Investigative Journalism Specialization | Stabile M.S. Degree | Columbia Journalism School

M.S. Investigative Specialization

The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism

The Stabile Program

Since 2006, the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism has been training students for distinguished careers in investigative journalism. Candidates for the Master of Science degree are able to pursue this specialization, which is platform-neutral and is taken in addition to the traditional M.S. curriculum.

Stabile students are required to take skills classes and seminars in investigative reporting. They spend the year learning investigative methods and are required to do an investigative report for their Master’s Project. The Stabile Center provides support for their research and reporting, including paying for travel costs. Stipends are available to allow students to pursue their reporting projects after graduation.

In order to graduate with a specialization in investigative journalism, students must apply to the center as part of their application for admission to the Journalism School.

Impact & Opportunities

  • The Stabile investigative program turns out top-caliber graduates able to thrive in today’s fast-changing media environment. Stabile alumni are currently doing watchdog reporting for leading news organizations, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica, 60 Minutes, Vice and Buzzfeed. They are reporting around the world in the UK, India, Colombia, Hong Kong, Spain and other countries.
  • Stabile graduates have won top journalism prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Polk Award, the Livingston Award, the Scripps Howard and the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Journalism.
  • Student work supported by the Stabile program has been published or aired by leading news organizations, including The New York
 Times, National Public Radio, USA Today, Slate, ProPublica and PBS. These stories have prompted investigations of erring officials, policy reversals and the enactment of new laws.
  • The Stabile Center helps support student research and travel for investigative projects. Over the summer, students who have a commitment to publish or air can apply for fellowships that will allow them to continue working on their projects.
  • During the school year, Stabile students work in teams on investigative projects that they will pitch for publication. Team projects have been published by ProPublica, the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera America and Caixin Magazine in China. 


View the full M.S. Stabile curriculum. These are required courses for the Investigative Specialization, open to Stabile students only.

Fall: Investigative Tools 

Professors: Sheila Coronel and James Mintz

The course will walk students through the investigative process from the time a story is conceived to the formulation of an investigative hypothesis to the actual reporting and writing. It will stress the importance of documentary evidence and help students analyze both public and private, as well as paper and digital, records. Other forms of evidence, such as maps, social media feeds and images, will be discussed.

Spring: The Investigative Seminar 

Professors: Sheila Coronel and James Mintz

This seminar will examine the shifts that are taking place in the media and challenge students to think about how they can produce, pitch and fund investigative stories in such a dynamic environment. It will also familiarize them with the investigative tradition and the traditional investigative narrative forms. 


In addition to the required classes, Stabile students choose one of the many spring investigative classes that are open to all 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. Classes described now may change or be dropped to make room for new additions.

How to Cover Armies and Spies

Investigating Health Care

Investigating the Failures of the Mental Health System

Investigative Project

Shoe Leather: Multi-Casting Investigative Stories

Using Data to Investigate Across Borders

Student Work

Hunting the Ghost Fleet Story screenshot

Sarah Blaskey, '17 M.S. Stabile, traveled to Central America to follow the trail of illegal shark finning companies that not only violate international covenants but are also guilty of employing slave labor.

Hunting the ghost fleet


Steve Coll

Professor of Journalism; Dean Emeritus

Sheila Coronel

Toni Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism; Director, Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism