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.
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.
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|| |
* 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|| |
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
|L&S Breadth|| |
|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
|Introduction to Journalism|
|JOURN 201||Introduction to Mass Communication||4|
|JOURN 202||Mass Communication Practices||6|
|Introductory Social Science: three courses from three areas, one of which must be either POLI SCI or ECON:||9|
|Archaeology and the Prehistoric World|
|Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity|
|Economic Approach to Current Issues|
|Principles of Microeconomics|
|Principles of Macroeconomics|
|Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment|
|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|
|Introduction to Philosophy|
|Introduction to American Politics and Government|
|Introduction to International Relations|
|Topics in Political Analysis-Honors|
|Politics Around the World (Honors)|
|Introduction to American Politics|
|Introduction to Psychology|
|Marriage and Family|
|American Society: How It Really Works|
|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|
|Honors Introductory Seminar-The Sociological Enterprise|
|Intermediate/Advanced Social Sciences or Humanities Courses||12|
Take courses with an I, A or D level and H, S, L or Z Breadth 2
One course must be from HISTORY
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 group||9-12|
|History of Mass Communication|
|Mass Communication and Society|
|Law of Mass Communication|
|Media and the Consumer|
|Effects of Mass Communication|
|Communication and Public Opinion|
|Mass Media and Youth|
|Health Communication in the Information Age|
|Mass Communication and Political Behavior|
|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|
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:
|JOURN 335||Principles and Practices of Reporting||4|
|Advanced Reporting - one course:||4|
|Interpretation of Contemporary Affairs|
|Science and Environmental Journalism|
|Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills 2|
|JOURN 345||Principles and Practice of Strategic Communication||4|
|Advanced Strategic Communication—one course:||4|
|Creative Campaign Messages|
|Strategic Media Planning|
|Account Planning and Strategy|
|Digital Media Strategies|
|Public Relations Strategies|
|Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills 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.
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
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.|
- Convey information and express ideas effectively in contemporary media.
- Understand the responsible and ethical use of mass media.
- Appreciate the media's relationship with social, political, legal and economic systems.
- 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.