school-journalism-mass-comm

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC), founded in 1905, offers professional education within the context of the liberal arts degree of the College of Letters & Science. The student earns the journalism bachelor of arts (JBA) or journalism bachelor of science (JBS) degree upon completion of the journalism program. Students are required to complete at least one of the two tracks described below.

The school seeks to provide students with both a broad cultural base for future careers and the competence to do professional work immediately after graduation. Of the 120 credits required for graduation, at least 21 must be in the social sciences/humanities—for example, economics, history, psychology, political science, sociology. In addition to skills courses, students are required to take courses in conceptual subjects such as law and history of mass communication, public opinion, international communication and communication theory. The student approaches mass communication as science, art, and service while relating it to many facets of society.

Practical Experience: Organizations

The school encourages students to gain practical experience through part-time jobs and internships. Student media include (but are not limited to) The Daily Cardinal, the Badger Herald, WSUM radio and the Wisconsin Union Directorate Publications. Student organizations related to the school and major include (but are not limited to) the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), the Advertising Club, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Association for Women in Communication (AWC). Professionals from the media and related fields appear often in classes and meet with students in professional student organizations.

Internships

Students planning careers as media professionals are encouraged to hold one or more internships in the area of their academic specialization(s). Declared journalism majors or prospective journalism majors with no other declared major may earn course credit for internships that relate to their professional tracks. As part of their degree programs, students may earn a maximum of 3 credits of JOURN 697 Internship during their undergraduate careers. Students may only earn one credit of JOURN 697 per semester, but may repeat the credit up to three times. Students who want to earn degree credit for their internships should consult with career advisor Pam Garcia-Rivera before they accept an internship. Students must enroll in JOURN 697 at the time they hold the internship.

JOURN 697 does not count as part of the 30 minimum journalism credits required for graduation. Students who wish to enroll in JOURN 697 should see Pam Garcia-Rivera for authorization to enroll.

Admission to the Journalism Degree Program

Students who wish to declare themselves as degree candidates in journalism must submit an application to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC). Applications are accepted each fall and spring semester for admission the following semester. Prospective degree candidates must present to the school a record of academic achievement, writing ability and extracurricular participation that indicate a probability of success in some field of communication.

In order to apply for admission to the school, students must have met the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 24 credits completed by the end of the semester in which they apply, including transfer credits but excluding AP and retroactive language credits.
  • Completion of JOURN 201 Introduction to Mass Communication by the end of the semester in which they apply. Students may have no more than 16 credits in Journalism courses taken at UW–Madison when applying for admission.

Transfer students must be enrolled for at least one semester at UW–Madison before applying for admission to the SJMC (their first semester may be in progress at the time they submit their application). Students transferring journalism course credit from other colleges and universities should check their record of transferred credit with the SJMC undergraduate academic advisor. The academic advisor is available for consultation at most SOAR orientation sessions for transfer students. 

The number of students to be admitted in a given semester is subject to change based on the school's capacity to provide adequate access to required courses.  Admissions decisions are based on the entire application, with particular emphasis on academic performance and writing ability.  Specific guidelines for submitting the application portfolio are available online at this link or in SJMC academic advising. The academic advisor conducts one-hour information sessions for applicants each semester, with dates and times listed on the application; these sessions are highly recommended and provide more information for applicants than is possible in a one-on-one advising meeting.

After admission to the school, the student's classification will be changed to JBA or JBS to reflect this change in status.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

