Frequently Asked Questions
The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship will give you the rigorous academic foundation to take your reporting to the next level. You will leave the program with a deep knowledge of business principles such as accounting, statistics and corporate finance. You will meet future sources and have off-the-record conversations with some of the biggest names in business and journalism. The fellowship also allows you to take time away from deadlines and think about your career and what you want.
The fellowship is named in honor of Walter Bagehot (pronounced BADGE-it) an editor of the Economist magazine in the mid-1800s. His brilliant writing and keen observations about finance are quoted to this day. We in the fellowship are proud to be referred to as “Bagehots.”
Many fellows return to their jobs as smarter, more confident reporters. Others move on to bigger publications or tackle more ambitious projects. Some go on to write books or start their own journalism companies. A few stay on at Columbia to complete an MBA degree. There are more than 400 K-B alumni at just about every journalism outlet you can think of. See these lists of our most recent fellowship classes. Alumni are usually very happy to answer questions about their experience.
You will spend two semesters at Columbia University, based in the journalism school but usually taking classes at Columbia Business School. You will be required to carry a full load of 30 credits for the year and will have the same obligations as any student: homework, tests and grades. You will also attend journalism seminars designed specifically for the fellows.
Most fellows receive a Certificate in Economics and Business Journalism. A small number of fellows do a thesis and pursue an M.A. in Journalism or apply to the business school for an extra year to get an MBA. (More details below.)
It runs for an academic year -- two semesters -- starting in mid-August and ending in mid-May.
Tuition at Columbia is fully covered. Each fellow will also receive a stipend of $60,000 for the nine-month program. The money is paid in two installments (Sept. and Feb.) with no taxes withheld (but it is taxable, so you will have to factor that into your budget). The fellowship pays for health insurance for one person (family coverage is extra) and various academic and facility fees. Subsidized student housing is also available.
The program does not pay for routine living expenses, textbooks, travel, local transportation, gym memberships, special programs, student club fees, transcript verification, fines or parking.
Pretty much yes. You need to be in New York City for orientation in mid-August and while classes are in session. You are free to travel during school holidays and vacations. There are generally no classes on Fridays. You will have four weeks off from mid-December to mid-January, although some students stay for special block week courses during this time.
No! We welcome international fellows and have a few of them every year.
January 31 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern
We want journalists who are passionate about business and economics and who want to get better at their jobs. Because this is a rigorous program and we want you to succeed, we need to see that you have a record of academic and professional success. This is considered a mid-career fellowship so you should know what you want. You should also demonstrate that you are driven by curiosity about the world and self-directed in your learning.
You should have a minimum of four years of business or economics reporting, but seven years in journalism is more typical.
This is a hard one to define. Obviously, if you cover banks, investment, real-estate, industries, companies, tech, labor or personal finance, you are good to go. But we will also consider people who cover the tax and policy side of government, science reporters who cover corporate innovation, sports reporters who cover the business side of the game. If you are following the money, you can apply.
Most Knight-Bagehot fellows are full-time reporters at major newspapers, magazines, wire services, digital media, television or radio news organizations. But we recognize that the journalism world is getting bigger all the time, and we will also consider editors, producers, graphics and data reporters, independents, freelancers, book authors, newsletter writers, podcasters and people who write for niche publications. Please just demonstrate that your job involves fact-based communication with an audience and that you have editorial independence.
This is a mid-career fellowship, so you should wait until you have the minimum professional experience.
Because this is a post-graduate program, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. university or its equivalent from another country. A verified transcript is required.
You should start at least a week before the deadline. We want to see two original essays, five work samples and three letters of recommendations. That takes some time and coordination. If you need to hunt down your college transcripts or take an English proficiency test, it could take weeks. You may start an application and return to it as many times as you need to finish. So start now!
We ask for an autobiographical essay of no more than 1,000 words. This is just to get to know you, so you can write about your family, education or your talents and passions. We want to know how journalism fits into your life. The only requirement is that the essay be informative, well-written and in your own voice.
We’d also like to know why you are applying in no more than 500 words. You should make a compelling case for why we should choose you and how specifically the fellowship will improve your work and the profession as a whole.
We want to hear from people who can testify to your work ethic, talent and potential. That could be former or current managers, editors, professors or mentors. An email will be sent to each recommender instructing them how to upload their letter directly to the journalism school.
