Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism

Providing accomplished journalists an intensive, sharply focused study of business, economics and finance

Program Overview

The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism offers qualified journalists the opportunity to enhance their understanding and knowledge of business, economics and finance in a yearlong, full-time program administered by the Journalism School. Fellows take courses at Columbia's graduate schools of journalism, business, law and international affairs; participate in off-the-record seminars and dinner meetings with corporate executives, economists and academics; and attend briefings and field trips to New York-based media companies and financial institutions.

In scope and depth, it is the most comprehensive business journalism fellowship in the country. Eligible Knight-Bagehot fellows (those with a B.A. degree from an accredited college) may qualify for a Master of Arts degree in journalism upon completion of this rigorous program.

The program runs during Columbia’s academic year from August through May and accepts up to 10 fellows each year. Each Fellow receives free tuition plus a stipend to offset living expenses in New York City. For the 2018-2019 academic year, a stipend of $60,000 will be granted to each fellow. Housing is available in a Columbia ­affiliated facility.

The fellowship is named for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, which established an endowment for the program, and Walter Bagehot, the 19th­-century editor of The Economist. The Knight Foundation has been the principal sponsor of the fellowship since 1987. The program also depends on grants from a number of other charitable foundations, corporations and publishing organizations for a portion of its annual budget.

The sponsors have no role in the selection of fellows or the organization of the curriculum, which are controlled by the Journalism School.

Read The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Annual Report


Who Should Apply

The fellowship is open to full-time editorial employees of newspapers, magazines, wire services, digital media and broadcast news organizations as well as to freelance journalists. Applicants must have at least four years of experience. There are no academic prerequisites. The affiliation of applicants is not a factor in the selection process. Journalists from nationally known organizations are not given preference over those from smaller regional media.

The chief criterion for selection is demonstrated journalistic excellence. While essays and letters of recommendation are important parts of the application, the greatest weight is given to work samples. All materials, including letters of reference, college transcripts, essays and work samples should be compiled and submitted with the application form.

Applicants' employers, except under unusual circumstances, should submit a letter supporting the application, but applicants are not required to obtain formal employer approval. Fellows are encouraged to return to their employers at the end of their year at Columbia.

Fellowships are announced by May 1. The number of fellowships awarded each year, as well as the level of the living expenses stipend, is determined by the program's financial resources. For the 2018-2019 academic year, we anticipate awarding 10 fellowships that include full tuition plus a $60,000 living stipend.


The core of the Knight­-Bagehot curriculum consists of courses offered by Columbia University. Beginning with the 2017­-2018 academic year, Knight­-Bagehot fellows will be allowed to choose from two academic tracks: the Certificate in Economics and Business Journalism or the Master of Arts in Journalism.


To earn this certificate, fellows must complete at least 30 hours of university credit during their two semesters. Fellows may select any university courses relating to business, economics or finance. Fellows typically take most classes at Columbia’s highly regarded Business School or through the Law School and School of International and Public Affairs. The most commonly chosen courses cover such subjects as microeconomics, macroeconomics, accounting, corporate finance, business law, international economics, marketing, business finance and securities analysis. For those who are considering applying to the Business School to stay a second year and complete a Master’s in Business Administration, this track is the suggested option.


To earn this degree, fellows will take most of their courses at the Journalism School, including a business reporting seminar, Evidence and Inference, and M.A. Essentials, which covers data, technology and investigative techniques in journalism. Fellows will take three electives outside the Journalism School and will be required to complete a master’s thesis. Fellows who choose this track will not be able to apply credits earned during their fellowship year toward an MBA.


All fellows attend seminars twice a week to hone journalistic skills. They also take regular field trips to New York financial institutions and media companies and meet weekly over dinner with senior corporate executives, well­-known economists and academics, ranking government officials and others with a special perspective on business affairs. Past guests have included Lloyd Blankfein, Warren Buffett, Abby Joseph Cohen, Jamie Dimon, Timothy Geithner, Carl Icahn, Andrea Jung, Sallie Krawcheck, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Volcker.

Because of the demanding nature of the curriculum, fellows are not permitted, except under unusual circumstances, to take on outside assignments while school is in session.


