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Journalism

Graduate Program

Overview: 

The School of Journalism offers a master’s degree in journalism with two options: a scholarly International Journalism Studies option and a Professional Development option.

The School’s mission for the International Journalism Studies option is to provide students with the intellectual foundation they need to understand the media’s role in the world and to conduct research for potential advancement to doctoral education. The School’s mission for the Professional Development option is to provide applied classes that enable students to acquire skills that are essential for journalists working in a global information age. This option serves students who have no prior journalism experience as well as mid-career professionals seeking to develop a specialty or advance their skills.

In addition to the master’s degree, the School offers dual degrees in collaboration with the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and the School of Government and Public Policy.

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

International Journalism Studies Option

  • Understand media theories and the role of the press in a democracy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to design and conduct original research, applying recognized communication research methods.
  • Evaluate existing scientific data and scientific literature, and identify opportunities for contributing to added knowledge in the field.
  • Understand the relationship between information and core democratic values. Be able to think critically about the ways in which political, economic, cultural, and social factors influence, and are influenced by, the information that the news media present.
  • Understand the legal framework in which the role and responsibilities of the press have evolved, including the Constitution, Bill of Rights, federal and state laws and  court decisions concerning the news media, and international covenants and treaties.
  • Be able to analyze and critically evaluate news coverage on the local, national, and international levels.
  • Understand the regulatory and policy issues on the state, federal, and international levels that affect the norms, practices, and public perceptions of the news media in the United States and other countries.
  • Understand the relationship among journalism, information technology and society, and the ways in which technological developments affect the content and dissemination of news.
  • Understand the integrative nature of journalism, including cross-disciplinary contributions to other fields in the social and behavioral sciences, such as history and political science.
  • Understand the processes through which knowledge is generated in the field of journalism. Be able to use research methodologies for locating and evaluating information and sources, including principles of mathematics and statistical analysis.
  • Be able to organize research findings into verbal, written, or visual reports that utilize appropriate print, video, and web technologies to provide the public with information about the causes and consequences of events and issues.
  • Understand and be committed to the highest ethical standards, as articulated by professional journalism organizations.

Professional Development Option

  • Understand the role of the press in a democracy. This requires knowledge of the historical and contemporary relationship among the press, the public, and the government, and the relevance of journalism to individuals, institutions, and society.
  • Understand the relationship between information and core democratic values. Be able to think critically about the ways in which political, economic, cultural, and social factors influence, and are influenced by, the information that the news media present.
  • Understand the legal framework in which the role and responsibilities of the press have evolved, including the Constitution, Bill of Rights, federal and state laws and court decisions concerning the news media, and international covenants and treaties.
  • Understand the regulatory and policy issues on the state, federal, and international levels that affect the norms, practices, and public perceptions of the news media in the United States and other countries.
  • Understand the relationship among journalism, information technology and society, and the ways in which technological developments affect the content and dissemination of news.
  • Understand professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity.
  • Be able to think critically, creatively and independently about the ways in which political, economic, cultural, and social factors influence, and are influenced by, the information that the news media present.
  • Understand how to work as a journalist serving diverse, multicultural communities in a global society.
  • Understand and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information.
  • Evaluate information by methods appropriate to journalism, including mathematics and basic statistical analysis.
  • Write correctly and clearly. Critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy, fairness, appropriate style and grammatical correctness.
  • Apply software, video, photographic and other technologies appropriate for the profession. Understand the relationship among journalism, information technology and society, and the ways in which technological developments affect the content and dissemination of news.
  • Be able to work in teams and assume leadership roles in an increasingly knowledge-based society.
  • Develop a broad range of knowledge in different subjects and demonstrate academic excellence in their liberal arts education.
Assessment Activities: 


Regular or Recurring Activities (Each section can be its own page, linked) 

Each journalism class has embedded research, writing, and visual communication assignments designed to measure students’ knowledge, and skills in the area of critical thinking, information literacy, mathematics, problem-solving, and writing.

In lecture classes in law, ethics, and the role of the press in society – which are required for all students – embedded tests and research papers measure critical thinking, information literacy, numeracy, and writing skills, as well as knowledge of legal and ethical standards in the United States and other nations, and philosophical frameworks for analyzing and resolving real-world issues.

Sample assignments for classes in the professional development option include doing research and interviewing government officials about local issues, writing reports about speeches and government meetings, and analyzing data and writing articles explaining official reports, surveys, and polls to a general audience. All these assignments are modeled on standard types of professional assignments, so students have the opportunity to model professional norms and behaviors. Assignments in many skills courses can be rewritten or re-photographed after the initial grade has been given, just as assignments in professional news media can be redone after an editor has had an opportunity to review the first draft of articles, or initial photographs. These rewrites or re-shoots also are graded by the faculty.

All assignments are graded by faculty; no graduate teaching assistants are involved in the School’s core curriculum.

Students are required either to write a thesis or complete a master’s report, although it is recommended that students in the professional option complete the report, which must be suitable for publication. The report is a major investigative work in an area of the student’s choice. It can take many forms – a series of news articles, audio or video news segments, documentary photo essay, or online multimedia report. The master’s report need not be published, but in the opinion of the student’s graduate committee, it must be publishable. Usually the student begins work on the thesis or report in the second or third semester and completes it in the final semester. An oral defense of the report or thesis serves as the comprehensive examination, which graduate students must pass to receive the master’s degree. Students can instead produce a thesis, which would entail conducting original social science research and a thesis suitable for conference presentation or publication in an academic journal.