We want to see your knowledge and talent at work. You can show your depth of experience in your field or your breadth of reporting over your career. This is where you can show your passion for the subject. Please just make sure that the samples are relatively recent, in English and that you are the primary creator or author of the work. We want team players, but we need to know what you can do individually in order to compare you to other applicants.
If you have moved on to become an editor or producer or newsroom manager, it is fine to include older samples so we can see your individual work.
If you are a finalist, we’ll want to talk to you to make sure you understand the program and answer any questions you might have.
There are so many options at Columbia, we have created three different academic tracks you can follow during the fellowship. Full details and comparisons can be found here.
The most popular track is nicknamed the MBA Experience. This allows you to take most of your classes in the business school and focus on core disciplines such as accounting and corporate finance. You may also take a few journalism classes. You will be part of an MBA social cluster and learning team. It also gives you the option of applying to the business school for a second year of courses to complete your MBA degree.
The General Business track only allows you to take half of your classes in the business school. You must present a study plan outlining the business and economics classes in other departments you will take and may sometimes encounter waiting lists and prerequisites to get into these classes. You are not allowed to pursue the MBA degree.
The M.A. track gives you the fewest choices. You will be based in the journalism school and take classes on business reporting, investigative techniques, writing and one outside elective. You will take no classes in the business school. You must complete a year-long thesis and will receive an M.A. in Journalism.
Yes. We’d like to know what you are thinking. If you are a finalist, we’ll talk to you in more detail about your choice to see if the track meets your needs. If you are choosing the M.A. option, we need to know early in the process so that you can be approved separately by the M.A. admissions committee. It is not guaranteed.
All classes and seminars during the fellowship are conducted in English, so we need to see that you are fluent. If your undergraduate education was completed in English, we need to see proof of that in the transcript. If not, we require that applicants submit a score from an official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System.) On the TOEFL, we require a minimum score of 650 (paper based) or 114 (internet based); and for the IELTS we require a minimum score of 8.0.
You can submit the originals and a translated copy.
There is a place in the application where you can explain any gaps or issues with your work or academic record. We can forgive youthful mistakes if you explain what happened.
We have a committee of journalists and academics who review and rank the applications. The final decision is made by a Journalism School committee that includes the fellowship director and deputy director.
We aim to make our decisions by mid-April.
Yes. Sometimes Knight-Bagehot fellows have trouble getting a travel visa or need to drop out for family or health reasons. We will keep a short waiting list during the summer and let those people know by July. To be on the waiting list, you need to commit to being in New York City on relatively short notice if you get in.
Certainly. Many fellows have applied more than once.
We want you to take your role as a student and as a fellow seriously. As a student, you will need to take at least 30 credits over two semesters (this works out to around 10 - 13 classes.) We expect you will complete the coursework, participate fully in the classes and generally be respectful to professors, staff and fellow students. You will be held to high standards. As a fellow, we expect that you will attend all of the journalism seminars and events and treat your fellow fellows as colleagues and friends.
A typical week involves attending and completing assignments for your four-five current classes in the business school, journalism school or other departments. It also includes the K-B seminar and dinner, generally from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. Fridays are generally free of classes. You should expect at least 10 hours of homework a week.
The idea of the seminar is to gather as a fellowship group and talk about the intersection of business and journalism. We invite experienced reporters into the seminar to talk about how they produce investigative reports and series. We meet with journalists who have started new ventures and projects. And we talk with high-level editors about where they see journalism heading. These seminars are off-the-record.
Often the seminar involves a presentation or case study. The dinners are more free-wheeling and casual. We invite interesting business and journalism leaders for a private dinner to chat off-the-record about anything on their minds.
Absolutely. This is designed to help you pursue your interests.
In the past, we’ve traveled as a group to a Broadway play, to an NBA game and on a food tour of Queens, NY. In the spring, we often visit newsrooms and places like the NY Stock Exchange and NY Federal Reserve. There are occasional fellowship happy hours. The fellows themselves often plan events for the group such as hiking or a trip to the beach. Some fellows travel together during school breaks.
Yes. Knight-Bagehot fellows take many of the same classes, attend events together, form study groups, book clubs and socialize with each other after class and on weekends. The Bagehot room in the journalism school is an informal hub frequented by the other fellows and the director of the program. Fellows often become life-long friends.
