The Master of Arts in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) is geared toward experienced arts journalists, as well as graduates holding bachelor's degrees in journalism or one of the arts with a demonstrated commitment to specializing in arts journalism and records of excellence in their university classes and internships. Film, TV, architecture, visual art and sculpture, theater, dance and music are the dominant areas, with each student specializing in one.  

The program is also open to experienced artists and practitioners with a highly developed background in at least one art form listed above, and who want to acquire journalism skills toward a future specializing in the coverage of arts and culture.

Those with a focus on lifestyle, popular culture and many forms of criticism not strictly associated with the arts, such as food or fashion or cars from an aesthetic point of view, will also be able to advance their subject expertise as journalists in this program.

Students will complete 21-23 units of specialized journalism course work, including a master's professional project and 11-13 units of approved elective course work from faculty-recommended lists, including one course from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Other electives must be in at least two arts schools with at least 8 units from one school. The arts schools are Architecture, Art and Design, Cinematic Arts, Dance, Dramatic Arts and Music.

Students must begin the program in summer term, enrolling in a required 4-unit intensive summer session course focused on journalism and society and digital media. In addition to the formal classes, the course includes discussions, workshops and field reporting. This gateway course provides master's students with a working knowledge of the specialized journalism background and the multimedia and digital storytelling skills necessary for study in the program. It sets the stage for two semesters of access to courses as substantively broad as a major research university such as USC makes available. Students also take media law and usually one required writing course in the summer.

In the fall semester, students will enroll in an arts writing practicum and an arts reporting and online magazine production seminar. With the advice of their academic adviser and faculty mentors, students will select elective course work appropriate to their fields of specialization. These courses will be drawn from regular graduate and 400-level courses taught across the arts schools and within the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Students also will begin research for their master's professional project. These projects may be full-length magazine (print or broadcast) treatments of issues in their field or similar professional work.

In the spring semester, students will enroll in a journalism course focused on arts criticism and magazine-length commentary. Students will enroll in elective course work, chosen again from offerings across the arts schools and from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in consultation with the academic adviser and mentors. Finally, students will complete their master's professional project.

The 11-month program has been designed for a fall and spring semester enrollment cycle; however, students also may elect to complete the program on a part-time basis with the approval of the director of the School of Journalism, but must start with the intensive summer course.


The Master of Arts in Specialized Journalism can be completed in an 11-month enrollment cycle that includes the seven-week summer session, plus the fall and spring semesters. These programs may be attended on a part-time basis.

Foreign Language/Research Tool Requirements

There is no foreign language or research tool requirement for the master's degree.

Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (GSP)

Journalism and strategic public relations graduate students are required to complete an online tutorial about Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (GSP) and pass the GSP test before the end of the fall semester of their first year. Students who fail to complete the GSP tutorial and pass the test within the stated time frame will not be allowed to progress in the program and will be dismissed from the School of Journalism.

Note: Students with disabilities may register with the Disability Services and Programs office (DSP) so the DSP staff can assess the nature of the students' disabilities and recommend the appropriate accommodations to be provided for each student.

Master's Thesis

MA in Specialized Journalism students normally enroll in JOUR 594a (2 units), JOUR 594b (2 units) in their single year of study.

For complete admission requirements refer to the section on the School of Journalism page.

Course requirements (34 units)

  • JOUR 528 Summer Digital Journalism Immersion (3 units)
  • JOUR 560 Seminar in Mass Communication Law (3 units)
  • JOUR 591 Arts Writing Practicum (3 units)
  • JOUR 592 Arts Journalism: Storytelling and Production (3 units)
  • JOUR 593 Arts Criticism and Commentary (3 units)
  • JOUR 594a Master's Thesis (2 units)
  • JOUR 594b Master's Thesis (2 units)

One course from:

  • JOUR 411 Broadcast and Digital Writing for Video and Audio for Non-Majors (2 units)
  • JOUR 431 Feature Writing (4 units)
  • JOUR 512 Advanced Interpretive Writing (2 units)
  • JOUR 513 Advanced Newswriting and Reporting (2 units)
  • JOUR 519 Advanced Writing and Reporting for Magazine and the Web (4 units)
  • JOUR 523 Public Radio Reporting (2 units)
  • JOUR 552 Television Reporting and Production (2 units)


  • Plus 12-14 approved elective units (400-level courses and above). 


*The elective course work (400-level courses and above) must be taken from faculty-recommended lists.  The number of elective units is based on which elective you select under the elective category. No more than 10 units of 400-level electives may be taken. These electives must be in at least two arts schools, with at least 8 units from one school. The arts schools are Architecture, Art and Design, Cinematic Arts, Dance, Dramatic Arts and Music.

Visit the USC Catalogue for more information.