Nowadays, there are as many media jobs as there are companies. Media is a field that many people want to enter, and the opportunities are definitely out there. Every business wants to get ahead on social media, and that’s just one small area of the communications industry. Therefore, a person who’s savvy with their media and video production skills can make the world their oyster. If you’re the kind of person who’s looking for a career in this exciting, ever-changing industry, then that’s understandable. However, there is a big challenge facing you before you can enter this exciting world.
A huge industry means many degree options. With literally thousands of courses out there, a prospective student looking for the best media education opportunities needs to make a smart choice. They need to pick a degree that will train them up in the right way. But what is the right way? The answer is different for every single person. Most media platforms are still very young industries. That means that there aren’t thousands of years of teaching practices to draw from. Every college has its own approach. And some are definitely more effective than others.
The web is filled with many conflicting accounts of what it means to be a good media college. Some are definitely true, but others don’t bear close scrutiny. So which ones are right? This article exists to dispense with the myths and tell you the facts. We’ve researched what the best media colleges in the US are by analyzing what makes them so good. Below, we’ve listed these. And even if you can’t get into the colleges below, you can still take their practices, draw inspiration and look for something similar in your media college choices.
Our sources comprise of a mix of professional assessments and successful media student alumni stating what’s best. We’ve looked at sites that have spent considerable time analyzing the US media college options and applied rigorous metrics on the quality of the degrees offered. Some sources factor in employment rates and college engagement with global media institutions, while others are comprised of student and parent-led reviews. Out of the hundreds of articles online, these give the best impression of the top media colleges but for different reasons:
2018 Best Communication & Media Studies Colleges in the U.S.: https://www.collegefactual.com/majors/communication-journalism-media/communication-media-studies/rankings/top-ranked/
2018 Best Colleges for Communications: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges-for-communications/
People who work in media say these are the top 25 colleges in America: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-colleges-according-to-media-professionals-2015-8
Communications & Media Studies: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/university-subject-rankings/2017/communication-media-studies
The Top 10 Colleges for Communications Majors: https://www.collegemagazine.com/top-10-colleges-communications-major/
We’ve collated these lists, checked the top performers with supporting materials on the colleges’ websites and considered other data, like graduate employment and awards, into our rankings. Every college listed below is a shining example of how to teach media in a way that gets students into their dream jobs and into creating great content.
30. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Ranking at 18th on College Factual, 101st to 150th on QS and 101st on Niche.com is University of Massachusetts – Amherst, a unique entry. People who want to study among professors who are challenging our culture would benefit most from an education at this college. This is evident from the works of Professor Lynn Comella, who is sharing her research and delivering talks on the sex toy industry and how it’s changing business practices. Additionally, Professor Jonathan Corpus Ong is releasing research about fake news production in the Philippines and its wider impact on that society.
29. George Washington University
George Washington University ranks at 46th place on Niche.com, 57th place on College Factual and between 101st to 150th on QS. As the college’s name indicates, its specialism is political media. It’s located in Washington DC and is one of the best colleges for media that’s based in America’s capital. And its faculty are all highly experienced in political media. For example, the college’s director, Frank Sesno, spent 21 years at CNN, where he was a Washington bureau chief, White House correspondent and anchor.
28. University of Colorado-Boulder
Major or communication
This college ranks on three methodology lists but at vastly different positions. College Factual places it at 15th. Niche.com places it at 71st. QS places it at 101st to 150th. This college is one of a few to make these lists despite being extremely new. The University of Colorado-Boulder’s media school only opened in 2015. Prior to this, there were unconnected media based degrees, which resulted in alumni taking on important positions at companies such as Apple, Edelman, Hallmark Channel, ABC, NBC News, The New York Times and more.
27. University of California – Davis
This college’s communication school comes in at 39th on Niche.com, 29th on College Factual and between 101st to 150th on QS. However, its rankings could rise significantly in future years. This is because University of California – Davis already has a world-class education and is now forming strong connections with Silicon Valley and other media hubs. For example, a doctoral candidate at the college is undertaking a year-long research internship at Facebook. The college also recently signed an MOU with one of South Korea’s leading universities, Yonsei, which will initiate student exchanges and research collaborations.
26. University of Georgia
Advertising & Public Relations Major
The University of Georgia features on three methodology lists. It’s 14th on Niche.com, 55th on College Factual and 101st to 150th on QS. And the University of Georgia has some interesting and unique specializations for prospective media students. For example, it has the Center for Health and Risk Communication, which focuses on effectively communicating health media. The University of Georgia is also the home of the Peabody Awards, which benefit students through the Peabody Programs and Peabody Archive. On top of this, it has a 96% graduate employment rate within 6 months of graduation.