It’s not a requirement outside of the seminars and dinners. Some fellows have family obligations or active outside interests, and that’s okay too.
No. You are a full-time student. The exception is if you take a journalism class, most professors require some form of reporting and a final project. Business school courses may sometimes require a final paper where you can show off your writing.
No. The fellowship consumes most of your time. It would be impossible to continue working and be successful in the program. We are also concerned that having a working reporter in the room for off-the-record conversations may limit the frankness of the discussions.
Again, no. This is a hard program. Even freelance pieces require you to work on someone else’s deadline, and we don’t want you to be pulled between multiple obligations. Besides, you will have plenty of years to work; the fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to focus on yourself.
A limited amount of outside obligations may be approved. If you are doing a panel discussion, appearing as a guest on a podcast, active on social media or writing personal blog posts, just clear that with the director of the program.
If the piece is already done, we don’t worry about when it is published. One caution, though, is that international fellows on a student visa are not supposed to be working at all while in the United States. Having your byline appear during your student year may hurt your chance for future visas.
If you want to work on something in your spare time, and it's not paid or on an urgent deadline, that’s okay. But again, fellows find that they don’t have many spare hours in the day.
With approval from the director. International fellows on a student visa may not work at all during their stay.
Really? Don’t even think about it.
The seminars and dinners are off-the-record. Classes and lectures often have rules about sharing information outside the classroom. In general, you are spending the year as a student, and you will get more out of it if people don’t think that you are writing down everything they say for future publication. If there is a story or quote you really want to use later, we recommend going back to the professor or student when you are writing your story and asking their permission or have them retell it on the record.
It is a good idea to discuss the fellowship with your current employer as soon as possible, but we don’t require their approval for you to apply for or accept the fellowship. Many fellows take a formal leave of absence from their employer and intend to return to their jobs. Some employers even encourage this with salary support or by paying for benefits. Other fellows quit their jobs before the fellowship starts and apply for new jobs when they finish. We do recommend that regardless of your future plans, you explain the value of the fellowship to your current employer and leave on good terms.
You will be enrolled in the journalism school no matter which track you choose. That means your tuition is paid for by the j-school, your ID cards and benefits are obtained through the j-school, you will use the j-school career office, have a j-school transcript and be considered a j-school alumni when you leave.
That said, most K-B fellows will spend most of their time in the business school. In the classroom, you will be treated like any other business school student. You will be in a business school cluster, with a business school learning team. You will get the same resources (email account, library access, iPads, access to social events) as business school students. But you are restricted from certain activities such as using their career office or participating in corporate recruiting. (M.A. track students have no access to the business school.)
The most popular track is the MBA Experience. This allows you to take most of your classes in the business school and focus on core disciplines such as accounting and corporate finance. You may also take a few journalism classes. You will be part of an MBA social cluster and learning team. It also gives you the option of applying for a second year of courses to complete your MBA degree.
- The General Business track only allows you to take half of your classes in the business school. You must present a study plan outlining the business and economics classes in other departments you will take and may sometimes encounter waiting lists and prerequisites to get into these classes. You are not allowed to pursue the MBA degree.
The M.A. track gives you the fewest choices. You will be based in the journalism school and take classes on business reporting, investigative techniques, writing and one elective. You will take no classes in the business school. You must complete a year-long thesis and will receive an M.A. in Journalism.
Although this depends on the track, most Knight-Bagehot fellows will take most of the core business school classes in the fall: Accounting, Corporate Finance, Statistics, Micro and Macro-economics and Business Analytics. In the spring, fellows will be able to choose more widely from business school courses and most will also take a journalism class or two.
In the business school, popular electives include: Negotiations, Think Bigger, Capital Markets, Modern Political Economy, Internet Wars, Tech Strategy, Financial Statement Analysis, Game Theory, Python Programming, Econometrics, Sports Analytics, Marketing, Operations Management, Organizational Change.
In the journalism school, fellows often take: Book Writing, Narrative Writing, the Rise and Fall Narrative, Investigative Reporting.
Fellows can also choose widely from graduate level classes across the University although getting into these courses can be difficult. Access depends on the course prerequisites and how full the class is. It is always possible to audit classes across the University with instructor permission. (Fellows taking the M.A. option will only be able to choose one elective during their year.)
