PhD In Journalism And Mass Communication In USA

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

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Media Studies & Mass Media degrees

Media Studies degrees teach students about media channels, focusing on mass-media and its history, content, and social impact. Students learn about traditional (radio, television) and modern mass-media (social networks, vlogs). Typical Media Studies include classes on Ethics and Journalism, Legal Issues in Communication, and Visual Culture. Graduates work as media planners, PR officers, or social media managers.

Mass communication(s) is a broad field, spanning traditional media to contemporary, technology-driven new media (e.g. web and social media). At its core, mass communication is messaging that is created for, delivered to and consumed by large audiences. A comprehensive academic discipline, the study of mass communication considers the function and effects of media in its various forms and how it is shaped by and impacts social, cultural, political, and social institutions.

Whether it is the study of how media influences social activities and trends or how consumer behavior informs advertising methods, doctoral-level studies in mass communication integrate communication theory, research methods, and critical analysis. The Ph.D. in mass communication prepares students to become academics, teachers, and researchers, but may also offer them pathways to careers in media-related industries, such as public relations, journalism, advertising, and mass media.

Classification of Mass Communications Doctorate Programs

At the Ph.D. level, students in mass communication programs gain a foundation in the core principles of mass communication theories and research methodologies that prepare them not only for independent research opportunities, but also to teach at institutions of higher education. Typically, mass communication programs are housed in schools and departments of communication, mass communication, and journalism. Many are offered through joint programs in schools of journalism and mass communication, including the following:

  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Southern Mississippi

Masters in Journalism in USA: Top Universities

A few of the top-ranking universities in USA offering a Masters in Journalism according to QS Rankings 2020 are tabulated in the table below. The table also details the annual fees of the program and the degree offered.

RankingsUniversitiesProgram NameAnnual Fees (in USD)
2Stanford UniversityMA Journalism54,315
18Columbia UniversityMA Journalism58,764
28University of California Berkeley CampusMA in Journalism31,187
31Northwestern UniversityMS in Journalism60,704
56University of Wisconsin- MadisonMA Journalism and Mass Communication25,315
65University of Texas at AustinMA Journalism26682
98Boston UniversityMS in Journalism55,502
129University of Southern CaliforniaMaster of Science in Journalism59,653
561-570University of Nebraska-LincolnMA in Journalism and Mass communication19,749
801-1000University of MississippiMA in Journalism26,926

With over 100 US universities offering a journalism masters degree in USA, international students can find a wide variety of program curriculum to choose from. Masters in journalism in USA is available as full-time, part-time, online, and distance learning program helping students to pursue the degree as per their preference. 

Admissions Information for Ph.D. in Mass Communication Programs

Applicants to doctoral programs in mass communication are usually expected to have a demonstrated interest in communication research by completing a master’s degree in communications or a related field. However, depending on the communication research specialization (e.g. science, politics), some programs may accept students with a graduate degree in other fields, such as biology or political science. Students should note that some Ph.D. programs require applicants to have completed a thesis as part of their master’s program as opposed to an applied project or passing a comprehensive exam.

There are some Ph.D. programs in mass communication that accept post-baccalaureate students without a master’s degree. However, these programs are not as common as traditional Ph.D. programs in mass communication that require a master’s degree for admission. Programs that admit students with only a bachelor’s degree typically require students to enroll in a master’s-level curricula plan, comprised of master’s level courses that students would have taken had they completed a master’s degree in mass communication. Once they complete this foundational coursework, student take a qualifying examination to gain entrance into the doctoral program. If they fail that examination, students earn a master’s degree and exit the communications program.

