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Master of Arts Journalism & Public Affairs

Now is the time. SOC is the place.

Investigate. Innovate. Inform.

The AU School of Communication master of arts 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. SOC is home to the Investigative Reporting Workshop (IRW), a non-profit, professional newsroom that pairs experienced professional reporters and editors with graduate students. IRW co-publishes in-depth stories on government and corporate accountability with mainstream media partners and nonprofit newsrooms. SOC is also the only university-based production hub for FRONTLINE in the US, offering additional opportunities for students.

The Washington Post Practicum

In The Washington Post Practicum, graduate students selected in a competitive process each spring, spend as long as a year in a class that takes them inside the investigative team of one of the nation's leading newspapers. Students work along side Post reporters and a Pulitzer Prize-winning SOC faculty member John Sullivan, to learn how to research, write and fact check major investigative stories. Students in the practicum have worked on teams that have won the Pulitzer Prize. 


The School of Communication reviews graduate applications on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity.

While previous academic or professional work in the field is not required, you'll need to demonstrate a serious commitment to a career in journalism. Your essay on your reasons for pursuing graduate study in the program will be essential, along with the other required application materials.

Our Journalism and Public Affairs master's is a full-time program. Students are generally expected to complete the 33-credit hour program within 11 months.

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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 Chuck Lewis, Executive Editor 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.

Courses include:

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.

Courses include:

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.

Courses include:

Recent News

Anchor PointThe latest on our students, alumni, professors and programs. Want more? See all SOC news or sign up for our journalism newsletter.

Rachel Looker, Sophie Austin, Aneeta Mathur-Ashton


USA TODAY Washington Watchdog Fellow Announced

Three prestigious investigative journalism fellowships have been awarded to incoming SOC graduate students.

Full Story

Abby Phillip CNN


CNN’S Abby Phillip Discusses Race and Representation in the Media at Joint SOC and KPU Event

School of Communication (SOC) and The Kennedy Political Union (KPU) partnered to host a virtual event with CNN Senior Political Correspondent and Anchor of Inside Politics Sunday, Abby Phillip on Feb. 16.

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Alexandra Ellerbeck


Graduate Student Receives AUSOC-White House Correspondents' Association Investigative Journalism Award

The award, launched last year, is given to an undergraduate or graduate student in journalism at SOC who shows promise in the field of investigative journalism. The funding comes equally from the WHCA and AU.

Full Story

Cost and Financial Assistance

The MA in Journalism & Public Affairs is a 33 credit program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Communication offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards are administered by the SOC Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. A number of prestigious fellowships and scholarships are also available for students in the Journalism and Public Affairs master's program. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

75 percent of students receive financial assistance

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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, USA TODAY, 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.

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.

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 accredited 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.

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. 

  • 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.

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