You will have an academic advisor in the business school to help guide you, and the staff of the fellowship can offer advice. Fellows will also receive personal letters from previous K-B fellows talking about which classes they enjoyed and which to avoid.
No class requires much more than high-school level math. That said, high school math may seem like a long time ago, and you might need a refresher on exponents and linear algebra. The business school offers online and in-person refresher courses in math. And there are always tutors available. The business school also constructs learning teams so that they have a mix of skill levels.
You’ll be fine. A lot of business school students come from liberal arts backgrounds with no quantitative skills. You do need to be willing to dive in and practice a little.
Absolutely. The goal of the university is to help you succeed and it offers a lot of academic support through extra classes and tutors.
You can drop a course if you really don’t like it. As long as you end the year with 30 credits, there is flexibility on the courses you take.
Not really. The journalism school is pass/fail, and the business school practices “grade non-disclosure” which basically means you can’t talk publicly about your grades. You are expected to pass your classes, and some fellows make it a personal goal to get high marks.
If you are thinking of applying for an extra year to complete the MBA (see below) you should make sure you maintain at least a B- average. The admissions office for the business school will look closely at your grades and test scores.
Every business school student is placed in a cluster of 60 first-year students (Cluster A, B, C, etc.), which makes it easier to create social bonds and coordinate activities. Clusters usually take all their classes together and socialize together. Within a cluster, learning teams consist of five to six people. These teams meet outside of class to complete group homework assignments. They are chosen by the school to maximize diversity in backgrounds, so you probably won’t have another journalist in your learning team, but there might be a banker and consultant and a private equity person. K-B fellows in the MBA and General Business tracks will be placed in a cluster and learning team.
Sometimes. Knight-Bagehot fellows can usually get into any core business class they request and are given priority for certain electives. But getting into most classes will depend on how popular the class is. K-B fellows are not allowed into classes without the prerequisites. (Fellows on the M.A. track take a prescribed list of classes and can only choose one elective.)
Early in the year, M.A. fellows will have to identify a topic for a significant reporting project that results in a piece of longform journalism. The thesis gives students the opportunity to explore a topic in depth and is due at the end of the year. The usual length is 8,000 words, although multimedia projects are allowed with special permission.
You must live within commuting distance of Columbia University, but the details are up to you. If you already live nearby, you are good to go. If you are moving to New York City, you can find your own apartment or take advantage of subsidized student housing. The Columbia Residential site lays out many options at different prices.
If you choose student housing, you will work with the Housing department in the spring after you are admitted. FYI: Most of your classes will be at the new business school campus at 130th and Broadway. Journalism classes and the K-B seminar are on the traditional campus at 116th and Broadway. Both are on the No. 1 subway train.
Absolutely. There are housing options of all sizes. Just know that you will need to pay extra for health insurance to cover anyone other than yourself. And because it's a student plan, most of your health care options will be close to campus. There are no tuition benefits for partners or children, and we do not provide subsidized child care or private schools.
This varies from building to building, but in most of Columbia-owned housing pets are not allowed unless they are service animals.
No, but you may purchase a meal plan if that is something you want.
Yes. Each fellow will be enrolled in the student health plan and the fellowship will pay the premiums and fees. Fellows are responsible for copays. We do not cover vision and dental coverage. You may add family members to your plan, but you will have to pay the extra premiums out of your own pocket.
You are expected to attend all classes and seminars during the school year, but there are plenty of opportunities to get away. There is a five-day fall break, a four-week winter break, and a one-week spring break. There are also study weeks and, depending on your schedule, long weekends. There are options to enroll in special travel classes that have a classroom component and a group trip to an international destination. You will need to pay for your own travel. Some of the business school clubs offer weekend getaways or networking trips. International fellows should make sure their visa allows multiple entries if they plan to leave the country.
Yes. There is a health facility on campus called Dodge. It is free for students, but you need to pay to have a locker or towel service.
The business school and Butler Library have lockers you can claim for the year. The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship has a designated seminar room in the journalism school, which can be used for studying, meetings and eating lunch when classes are not scheduled in the room.
Some of the apartments are furnished. Some are not. There are always students selling and passing on their furniture to the next class.
Yes. You will be officially enrolled at the journalism school, and all of its lectures and events are open to you. You will also be able to participate in clubs and social gatherings in the business school (unless you are in the M.A. track.) The university also offers discounted tickets to arts and performance events.
