M.A. Degree

Depth. Rigor. Expertise. 

The Master of Arts program trains experienced journalists to go deeper and equips them with subject-area expertise, so they can explain complicated issues to the public. Students develop an intellectual grounding in their concentration that enables them to ask more informed questions, evaluate evidence for competing theories and produce sophisticated and nuanced stories.

Concentrations

Applicants choose from one of four concentrations: 

Arts & Culture
Business & Economics
Politics
Science

Who Should Apply

The M.A. program is designed for journalists who have three to 15 years of professional journalism experience but want to go deeper. We are looking for intellectually curious students with demonstrable reporting experience and strong writing ability. 

Applicants should be competent at the essential journalistic skills: research, interviewing and storytelling. Applicants do not need any prior background in the concentration to which they apply.

We accept journalists who want to go deeper in a subject they already cover and those who want to focus on a new area. On rare occasion, we accept people with fewer than three years of experience, but only when they have a record of exceptional work.

Curriculum

At the heart of the M.A. program is the Seminar­-in-­Concentration, which is offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Each seminar is taught by a faculty member with extensive experience covering the subject at hand. Professors also bring in experts from Columbia and beyond as teaching partners, providing an unparalleled level of depth and nuance. For instance, the Science seminar might spend one class session meeting with a medical researcher, the next examining journalism about that type of research and then another critiquing student work on a related assignment. Throughout, the seminars combine deep subject instruction with high‐level journalistic mentoring.

Each M.A. student also takes:

Evidence and Inference

This fall course teaches a disciplined “journalistic method” of testing assumptions and hypotheses, recognizing the ways that stories can distort the truth and exploring how to make sure that reporting firmly proves its points.

Students also develop useful skills for working with statistics, conducting in­-depth interviews and combining anecdote and narrative with the big picture in their writing.

M.A. Essentials

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.

Three Outside Electives

Students may enroll in almost any graduate­ level course offered by Columbia University, provided the course will deepen their understanding of the chosen area of study.

Each student’s individual course selections are approved by the faculty.

The Master’s Thesis

Each student undertakes 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 synthesize what they learn in a sophisticated manner.

Graduates have published and aired their theses in top‐tier outlets, such as Harper's, The New York Times, This American Life, The New Yorker and The Guardian.

Course Schedule

Fall

  • Seminar‐in‐Concentration
  • Evidence and Inference
  • M.A. Essentials
  • Outside Elective
  • Master’s Thesis

Spring

  • Seminar‐in‐Concentration
  • Outside Elective
  • Outside Elective
  • Master’s Thesis

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