Classes | Columbia Journalism School


Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. These include M.S., M.S. in Data Journalism and M.A. courses. Choices vary each semester depending on faculty availability and other considerations. Classes described now may change or be dropped to make room for new additions. We cannot promise that students will gain a seat in any specific class.

M.S. Essentials: Business

The journalism business is in a period of historic flux. Many legacy models are eroding, while nascent business models show promise but often have not yet achieved stability or profitability. This is the world in which you will work, and it is both exciting and daunting.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.


To better prepare you for that world, we require M.S. students to take this course, as part of the Friday core that also includes law, ethics and history. We want you to understand the challenges, opportunities and vicissitudes of the journalism business, not just for your own career development, but also because we want you to be partners and innovators in determining new ways to secure the future of journalism. We want to get beyond the sound bites and explore the ways journalism could be funded during the course of your careers. We also hope you will understand more from this course about how businesspeople make decisions, which is important in whatever line of journalism you pursue. It is no longer acceptable for journalists to ignore the economics of their profession or leave the economic decisions entirely to the business folks.

M.S. Essentials: Ethics

This class is intended to equip every student with confidence about how to be an ethical journalist. Some of that will involve discussing and defining certain core rules and principles that every Journalism School graduate should understand and try to follow, while aspiring to professionalism. More of the class, however, will involve learning to recognize repetitious dilemmas in journalism that have no absolute solutions but must be reexamined case by case, each in its own context. Just as most newsrooms resolve the most difficult ethical dilemmas through transparent, collaborative discussion, our class will mainly turn on open discussion about shared readings that highlight the range of ethical issues that are most important and common to journalism. 

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

M.S. Essentials: History

Drawing on historical examples of the best work of print, broadcast and digital journalists — from the editorialist to the war correspondent, from the photojournalist to the New Journalist, from the muckraker to the blogger — this class explores the development of the values, practices, ethical standards, technological developments and social roles that cluster around the institution of journalism. The focus is on the evolution of the role and work of the reporter within the context of global developments.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

M.S. Essentials: Law

This course is designed to acquaint students with the basic protections and restrictions of the law as they apply to the media. Significant court cases and fundamental legal rules will be explored in the context of political and historical realities, and in terms of journalistic standards and practices; contemporary media law issues will also be focused on. Among the issues that will be examined are libel, invasion of privacy, prior restraints, newsgathering and newsgathering torts, copyright and the reporter’s privilege.

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.


In this core class, which begins in August and continues through the end of October, you'll explore the methods journalists use to gather and evaluate information. You'll learn how to think and behave as a journalist, how to conceive of journalistic story assignments, and how to report them quickly and accurately on deadline. You’ll learn how to gather original information first-hand and to combine it with contextual information that can be found online and elsewhere. You will be taught how to ensure that a story is true, both in the sense of getting the facts right and also by stating the implications fairly.

You’ll also get some basic training in digital technologies such as mobile photo, video and audio that are essential parts of a modern journalist’s toolkit, and you’ll begin using them in service of journalism, while thinking about ways to use social media to engage an audience for your work. 

Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Reporting I

In this introductory reporting course, each student will be assigned a beat and will be expected to produce news stories on deadline. Students will learn to think like reporters and to practice the core skills of the trade: developing sources, conducting interviews, structuring a story, writing clearly, and getting the facts right. As data journalists, they will also seek out and analyze data, both to deepen their reporting and to identify promising leads. In this way, the tools and techniques learned during the summer will be immediately applicable as data students begin to develop a journalistic mindset and the capacity to find and produce journalistic stories.