25. Indiana University – Bloomington
Bachelor of Arts in Media
Coming in at 45th on Niche.com, 80th on College Factual and 51st to 100th on QS is Indiana University – Bloomington. What’s especially impressive about these rankings is that Indiana’s media school is very new. It was only established in 2014, by combining the journalism and telecommunications and film studies departments. Creating this media school involved $21 million worth of renovation, meaning that this college has one of the most state of the art media campuses on the planet. If this merging of departments continues to be successful, then Indiana University – Bloomington could climb future lists.
24. University of Maryland – College Park
Broadcast Journalism Program
Ranking at 17th on College Factual, 50th on Niche.com and between 51st and 100th on QS is University of Maryland – College Park. This college’s communication degrees are almost as old as the college itself, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. To date, many of the faculty and students have won prestigious awards, including 10 International Communication Association Awards. Staff and students are also active in the media industry. An example is Professor Xiaoli Nan, who recently won a $2.2 million grant to create media that will promote the HPV vaccine to African American parents.
23. Elon University
Cinema and Television Arts A.B.
This college ranks at second on College Magazine, 76th on Niche.com and 158th on College Factual. It isn’t listed on Business Insider or QS. The results indicate that the students are pleased with Elon University’s education and are getting great jobs shortly after completing their degrees. Further research backs this up. Elon’s own surveys show that within nine months of degree completion, 91% of communications graduates are employed and 7% are entering graduate school. Of those 91% entering the workforce, 87% are in work related to their career goals. Any college would be proud of these statistics!
22. University of Missouri-Columbia
Multimedia Producing Bachelor
Placing at 28th on Niche.com, joint 42nd on QS and 95th on College Factual is University of Missouri, Columbia. This college has very specific areas of focus. These include interpersonal and family communication; mediated communication; organizational communication; political communication; diversity, identity and communication; and health and crisis communication. If any one of those areas is something you’d like to focus on, then the University of Missouri-Columbia may be the right place for you. It’s also a college that is investing in new facilities and research techniques. For instance, in 2017, it opened a new center dedicated to the study of diversity in media.
21. University of Washington
Political Comm & Rhetoric Program
The University of Washington ranks at 20th on College Factual, joint 32nd on QS and 53rd on Niche.com. Its communication department has more than earned this distinction. It provides many innovative and unique services to students, such as Career Kickstart. Career Kickstart is a range of programs focused on getting students into media jobs fast by building out graduate networks, delivering professional development workshops, providing internships and facilitating mentor visits. A similar program is News Lab, which lets journalism students report for Seattle based news outlets.
20.University of Texas at Austin
Bachelor of Science in Advertising
19. James Madison University
Creative Advertising (CA) Program
James Madison University is located in a valley in Virginia, around 20 miles from the Appalachian Trail. It ranks seventh on College Magazine, 66th on Niche.com and 42nd on College Factual. Business Insider and QS don’t rank it. James Madison University’s alumni list is undoubtedly impressive. CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, Sprocket Media Works CEO and Executive Producer Patrick Bedall, WTVR-6 News Anchor Julie Bragg, Bloomberg TV Line Producer Allison Brown and many more successful people all graduated from JMU!
18. The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University comes in at 33rd on Niche.com, 21st on QS and 22nd on College Factual. Also, CWUR recently ranked Ohio State University as the number one US college for teaching communication. One thing that may be appealing to many students is the college’s communication school’s socially active faculty. For example, Professor Brad Bushman recently attempted to start a conversation with the White House regarding media violence. Lastly, OSU has no lack of successful alumni, which includes the graphic novel author John “Derf” Backderf, whose novel “My Friend Dahmer” was one of Time Magazine’s best books of 2012.
17. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
BS in Advertising
Ranking at 34th on Niche.com, 24th on QS and 11th on College Factual, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is an exciting prospect for any young person wanting to enter media. The college offers the chance to “learn how to develop content that is informative, strategic, accurate, persuasive, entertaining, creative, targeted and shareable through any media platform” And the college has some incredible resources that lead to hands-on media experience. For example, it has Illinois Public Media, which produces TV, radio and online content with students and industry experts.
