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Master’s Degree in Investigative Journalism

 

The Cronkite School’s Master of Arts in Investigative Journalism, launching in fall 2019, is the first graduate degree in investigative journalism in the country. Led by five Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, the program prepares students to launch high-level investigative reporting careers at the nation’s most prestigious news organizations. This interdisciplinary program is designed for career-switchers and early or mid-career journalists, particularly those who have some expertise other fields or such as law, health, business, science and the arts. The program aims to combine that knowledge with investigative techniques and multimedia skills to produce stories with public impact.

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Classes and Professional Experiences

The Cronkite master’s degree in investigative journalism is a 36-credit hour program that can be completed in 12, 15 or 20 months, depending on a student’s choice of experience. Based at the school’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, the coursework for the program is divided into four areas:

Journalism Core (14 credits)

  • Journalism Skills (“Bootcamp”). 8 credits. Team-taught, this immersive experience covers the fundamental skills for reporting, writing, editing and producing news on all platforms.
  • Ethics and History of Journalism. 3 credits. This seminar explores the history, principles, values and ethics of journalism.
  • Media Law. 3 credits. An examination of the legal aspects of press freedoms, this course focuses on the First Amendment and applied media law for working journalists.

Cronkite Investigative Courses (7 credits)

  • Data Journalism. 3 credits. Taught by Knight Chair and Pulitzer Prize-winning data journalist Sarah Cohen, the course is an intensive and hands-on exploration on the best uses of data to tell in-depth and investigative stories. Students learn how to find, access, clean and analyze data using cutting-edge technologies and techniques.
  • Accountability Journalism. 1 credit. Taught by Weil Family Professor of Journalism Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of The Washington Post, this course explores the development, mission, expansion, practice and impact of investigative reporting and its role in holding power and influence accountable in a democracy. Regular guest speakers for the class include Bob Woodward.
  • Techniques of Investigative Reporting. 3 credits. Taught by Reynolds Professor Walter V. “Robby” Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning head of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, this course transforms student teams into small investigative reporting units throughout the semester. Students learn how to identify and vet high-impact projects that could expose serious wrongdoing, focusing on public records, databases, in-depth interviews and how to conceptualize, organize and tell these stories on multiple platforms. The projects are distributed by The Arizona Republic and could be distributed nationally through the USA Today Network. This work is a precursor to the immersive Howard Center newsroom capstone.

Interdisciplinary Coursework (6 credits)

This master’s program includes courses taught by top professors in other disciplines specifically for Howard Center students studying investigative reporting. Under this design, Howard Center students learn a wide array of different types of scientific inquiry and research methodologies from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities and professional disciplines such as law, business and engineering.

Courses in this area are one credit each, packaged in groups of three, and redesigned each year to leverage cutting edge tactics and technology.

For example, a series of courses under the title “Uncovering Lies, Waste, Fraud and Abuse” might bring together faculty from ASU schools of business, engineering and social sciences to combine instruction in accounting, digital forensics and psychology.

Another, called simply “Data Science,” would leverage ASU experts in machine learning, statistical simulations and business analytics to provide students with the techniques that have transformed statistics, political science and social science research in the digital era.

Finally, a series called “Deep Interviewing” would explore interviewing strategies from ethnography, law and medicine, team-taught by faculty from ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, as well as partners at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.

Capstone: Howard Center for Investigative Reporting (9 credits)

All of the previous coursework and field experiences lead up to the students’ capstone semester in the Howard Center for Investigative Reporting newsroom. Students apply all of their prior learning in this unique professional reporting environment, working with and learning from the Howard Center faculty and staff and producing investigative stories of national and international import while learning how to effectively collaborate and problem-solve together. Investigative journalism produced by the Howard Center is distributed for digital and print publication and TV and radio broadcast through Cronkite School relationships with news organizations such as The Washington Post, USA Today, NBC News, PBS NewsHour and the Center for Public Integrity.

Optional Summer Experience: Carnegie-Knight News21

News21 logo

Howard Center students have the option of participating in the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. Led by three of the school’s Pulitzer-winning investigative journalists – Jacquee Petchel, Len Downie and Sarah Cohen – approximately 30 students from more than a dozen universities enroll first in a spring semester seminar exploring that year’s topic. In the summer program, the News21 fellows gather in the main newsroom in Phoenix for 10 weeks and travel the country reporting, investigating and producing in-depth, multimedia journalism on the topic. Past projects have included data-driven investigations on voter fraud and voting rights, water quality in the U.S., post-9/11 veterans, marijuana laws and guns in America.

“After 30 years of clinical medicine, which also included administrative work, I wanted to make a change before change was no longer an option. Navigating the non-traditional student path, Cronkite welcomed me and I received an exceptional multimedia journalism education. With that experience, I was able to get an incredible job covering national rural health issues. I feel like I still make a difference for patients and their families. In fact, a physician colleague saw one of my stories and emailed me saying, ‘I think you might be making more of a difference with your pen than you ever did with a stethoscope — and you were pretty good with that.’”
Kay Miller Temple

Dr. Kay Miller Temple
Formerly: Physician
Now: Reporter covering health care in rural communities
Cronkite School Alumna


Funding

All applicants to the Master of Arts in Investigative Journalism program are considered for fellowships, assistantships and scholarships, with priority given to candidates who complete the application by Dec. 1.

Roy W. Howard Fellowships cover program tuition, fees and health insurance premiums, as well as a graduate student stipends.

Cronkite School Assistantships cover program tuition and provide a graduate student stipend and health insurance premiums in exchange for 20 hours per week of service to the school as a teaching assistant or research assistant.

Roy W. Howard Scholarships cover partial tuition for the program.

“I went into journalism when others were leaving — in the middle of one of the first devastating recessions in the industry. Having some specialty that others didn't gave me a huge leg up in the job market, and I found it more useful than I'd ever dreamed. The opportunity to move into investigative reporting in general, and data journalism in particular, has let me report on subjects like elderly guardians, housing scams, child welfare and even farm subsidies. I'd never have been able to make that much of a difference where I was.”
Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen
Formerly: Government Economist
Now: Pulitzer Prize-winning data journalist
Cronkite School Knight Chair in Data Journalism


Application Requirements

The graduate application opens Sept. 1. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications received before Dec. 1 are given priority for both admission and funding. The final application deadline is June 1.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

They must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of a student's first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  • Graduate admission application and application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE scores, with the verbal score being particularly important to the journalism school's graduate committee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement of interest (350 to 500 words in length)
  • Resume
  • Proof of English proficiency
An applicant whose native language is not English (regardless of current residency) must provide proof of English proficiency. TOEFL scores must be at least 600 for the paper-based examination and 100 for the Internet-based. Students should see the program website for application deadlines and admission terms. Applicants must meet all deadlines and application requirements to be considered. The Cronkite School’s graduate committee reviews complete and on-time applications. Recommendations for admission are made to Graduate Admission Services, where the final admission decisions are made.