Master of Arts in Journalism

Students looking at photographs of post-Apartheid South Africa made by the late Leonard Freed, an important 20th century photojournalist. The photographs are housed in MSU Special Collections.

We seek people aspiring to high-impact careers in our rapidly changing media world. A keen sense of urgency about civic life and technology propels them; academic and journalistic principles guide them. Our graduates will not just make a difference in the world, they will be the difference.

In these times, journalism is more essential, intense and challenging than ever. The people who lead it must be passionate, courageous and exceptional, not just in the practice of journalism but in elevating it.

Our faculty includes nationally recognized researchers, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize winners. MSU’s unique team of academics and professionalism helps people elevate their careers with the analytical tools that will help them leverage these changes and become continuous innovators. When academics and professionals collaborate, new ideas are born.

We offer top-tier training in visual and written storytelling and environmental and science journalism. The world is our lab with the capital of one of the nation’s political swing states nearby and a perennial Big Ten sports powerhouse on campus.

We tailor programs to students with diverse interests and skillsets. They include:

  • Journalism professionals climbing to the next level.
  • Experts in other areas who want journalism and communication careers or who wish to use those skills.
  • Accomplished journalism undergraduate degree holders who now want to specialize.
  • Scholars who want careers in academic research with an aim toward a Ph.D.
  • Current MSU students interested in pursuing a Master’s as they finish their Bachelor’s through the dual degree or Linked programs.

We train our master's students to engage today’s diverse audiences. Students master the reporting, writing, visual, digital and critical thinking skills they need to be nimble and versatile in a dynamic news ecosystem. MSU students are recognized for their research and creative projects at international communication conferences, festivals and national competitions such as the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Broadcast Education Association’s Media Arts Festival and more.

Depending on the track you choose, your capstone may be a professional project or a thesis.

Regular Course Offerings

  • JRN800 Multiple Media Reporting I
  • JRN801 Multiple Media Reporting II
  • COM803 Intro Quantitative Research
  • JRN810 Visual Journalism
  • JRN815 Media, Society and Theory
  • JRN816 Applied Research Methods
  • JRN818 Media Markets and Managers
  • JRN821 Social Media News and Information
  • JRN 825 Journalism History and Qualitative Methods
  • JRN872 Environmental, Science and Health Reporting
  • JRN873 Environmental, Science and Health journalism Seminars
  • JRN875 Global Affairs Reporting

Explore our courses and degree requirements

Applying to MSU



Application Deadline

Application deadlines are October 1 for spring admission and February 1 for fall admission. Applicants should meet these deadlines to allow the M.A. committee sufficient time to review applications. If an application deadline cannot be met, please email the program director.


The M.A. committee evaluates each application holistically. Selection criteria are based upon a student's academic interests and goals, program match, grade point average, previous coursework, GRE, TOEFL for international students, work and life experience and letters of recommendation.

For more information about degree requirements, please view the academic catalog for the M.A. Degree in Journalism.

Apply today

Science and Environmental journalism

As a master’s student focusing on science and environmental journalism, you will gain critical perspectives and experience in how to communicate the complex issues that affect our physical world in our environmental and science journalism classes. Students can also apply to work alongside our acclaimed faculty in the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism . Students report and write multimedia stories for the award-winning Great Lakes Echo magazine where they cover environmental issues facing the Great Lakes Basin region.

International journalism

The global issues that face our society are complex and interconnected. The college offers a number of rich study abroad opportunities and coursework for students wanting to expand their cultural understanding. These diverse international experiences, combined with coursework in international press systems and reporting help prepare our students for careers with international contexts.

There are many ways to fund your graduate education at MSU. About 230 Journalism students receive scholarships from the School of Journalism, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Journalism scholarships are available for undergraduate and graduate students, and range from several hundred dollars to a full year of tuition. There are also limited opportunities for assistantships, or a variety of financial aid options to fund your program. Here are a few helpful resources:

  • Tuition Calculator
  • In-state tuition eligibility
  • Billing FAQ
  • Office of Financial Aid
  • Emergency Funds
  • Council of Graduate Students Funding. Funds are available through the 13 MSU colleges with graduate programs. Student must be enrolled in a degree-granting program, be enrolled in the semester they are to receive the funds, and be in good academic standing. The Associate Dean for Graduate Education of each college decides how these funds are dispersed. A number of different models are used. For acceptable practices used in your department, please contact your Director of Graduate Studies. Examples of how these funds have been used by departments in the college in the past include – _but are not limited to: conference travel to support paper presentations, research support, merit, emergency funding and recruitment. Students who are requesting funding for travel to conferences should complete the Graduate School Travel Funding Request form. The forms and all supporting documentation should be turned into the Grad Office (340 Com Arts). Students who are requesting funding for items other than travel should email the Director of Graduate Studies with their specific request. Students should cc: the Grad Office at
  • Information in regard to Graduate Assistantships can be found at the Grad School. Assistantships are rarely awarded to M.A. students because priority is given to Ph.D. students. - MA students interested in obtaining a Teaching Assistantship should send their resume and a cover letter to the department chair. MA students interested in obtaining a Research Assistantship should be directed to send their resume/vita and cover letter to faculty members actively participating in areas of research related to the student’s interest.

Learn More about Journalism Scholarships

We offer three different options for degree completion:


Students taking the thesis option (Plan A) must allocate four to six credits to the thesis, depending on the number needed to reach the required 30 credits. Students must be registered for at least one credit at the time of their thesis completion. A thesis is ordinarily a more traditional, scholarly work that draws on previous research to define a problem that the thesis can address with new knowledge or insights. Most thesis will focus on some aspect of the media-society relationship, attempting to describe that relationship and define influences on it. Consequently, a thesis is aimed at a scholarly audience attentive to research in the field for which the thesis is relevant. Therefore, the standards of evaluation applied to the thesis are those used to assess a work for a peer-reviewed, scholarly convention or publication.

Professional project

Students selecting the professional project options (Plan B) must allocate at least three credits to a professional project. Students must be registered for at least one credit at the time of their professional project completion.

A professional project similarly defines a problem, but one relating to social issues or developments that can be explored journalistically through the use of more advanced methods of news-gathering and dissemination. These methods may include research, the use of online databases and document searches, with the goal of interpretation and investigation. Dissemination may be through print, visual, digital or other means that demonstrate a student’s mastery of the chosen medium. Consequently, professional projects are aimed at a wide public audience. Therefore, the standards of evaluation applied to the professional project are those used in a medium to assess whether commitment should be made to disseminate a work because it could importantly influence a potentially wide audience.


The internship option is intended to assist students in their professional careers by offering them an opportunity to gain professional experience during their master’s training. Presently, internship-option students register for JRN 493 (minimum of 3 credits, 16+ hours per week for one semester). Students fill out an internship application for a media/communications/journalism internship and the employer confirms their internship. Some internship placements include MSU Communication and Brand Strategy, Powers 96.5FM, Duet Digital Media Production, MSU Athletic Communications, GM Financial International, Lansing City Pulse, Unodeuce, WEIY-TV, Society for Health Communication, Lansing Lugnuts, and HOMTV. Following the completion of the internship, employers fill out the journalism internship credit form to evaluate the student. The internship coordinator reaches out to the employer twice during the semester to assess student progress.

Learn More about Journalism Internships for Credit


Download the Journalism M.A. Handbook

Download M.A. Forms

Questions? Additional information about the Master of Arts program in Journalism may be obtained from:

Howard Bossen, Ph.D.
Bruno Takahashi, Ph.D.
Co-Directors of Journalism Graduate Studies