Application Guidelines

We are now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 academic year. The application deadline is Feb. 15, 2018. To apply, you must create an account through our online system in order to submit the application and required materials. Please remember to write down your username and password to access your application at a later time.

You can return to the application at any time and submit materials as you are ready. The application outlines the details of the required submission materials. Please review carefully and allow yourself plenty of time to write your essays, get recommendations and gather samples of your work.

The key things you will need to submit include:

  • $100 application fee
  • A professional resume
  • An essay of no more than 1,000 words on a business or economic trend
  • An autobiographical essay of no more than 1,000 words
  • Four original samples of work
  • College or university transcript(s)
  • Three letters of reference

Not ready to apply yet? You can still stay connected with us. 

Women's Economic Round Table



The Knight­-Bagehot Program awards an annual business journalism prize underwritten by the Women’s Economic Round Table (WERT). Called “The WERT Prize,” it honors the best essay written on a specific topic by a Knight-­Bagehot Fellow or Knight-­Bagehot alumnus/a. The essay topic is announced each September and the deadline for entries is Nov. 30. The winner, who receives a prize of $2,000, is announced in January and honored in February at an annual Knight­-Bagehot alumni event.

The American Institute for Economic Research published the essays of these previous winners of the WERT Prize:

2016 Sara Silver, a veteran of The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Associated Press. Silver, a member of the Knight­-Bagehot class of 2000, won with “When Quants Take on Climate Change.” The essay examines the development of new, more profitable mutual funds that focus on low­-carbon impact companies. The emergence of these funds, Silver writes, is pushing green investing into the mainstream. But, Silver argues, it is an under­-reported story. The new funds, she writes, are “overturning the long­-held belief that sustainable investing comes at a cost.” The funds are backed by data and a decade of corporate disclosures that show that companies with better environmental, social or governance records earn higher long­-term profits, she writes.

2015 Mark Garrison, a radio reporter and substitute host for “Marketplace,” and a member of the Knight­-Bagehot class of 2015, won with his essay that examines the under­-reported impact of technological change on the income gap. In his essay, “Covering Inequality: Lessons from a Clever Boy,” Garrison highlights how the gap between education and changing technology contributes to income inequality.

2014 David Lieberman, Knight­-Bagehot class of 2004 and the executive editor for, won for “No Place Like Home: Financial Journalism, Local News, and the Search for Relevance.”

Annual Gala Dinners

The Knight­-Bagehot Program covers the costs of the Fellows’ tuition and living expenses while at Columbia. Its continued success is due in large measure to the generous support of our donors. As a part of its fundraising efforts, the program hosts an annual gala dinner featuring a keynote address from a leader in the worlds of business and media.

Our 42nd Anniversary dinner held on Oct. 26, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis featured a Q&A with Marty Baron, Executive Editor of the Washington Post. To watch the session visit:

The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship celebrated its 40th Anniversary at a gala fundraising dinner on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at the New York Marriott Marquis.  The evening featured a Q&A with Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, Inc. and Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times. 

Video of Fireside Chat with Randall Stephenson and Gillian Tett

Slideshow of the 2015 Ceremony

Transcripts of previous speeches by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Robert Rubin, Robert Thomson and others are available on request.


Mark Clifford '87

Mark L. Clifford '87
Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize 2015


Daniel J. Bases '00
Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize 2015

Julia Angwin '99

Julia Angwin '99
Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize 2014

Neil Irwin '01

Neil Irwin '01
Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize 2013


Terri Thompson

Director, Knight­-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism


Terri Thompson became director of the Knight-­Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1993. In her 20 years as a business journalist, she has reported, written and/or edited for the Coralville (Iowa) Courier, Purchasing Magazine, BusinessWeek, Institutional Investor, U.S. News & World Report and Lear’s.

A graduate of New York University, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a 1981 Bagehot Fellow at Columbia, she is the author of "Biz Kids’ Guide to Success: Money­-Making Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs" (Barron’s, 1992) and editor of "Writing About Business: The New Columbia Knight-­Bagehot Guide to Economics and Business Journalism" (Columbia University Press, 2000).

A former president of the New York Financial Writers’ Association, Thompson is the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the NYFWA’s Elliott V. Bell Award for making a significant, long­-term contribution to the profession of financial journalism.