Master of Arts in Digital Journalism

Our world is changing dramatically, and so are the skills needed to be a journalist in the 21st century. Globalization, technology and sweeping economic shifts have transformed the media industry. East Africa is at the center of this revolution. It needs a journalism that makes itself heard, raises the quality of public debate, empowers citizens to think for themselves and spotlights challenges before they become crises.

The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications is the premier training center for media leaders, communications professionals and entrepreneurs shaping East Africa’s future. We understand the new media landscape. We cultivate the foundational skills and qualities that no journalist or media organization can survive without: ethical integrity, accurate reporting and compelling storytelling. Our mission: to transform the media and communications industry of East Africa through our program offerings and partnerships with the world’s most prominent educational institutions. Among them: Deutsche Welle Akademie and Harvard University’s executive education program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

We are proud to offer this first-of-its-kind MA in Digital Journalism to journalists who are primed to take on the challenge. We have designed a program that will equip you with the best in cutting-edge technologies and practice. Courses are flexible and dynamic, benefitting people at every stage of their career.

We boast an extraordinary faculty of highly experienced teachers from around the world, true stars in the international media galaxy.

Once you graduate from the Aga Khan Graduate School of Media and Communications, you will become a disciplined professional — a “pro” prepared for the future. Whether you write for a newspaper, anchor the TV news or start a new online venture, you will join a media elite, head and shoulders above the competition. We call it the Aga Khan Advantage.

If you seek the creativity, critical thinking and professional skills required to lead East Africa’s media in the 21st century, this program is for you.

Michael  Meyer
Founding Dean, Graduate School of Media and Communications,
The Aga Khan University
Nairobi

Why the MA in Digital Journalism?

  • Learn from the Best

Our faculty members are top scholars and experienced professionals from world-class media organizations. Among them: Nation Media Group, Standard Group, the Financial Times, CNN, BBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

  • Get the Individual Attention You Deserve

We keep our classes small, so you get individual attention.

  • Study While You Work

Our flexible format means you can continue working while you study.

  • Acquire New Skills for a New Era

We equip students with the skills the Digital Age demands, as well as the broader perspective required to understand and anticipate the forces reshaping the industry.

  • Build a Solid Foundation

The world changes fast, but some things endure. Accurate reporting and compelling storytelling will always be the foundation of journalistic excellence.

  • Learn by Doing

We blend classroom learning and study with numerous opportunities to practice your skills in the real world of journalistic excellence.

  • Values Matter

We hold ourselves and our students to the highest ethical standards. If you value integrity, independence, innovation, professional excellence and free inquiry, GSMC is for you.

  • Make a Difference

Journalism is a powerful tool for social impact. We will help you to empower citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, communities, societies and governments.

Content That Sells explores a wide range of reporting and storytelling formats, including new reporting techniques, investigative journalism, feature writing, visual storytelling and long-form and interactive narratives.

Investigation and Analysis focuses on sourcing, investigation and verification strategies for the 21st century. It provides an overview of a range of traditional and contemporary investigation practices used by journalists to research stories and multimedia productions, including a critical introduction to the traditions of interview, observation, data and archival research.

Media Law and Ethics explores key legal and ethical issues relevant to media practice and journalism, including emergent areas of digital regulation.

Past, Present and Future examines the changing media landscape in Africa and globally. By reflecting on the history of journalism, students will come away with a firm grasp of current and future issues and media practice.

Advanced Digital Journalism provides an opportunity for students to work in teams and experiment with new technologies and novel forms of storytelling to build a real-world audience for a new media product or project.

Media Leadership in Action prepares students for responsibilities they will take on during their careers, fostering adaptive leadership skills.

Media Development and Social Impact builds rigorous reporting skills to help journalists respond to social problems. Focusing on the unique issues arising in developing countries, the course helps to re-balance the news so that everyday people can better understand the problems and challenges shaping their lives.

