Student Advice

NCTJ Qualification

Ben Maples  · Nov 29th 2021

Those looking to work in the world of journalism will be thankful to know that there is a qualification for students looking to take the next steps!


The NCTJ has been around since 1951 and has been providing journalistic qualifications to students looking to take their next steps into the world of journalism.

Several well-known journalists and celebrities such as John Inverdale, Helen Skelton, Reshmin Chowdhury, Piers Morgan, David Jones, Mark Austin, Kay Burley and Geordie Greig have all taken up high-level journalism jobs as a direct result of the NCTJ qualification.

NCTJ qualification

What is the NCTJ?

The NCTJ is the National Council for the Training of Journalists, which was founded in 1951. The organisation oversees the training and education of journalists in the UK. The body is self-appointed and does not have any powers from the government.

Those looking to work as a Journalist, do not necessarily require an NCTJ qualification, however, if you did not attend university or study a Journalism degree, then the NCTJ qualification can be a very good way to find a job in journalism.

The NCTJ offers a number of different qualifications for students, including:

  • Certificate in Foundation Journalism
  • Junior Journalist Apprenticeship
  • Diploma in Journalism
  • National Qualification in Journalism

After these, there are a number of more bespoke qualifications such as:

  • NCTJ Diploma in Magazine Journalism
  • NCTJ Certificate in Professional Sports Journalism
  • Shorthand

These qualifications focus on more niche forms of journalism rather than the more commonly taught disciplines. It is common for students to study one of these in conjunction with one of the previous four NCTJs. Most of the qualifications offered by the NCTJ are studied in levels, all of which cover a different skill level.

NCTJ diploma

How much is an NCTJ qualification?

The cost of any NCTJ qualification will depend on the course you're taking and will also depend on how you are taking the course. For instance, those looking to study a course as part of a distance learning course will likely have a higher fee to pay than those who study in person.

The fees for an NCTJ qualification and their collective modules are:

Diploma Cost
Certificate in Foundation Journalism (distance learning)
Individual unit £40.20
Mandatory units (five) £162.00
Diploma in Journalism distance learning
Core skills package £486.00
Essential journalism £228.00
Essential journalism e-portfolio £57.00
Essential journalism ethics and regulation £99.60
Essential media law and regulation £156.00
Sports journalism £156.00 (each)
Shorthand for journalists £99.60
Broadcast regulation £99.60
PR and communications for journalists £312.00
Additional one hour of tutor support time £24.00
Level 6 National Qualification (NQJ)
Registration fee £84.00
NQJ (distance learning)
Learning materials £600.00
Full distance package £960.00
Level 5 Qualification in Practical International Journalism
Registration fee (per candidate) £26.10
Assessment/certification fee (per candidate) £135.00
Level 3 Certificate in Foundation Journalism
Registration fee (per candidate) £26.40
Assessment/certification fee (per candidate) £13.50
Total cost of assessments (no resubmissions) £175.50

* Fees representative of 2020 courses.

The fees that you are required to pay do not include resubmission fees or the fees that you would have to pay for retaking the examination. Many of the courses are also split up into the individual modules, so you can pick and choose which portions of a course or which modules are relevant to you and your studies. All course costs include VAT.

NCTJ Level 3 Diploma in Journalism

How can I study an NCTJ qualification?

There are numerous ways to study an NCTJ qualification. Many students choose to go with a distance learning course, as it offers them the chance to study while working or to work around their home life. A distance learning course works in the same way as a degree from the Open University, so it is tailored around you and your study times.

There are accredited university courses, which is one of the most common ways to study an NCTJ qualification, which act alongside your BA or your MA. The content of your NCTJ qualification will be integrated with the content of your current course. The caveat of this, is that you will be required to sit some additional exams and they don’t come cheap, so it’s best to look into the cost before committing too heavily.

It is possible for you to study an NCTJ qualification as part of a fast-track journalism school, which is anywhere between 22 and 44 weeks (depending on whether or not you study part-time or full-time).

For those that are employed by a company already, your company may decide that they want to send you onto an NCTJ course to hone your writing skills, so they may well fund your course and provide you with assistance.

Is there any NCTJ funding available?

As with most qualifications, there are bursaries, grants and scholarships set up to help students looking to study an NCTJ qualification that are in financial need.

The amount of funding that you are entitled to depends on how you choose to study the course as well as the length and how the course ends, for instance, if the course ends with an examination or not.

The most common fund available for students is The Journalism Diversity Fund, this is a fund set up by the NCTJ itself in 2005 and was set up in the name of diversity. The fund covers all NCTJ courses, with the exception of BA and distance learning courses. You will have multiple chances to apply for the fund each year as there are multiple deadlines.

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