introductory requirements

Introduction to Journalism
JOURN 201 Introduction to Mass Communication4
JOURN 202 Mass Communication Practices6
Introductory Social Science: three courses from three areas, one of which must be either POLI SCI or ECON:9
Anthropology:
General Anthropology
Archaeology and the Prehistoric World
Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity
Economics:
Economic Approach to Current Issues
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Macroeconomics
Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
Geography:
Introduction to Human Geography
Living in the Global Environment: An Introduction to People-Environment Geography
Integrated Liberal Studies:
Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I
Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought II
History of Western Culture II
Introduction to Global Cultures
Philosophy:
Introduction to Philosophy
Political Science:
Introduction to American Politics and Government
Introduction to International Relations
Topics in Political Analysis-Honors
Politics Around the World (Honors)
Introduction to American Politics
Psychology:
Introduction to Psychology
Sociology:
Marriage and Family
American Society: How It Really Works
Social Problems
Criminal Justice in America
Problems of American Racial and Ethnic Minorities
The Sociology of Gender
Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology
Human Sexuality: Social and Psychological Issues
Population Problems
Honors Introductory Seminar-The Sociological Enterprise
Intermediate/Advanced Social Sciences or Humanities Courses12
Take courses with an I, A or D level and H, S, L or Z Breadth 2
One course must be from HISTORY
Total Credits31
1

Courses cross-listed in JOURN (e.g., HISTORY/​JOURN  560) may not count toward this requirement.

Theories and Topics

Three courses, to include one from each group9-12
Group B:
History of Mass Communication
Mass Communication and Society
Law of Mass Communication
Media and the Consumer
Effects of Mass Communication
Group C:
Communication and Public Opinion
Mass Media and Youth
Health Communication in the Information Age
Mass Communication and Political Behavior
International Communication
Mass Communication in Developing Nations
History of Books and Print Culture in Europe and North America
Communication Research Methods
Mass Media and Minorities
Professional Responsibility in Mass Communication
Literary Aspects of Journalism
Community Service Learning: Technology for Social Change
Topics in Government and Mass Media
Special Topics in Mass Communication
Concepts and Tools for Data Analysis and Visualization
Total Credits9-12

Tracks

Students must complete one of two tracks: Journalism, which focuses on reporting, or Strategic Communication, which focuses on forms of persuasive communication that includes advertising and public relations). 3

Complete one track:

Journalism

JOURN 335 Principles and Practices of Reporting4
Advanced Reporting - one course:4
In-Depth Reporting
Interpretation of Contemporary Affairs
Creative Nonfiction
Multimedia Design
Science and Environmental Journalism
Magazine Publishing
Video Journalism
Investigative Reporting
Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills 2
Total Credits8

Strategic Communication

JOURN 345 Principles and Practice of Strategic Communication4
Advanced Strategic Communication—one course:4
Multimedia Design
Magazine Publishing
Video Journalism
Creative Campaign Messages
Strategic Media Planning
Account Planning and Strategy
Digital Media Strategies
Public Relations Strategies
Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills 2
Total Credits8
2

Special Topics courses may count for either track, or no track, depending on Topic. Consult the advisor for this major to determine eligibility of JOURN 475 to meet a major requirement.

3

 Students planning to complete both tracks should consult with the undergraduate academic advisor about course availability and planning.

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all JOURN and major courses

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 4

15 credits in JOURN, taken on the UW–Madison campus

4

 JOURN 400–699 are upper level in the major.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Journalism Major in consultation with the Journalism undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Journalism Major Requirements

To earn a J.B.A. or J.B.S. with Honors in the Major in Journalism students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.400 GPA for all JOURN courses and courses that count toward the major
  • Complete two courses in each of the Group B and Group C Theories and Topics groupings, with a grade of B or better in each individual course
  • Complete a two-semesters of Senior Honors Thesis in JOURN 681 Senior Honors Thesis and JOURN 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Convey information and express ideas effectively in contemporary media.
  2. Understand the responsible and ethical use of mass media.
  3. Appreciate the media's relationship with social, political, legal and economic systems.
  4. Think strategically, creatively and critically, to solve problems in a professional context.

Job Information Service

The school provides a job listing service at current listings on the SJMC website.  Questions concerning that can be directed to Pam Garcia-Rivera.   

Current students and recent alumni are encouraged to meet with the undergraduate career advisor to discuss career and internship opportunities. Students may consult the school website or with the undergraduate career advisor for specific information.

Professor and Director: H. Shah

Professors Downey, Friedland, McLeod, Rojas, D. Shah

Associate Professors Kim, Riddle, Robinson, Wagner, Wells

Assistant Professors Culver, Graves, McGarr, Palmer