Developing Your Editorial Specialty prepares students for undertaking a specialized reporting project. At the conclusion of this course, students will present a fully researched pitch and proposal for a multiplatform media project to be undertaken in the next semester.

Putting Research into Action exposes students to deeper methodological issues and approaches by introducing them to techniques specific to mass media research that can be applied to journalism.

Specialist Reporting Project prepares students to be specialist reporters who can assume editorial leadership of in-depth, multimedia projects in a particular ‘beat’. This course is conducted in two parts: a production component where students work with a specialist reporter in their nominated field, and a contextual study component where students work with an academic advisor in their chosen specialty. At the conclusion of this course, students will produce a digital portfolio and a critical essay explaining how their work advances public understanding of their topic.

Research Thesis offers the opportunity for students to engage in original research.

Faculty:

This program will be taught by award-winning local and international faculty and distinguished guests, drawn from the industry.

Michael Meyer
Mr. Meyer is an award-winning editor and correspondent for Newsweek. He came to Nairobi from the United Nations, where he served for five years as the communications director and chief speechwriter for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He is the author of the Alexander Complex, an examination of the psychology of American empire builders, and the Year that Changed the World: the Untold Story of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, an eye-witness account of the revolutions of 1989, published in eleven languages and rated one of the “ten best books of 2009” by The Washington Post. He is a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations.

Rhonda Breit
Dr. Breit is the author of Professional Communication: Legal and Ethical Issues and previously headed the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She was the vice-president of research at the Journalism Education Association Australia (2009-2013) and spearheaded a national discipline standards project for Journalism, Media and Communications in Australia (2011-2014).

Nancy Booker
Dr. Booker is a distinguished journalist and lecturer in Kenya and beyond, and she is the former head of the Department of Journalism and Communication at Multimedia University. Dr. Booker writes and speaks widely on issues of broadcast journalism, the state of the media and public health. She is currently a juror for the Annual Journalism Excellence Awards organised by the Media Council of Kenya, and she is the treasurer of the East African Communication Association.

Sam Kamau
Dr. Kamau has taught and published extensively in the areas of political communication, communication research and theory, social media and blogging, and development communication. He previously taught at the University of Nairobi School of Journalism and has conducted training programs for various groups, including journalists, public health workers and young professionals.

Peter Kimani
Dr. Kimani is an award-winning journalist and author. A leading African writer, he was a senior editor at The Standard, and his work has appeared in The Guardian, The New African and Sky News, among others. Dr. Kimani is the author of three novels: Before The Rooster Crows and Upside Down, for which he was awarded the 2011 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenya’s highest literary honor, and most recently Dance of the Jakaranda, which received an Editors’ Choice recommendation from The New York Times. Dr. Kimani was one of three international poets commissioned by National Public Radio to compose poems marking Barack Obama’s inauguration as US President in January 2009.

Stephen Buckley
Mr. Buckley is the school’s professor of practice, and he oversees its professional development program. An award-winning reporter and editor who has been in and around journalism for three decades, Mr. Buckley began his career with The Washington Post, where he spent 12 years as a local reporter and foreign correspondent, based in Nairobi and Rio de Janeiro. He subsequently became managing editor of the St. Petersburg Times and, later, dean of the Poynter Institute, a leading US journalism training center. He has served four times as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes and has taught at the Nieman Narrative Conference at Harvard University. He conducts writing and leadership training workshops for journalists throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Africa.

Andrew Tkach
Mr. Tkach, an eight-time Emmy winner for his documentary films, has spent more than 25 years filing TV documentaries and news reports from some of the world’s most difficult places. He has been a lead producer at CNN, NBC and CBS, where he was the principal long-form producer for Christiane Amanpour on 60 Minutes. Mr. Tkach is the creator and executive producer of Giving Nature a Voice, an environmental reporting project produced by the Graduate School of Media and Communications and airing weekly on Kenya’s NTV television network.

