Jan 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: CUNY journalism program goes tuition-free

Paula Vlodkowsky

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY is going tuition-free, its namesake Craig Newmark and the school's dean, Graciela Mochkofsky, told Axios.

Why it matters: It will be the first journalism graduate school to offer a tuition-free program — a move intended to help widen opportunities for journalists from more diverse backgrounds.

  • "If we're serious about the future of trustworthy journalism as democracy's immune system, we've got to create ways to make the pipeline and product more resilient to economics and shifting moods. Endowments help do that," Newmark said.

How it works: Newmark, who founded Craigslist, is committing an additional $10 million to the school's endowment, on top of a $20 million contribution he made in 2019.

  • The school will use that funding, in addition to another, smaller endowment for scholarships, to cover tuition for 50% of students next year.
  • The school is raising money to expand its fund to $60 million by 2026 — enough to cover tuition for all students.

By the numbers: Tuition for a full masters degree at the school is $18,609 for New York State residents and $38,739 for the non-residents.

  • The school has been incrementally offering free tuition, beginning two years ago, Mochkofsky said. This year, 25% of students will be covered. Next year, 50% will be covered.

The big picture: The news industry has been reeling from a post-pandemic slowdown in the ad market, leading to a record number of layoffs and cost-cutting measures.

  • Staff reductions have led to fewer mentorship and training opportunities, making education more vital for young reporters, Mochkofsky said.
  • "Maybe in the past, journalism schools weren't as necessary because you got trained by mentors and editors. The industry now is so resourced starved — that's not available to people anymore."
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