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Journalism Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism degree field consists of 12 courses (48 credits), with 1 required on-campus here at Harvard University. Weekend options are available, where you can complete the requirement in one or two weekends.

Getting Started

  1. Explore the required course curriculum.
  2. Determine your initial admissions eligibility.
  3. Learn about the 2 degree courses required for admission.
  4. Search and register for courses.

Required Courses

12 Graduate Courses

The journalism program is customizable. Within the program curriculum, you choose the journalism and general electives that support your learning goals.

  • JOUR 100 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Journalism
  • JOUR 137 Feature Writing
  • JOUR 140A News Reporting and Writing or JOUR 140C Race, Media and News Writing
  • JOUR 110 The Constitution and the Media
  • 3 journalism electives
    • One may be an internship
    • One may be EXPO 42a, b or c (choose just one)
  • 4 general electives
  • JOUR 599 Journalism Capstone Project

The capstone experience. Over the course of the capstone semester, you’ll conduct an in-depth investigation of a single topic and emerge with a portfolio of new work suitable for publishing, posting, or broadcasting.

Recent Capstone Topics

  • Climate Change and the Future of Food
    • Idaho Farmers Brace for Another Drought
    • Farmworkers Are Dying on the Frontlines of Climate Change
    • The Impacts of a Warming Climate Are Taking Root in Idaho’s Wine Industry
    • Are More American’s Inviting Insects to Dinner?
  • The Immigration Pandemic
    • ‘You Just Can’t Erase Them’: Migrant Families In and Out of ICE Detention Battle Mental Health Crisis
    • Poor and in ICE Detention: The Low-hanging Fruit of the Immigration System
    • Detainees Say ICE Eradicated Free Text Messages During Pandemic
  • Uneven Pandemic
    • A Deepening Eviction Crisis Is Affecting Black Women
    • Child Care Workers Are Going Hungry
    • Fighting the Opioid Epidemic Within a Pandemic 

The Harvard On-Campus Experience (1 Course)

Many courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard University campus experience. You come to Cambridge for at least 1 course (4 credits), which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

Weekend options are available, where you can complete the requirement in one or two weekends. For example, you can complete the requirement in:

  • two, 2-credit active learning weekends courses, such as JOUR 105 Essentials of Editing and JOUR 142a The Art and Craft of Interviewing to fulfill the requirement.

or

  • one 4-credit online course with intensive weekend on campus , such as JOUR 155 Magazine Writing.

Below are all our on-campus options:

  • Active-learning weekend courses (two credits each; complete two to earn full course credit).
  • Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
  • 15-week fall or spring semester courses that meet only on campus. Courses with the format “on campus or online” do not fulfill this requirement.
  • 3-week January courses that meet only on campus.
  • 7- or 3-week summer courses that meet only on campus.

International Students Needing a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you study with us in the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School’s 3- or 7-week sessions. For more information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

Optional Certificates

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific communications area and earn a certificate along the way. There are 3 options:

  • Business Communications
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Marketing Management and Digital Strategy

Admissions

Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique admissions process to help get you started. Be sure to visit Degree Program Admissions for full details.

Initial Eligibility

  • Prior to enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must possess a 4-year regionally accredited US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. Foreign bachelor’s degrees must be evaluated for equivalency.
  • You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master’s degree in journalism or a related field. Check your eligibility.

The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility

Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following 2 graduate-level degree courses (available online):

  • JOUR 100 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies in Journalism
    • Before registering, you’ll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42a Writing in the Humanities, 42b Writing in the Social Sciences, or 42c Writing in the Sciences.
    • You have two attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt). The proseminar cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.
  • JOUR 137 Feature Writing or JOUR 140a News Reporting

The courses above, including EXPO 42a, 42b, or 42c, count toward the degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.

Course sequencing. The 2 courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, but each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, submit the official application to the program. 

Don’t delay! You must prioritize the 2 degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll:

  • avoid the delayed application fee or the loss of credit for expired course work.
  • ensure your enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate-only courses.
  • gain access to exclusive benefits (see bottom of page).

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 10 more courses after admission to earn the degree. 

For details about full eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.

Search and Register for Courses

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round. You can study in fall, January, and spring terms through Harvard Extension School (HES) and during the summer through Harvard Summer School (HSS).

To find degree courses in the DCE Course Search and Registration platform:

  • Under Search Classes, scroll to Harvard Extension Degree, Certificate, and Premedical Course Search.
  • Select Graduate Degrees
  • Choose Journalism to explore program courses.

To Complete Your Degree

Required 3.0 GPA, 2 Withdrawal Grade Limit, and Repeat Course Policy

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in the proseminar, news reporting, and feature writing and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses. In addition, your cumulative GPA cannot dip below 3.0.

Withdrawal Grades. You are allowed to receive 2 withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Repeat Courses. We advise you to review the ALM program’s strict policies about repeating courses. Generally speaking, you may not repeat a course to improve your GPA or to fulfill a degree requirement (if the minimum grade was not initially achieved). Nor can you repeat a course for graduate credit that you’ve previously completed at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School at the undergraduate level.

Courses Expire: Finish Your Coursework in Under 5 Years

Courses over 5 years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree. As noted above, the proseminar cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.

Further, you have 5 years to complete your degree requirements. The 5-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any 2 degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the 5-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work.

Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the 5-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied (i.e., too many courses to complete in the time remaining).

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Journalism. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.

Degree Candidate Exclusive Benefits

When you become an officially admitted degree candidate, you have access to a rich variety of exclusive benefits to support your academic journey. To learn more, visit degree candidate academic opportunities and privileges.