16. University of California, Santa Barbara
Film & Media Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara ranks at 13th on College Factual, joint 18th on QS and 27th on Niche.com. And the college is poised to rise in these rankings in future years, as it’s constantly innovating. For example, it just unveiled a new cutting-edge sound mixing program. And alumni from the University of California, Santa Barbara go on to receive top honors. For instance, alumni Lisa Bruce and Scott Frank were nominated for the 2018 Oscars. Professors at the university also gain incredible recognition for their work. This includes Professor Robin Nabi, who recently won the Mass Communication Division Award for Theory from the 2018 International Communication Association.
15. University of Wisconsin – Madison
Strategic Communication Major
Coming within the top 25 of three methodology lists is University of Wisconsin Madison. It’s 24th on College Factual, fifth on QS and 15th on Niche.com. The college puts its success in media education down to, “a near equal mix of practical training and enrichment courses,” which produces, “critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators – the kind of graduates employers are eager to hire.” This statement is backed up with an incredible fact: no less than 12 University of Wisconsin – Madison alumni have won Pulitzer Prizes to date.
14. Syracuse University
Television, Radio & Film Bachelor’s
Syracuse University is College Magazine’s number one media college. Niche.com places it at 23rd best. These two placements are significant, as both rely heavily on student-generated reviews in their rankings. QS places this college between 51st and 100th. It doesn’t make Business Insider or College Factual’s lists. It’s located in Upstate New York but has strong ties with the media hubs surrounding it. It has a range of impressive industry partnerships that benefit students, such as with the W20 Group Center for Social Commerce, The Eric Mower Advertising Forum, and PAN Communications.
13. University of California, San Diego
Communication Undergraduate Program
Located just over 100 miles from Hollywood, University of California, San Diego is a strong rival to the Los Angeles based colleges. It places at 12th on College Factual, 54th on Niche.com and 18th on QS. While it doesn’t feature on Business Insider or College Magazine, the University of California, San Diego’s communication department has a range of other distinctions that make it worthy of inclusion on this list. Two current professors are recipients of the MacArthur Genius Award. Another professor just won the ICQI Qualitative Book Award. And the college is really teaching students the cutting-edge of media. For example, virtual reality and augmented reality are now being used in their classes.
12. University of California, Berkeley
Film & Media Undergraduate Program
Berkeley ranks at 25th on College Factual, 30th on Niche.com, 13th on Business Insider and sixth on QS. The college’s media school is called the Film and Media Department. As the title implies, this means that the college’s media specialism is cinema. It’s been teaching film since 1976, and this specialism is really paying off for students. For instance, a recent graduate of film and media studies has been selected for CBS’s Writers Mentoring Program. Also, Its faculty members earn numerous awards, such as Professor Anne Nesbet, who won a California Book Award Gold Medal in 2017.
11. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Media and Journalism Major
Placing at seventh on College Factual, ninth on Niche.com, 30th on QS, but not featuring on College Magazine and Business Insider is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prominent media figures have given the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill lots of funding. For example, the entrepreneur Frank Andrews recently funded a new innovation program at the school, which will give participating students everything they need to make an impact on the media world. And because of other funding, the college has been able to award $1.99 million in scholarships in 2017-2018.
10. American University
Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
This college polarizes the methodology lists. Both College Factual and College Magazine place American University in the top 10, ranking it fifth and sixth respectively. It fares less well on Niche.com, coming in at 29th. QS is significantly less generous, placing it at 151st. But Business Insider’s media professional sourced list doesn’t feature it at all. This Washington DC-based college provides many incredible resources specifically for their students. For example, they provide exclusive internships at NBC, NPR, USA Today, The Washington Post and other top media outlets. These look great on a resume and lead to incredible full-time employment shortly after graduating.
9. Boston College
Communication Undergraduate Program
Placing at 10th on College Magazine, joint 14th on Business Insider, 22nd on Niche.com and 45th on College Factual, Boston College’s media department is only let down by QS, which places it between 151st to 200th. These results indicate that students are raving about the college! (College Magazine, Niche.com and Business Insider’s rankings all draw strongly on student and alumni opinion.) This may be because Boston College’s professors are still highly active in various media roles. For example, the Associate Professor Matt Sienkiewicz was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for producing a public service announcement.
8. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Major in Communication Studies
This college has incredibly consistent rankings on four of the five methodology lists. It’s 27th on College Factual, 18th on Niche.com, 22nd on Business Insider and 18th on QS. This means that you can be sure that the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor will provide you with world-leading media education. It does this by combining coursework with internships. This results in highly successful alumni, such as Tyndie Dubose, who is vice president of New Business Partner Marketing at Nickelodeon, and Jamie Sztoser, who is vice president of fashion & media at Choice Associates.
