Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
An undergraduate degree in journalism encompasses a wide variety of skills. In general, journalism students are expected to have a broad base of knowledge (meaning, familiarity with many different subjects) and be able to communicate effectively, all while learning basic journalistic skills. Each school has its own way of preparing journalism majors for the working world, but every student can expect a variation of the following over the course of their studies.
International students choosing to study journalism will, upon graduation, receive a Bachelor's Degree. The course of study takes four years (depending on the number of credits taken per semester and students pursuing a minor or double-major).
International students should also note that more competitive journalism schools require prospective students to not only be accepted into the university, but also into the major. Those who are accepted into the university, but not the journalism major, may enroll at the university taking general elective classes and some journalism classes while waiting to re-apply to the major in a later year.
An undergraduate degree in journalism involves a great deal of seemingly unrelated classes. At certain j-schools, students may spend up to 70% of their time in classes outside the journalism major. While it may seem counterintuitive, it's no mistake.
Journalists need to be aware of current events, historical events, and literary references. They need to understand the psychology behind people's actions and the science behind technological innovations. Journalists must have a base understanding of any given subject in order to recognize it's significance, reflect on it's meaning, and report it to the public. For aspiring journalists this means studying politics, history, literature, psychology, and science, among an ever-expanding list of courses, to gain an awareness of the world and the issues affecting millions of people everyday.
This isn't to say that journalism-specific classes aren't important. They might be fewer, but they are the fundamental learning blocks of an undergraduate degree in journalism. Lower-level journalism classes teach writing, reporting, and editing across all types of media (print, broadcast, or the Internet). Upper-level journalism classes will continue to hone those skills, but also venture into ethics, media law, journalism history, and specialized classes based on the student's interest area.
As mentioned above, an undergraduate degree in journalism takes four years. The first two years, being a student's freshman and sophomore years, and the last two are junior and senior years, respectively. International students interested in a journalism major can expect four to five classes a semester doled out accordingly:
In addition to coursework, students enrolled in an undergraduate degree in journalism, can get involved in many on-campus extracurricular activities. These are great ways to meet other students in the same major, and to gain experience. Campus newspapers, magazines, broadcast and radio stations, or student groups are available in some form at every j-school.