Although admission requirements vary, most mass communication programs share common admission elements, including the following:

  • Master’s degree or equivalent advanced degree (bachelor’s degree for schools that offer a post-baccalaureate Ph.D. program)
  • Minimum GPA requirements (typically a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale) in master’s-level study
  • Statement of purpose or personal essay
  • GRE scores (typically within the past four to five years)
  • Official transcripts
  • CV or resume
  • Letters of recommendation (usually three letters)
  • TOEFL or IELTS, if international
  • Academic writing sample

Curriculum Details for Doctorate in Mass Communication Programs

The curriculum in a Ph.D. in mass communication program is divided between required core coursework (which typically includes classes in research methods), specialized coursework, secondary expertise coursework, and a dissertation. Mass communication is inherently interdisciplinary, bringing together mass media and messaging, including journalism, mass advertising, and social media, and other disciplines, such as health, cultural studies, and technology. Due to this discipline’s complexity, doctorate programs in mass communication typically have classes and seminars that cover mass communication principles and research competencies, as well as their relevance in the social sciences, politics, health care, and other fields. Scholars of mass communication may explore the relationship between mass communication and public health outcomes, or the connection between mass communication and the public’s perception of political figures and policies.

The core curriculum introduces students to research design and methodology in mass communication, covering topics such as mass communication theory, communication research methods, and communication pedagogy. Traditionally speaking, the core curriculum is usually offered in a three-to-four course cycle that prepares students to transition into their primary doctoral coursework in their selected academic concentration, such as information technology or entertainment media.

Depending on the institution, students complete research methodology classes (typically two to three classes) to learn how to conduct research and use historical and traditional inquiry models to mature as a systematic researcher who can contribute original research and thought to the mass communication field. After gaining an understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, students complete their second year of study in concentration-specific coursework. Concentration and elective classes vary by program, but usually require five to eight courses to satisfy graduation requirements.

After their first two years of study, students complete preliminary written and oral examinations prior to transitioning into full doctoral program candidacy to complete a dissertation. Once they pass their examinations, students spend the remainder of their time in the program planning their dissertation prospectus, conducting research, and finally writing their dissertation.

Masters in Journalism in USA: Admissions

Admission applications to most universities in the USA can be made online through the university website or through the PDF forms available for graduate admissions. Applicants will have to download and fill-up the form or apply through the university graduate admission portal. The admission application fee in the USA ranges from 40 USD to 90 USD.

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  • Applicants are required to check the documents required for applying for admissions.
  • After the successful completion of the application, an applicant needs to wait for the university to send the admission offer letter and the I-20 required for a student visa to the USA.
  • Post receiving the admission offer, applicants need to apply for a visa.

Masters in Journalism in USA: Eligibility

To be eligible for admissions to Masters in Journalism in the USA, an applicant is required to complete a bachelor’s degree in Journalism or English

  • A minimum of 65-75% or a first-class degree. Each university may have a different specific requirement. 
  • English Language Tests: Every International student has to give proof of English Language proficiency unless they have a major in English at the undergraduate level. Almost all the universities in the USA accept IELTS and TOEFL scores. The minimum scores accepted at the universities in the USA for IELTS is 6.5 and for TOEFL is 70.
  • International students are also required to have GRE scores to apply for studying in US universities

The table below details the cut-off of various exams required to study in USA:

UniversityTOEFL ScoreMinimum IELTS ScoreMinimum GRE Score (quant)
Stanford University100155
Columbia University1007.5NA
University of California Berkeley907155
Northwestern University1007154
University of Wisconsin- Madison927157
University of Texas at Austin79NA
Boston University90-1007NA
University of Southern California1148NA

Masters in Journalism in USA: Document Requirements

The required documents for admissions to Masters in Journalism in USA are:

  • Completed admission application form
  • Payment of non-refundable admission application fee
  • Academic transcripts of all the educational institutions attended with their English translation 
  • Transcripts and other submitted certificates must be evaluated by a credential evaluation agency such as WES
  • Scores of standardized exams to study in USA
  • Journalistic work samples (such as samples of published journalism article)
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Letter of Recommendation(LOR)
  • Proof of funding for at least a year study in USA
  • Copy of Passport
  • Mandatory health insurance in the USA

US Student Visa

For studying in USA, an applicant needs to apply for an F-1 student visa to the USA. 

  •  Once the university application process is complete, applicants will be required to prove their financial capacity for funding their education in the USA (may include family funds, loan documents or scholarship documents). 
  • The university will issue an I-20 form to apply for a visa.
  • After the successful submission of I-20 form students will have to fill the SEVIS I-901 form to enroll in the International visitor database with a fee of 350 USD.
  • A DS-160 form also needs to be completed. 

