalism.

Visit The George Washington University’s website.  

#4
Burlington (MA)
Median Salary $41,600
Median Debt $21,901
Annual Tuition $51,522
Graduation Rate 88%

Northeastern University offers four Bachelor of Arts and four Bachelor of Science programs in Journalism. The major requires 49 credits and the overall degree 129. Because of the unusually extensive requirement for co-ops (essentially, internships), programs usually take a full four to five years (including summer breaks) to complete. There is an option for no co-op experiences, but the program strongly advises the importance of the internships. Students complete internships in all forms of media, located in Boston, New England, and nationally. The experiences give graduates a significant competitive edge.

The BA options include Journalism, Journalism and English, Journalism and Political Science, and Media and Screen Studies and Journalism. The English option is a dual major with an emphasis on writing. The Media and Screen Studies option specializes in journalism covering film and entertainment. The BS options include Computer Science and Journalism, Data Science and Journalism, Criminal Justice and Journalism, and Journalism and Interactive Design. Computer and Data Science relate to digital news, while Interactive Design combines journalism with art and design.

Among the courses offered are Visual Storytelling in Journalism, The First Amendment and the Media, and Journalism and Political Science.

Northeastern is located in Boston.

Visit Northeastern University’s website.

#5
Los Angeles (CA)
Median Salary $40,600
Median Debt $19,500
Annual Tuition $56,225
Graduation Rate 92%

Through its nationally respected Annenberg School for Communication, the University of Southern California features a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

A unique program feature is Annenberg Media, a student-run news organization. Students control operational and editorial aspects of the organization and gain real-world experience. Annenberg Media has its own media presence online. The program strongly emphasizes internship experiences in a variety of media. Students average 3+ internships in areas such as print media, broadcast media, magazines, internet, cable news, public relations, and business.

The Annenberg School emphasizes professional competence, journalistic ethics, the importance of the press in American culture, and internship experiences. Students will be grounded in media history and ethics, and they will develop research, analytical and media writing skills. Annenberg seeks to produce politically literate and socially sensitive journalists. Courses offered include Engaging Diverse Communities, Advanced Media Storytelling, Law of Mass Communication, and Multi-Platform Editing.

USC is located in Los Angeles.

Visit University of Southern California's website.