Investigate. Innovate. Inform.
The AU School of Communication MA in Journalism and Public Affairs prepares you for a career as a news and information professional. You'll focus your program studies in one of three areas: Investigative Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, or International Journalism. We partner with top media outlets and changemaking nonprofit news organizations to offer several prestigious fellowships. SOC is home to the Investigative Reporting Workshop (IRW), an independent, nonprofit newsroom that pairs graduate students with professional reporters and editors to produce stories that examine government and corporate accountability. Recent reporting and co-publishing partners include The Washington Post, The Fresno Bee, The Tampa Bay Times, Public Health Watch, WAMU in Washington and WWNO in New Orleans. IRW interns and fellows worked from 2009-2021 on 15 co-productions with PBS FRONTLINE.
Chuck Lewis - The Investigator
"We need people that care about our society, and think that facts and information matter. And somebody's got to watch those in power, bottom line."
Professor Emeritus Chuck Lewis, Executive Editor Emeritus of the SOC Investigative Reporting Workshop shares his thoughts on why training the next generation of investigative journalists matters.
All Journalism and Public Affairs candidates will choose a specialization and complete 9 credit hours in their chosen area of focus.
A specialty in Investigative Journalism equips you with the skills to become a top investigative reporter or editor on any media platform. Our students learn how to undertake solid, accurate reporting; to write clearly and concisely; and to create and organize long narrative and investigative stories for all platforms. They also gain a strong foundation in journalism law and ethics. You'll learn from Pulitzer Prize-winning professors, including faculty who work at the School of Communication's Investigative Reporting Workshop, founded and directed by Charles Lewis, best-selling author, investigative journalist, and former 60 Minutes producer. Our students have gone on to notable careers writing and editing for national and international magazines, newspapers, trade publications, websites, and private and non-profit organizations. SOC offers competitive fellowships specifically for investigative reporting students, and a practicum led by award-winning reporter John Sullivan in which students are embedded on the Washington Post's investigative unit.
If you're looking to launch a career as a writer, newscast or segment producer, editor, reporter, anchor, videographer, graphics producer, assignment editor, or news director, our specialty in Broadcast Journalism is ideal. Our students hone both on-air and producing news skills for television, radio, online, and mobile. You'll be able to take advantage of some of the most advanced university-based video production facilities in the region. American University's Media Production Center features digital video and audio editing suites, a computer-based newsroom system featuring Associated Press' ENPS, an HD-equipped television studio, and the Ed Bliss Broadcast Newsroom. The McKinley Building, home of the School of Communication, boasts a 145-seat theater with 4K digital cinema projection and a state-of- the-art Media Innovation Lab. Our graduates have found success in television, radio, production companies, websites, public and private organizations, and converged news operations with writing, audio, and video storytelling needs.
Students who specialize in this field see journalism through an international lens. They want to report from international locations, from US locations about international topics, or for internationally-based media organizations such as the BBC, Al-Jazeera, and others. With its base in Washington, DC, our program is ideally situated to help you integrate international aspects into your journalism. You'll take courses that show how the media interact with foreign policy, how you can conduct investigative reporting on global topics, and how international viewpoints can be included in your reporting. International organizations such as the Organization of American States and the World Health Organization have key bases of operation here, as do embassies and consulates from nearly every country in the world. Our students have gone on to pursue ground-breaking journalistic projects in Europe and other international locations.
Natalie Hopkinson Brings Unique Expertise to New Role at SOC
Hopkinson brings expertise in arts and culture across the Black diaspora to new role at AU SOC.
White House Correspondents and Anchors Pull Back Curtain to Coverage
Students, alums and guests of the American University community sat in rapt attention as NBC’s Kristen Welker and CNN’s Kaitlan Collins said preparation was key in covering the White House.
Journalism Professor Wins NABJ Journalism Educator of the Year Award
Dr. Sherri Williams, assistant professor in race, media and communication, received the award because of her teaching and partnerships with national media outlets that published her students’ work and amplified their stories nationally.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Boot Camp for Journalists?
Boot Camp gives you the first picture of what journalists face every day. During this required, immersive program, you will learn the basics of researching and reporting under deadline conditions. The intense schedule focuses on information gathering, writing, and producing for a variety of media platforms, all against a backdrop of the constantly changing media industry. With classes running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, Bootcamp helps you build strong fundamentals in critical thinking, news judgment, interviewing, ethics, and verification, as well as a basic skill set in digital audio and video editing.
What opportunities will the School of Communication give me to advance my career?
In Washington, DC—where local news is national, or even international—not only will you have opportunities to report on Capitol Hill, the DC government, federal agencies, and national and global policymakers, you can gain even more experience through internships and fellowships at major national and international news outlets including The Washington Post, Politico, NBC4, and National Public Radio. Our Investigative Reporting Workshop allows you to work with preeminent journalists on significant national and international investigative journalism projects about government and corporate accountability, ranging from the environment and health to national security and the economy, and to experiment with new models for creating and delivering investigative projects.
How can the School of Communication help me with mentoring and networking opportunities?
The School of Communication has a distinct advantage among comparable institutions for the many different experiential learning opportunities offered to students. Internships are a way of life here. Graduate students can receive course credit for one internship, but most students have two or three, thanks to faculty and alumni who share their professional contacts.
We also have an active and effective alumni mentoring program that will help you build your professional connections and networks. Through our Dean's Internships, we work with world-class partners to connect highly qualified students with meaningful, real-world assignments that create future pathways to jobs.
What does your accreditation mean?
Both our bachelor's and master's degrees are accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). We are the only ACEJMC accredited graduate journalism program in Washington, DC. Accreditation is an important mark of external validation. It means our programs have been vetted by industry influences, including scholars and professionals. Practitioners who hire our students know they have a firm grounding in the field.
How does the School of Communication help students meet industry leaders?
The School of Communication hosts a variety of panels, events, and presentations by local and international industry leaders each semester. While many are open to the public, some are exclusive to currently enrolled students.
What are the expected outcomes of this program?
- Define the key ethical and legal issues for journalists.
- Critique the evolving role of journalism in a democracy.
- Demonstrate diverse and inclusive values in journalism.
- Develop multiple digital skill sets applied across varied platforms.
- Produce professional-quality, accurate, verified work.