Specialized Journalism


The M.A. in Specialized Journalism is an intensive nine-and-a-half month program that allows a select group of students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to cover a topic in depth. 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. Students emerge with the ability to produce high-level reporting on the topic of their choosing. The program focuses on helping students acquire the tools necessary to meet the demands of reporting for the digital age. Students produce intricate multimedia packages that push their work across different platforms and connect them with new audiences. They 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. Students work closely with faculty to create a customized degree program that maximizes their opportunity to concentrate on a particular chosen subject area.


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:

  • Alhambrasource.org, 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
  • Livemint.com, 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
  • Smithsonian.com, Freelance Journalist
  • The Alternative, Editor and Writer
  • The Guardian, Freelance Journalist
  • The Daily Journal, Freelance Journalist
  • The Wall Street Journal, Reporter
  • TheSouthwest.org, Founder
  • Univision, Reporter
  • USA Today, Digital Producer, Sports
  • Vietweek, Editor
  • VotoLatino.org, 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:

Erna Smith  

Erna Smith
Professor of Professional Practice, School of Journalism; Director of Specialized Journalism Program

Expertise: International Journalism, Los Angeles, Media Effects, Practice of Journalism

Michael Parks   Michael Parks
School of Journalism Professor and Director

Expertise: American Studies, Changing News Industry, International Journalism, International Relations, Health Communication, Race and Ethnicity
Alan Abrahamson Alan Abrahamson
Lecturer, School of Journalism, Specialized Journalism

Expertise: Sports