Thomas Lansner
Mr. Lansner is a former London Observer correspondent and lecturer at Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris. He taught international media and policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs from 1994-2012 and has led workshops on media advocacy for CSOs in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States. Mr. Lansner runs the graduate school’s Social Accountability Media Initiative project in partnership with the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability.

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The program is delivered at GSMC’s state-of-the-art facility at the 9 West building in Nairobi. GSMC features fully equipped specialist media suites for both television and radio as well as:

  • Post-production labs equipped with iMacs and the latest editing software
  • Video and photography cameras
  • A large lecture hall and multiple flexi-classrooms
  • Break-out discussion rooms
  • A television and studio control room with professional software
  • Fully stocked information resource center and reading spaces
  • Coffee lounge

To be considered for admission, candidates must fulfill one of the following sets of criteria:
1. A four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited/recognized university, with a minimum CGPA of 3.00 (on a four-point scale) or its equivalent. Additionally, a minimum of two years of professional experience in journalism or a related field is required.

2. A four-year undergraduate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited/recognized university with a minimum CGPA of 2.50 or its equivalent will be considered, provided the candidate has a minimum of four years of professional experience in journalism or a related field.

In addition, candidates must demonstrate a clear commitment to journalism and its ethical practice, as well as:

  • Demonstrated academic and intellectual ability
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills in English
  • Basic computer literacy, especially as applied to production techniques in the media
  • Broad knowledge of history and current affairs
  • Relevant work experience as evidenced by a portfolio of work and professional references
Apply Now 

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

Step 1: Advertising

Working in coordination with GSMC, the Office of the Registrar advertises for students to apply to the programme of interest.

Step 2: Application

Applicants submit application to the AKU Registrar’s Office.

Step 3: Initial shortlisting

The Registrar’s Office ensures that the applications received are in order and then submit them to GSMC.  Applicants are then shortlisted based on a review of admission documentation against the minimum university admission criteria set and a shortlist of applicants is developed.

Step 4: Evaluation of the portfolio of work

GSMC selection panel will evaluate the portfolio of work submitted by the applicants and develop a shortlist of applicants based on the quality, duration and relevance of the portfolio submitted.  The portfolio shall have a weighting of no more than 35% in the calculation of the final aggregate score used for admission decisions

Step 5: English language proficiency test

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attempt the English language proficiency test which will include a component of knowledge test and written test

Step 6: Admissions Test

Applicants shortlisted under step 5 above will be invited to attempt the GSMC admissions test.  The test scores shall have a weighting of no more than 40% in the calculation of the final aggregate score used for admission decisions.

Step 7: Interviews

Applicants will then be invited for interview with the selection panel. During the interview, applicant’s publications and curriculum vitae will be probed. The interview scores shall have a weighting of no more than 25% in the calculation of the final aggregate score used for admission decisions.

Step 8: Final selection

Applications are ranked according to an admissions matrix prepared by the Admissions Committee.

Step 9: Offer of admission

The list of selected applicants is submitted for approval by Board of Graduate Studies. On approval, the candidates are offered admission to the programme to which they have applied.

If you have any questions about the application or admissions process, please contact: info.gsmc@aku.edu

Apply Now 

Our MA in Digital Journalism combines real-life practice with academic rigor to position young and mid-career journalists as leaders in their field. You will develop the knowledge, skills and professional qualities for success at the highest levels of your craft. You will also work with world-renowned journalists and scholars as you blend practice, reflection and theory in your coursework.

The program is taught in state-of-the-art facilities and progressively builds expertise in multiplatform storytelling, specialist reporting and editorial leadership. The culmination of the program will be a specialist-reporting project and research thesis.

By focusing on regional issues and drawing on local and global trends, our graduates will possess the creativity, critical thinking and professional skills required to lead East Africa’s media in the 21st century.

Generous scholarships available based on need and merit.

Tuition: 20,000 USD

WHO SHOULD APPLY?
Young and mid-career journalists and
media professionals
BEGINS JANUARY 2018
A number of scholarships are available each year

START:
January 29, 2018
DURATION:
24 months part-time