Journalists slam costs of Columbia's new graduate degree in data journalism
The Ivy League is under fire for its unusually high fees. Source: Shutterstock.

The new master of science in data journalism from Columbia University’s School of Journalism costs a whopping US$147,514 in tuition and board, reports Inside Higher Ed, a figure journalists are chiding as exorbitant.

While the degree promises to produce journalists with high data literacy – no doubt relevant in this age of Big Data – those in the profession disagree with its price tag which charges US96,000 for tuition and an estimated US$41,232 in living expenses, per Columbia’s estimate.

“The higher ed institution is crumbling,” journalist Josh Sternberg wrote on Twitter. “A (US)$100,000 master’s of science in data journalism degree?”

Chicago Tribune digital news editor Charlie J. Johnson tweeted:

The nation’s median annual wage is now less than US$40,000, less than one-third the costs of the degree. According to a Forbes op-ed, if students used government loans and paid the minimum amount on them, they would only pay half the amount borrowed for 20 years, following which the loan will be forgiven.

This assumes the graduate will be making US$45,000 after graduation, with an annual salary increase of five percent each year. 

Dean of Columbia’s graduate journalism programme Steve Coll defended the price tag in an interview with  Poynter.

“You would be a highly literate candidate to participate in the modern newsroom, where you have technologists working alongside journalists to create new engagement with the audience in the digital age,” Coll said.

“So the idea is, you could take these skills and be a world-beating investigative reporter in this era of Big Data, or you could equally apply your journalism vision to the newsroom of the future.”

Columbia’s master’s of arts in journalism clocks in at only US$55,000 while its master’s of science in journalism and computer science costs less than US$70,000.

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