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 program. Students are required to complete at least one of the two professional tracks, Journalism or Strategic Communication.

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 earn only one credit of JOURN 697 per semester, but may repeat the credit up to three times. Students who wish 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. 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 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 Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science-Journalism (JBS)

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a professional school within the College of Letters & Sciences (L&S). The College confers the Bachelor of Science—Journalism (JBS) degree.

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science—Journalism (JBS) degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The JBS is a special degree program; it is not considered a major. The JBS degree is not available to students who intend to earn a degree outside the College of Letters & Science.

Bachelor of Science-Journalism Degree Requirements

Mathematics Complete two courses of 3+ credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level in MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT subjects. A maximum of one course in each of COMP SCI and STAT subjects counts toward this requirement.
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language.
L&S Breadth Complete:
• 12 credits of Humanities, which must include at least 6 credits of Literature; and
• 12 credits of Social Science; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include 6 credits of Biological Science and 6 credits of Physical Science.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW—Madison Experience Complete both:
• 30 credits in residence, overall, and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison

Requirements for the Major

Students must complete 32 credits in major course work, to include:

introductory requirements

Introduction to Journalism
JOURN 201 Introduction to Mass Communication4
JOURN 202 Mass Communication Practices6
JOURN 203 Information for Communication3
Social Science and Humanities 12
Intermediate/Advanced courses from at least three distinct Subjects 1
Total Credits25

Courses cross-listed in JOURN may not count toward this requirement.


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


JOURN 335 Principles and Practices of Reporting4
Advanced Reporting - one course:4
In-Depth Reporting
Interpretation of Contemporary Affairs
Creative Nonfiction
Multimedia Design
Magazine Publishing
Investigative Reporting
Video Journalism
Community-Based Reporting
Strategic Media Relations
Emerging Media and the News
Long Form Video
Storytelling Through Sound
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
Creative Campaign Messages
Strategic Media Planning
Account Planning and Strategy
Strategic Media Relations
Emerging Media and the News
Long Form Video
Digital Media Strategies
Public Relations Strategies
Social Media Marketing Communications
Strategic Communication Campaigns Capstone
Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills 2
Storytelling Through Sound
Total Credits8


Perspectives (Two courses):8
History of U.S. Media
Mass Communication and Society
Law of Mass Communication
Media and the Consumer
Effects of Mass Communication
Communication and Public Opinion
Topics or Advances (1 course):3-4
Mass Media and Youth
Mass Communication and Political Behavior
International Communication
Communication Research Methods
Mass Media and Minorities
Literary Aspects of Journalism
Topics in Government and Mass Media
Special Topics in Mass Communication
Health Communication in the Information Age
The Impact of Emerging Media
Social Networks in Communication
Concepts and Tools for Data Analysis and Visualization
Legal & Ethical Dimensions of Emerging Media
Total Credits11-12

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 all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 5
  • 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 Major in consultation with the Journalism undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Journalism Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.400 GPA for all JOURN courses and all courses that count toward the major
  • Complete one additional Topics or Advances course, for a total of two Topics or Advances courses
  • Earn a grade of B or better in the four Perspectives, Topics and Advances courses
  • Complete a two-semesters of Senior Honors Thesis in JOURN 681 and JOURN 682, 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.
  5. Develop effective practices to advance inclusion and social justice in media professions and communication research.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
Communication A3JOURN 2014
Quantitative Reasoning A3-4Ethnic Studies3
Science Breadth3Biologial Science Breadth3
Foreign Language (if needed)4Foreign Language (if needed)4
 13 14
Second Year
JOURN 2026JOURN 335 or 3454
JOURN 2033Literature Breadth4
Quantitative Reasoning B3Physical Science Breadth3
Social Science Breadth4Social Science Breadth4
 INTER-LS 2101
 16 16
Third Year
Journalism or Strategic Communication course4Perspectives course4
Intermediate/Advanced Humanities or Social Science for JBA/JBS4Intermediate/Advanced Humanities or Social Science for JBA/JBS4
Literature Breadth4Intermediate/Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if JBS)3-4
Science Breadth3Science Breadth3
 15 15
Fourth Year
Perspectives course (JOURN 500+)4Topics or Advances course (JOURN 600+)3-4
Intermediate/Advanced Humanities or Social Science for JBA/JBS4Electives11
Intermediate/Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if JBS)3-4 
 16 15
Total Credits 120

Academic advising

For information about academic advising, see the School of Journalism and Mass Communication website.

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.

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.

Professor and Director: Culver
Professors Downey, Friedland, Kim, McLeod, Riddle, Robinson, Rojas, D. Shah, H. Shah, Wagner
Associate Professors Culver, Graves, Palmer
Assistant Professors Cascio, Christy, McGarr, Yang