Investigative

Produce watchdog journalism that makes an impact. 

We offer an exclusive track for students looking to specialize in investigative reporting. We also offer many classes that incorporate investigative skills and techniques and are open to all students.

Apply to Columbia  Investigative Journalism Program

What We Offer

Teaching investigative skills is a core mission of the Journalism School. All students in our M.S. and M.A. programs learn the tools and methods of investigative journalism. M.S. candidates can also apply to The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. In addition to the regular M.S. curriculum, Stabile students take investigative reporting classes throughout the school year and are given financial and editorial support to complete ambitious projects. 

 

 

M.S. and M.A. students are required to take an investigative class in the fall (see Classes below). Those in the M.S. program can also opt to take an investigative seminar in the spring, where students work in groups, each investigating a single topic for 15 weeks. These seminars range from investigating health care to investigating armies and spies, and doing cross-border investigations with data. 

In order to graduate with a specialization in investigative journalism, students must apply to the Stabile Center as part of their application for admission to the school.

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Classes

No student graduates from our master's programs without a foundation in investigative journalism. M.A. students take a 15-week M.A. Essentials class that includes the basics of data and investigative reporting. A seven-week Investigative Techniques class focused on using public records and data for reporting is mandatory for M.S. students. In addition, M.S. students can choose from a menu of classes with a strong investigative element. 

The following are mandatory investigative reporting classes for master's students:

M.A. Essentials (mandatory for all M.A. students)

Investigative techniques are key to 21st century journalism. Students learn the best ways to comb public records, conduct internet forensics and do thorough background searches on individuals and corporations. They gain an understanding of cutting-edge concepts in data journalism and how to employ them in coverage of their concentrations. Multiple instructors teach sections of this class. 

Professors: Justin Elliot, Tom McGinty, Olga Pierce, Chris Weaver

Investigative Techniques for Journalists (mandatory for all M.S. students)

This class aims to ground students in some of the fundamental tools of investigative reporting: How to obtain and analyze public records and data; get information about individuals and groups using a variety of sources; use social media for reporting and verification; and evaluate scholarly literature. Multiple instructors teach sections of this class.

Professors: Robert Faturechi, Kim Kleman, Kristen Lombardi, Tom McGinty, Tom Meagher, Charles Ornstein, Deborah Sontag, Chris Weaver, Tracy weber. 

 

The following are 15-week classes available to all master's students: 

Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. Choices vary each semester depending on faculty availability and other considerations. Except for the mandatory courses, some of these classes may change or be dropped to make room for new additions. 

Gendering Migration: An Intensive Course on Women and Girls Crossing Borders

How to Cover Armies and Spies

Investigating Health Care

Investigating the Failures of the Mental Health System

Investigative Project

Using Data to Investigate Across Borders

Student Work

Bronx Parks Project at Columbia Journalism School

Students in LynNell Hancock's Reporting course investigated inequity in Bronx parks caused by disparities in public and private funding. The project resulted in a feature on Bronx Ink with 15 news stories and two interactive data maps for public use.

Mukhtar Ibrahim, ’17 M.S. Stabile, traveled to Kenya to look into how the U.S. government has spent millions of dollars on a controversial counterterrorism program there. He found that the program may have endangered the lives of the people it was supposed to help. His story was published by Buzzfeed.

 

Alex Daugherty '16 M.S. Stabile

Short-track racing is the most dangerous corner of American motorsports, where drivers as young as 14 compete. Alex Daugherty, ’16 M.S. Stabile, found that 141 people have died on short tracks; dozens more have been seriously injured. His report was published by The New York Times.

Data and investigative students from the ’17 M.S. class worked with Univision on an investigation of the Trump Organization’s international business. Their findings: 15 of 27 international Trump-branded real-estate projects include developers or investors who have faced criminal allegations, including corruption, fraud, and drug trafficking. 

Faculty

Steve Coll

Dean & Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism

Sheila Coronel

Toni Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism; Director, Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, and Dean of Academic Affairs

Giannina Segnini

Knight Chair in Data Journalism and Director of the M.S. In Data Journalism Program