Students pursuing the professional development option must choose among four capstone courses, all of which involve producing news media that serve real communities. In these classes, students do all the research, writing, photography, editing, and design. They also maintain the news medium’s web site. Two courses involve newspapers. One is El Independiente, the bilingual newspaper that the School has been publishing for residents of South Tucson - whose population is 85 percent Latino - for more than a quarter-century. The other is the Tombstone Epitaph, which covers events and issues in that historic city. a third capstone course, Arizona Cat's Eye, involves producing reports for local television news programs. A fourth capstone, Border Beat, involves producing an online magazine that covers issues and events on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In all these classes, students receive real-world experience with critical thinking, information literacy, problem-solving, oral presentations, teamwork, professional standards and behaviors, and written and visual communication. Graduate students assume leadership roles in these publications.

In reporting, editing, and visual communication classes, instructors organize peer critiques of research, writing, editing, and photography assignments. Some critiques are done verbally in class, and others are done in writing as out-of-class assignments. In the newspaper and online capstone courses, more experienced students are the editors of the publication, while others are the staff. Editors and staffers collaborate on reporting and photography assignments, and editors provide a critique of the submitted work. Before publication, the faculty instructor also reviews and grades the work (as well as the editors' performance in supervising and editing each assignment). In the television course, students work in teams of two, and each assignment is given a critique by students in class, and reviewed by the instructors.

These critiques enable faculty to assess students' critical thinking, information literacy, verbal presentation, writing, and visual communication skills, as well as the ability to work as part of a team.

The School utilizes the standard University teaching-evaluation forms in every class (including presession and summer session courses). The School considers four ratings to be especially important. They are: overall rating of teaching effectiveness, overall course rating, overall amount learned, and students treated with respect. These ratings are specifically discussed in the School Director's annual evaluation of each faculty member.

Journalism provides formal and informal mentoring. Formal mentoring includes internship supervision, handled by a faculty member who serves as internship coordinator. Other formal mentoring includes a series of seminars in Fall semester each year, during which professional journalists discuss preparation of résumés and portfolios, and advice on job interviews. These journalists also are available to review students’ résumés, news reports, photographs, and videos.  

Throughout the year, the faculty – all of whom have experience as journalists – also provide informal mentoring, including portfolio reviews, and assistance with locating job and internship opportunities. All these activities enable the faculty to do additional assessments of students' critical thinking, oral presentation, written and visual communication skills; ability to do self-evaluations and to work with a team; and level of professional awareness.

Students are encouraged to apply for unpaid internships that offer genuine opportunities for experiential learning and professional critiques of their work. One unit of academic credit is provided for each semester of internship work. The School's internship program is supervised by the faculty internship coordinator, who is in contact with internship directors at news media and other information industries, and who reviews student reports of internship experiences.  

Students also are encouraged to apply for professional, paid internships organized by news media and other information industries. Internships sponsored by major news organizations include the MetPro program at the Los Angeles Times, the Dow Jones-Wall Street Journal editing program, and the Chips Quinn program run by the Freedom Forum, the largest journalism foundation in the United States. These programs offer students the opportunity to work as reporters, editors, and photographers at news media around the country.

This advisory council enables students to provide direct feedback to the School Director concerning how effectively course content, instruction, and assignments help students achieve learning-outcome objectives. Membership is open to any Journalism major or minor. Council members bring students' concerns and ideas to the School Director, who then takes these discussion points to the faculty for input. The faculty, in turn, provides the School Director with concerns to take to the Advisory Council.

The School of Journalism maintains an extensive alumni network, and many students are provided internships or hired by alumni working for news organizations, government information offices, or other information industries throughout the country. These alumni provide continual feedback about student learning outcomes, from a professional perspective. They tell the School Director and faculty how well students do on employment tests, which explore general knowledge, critical thinking, information literacy, and writing, editing, and visual communication proficiency. Alumni tell the School how well students perform on the job, noting strengths and areas in which Journalism could provide additional instruction or experiential learning.

Many alumni communicate with the School about their employment or graduate school experiences so this information can be included in the alumni online newsletter published by the School. This information provides an informal snapshot of the professional performance of many graduates.

Every six years, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications requires the School to contact every member of a specific graduating class, to ask about their job or graduate school history, and how effectively the School's teaching strategies and learning-outcome goals prepared students to contribute effectively in a knowledge-based society.

The School reopened admissions to its graduate program in 2008. Admissions had been suspended while the faculty did an extensive curriculum review, then revised and expanded the curriculum. Since that time, the faculty has engaged in an ongoing review. The results have included development of the International Journalism Studies option to serve students who do not want or need professional applied classes; dual-degree master’s programs with Latin American Studies and Near Eastern Studies; and new courses, including a class in international and U.S. media law. The School also has created a new intensive first-year curriculum in reporting and writing for students who choose the professional development option. A thorough evaluation of the program will be conducted for accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications in Academic Year 2011-12.

Academic Degree Programs: 
Degree Type: 

Journalism: Undergraduate Programs

Exit surveys

The department supplements the University teaching-evaluation forms with a survey of graduating seniors. This provides the faculty with more in-depth information about student and faculty expectations, teaching strategies, and learning outcomes. The survey is given to graduating seniors by the academic advisor, and the response rate is about 70 percent.  Students are able to give detailed feedback on the value of various courses, their rigor, what they learned and what they suggest for additional improvement to the program.  

Academic Degree Programs: 

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