Summer Investigative Reporting Course | School of Journalism

Summer Investigative Reporting Course

Training for experienced professionals worldwide in advanced investigative journalism reporting techniques.

Over three weeks in the summer, participants learn to recognize when a story should be a long‐term project, how to use data to form the backbone of a story and the multiple ways of reporting a long‐term investigation.


A limited number of scholarships covering the full cost of attending the Summer Investigative Reporting Course, including tuition, airfare and living expenses, are available to journalists from Greece. Learn more about the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Scholarship Program under Who Should Apply on this page.


UPCOMING COURSE: July  8- 26, 2019

The Program

The course covers the fundamentals of investigative reporting including:

  • the methodology for developing story ideas and launching a project
  • the criteria for testing a hypothesis
  • how to find documents and data internationally to support the reporting
  • understanding and utilizing financial documents
  • varied methods for interviewing sources
  • ethically sourcing information
  • structuring an investigative project
  • writing the longform narrative

Throughout the program, faculty provide instruction on using digital tools for researching and finding sources including:

  • where to find data and how to acquire, clean and analyze it
  • using data to create a framework for a project
  • reporting the narrative around the data
  • making it visual and useable to readers

Another critical component of the program is exploring how journalists can collaborate with media partners to build strong coalitions and stories with wider impact.

Participants are urged to arrive with ideas for stories they can start or continue when they return to the workplace, using skills they learn throughout the course lectures. Participants are encouraged to work with colleagues in the course on strategies for how to report their stories, find potential sources and ways to develop the project.

Who Should Apply & Program Fees

The Summer Investigative Reporting Course is for journalists worldwide who report stories as well as editors who manage investigative projects or teams. Workshops focus on developing a major project but lessons are intended to be used by journalists in their everyday reporting. Beat reporters from all departments are encouraged to consider attending.

Fellows from every media platform – newspapers, magazines, television, radio, wire services and digital news outlets – are encouraged to apply. Participants annually come from at least 12 nations and cover topics ranging from politics and the environment to sports and the arts to local and international news.

University journalism educators are encouraged to consider applying.

A strong competence in spoken and written English is required. This workshop is not for beginners. It requires that participants have an extensive background in journalism. Participants should arrive with advanced skills in Excel and other database management programs to better utilize the data training. Application requirements include a CV, a letter of support from a direct supervisor or manager (freelancers can submit a letter from an editor with whom they have worked), an essay outlining experience and interest in the program, work samples, and a complete story pitch following the format outlined in our story memo. 

Tuition is $7,500. This covers the cost of the course itself, as well as breakfast and lunch on class days. It does not include travel, lodging, or other expenses associated with living in New York City for three full weeks.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation has awarded a $1.3 million grant to Columbia Journalism School, which will allow 54 journalists from Greece to participate in one of three intensive summer journalism programs offered at Columbia University in New York over the next three years, including the 2019 Summer Investigative Reporting Course. The scholarship will cover expenses associated with the programs: tuition, airfare, local transportation, as well as room and board and a daily stipend.

Applications for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Scholarship for the Summer Investigative Reporting Course will open on January 1, 2019. The application deadline for these scholarships is March 1, 2019.

The application deadline for the program is May 1, 2019.

The Faculty

Instruction is provided by professors who are part of Columbia Journalism School’s full-time and adjunct faculty and by other high‐profile professional journalists around the country with extensive experience conducting investigations and teaching. Faculty members are multiple winners of the most prestigious journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, R.L. Polk Award, Alfred I. duPont Prize, Maria Moors Cabot Prize for coverage of the Americas and many more.

They report for media outlets including ProPublica, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The New York Times, Vice News, Frontline, Thomson Reuters and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

The Summer Investigative Reporting Course is designed in conjunction with Columbia’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, which trains graduate students in investigative reporting. That program is directed by Sheila Coronel, the Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism and the Journalism School’s Dean of Academic Affairs. Prior to arriving at Columbia, Coronel and her colleagues founded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism to promote investigative reporting. In addition to teaching at Columbia and leading the instruction for the Summer Investigative Reporting Course, Coronel conducts training workshops and lectures on investigative journalism for associations, conventions and institutions around the world.

The Summer Course is directed by Ernest R. Sotomayor, Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Latin American Initiatives. An instructor in the Journalism School’s core Reporting course, Sotomayor worked at newspapers for 26 years before joining Columbia. He runs journalism training programs for professional development at Columbia, in Latin America and at various other organizations. He also lectures on journalism at universities.