August 10, 2020

Seven Facts About the Online Master’s in Journalism Program at NYU

The spread of the coronavirus has meant that universities around the country have been forced to embrace online classes. But, as The New York Times noted, “good online education is easier said than done.” You can’t take a course that was designed for the classroom and simply move it online. Online classes require advance planning, the design and creation of engaging course materials, and the proper infrastructure.

As its name indicates, the Online Master’s in Journalism Program at NYU was designed to be online. It’s in our DNA. What’s more, it embraces the concept of a professional program. We aren’t academics. We’re journalists. And the program was created by professional journalists to train the next generation of professional journalists.

It’s why we use the same platforms that most media companies use. Like virtually every other college we rely on Zoom for live classes, but we also use Slack for discussions and WordPress for publishing. We exchange documents through Google Drive. We license Adobe Premiere for video and audio editing. That way, when our students graduate with their master’s, they are ready to hit the ground running at any media outlet.

Here are seven facts about the program you should know about.

Every Course Is Taught By A Working Professional Journalist

The professors at NYU’s AJO Master’s Program are journalism insiders and leaders. New Yorker writer Eliza Griswold, who last year won the Pulitzer Prize for her book, “Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America,” teaches Feature Writing. So does Julia Dahl, a former crime and justice reporter for, as well a critically acclaimed novelist. Award-winning CNN investigative reporter Melanie Hicken handles our Investigative Reporting course, and our multimedia instructors have been on staff at NBC News, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. I teach the Journalism Law & Ethics course and have published seven books and published my work in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wired, the Economist, Forbes, and elsewhere.

Because our instructors can live anywhere in the world, we can tap an enviably deep pool of talent.

Small Classes

Our philosophy is that in education smaller is better. We are the opposite of a massive open online course (MOOC). Writing classes are capped at 13 students. Multimedia classes enroll a maximum of nine. Small classes mean that students receive individual attention, intense line-by-line feedback on all of their assignments, and ample face-to-face time with their professors.

Customized to Suit Each Student’s Career Goals

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Students learn by doing – whether it’s recording a podcast or writing an investigative feature or – and we consider it our job to help each student achieve their individual dreams through intense feedback and practical advice.

If a student is interested in broadcast news, she can weight class assignments accordingly and we provide additional technical support. If the goal is to become a freelance magazine writer, we help with detailed line edits and pitching protocol. Want to become a better investigator? We have librarians whose entire job is to help journalism students dig deep in databases and parts of the internet most people don’t even know about.

We encourage students to pursue the kind of journalism they want, whether it is hard news, audio storytelling (podcasts), opinion writing, long-form narrative or anything else. We then help them adjust the courses and curriculum to fit their needs. Not the other way around.

Course Materials Written and Produced by Professional Journalists

We don’t assign textbooks. Instead we have commissioned top professionals to create interactive course materials. An award-winning photojournalist explains how to be a photojournalist in a war zone. A veteran business reporter shows students how to read a balance sheet to find hidden gems. Another explains how a beat reporter can develop and foster a source network to help stay one step ahead of the competition. Other original materials teach students how to protect the identity of confidential sources, how to detect fake news, how to fact check, how to cover an event, while others delve into journalism law and ethics, grammar, punctuation, and dozens of other topics.


We pair each student with a professional journalist mentor who works in an area of interest to the student. Mentors offer career advice. They offer support and show students the ropes. They answer questions and put students in contact with potential sources and even prospective employers. Currently, students in the program have connected with mentors from Wired Magazine, Forbes, NBC News, Reuters, and from many other media companies.

Equal in Rigor and Workload to NYU’s Traditional Journalism Programs

The Online Master’s in Journalism Program is not for the faint of heart. It is a fully accredited master’s program equal in rigor and workload to the other master’s in journalism programs at NYU. Our goal is to train the journalism stars of tomorrow. Every student has to earn their master’s. And your degree will be no different from the degree a student receives if they are enrolled in the on-campus graduate program.

Flexible to Suit Each Student’s Life, Work and Needs

We offer full- and part-time options. Students working full-time might take one or two courses a semester. Others able to devote themselves to the program closer to 40 hours a week take three courses a semester. It’s entirely up to you.

Full-time students can graduate with their Master’s in as little as nine months. Students taking two courses a semester can earn the same degree in 16 months. If you need more time, you can take up to five years.

Interested in learning more? Visit our website.