It is advised that international students begin their visa process at least 120 days prior to your travel to the USA. International students will also be required to appear for an interview with the US Embassy or Consulate to get their student visa to the USA.

Masters in Journalism in USA: Cost of Study

Studying abroad in the USA can cost students a fortune. Costs involved for studying Masters in Journalism in USA include pre-arrival costs, tuition fees, and the cost of living. All the costs involved in studying Masters in Journalism in the USA are mentioned below. 

Pre-arrival Costs to USA

The pre-arrival costs to study in the USA include costs like the test fees, application fee, visa fee. The various pre-arrival cost specifications and their costs are tabulated below:

ExpensesEstimated cost (in USD)
TOEFL170
IELTS250
SEVIS Fee350
GRE205
Flight fare700
Student Visa Fee170

Tuition Fee for Masters in Journalism in USA

The tuition fees for Masters in Journalism in USA are depicted in the chart below:

The overall cost of pursuing a master’s degree in journalism in USA for an Indian student ranges between 30 lakhs to 91 lakhs. This may seem too much for an Indian student but what makes graduate schools of US stand out are the outstanding opportunities available as soon as you complete the degree and world-class education.

Cost of Living in USA

The costs of living vary with the type of student housing in the USA, living standards, and most importantly the city. The cost of living in a smaller city in the USA can be around 800 USD a month and for a big city, the cost of living can go up to 1,300 USD per month. The estimated costs are tabulated below:

ExpensesCosts per month(in USD)
Apartment1000-2000
Meals120-160
Transportation100-300
Personal Expenses300-600
Health Insurance450-700

Masters in Journalism in USA with Scholarships

International students are required to estimate their budget to study in the USA. To lower the costs of studying Masters in Journalism in the USA, international students can apply for two types of scholarships:

University-specific Scholarships- These scholarships are provided by respective universities to the international students enrolling in a course at that university.

General Scholarships- These scholarships are offered by some trusts or governments to international students.

Here are some of the scholarships for international students in USA to study Masters in Journalism:

ScholarshipAwarding InstituteScholarship Award
Fulbright Foreign Student ProgramTuition fees, Health insurance, Living costs, etc.
Global Scholars AwardBoston UniversityUpto 5,000 USD per year
Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation ScholarshipInlaks Shivdasani Foundation100,000 USD
American Association of University Women in USAmerican Association of University Women18,000 USD
SheBegan International Scholarship for Women28,000 USD
Young Professionals ProgramWorld Bank GroupAmount Varies

Looking for more scholarships available to study in the USA? Find out details here.

Masters in Journalism in USA: Scope

After completing masters in Journalism students can get various job opportunities in the USA such as news agencies, content developing firms, media houses and magazines, and journal agencies. There are a variety of job roles for which a journalism student can apply for. Another upcoming and attractive job role for which journalism students are often hired are content writers for web-based 

  • A student with a master’s degree gets 29% more salary than a student with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism in the USA.
  • The average pay of a journalism graduate in the USA is around 44,447 USD. 
  • It is seen that there is almost a 12% increment in the salary of a journalist every 16months.

The various roles taken up by a graduate of Masters in Journalism in the USA include reporter, journalist, editor, news or video producer, etc. The table below shows the average annual salary in the USA.

OccupationAverage Yearly Salary (in USD)
Reporter53,000
Journalist50,000
Editor63,000
News Producer52,000
Communications manager68,000
Video Producer60,000
News Reporter43,000
News Anchor72,000

The USA is one of the top international student destinations because of its educational facilities. If you pursue your dream of becoming a successful journalist or a news editor, a Master’s Degree from the USA would open new ventures in your career. You will be able to choose from the top-ranking universities in the USA and post the two-year degree you can choose from companies like the New York Times, CNN, etc. The job prospects are also high with a 12% increase every 16 months for a journalist in the USA. Additionally, USA is one of the highest paying countries for journalists making the program a lucrative degree with cushy median salaries.


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