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Master of Arts in Digital Journalism

Lead Faculty: Dr. Sara-Ellen L. Amster, Ph.D

The goal of the Master of Arts in Digital Journalism is to prepare learners to become dynamic new media professionals capable of using emerging technologies to generate, create and disseminate news and analysis in a competitive, fast-moving global information environment. The program, to be taught entirely online, will link new media practitioners internationally with each other, and train backpack and video journalist "one-man bands" who are hotly in demand in the new media marketplace. The changing nature of 21st century journalism requires professionals who are ready to answer the call for more highly skilled news and communication practitioners in the 24-hour information-on demand cycle.

Increasingly, the question of who is a journalist has been replaced by who does journalism? Students will be armed with theoretical and practical approaches to help them and their news organizations, both traditional and non-traditional, meet the world's voracious appetite for clear, accessible and relevant knowledge--"news you can use"--to help consumers make better decisions and lead more informed lives. With the program, National University adds its voice to the debate over what journalism is and needs to become. Coursework will marry non-traditional multimedia skills with longtime foundations, legal underpinnings and the ethics of traditional journalistic practice. Near the end of this 13-month program, students will be matched with mentors in the media and communications fields. Along the way, they will create an electronic portfolio designed to help them gain employment and build their career.

The degree requires that students are able to write in English at an advanced level and also be flexible enough to learn the latest technological skills that new media professionals need to survive. Students must already possess a bachelor of arts degree. They must prove basic competency in certain digital skills or take a series of tutorials in Essential Digital Competencies, JRN 502, as a satisfactory-unsatisfactory companion to their other studies. If a student's writing skills need improvement, he or she may be required to enroll in a remedial writing class before continuing in the program. Applicants for whom English is a second language are encouraged to take the Accuplacer English as a second language test.

The opening course, The New News, or JRN 600, will serve as gateway to the program, which also will offer such innovative classes as computer-assisted reporting, the business of journalism, producing online publications, investigative reporting and international reporting. Admitted students must prequalify for Backpack Digital Audio amp; Video by taking a series of tutorials, but JRN 502 may be waived by the instructor based on sufficient evidence of professional-level work.

Consultation with the advisor is required. Essential Digital Competencies can be taken alongside the program for a grade of satisfactory/unsatisfactory as a student pursues the degree but must be taken prior to Backpack Digital Audio & Video, JRN 610.

Graduates will acquire a host of intellectual, managerial and journalistic skills including:

  • an understanding of emerging media business models;
  • the ability to create original enterprise projects about public issues, events and individuals;
  • the knowledge to engage in public journalism by conducting polling, interviewing and interactive audience research;
  • the training to develop, implement and evaluate appropriate strategies of investigative journalism using the Web for both research and presentation; and
  • professional instruction in the foundations of shoe-leather journalism, as well as story-generation and reporting.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop digital informational content (text, graphics, audio, video) for dissemination across multiple media platforms.
  2. Evaluate the effect of information and knowledge management structures on accuracy and reliability in news media publications.
  3. Employ emerging media practices within ethical and legal boundaries.
  4. Create interactive online publications for a global audience.
  5. Critique business models and evaluate their effectiveness in the emerging media world of contemporary journalism.
  6. Analyze news and information gathered from computer databases.
  7. Compare past and present trends in news writing, reporting, and editing.


(14 courses; 60 quarter units)

To receive a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism students must complete at least 58.5 quarter units of graduate work, of which a minimum of 45 quarter units must be taken in residence at National University. Students can transfer up to 13.5 quarter units at the graduate level from a regionally accredited institution provided the units have not been used to satisfy the requirements of an awarded degree and the Faculty Advisor determines the course content is applicable to the program. Students wishing to transfer credits into the program should contact the program faculty advisor. Refer to the section in the graduate admission requirements for additional specific information regarding application and evaluation. The capstone in this program will be developed individually with the advisor and may include an internship in a student's home community or one arranged through National University's student publication.

Program Prerequisites (1 course; 4.5 quarter units)

Core Requirements (13 courses; 58.5 quarter units)
Core Requisite(s):

Program Information

Online Education

This program is available online.