Specialized Journalism


The MA in specialized journalism invites you to create your own course of study focused on your interests, your needs and your career trajectory. Your mentors and professors are journalists at the top of their fields—in covering religion, sports, business, science and tech, politics, entertainment and more. Your fellow students create a tight cohort of passionate and talented writers and producers with all levels of experience who work together in a unique interdisciplinary environment focusing equally on skills and content.


You will choose courses from any of USC’s world-renowned schools and research centers, including law, engineering, cinema, medicine, gaming, the brain and creativity, multimedia literacy, civic engagement and dozens more. You will create radio and film documentaries, long-form literary and investigative journalism, interactive multi-media experiences and deadline coverage of breaking news. You will take risks, learn how to be an entrepreneur, rediscover how to play.

Your opportunities are limited only by your imagination and willingness to work.

We are looking for creative minds, deep thinkers, collaborators and doers. Our students will invent the future of journalism and communication in ways not yet imagined.

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 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

Each year, the office of USC Annenberg Career Development performs a placement survey of all  USC Annenberg graduates one year after graduation. Here is a brief snapshot of where some of our recent M.A. Specialized Journalism/ M.A. Specialized Journalism (The Arts) alumni are working:

  • Al Jazeera America, Producer, News and Current Affairs
  • Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc., Reporter
  • Central Washington University, Journalism Professor
  • CNN, Producer
  • Creators Syndicate, Editor
  • Indian Express, Assistant Editor
  • KPFK 90.7 FM, Production Assistant
  • Long Beach Post, Executive Editor
  • Los Feliz Ledger, Arts & Culture reporter / Calendar editor
  • MyActions.org, Social Media & Content Specialist
  • PBS Mediashift, Writer
  • Ranker.com, Digital Content Editor
  • Santa Monica Museum of Art, External Affairs Coordinator
  • Sky & Telescope Magazine, Summer Science Writing Intern
  • The Salvation Army, Managing Editor
  • Trailer Talk, Independent Broadcast Media, Artist, Producer/Host
  • Tribune, Television Correspondent
  • Universal Pictures, Media Marketing Assistant
  • University of Texas at Austin, 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