Is Journalism a Useless Degree? Debunking the Controversy and Answering the Question Once and for All


As the media industry continues to evolve, the value of a journalism degree has been increasingly debated. Some argue that with the rise of social media and citizen journalism, traditional journalism careers have become scarce, making a degree in journalism useless. However, many journalists and industry experts believe that a journalism degree can provide essential skills and knowledge for success in the media industry. This post will explore the arguments surrounding the value of a journalism degree and provide insights into possible alternatives for those interested in pursuing a career in media.

The Value of a Journalism Degree

Despite criticisms, obtaining a journalism degree can provide essential skills and knowledge for success in the media industry. Here are a few benefits:

  • Training in writing and communication skills: Journalism programs offer courses that teach students how to write for different mediums, such as print, broadcast, and online, as well as how to gather and report news. These skills are transferrable to a variety of careers.
  • Understanding media ethics and law: Journalism programs teach students about the ethical and legal considerations of the media industry. These skills are not only important for journalists, but for anyone working in communications or media-related fields.
  • Developing critical thinking and analytical skills: Journalism education requires critical thinking skills that train students to analyze and evaluate information objectively. These skills are valuable in a variety of careers that require the ability to think independently and critically.

Many successful journalists have journalism degrees. These individuals have been trained to be professional, ethical, and objective communicators. Some examples of successful journalists include Bob Woodward, Christiane Amanpour, and Brian Williams, all of whom have a journalism degree.

The Criticisms of a Journalism Degree

Despite the advantages of obtaining a journalism degree, there are several criticisms of the value of such a degree:

  • Decline in traditional journalism careers: With the rise of online media and the decline of print media, traditional journalism jobs have become scarce. Some argue that focusing on a degree in journalism limits career opportunities.
  • The rise of citizen journalism and social media: With the proliferation of social media and the ability of anyone to share news and information, some argue that the need for trained journalists has decreased. Citizen journalists and social media users can break news, produce content, and share information without a degree in journalism.
  • Limited earnings: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is $37,820 as of May 2020. Some argue that the cost of a journalism degree is not worth the limited earning potential.

While these criticisms have some validity, it is important to note that journalism education still provides value in many ways, and not all graduates pursue traditional journalism careers. Additionally, there are ways to respond to these criticisms, such as highlighting the importance of professional training, emphasizing the value of critical thinking in journalism, and seeking additional coursework or training that can enhance earning potential.

Alternatives to a Journalism Degree

If you are interested in a career in media or communication but are hesitant to pursue a journalism degree, here are a few alternative degree programs to consider:

  • Communication and Media Studies: This degree focuses on the communication and media industries from a broader perspective. Students gain a deeper understanding of media ecology, media effects, and media history and criticism.
  • Public Relations: This degree prepares students to work in public relations, advertising, and marketing. Courses focus on developing communication, writing, and strategic planning skills.
  • Creative Writing: This degree fosters creativity and helps to develop writing skills. Students can learn the art of storytelling, develop writing techniques, and hone their voice as a writer.

It is worth noting that pursuing a degree in a STEM field is also a viable choice if you are interested in science journalism. Biomedical Science is one such degree that can prepare you to communicate the complexities of science to the general public. If you are asking yourself, “Is Biomedical Science Hard,” check out this article for a better understanding of what to expect.

Interesting facts

Here are some interesting facts about the debate on whether a journalism degree is useless or not:

  • According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, journalism majors earn a median income of about $35,000, lower than the median earnings of computer science, engineering, and business majors.
  • On the other hand, a survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) showed that the average salary for a television news anchor or reporter is around $76,000.
  • There is a growing concern about the decline of traditional journalism careers and the rise of citizen journalism and social media, challenging the relevance of a journalism degree. However, advocates argue that professional training is essential to ensure accuracy, fairness, and ethical standards in journalism.

If you’re interested in other degree programs that are often debated for their usefulness, check out is petroleum engineering hard as another example of a controversial degree program.