7. Cornell University
Communication Undergraduate Program
Coming in at eighth on College Factual, 24th on Niche.com, joint 11th on Business Insider and 23rd on QS, Cornell University is an amazing media college. It traces its communication school’s origin back to 1874 when it created the first-ever college journalism course. Cornell will appeal to a very specific kind of person looking to enter into the media. It states on the Cornell Communication school website that its degrees are more focused on the social science side of media and less on the art side. If you’re looking for a more scientific media education, then applying to Cornell will be your best opportunity!
6. Boston University
BS in Advertising
Boston University is the best place to study media in Boston, Massachusetts. This is no easy feat, as it has the world renowned Harvard, MIT, Boston College and others as its neighbors. Niche.com places it at 10th. Business Insider places it at 18th. College Factual places it at 19th. QS places it between 51st and 100th. And College Magazine places it at third. It’s able to get such strong rankings across the board due to its dedicated job placement ethic. In fact, within six months of graduating, 95% of undergraduates found jobs at places such as Buzzfeed, Atlantic Media, Apple, Amazon and Business Insider.
5. New York University
Bachelor of Science in Media, Culture, and Communication
New York University’s media school is in the top 20 of every methodology list. College Factual has it at 10th, Niche.com has it at seventh, Business Insider has it at eighth, QS has it at 16th, and College Magazine has it at ninth. These strong rankings mean that NYU is the best media school in NYC by a long distance. And, unsurprisingly, staff and students are winning prizes almost every week. For example, recent wins include three Steinhardt Teaching Excellence awards for NYU media professors, a Berlin Prize for a professor and four Fulbright Grants for students.
4. Stanford University
Major in Communication
Stanford makes the top 10 on all but one methodology list. College Factual has it at 6th place. Niche has it at 2nd. Business Insider has it at 3rd. QS has it at 4th. What makes Stanford so consistently prominent? Stanford’s communication school puts it down to the way that the school was founded and the faculty’s ties with Silicon Valley and other innovative media bases. The communication school came about in the 1950s, which expanded the college’s leading journalistic practices into other forms of media education. As for its ties, there are a range of opportunities, even outside of Silicon Valley, that will get students ahead. These include a program that takes place in Washington DC that is taught by government policymakers and a program of experiential learning in New York City.
3. Northwestern University
Major in Radio/Television/Film
Niche.com considers Northwestern to be the US’s top communications college. The other lists all place it in high regard. College Factual has it at fourth. Business Insider ranks it at 19th. QS places it at 17th. College Magazine lists it at eighth. Northwestern University can boast many great names that assist students in their training. For example, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband Brad Hall sponsor the school’s sitcom related education. And Stephen Colbert hosts a live event celebrating the school’s community accomplishments. The reason why both well-known celebrities support these students is simple; they’re alumni. And the college’s other alumni are no less impressive. Graduates of Northeastern have been nominated for and won Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, Peabody Awards and Grammy Awards.
2. University of Pennsylvania
Communication Undergraduate Program
This college is well regarded by every methodology source! College Factual has it at second place. Niche.com puts it at fourth. Business Insider puts it at joint 14th. QS places it at 10th. And College Magazine has it at fourth. What has the University of Pennsylvania done to deserve this universal acclaim? There are many things. When it comes to media colleges, University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest. Its communications school opened in 1958, and it’s been constantly evolving ever since. But if you’re thinking that Philadelphia may not be the best place to study media, the University of Pennsylvania’s opportunities will make you think again. The college allows its students to take part in media-related activities across the world. One example is the Prague International Communication Association Conference, which recently saw 65 students and faculty attend and, in some cases, win awards.
1. University of Southern California
Undergraduate Communication BA
Placing at first on two methodology lists and third on an another, University of Southern California tops our rankings. College Factual and QS are the sources naming it as the best media college. Niche.com is the source placing it at third. This shows that both external assessment and peer-led review sources agree on the merits of USC. And further investigation proves that USC deserves its place at the top! A staggering 98% of the class of 2016 is employed. And they’re working in the top media companies, such as ABC News, AccuWeather, CBS, CNN, Comcast, Entertainment Weekly, Fox Sports, Sony, Columbia Pictures, Food Network, NBC, Warner Bros and many more impressive media businesses!