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Northwestern vs. Columbia for Grad School Journalism?

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Hello! I am trying to decide between Columbia and Northwestern for a master's in journalism. To give you some background, I am interested in pursing international reporting after graduation and want to attend the school that provides the best opportunities/connections to make this possible! At Columbia, I have no specialization whereas at Northwestern I picked Social Justice and Investigative Journalism. I have also included a pro/con list about the two schools below. Any insight about either or both schools would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! 


Columbia’s Pros:

  • At Columbia, I would not have a specialization, so my education would cover multiple platforms (audio, video, broadcast, print, online, etc.) (this may be beneficial since i have limited experience)

  • Great international reporting department with a lot of connections.

  • There are some great postgraduate fellowships

    • Columbia Journalism Investigations, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Longform Narrative, funding for investigative reporting

  • A lot of post-graduate internships that accept many Columbia grads; in particular, companies like: ABC News Broadcasting in London; Al Jazeera in Qatar, The Marshall Project (Investigative Reporting in NYC), The Reuters Institute at Oxford.

  • Spring Career Expo (where you can have scheduled/walk-up interviews)

  • Year long master’s project supervised by an advisor (to work on long form narrative)

  • There is a required module on investigative journalism

  • Students Associations: Society of Professional Journalists, Women in Journalism

  • Ivy League

  • Located in NYC (good for networking)

  • A lot of students are encouraged to get published


Columbia’s Cons:

  • Slightly larger classes (15-20) and larger seminars

  • Fewer opportunities to travel abroad while completing the degree (no established programs)

  • No scholarship


Northwestern’s Pros:

  • Medill Explores Program: a week-long trip spent reporting on international issues and networking with local experts

  • Global Residency Program: a 10 week program abroad with an international news organization (Time Magazine in the UK)

  • Medill Justice Project: the opportunity to work on criminal justice cases and writing investigative stories

  • Social Justice News Nexus: works with local Chicago news outlets to report on social justice issues

  • Knight-Lab: focuses on emerging technology and new forms of journalism

    • A 2 quarter class where you are trained in media technology (however, I will not be able to enroll if I do the practicum in DC)

  • Benefits of Investigative & Social Justice Specialization:   

    • Will have stories published in Medill News Service (partners with news outlets to publish your work)

    • There are still core courses that cover the fundamentals of reporting

  • Practicum: a 10 week internship (instead of a thesis) in which you work with a local media outlet of your choice. It can be completed in DC or Chicago.

  • Medill Friday events (speakers, workshops, etc)

  • Medill Career Services

  • Partial Scholarship

  • Only 130 students in the program

    • Small class size (about 10 students)


Northwestern’s Cons:

  • I had to apply to a specialization, but as I do not have a lot of journalistic experience, I am not sure if this is the field I want to stay in.

  • Fewer media outlets in Chicago


Edited by PaigeTurner
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  • 1 year later...

Did you ever decide what school to go to? Thoughts on your choice?

I'm currently entertaining scholarship offers from Columbia, Cuny and Northwestern. I switch my mind on a daily basis which one to go to, but I am leaning on CUNY because it's slightly cheaper and I liked the program better. Northwestern is currently reevaluating my award so they may come back with additional money, the only issue is that I haven't been able to visit them. My pros and cons list on very similar to yours and I even am in the same concentration but I'm sure I want to specialize in Investigative/Social Justice since I also have limited experience. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi, I studied journalism/work as a journalist on a freelance basis in addition to my full time job. You should pick a program that will introduce you to multiple platforms of reporting (digital, video, radio, social media, etc). Newsrooms like a sense of versatility and you may not find a job in a particular niche. Having many reporting skills is desired.

Learning to apply news to different treatments was also fun and exposed me to new interests and skills! 

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