Is it worth getting a journalism degree?

It depends on your career goals and interests. If you aspire to become a professional journalist, a journalism degree can equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge. However, if you are interested in other fields such as public relations, communication, or writing, other degrees or programs may be more suitable.

What can I do with a journalism degree besides journalism?

Journalism degrees can lead to careers in public relations, corporate communications, advertising, content creation, and media management, among others.

Does a journalism degree prepare me for the changing media landscape?

While the media landscape is constantly evolving, journalism programs often include courses on digital media and new technologies. Additionally, pursuing internships and gaining hands-on experience can help you stay relevant and competitive in the industry.

What skills can I develop with a journalism degree?

Journalism degrees develop skills such as writing, research, interviewing, editing, critical thinking, and ethics, among others.

Can I become a successful journalist without a journalism degree?

Yes, having a journalism degree is not a guarantee of success in the field. However, a degree can provide you with professional training and opportunities to build relationships and gain experience.

How much can I expect to earn with a journalism degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts was $43,490 in May 2020.

Is print journalism dying?

While the print newspaper industry has faced challenges in recent years, journalism continues to thrive in various forms such as online news outlets, podcasts, and social media.

Are there alternatives to a journalism degree for aspiring journalists?

Yes, alternatives include media and communication studies, creative writing, and English or literature degrees, among others.

Are journalism degrees useless due to the rise of citizen journalism?

While citizen journalism has provided new platforms for people to share news and opinions, professional journalism continues to play a critical role in verifying and fact-checking information.

Should I pursue a journalism degree despite the criticisms?

Ultimately, the decision to pursue a journalism degree depends on your interests, strengths, and career aspirations. It’s important to research the options and weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Real experience

Samantha always knew she wanted to be a journalist. She loved writing and telling important stories, and she couldn’t wait to pursue a degree in journalism after high school. But everywhere she turned, it seemed like people were telling her that journalism was a dying field, and that she would never find a job with her degree.

Samantha listened to the naysayers and began to doubt her passion. Instead of majoring in journalism, she decided to study marketing because it seemed like a more stable career choice.

But as Samantha worked in marketing, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. She missed the thrill of chasing a story, the satisfaction of seeing her name in print. No matter how well-paying her marketing job was, she didn’t feel fulfilled.

One day, Samantha decided to take a chance and apply for a journalism internship at a local newspaper. To her surprise, she landed the job. As she dove back into the world of reporting and writing, Samantha felt more alive than she had in years.

As her internship came to an end, Samantha realized that she couldn’t give up her dreams of becoming a journalist. She applied to a journalism program and was accepted. Though it wasn’t always easy – there were moments when the criticisms of her chosen field weighed heavily on her – Samantha was grateful for the chance to pursue her passion.

After finishing her degree, Samantha landed a job at a well-respected newspaper. She reported on stories that mattered, met fascinating people, and learned more about the world than she ever thought possible. Though there were still moments of doubt and uncertainty, Samantha knew that she had made the right choice in pursuing her passion.

Looking back, Samantha couldn’t believe that she had ever let other people’s opinions make her doubt herself. Journalism wasn’t a useless degree – it was the key to her happiness and fulfillment.


While there is some debate about the value of a journalism degree, it is clear that obtaining such a degree provides students with essential skills and knowledge necessary for success in the media industry. While traditional journalism careers may be becoming scarcer, there are still many opportunities available for those with a journalism degree, including new media and digital journalism. Additionally, there are alternative degree programs available for those interested in pursuing a career in the media industry.

It is important to remember that a degree in journalism or any degree in the humanities may not be the best fit for everyone. There are many different educational and career paths, and it is ultimately up to each individual to decide which path is right for them. If you are curious about the overall value of humanities degrees, check out this article for a deeper understanding of the benefits and potential drawbacks of pursuing a degree in the humanities.

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