Journalism  Program Description


Insider Info

dotImagine going to class in the morning, then grabbing a quick lunch before hitting the phones to interview people for a newspaper story. Then it's off to the local hospital to shoot a story about cuts to health-care funding. Then you come back to the school to edit some video. Journalism programs are fast-paced, with a lot of variety.

In the U.S., bachelor's programs in journalism are available at over 410 colleges. Many two-year colleges also offer journalism programs leading to an associate's degree.

Most schools offer broad-based programs designed to expose you to each type of journalism: print, radio, TV and Internet journalism.

Many schools require students to take classes in more than one type of media for the first year or two, then allow them to specialize in one area in the final years. Several programs offer internships, which provide a unique opportunity for on-the-job training.

"It gets you out into the real world, where you have to meet deadlines, where you have to produce just like everyone else," says Klaus Pohle, a journalism professor. "It also affords you the opportunity to make contacts in the field."

Four-year programs usually focus on a well-rounded education in the arts and sciences before becoming more journalism-oriented. Courses in the first year or two will focus on such subjects as English, history and the social sciences. There may also be math and science requirements.

Pohle believes a liberal education is a key part of a journalist's training. "To be a good journalist, you have to be able to contextualize events," he says. "You're not just reporting events, you're telling people why they're important. To do that, you need an academic background, the training in critical thinking."

Two-year programs are more specialized. Students often choose to study either print or broadcast media.

Most two-year programs allow students to put their college credits towards a four-year degree.

Many journalism schools in the U.S. are accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). Accreditation is strictly voluntary -- a non-accredited school is not necessarily a bad school.

In high school, classes that focus on English, journalism and social studies will be useful to you.

Working on the high school newspaper or yearbook, volunteering at the local community station, or joining the school camera club all teach you useful journalistic skills.

"It gives you a taste of what's involved. It gets you into a team situation. It helps you to hone an interest in community affairs," says Pohle. "Those are very important in the development of a journalist."

Luckily, journalism students don't have to buy that many textbooks, which cuts costs significantly. But you may have to buy a camera, voice recorder, or other equipment.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: News Analysts, Reporters and Correspondents

Wordsmith Associates
See how a website is used to promote freelance journalism

A web resource for and about journalists

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for a simple description.