Grad Visit Day Graduate Student Visit Day

Friday, Nov. 7, 2014
1:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Learn about multiple master's degree programs during this half-day, on-campus program. This is your opportunity to tour the facilities and meet faculty, staff and current students.

Register Online

Specialized Journalism


The M.A. in Specialized Journalism is an intensive nine-and-a-half month program that equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to cover a topic in depth. You will emerge with the ability to produce high-level reporting on the topic of your choosing. Areas of focus include politics, education, health and environment, science, religion, arts and culture, entertainment, sports, business and economics, urban affairs, the law and other fields.


Throughout the program, you will acquire the tools necessary to meet the demands of reporting for the digital age. You will learn to produce intricate multimedia packages that push your work across different platforms and connect with new audiences. You also learn the ins and outs of the media business, with a particular emphasis on new strategies for monetizing journalistic content.

Above all, the program emphasizes core journalistic values, ethics and solid writing skills. You will work closely with faculty to create a customized degree program that maximizes your opportunity to concentrate on a particular chosen subject area.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the Specialized Journalism program you should be able to:

  1. understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press for the country;

  2. demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;

  3. demonstrate an understanding of gender, race ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications;

  4. demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society;

  5. understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;

  6. demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;

  7. think critically, creatively and independently;

  8. conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which you work;

  9. write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes you serve (deadline/short-form and non-deadline/long-form);

  10. critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;

  11. apply basic numerical and statistical concepts;
  12. apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work (text, audio, video, web);

  13. demonstrate competency in leadership.


The required curriculum is designed to be completed in nine-and-a-half months (August to mid‐May). You may attend part-time and extend the course of study over one-and-a-half or two academic years.

The program begins with a two-and-a-half week intensive summer boot camp, JOUR 580: Introduction to Specialized Journalism (2 units), designed to increase multimedia expertise for students at any level – beginner to an advanced mid-career professional.


For the remainder of the program, you will split your coursework between the School of Journalism and other schools at USC. Your interest and area of specialty will determine your course plan and it will be designed specifically for you. You will work with your faculty advisor to ensure you are selecting the appropriate coursework.

Within the School of Journalism you will take 18 units of advanced coursework including:

  • Master’s professional project
  • Exclusive seminars on innovation and on decision making
  • Advanced journalism courses in several topic areas including science, religion, sports, entertainment & society and business

You will take 16 units of elective coursework that you choose from USC’s highly regarded academic schools including:

How to Apply

Admission to the M.A. in Specialized Journalism program is limited to the summer term. Before submitting an application, please carefully review:

Class Profile & Careers

Our graduates are highly coveted and have gone on to work for the following organizations:

  •, Managing Editor
  • California Healthcare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, Reporter
  • Discover Magazine, Freelance Journalist
  • Helsingin Sanomat, Tech & Media Columnist
  • Huffington Post, Freelance Journalist
  • Los Angeles Times, Digital Producer
  •, Staff Writer
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland, Public Diplomacy Coordinator
  • Oregon Public Radio, Environment/Science Reporter
  • San Diego Union-Tribune, Reporter
  • SF Weekly, Managing Editor
  •, Freelance Journalist
  • The Alternative, Editor and Writer
  • The Guardian, Freelance Journalist
  • The Daily Journal, Freelance Journalist
  • The Wall Street Journal, Reporter
  •, Founder
  • Univision, Reporter
  • USA Today, Digital Producer, Sports
  • Vietweek, Editor
  •, Online Editor

Immerse yourself in the LA Story Projects and see work created by recent Specialized Journalism students.


Below are some of the key faculty that teach in the Specialized Journalism degree program:

Michael Parks

Michael Parks
Professor, School of Journalism; Director of Specialized Journalism Program

Expertise: International Journalism, American Studies, Changing News Industry, Health Communication, Media Effects, Race and Ethnicity

Center Affiliation: California Healthcare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, Center on Public Diplomacy

Erna Smith Erna Smith
Professor of Professional Practice, School of Journalism

Expertise: International Journalism, Los Angeles, Media Effects, Practice of Journalism
Alan Abrahamson Alan Abrahamson
Lecturer, School of Journalism, Specialized Journalism

Expertise: Sports