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Medill Investigative Lab

In the Medill Investigative Lab specialization, you learn to think, research and write like an investigative reporter and publish groundbreaking stories.

About the specialization

Through the Medill Investigative Lab specialization, you will learn by doing and practicing the skills you will need to become an investigative reporter. You will collaborate with a team to determine story topics, learn about researching and interviewing, and then compile stories that shed light on critical issues of our time. Your work may be published in a variety of outlets—including major outlets such as The Washington Post—and these clips will form the basis for your portfolio, demonstrating your real-world journalism experience.

Visit Medill Investigative Lab Website

Medill Investigative Lab starts in the summer quarter. It is an exclusive opportunity that is only available to 10 master's students each year. You will spend the first two quarters in Chicago, and the next two quarters at Medill's campus in Washington, D.C.

Why Medill Investigative Lab?

There’s no shortage of news on this beat. Professional journalists who succeed in investigative reporting win Pulitzer Prizes, change laws and improve people’s lives. You will work side-by-side with veteran journalists on investigations of national importance. The investigative skills you learn in this specialization will serve you well in your career no matter what area of journalism you pursue.

What will I learn?

Inside the classroom, you’ll examine investigative reporting within a framework of history, theory and ethics. This context will provide the background you need to pursue stories that matter. You will learn how to find and research important investigative stories, particularly how to obtain public records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and how to dig deep into data. You will develop skills in sourcing, interviewing and data visualization. You will learn in real-time, working side-by-side with award-winning investigative reporters.

Applying to the specialization

Given the competitive nature and limited spots of the Medill Investigative Lab (MIL) specialization, you may be admitted to the MSJ program but not MIL. In this case, you would be considered for your second choice specialization and placed on a waitlist for MIL.

Your Medill Experience

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You will spend the summer and fall quarters in Chicago, taking foundational courses in news reporting, ethics and law, and interactive storytelling. You will then spend the winter and spring quarters in Washington, D.C. and take courses in political reporting, data journalism, and investigative practices and techniques. Your final two quarters in D.C. will focus on deep project-based investigative reporting work.

Learn about the Medill Investigative Lab curriculum
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During your first two quarters, you’ll spend time in our downtown Chicago space and also get to know some of the city’s many neighborhoods. Being in a vibrant downtown will put you in contact with people from all walks of life who may become your sources.

Learn about Medill’s Chicago campus
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Career Services

Investigative journalists are in high demand at traditional and non-mainstream media organizations alike. Tap into Medill’s expansive and helpful alumni network to assist you with your job search.

Learn about Career Services
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Medill Network

By completing your degree, you will also become part of Medill’s alumni network with more than 18,000 Medill alumni worldwide. Wherever you go in your career, chances are Medill alumni are already there, willing and able to help you succeed.

Learn about the Medill Network
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Reporting Opportunities

You have the opportunity to interact with newsmakers and other sources through in-depth reporting.

See articles students have published on the Medill Investigative Lab website
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Medill Fridays

Our Medill Fridays program will help you prepare for your career through a variety of topical discussions, workshops and guest speakers.

Learn about Medill Fridays

Our Faculty

Headshot of Debbie Cenziper

Debbie Cenziper

Cenziper oversees the Medill Investigative Lab and is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and nonfiction author who writes for The Washington Post. Her investigative stories have exposed wrongdoing, prompted Congressional hearings and led to changes in federal and local laws.

Headshot of Arionne Nettles

Arionne Nettles

Nettles is a lecturer with a focus on digital storytelling and is responsible for Medill’s publishing platform, Medill Reports. As a reporter and editor with experience in different mediums, her work often explores art’s cultural ties to issues such as mass incarceration and educational inequity.

Headshot of Kari Lydersen

Kari Lydersen

Lydersen is lecturer and co-director of the Social Justice News Nexus. She also works as a reporter, covering energy for Midwest Energy News and freelancing for other outlets including the Better Government Association, The Washington Post, People Magazine and The Chicago Reporter.

Our Alumni

Kate Morrissey (MSJ15)

Kate Morrissey
Senior Reporter
The San Diego Union-Tribune

Morrissey’s journalism career began with an internship at The Star newspaper in Johannesburg, South Africa. She started working at The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2016 where she now covers the immigration beat. She has focused on investigating the U.S. asylum system as well as immigration detention centers.

Mauricio Pena (MSJ14)

Mauricio Pena
Block Club Chicago

Pena began his career as a breaking news reporter for DNAinfo Chicago, before moving on to work as an investigative reporter at the Desert Sun. There he covered immigration and equality issues in the Coachella Valley. Pena also worked as an associate digital editor at Chicago magazine. Most recently, he became a founding reporter at a nonprofit, independent newsroom called Block Club Chicago, which is dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.

Learn more about Pena

John Templon (MSJ09)

John Templon
Investigative Data Journalist
BuzzFeed News

Templon is an investigative journalist who uses data analysis to unlock the world's secrets. He has covered stories ranging from match-fixing in tennis to how U.S. immigration policy hurts certain immigrant populations. He uses a combination of computer programming, manual data curation and open records—along with traditional reporting methods—to break open important stories.