Most business school classes have a business casual vibe. You should bring nice clothes for the occasional fancy dinner and formal events.
You will need a laptop computer, although there are some for short-term rent at the business school. Macs are fine, although a few data analytics classes will want you to have access to a PC. A financial calculator is useful for real estate and finance courses. iPads are provided free to business school students in order to take notes in class and access lecture materials. (Those in the M.A. track will not have access to the business school resources.)
There is plenty of vacation time, as mentioned above, but we encourage you to plan your schedule so you are getting enough sleep, exercise and time off.
As of May 2023, the University no longer mandates that students be fully vaccinated, but they do strongly recommend that all students follow CDC guidelines for vaccination. All classes and fellowship activities are held in person. Columbia's Covid policies are detailed on the University's Covid page.
Those of you who are taking classes in the business school may join student clubs. Some are subject focused (such as Media Management, Consulting, CEO) and others are true social experiences (ski club, wine club, arts society.) Knight-Bagehot fellows are not allowed to hold officer positions in the clubs or run for student office in the business school.
Just let us know, and we can accommodate most requests.
Your main expenses will be housing, food, social events and travel. The program does not pay for routine living expenses, textbooks, local transportation, gym memberships, special programs, student club fees, transcript verification, internet service, fines or parking.
It is also worth noting again that you will need to pay taxes on your fellowship stipend, and you should plan accordingly.
Applying for the MBA
No. Most Knight-Bagehot fellows do the nine months of the fellowship and happily return to journalism.
Knight-Bagehot fellows who choose the MBA Experience track are essentially doing the first year of a two-year MBA program. Most fellows stop there after two semesters, accept a certificate from the journalism school and return to reporting with new skills and enthusiasm. But a few fellows every year decide they want to take an extra year at Columbia to pursue the full MBA degree. In the winter of your fellowship year, you can apply separately to the business school to be admitted to the full MBA program the following fall. ADMISSION IS NOT GUARANTEED. The business school is very selective, and many K-B fellows have been rejected for the second year.
You must choose the right K-B track from the beginning, the MBA Experience. This will allow you to take the first-year core classes and show your commitment to the program. The admissions team for the business school will look very carefully at your grades in the core classes and your recommendation from a business school professor. You must have at least a B- average to get in. You will also need to take one of the required standardized tests such as the GMAT or Executive Assessment.
You will not be able to apply for a second year of business school. You will not have taken enough core classes to qualify.
No. This is completely up to the business school admissions team. There is no quota, but historically one or two fellows get admitted every year.
You are given the same consideration as any applicant to business school. The acceptance rate for CBS is 16%.
No. The tuition and stipend for the fellowship are only for one year. The second year you must pay for yourself.
You can apply for the same financial aid as other business school students.
Many fellows have gone back to work while finishing the second year. You can stretch the classes over more than two semesters. You can take block week courses (where you get three credits in one 40 hour week of class time.) You can attend business school during the summer. Many electives are offered in the evenings.
The application deadline is in January of your fellowship year.
The seminars and dinners are for current fellows only, but we are always happy to have alumni stop by to say hi. A few alumni are invited back every year to speak at fall orientation. There is also an annual dinner when alumni gather to see each other and celebrate the fellowship.
After the Fellowship
You get a Certificate in Economics and Business Journalism suitable for framing and touting on your resume. M.A. track fellows get an M.A. in Journalism after completing their thesis.
There is! In mid-May you will attend a ceremony with the outgoing journalism class.
During the fellowship you will have access to the journalism career office and be able to attend the annual job fair, the largest journalism fair in the nation. You will also get to meet top editors and management from major news outlets. In the spring, we often arrange for the fellows to tour the New York offices of major business publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. After the fellowship, you will find the K-B alumni network to be a strong one and a way to meet hiring managers and keep up with job openings.
You are officially an alumni of Columbia University and have opportunities to attend events, audit classes and use the library system. As a journalism graduate, you will also continue to have access to job listings and events. There are Knight-Bagehot Facebook and LinkedIn groups and a list-serve to keep you up to date on what your fellow alumni are doing.
The K-B fellows often stay close to their cohort for years after, sometimes even traveling together and cheering each other's successes from afar.