Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

What undergraduate degrees are offered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication?

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. Both degrees prepare students for a career in journalism and mass communication.

Journalistic writing is the core of the undergraduate program with visual communication as a second important focus. Students are required to take both professional and conceptual courses offered by the School in order to develop professional skills. They are also expected to study the historical, legal, cultural, and institutional roles of media in society. The program builds upon the University’s commitment to the liberal arts and sciences, requiring majors to complete extensive academic work outside the school.

What kind of job can I get with a degree in journalism?

Graduates of the UI J-School find employment in all areas of the media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, online communications, public relations, publication design, photojournalism, and media research. J-School alumni are working in a variety of media industries across the United States and around the world.

What is the Iowa Dozen?

The Iowa Dozen is our commitment to our majors that they will receive a quality educational experience. Twelve key areas have been identified in the Iowa Dozen. The knowledge base in these areas will be covered by required and elective courses in the Journalism and Mass Communication curriculum.

THE IOWA DOZEN:

We learn:

  • to write correctly and clearly
  • to conduct research and gather information responsibly
  • to edit and evaluate carefully
  • to use media technologies thoughtfully
  • to apply statistical concepts appropriately

We value:

  • First Amendment principles for all individuals and groups
  • a diverse global community
  • creativity and independence
  • truth, accuracy, fairness, and diversity

We explore:

  • mass communication theories and concepts
  • media institutions and practices
  • the role of media in shaping cultures

Why is it so difficult to get into the J-School at Iowa?

The UI J-School is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), so to preserve the quality of its programs, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication has a selective admission program. Students with a declared interest in journalism are admitted to the major in one of two ways. First-year students who enter the University with honors standing in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, or as Presidential Scholars, Old Gold Scholars, or Daily Iowan Scholars, are eligible to enter the major in Journalism and Mass Communication upon enrollment in the University. Other students are classified as pre-journalism students until they apply and are admitted to the major.

The J-School admits approximately 100 majors each semester. That number is based on the number of faculty teaching and courses offered each semester. We can only admit students based on our ability to make sure that they get into the classes they need. Our primary goal is to make sure that once a student gets into the major, he/she is able to take the courses necessary to fulfill his/her degree requirements within the appropriate time frame.

What does it mean that the J-School is accredited by ACEJMC?

Accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications means that the school offers a distinguished curriculum for majors that will enhance their opportunities for employment upon graduation. As per the accreditation guidelines, all of the professional courses in the J-School are limited to a student faculty ratio of 20 to 1. Our accreditation enables us to give our majors a more personalized instructional experience that will better prepare them for the industry.

When can I apply to the J-School at Iowa?

Students may apply for admission to the major during the semester in which they will complete the following prerequisites: JMC:1100 (019:090) Media Uses and Effects, JMC:1200 (019:091) Media History and Culture, all required rhetoric courses, and a total of at least 30 s.h. of coursework.

Why does the J-School require prerequisite courses before I can apply?

The two prerequisite courses are designed to give students who are interested in the field of journalism and mass communication a broad overview of the media industry including its historical evolution, cultural development, theoretical discoveries, and practical applications. The two prerequisite courses are:

JMC:1100 (019:090) Media Uses and Effects — 3 s.h.  Introduction to mass communication theory as it relates to practical applications in the media industry and American society. GE: social sciences

JMC:1200 (019:091) Media History and Culture — 3 s.h. Historical development of journalism in the United States; cultural, historical content. GE: historical perspectives

How does the J-school admissions process work?

The number of students accepted each semester depends on the number of students already in the program and available resources. A faculty committee reviews all applications with the goal of admitting the most qualified students to the program.

The primary criterion for admission to major status is overall academic performance. However,a faculty committee evaluates all applications looking for those students who have demonstrated a serious interest in the field of journalism. We consider these applicants' statements of interest; demonstrated writing ability; prior journalistic experience such as high school journalism, internships, or jobs in the field; participation in the J-School’s student organizations (which is not limited to major status); and performance in journalism courses.

Since the practice of journalism takes place in a diverse society, in addition to the above mentioned criteria, the J-School has also implemented an enrichment effort to consider applicants whose demographics fall outside the "norm," such as mature returning students, males, minorities, students with disabilities, and other distinctive groups or individuals.

What are the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from the J-School?

The BA and BS in journalism and mass communication require a minimum of 36 s.h. in the major. Students may earn a maximum of 48 s.h. in journalism and mass communication courses, in accordance with College of Liberal Arts and Science guidelines. Students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.00 in courses in the major in order to graduate. They also must complete a second major or 24 s.h. in a second concentration area.

The undergraduate program’s flexibility allows each major to develop an individual study plan in consultation with an SJMC advisor.

Bachelor of Arts
B.A. students must complete the requirements for the journalism and mass communication major (36 s.h.) and must satisfy the school’s second major or concentration area requirement in one of two ways.
Option 1: complete a B.A. major in another department.
Option 2: complete a 24 s.h. concentration of related courses in one or more departments that offer B.A. degrees; at least 15 s.h. of the required 24 s.h. must be earned in advanced courses.

Bachelor of Science
B.S. students must complete the requirements for the journalism and mass communication major (36 s.h.) and must satisfy the school’s second major or concentration area requirement in one of two ways.
Option 1: complete a B.S. major in a natural, mathematical, or social science.
Option 2: complete a 24 s.h. concentration of related courses in the social sciences (economics, geography, political science, psychology, or sociology) and/or the natural and mathematical sciences, earning at least 15 s.h. of the required 24 s.h. in advanced courses; and complete all the special math, research methods, statistics, computer science, and/or cognate science requirements required for the B.S. in the department in which the majority of concentration area courses are taken.

What are the specific requirements for J-School majors?

All majors must complete the following coursework (minimum of 36 s.h., maximum of 48 s.h.):

PRE-MAJOR FOUNDATION

Both of these:

JMC:1100 (019:090) Media Uses and Effects—3 s.h.
JMC:1200 (019:091) Media History and Culture—3 s.h.

JOURNALISM PROFESSIONAL SKILLS COURSES

Both of these: 

JMC:2010 (019:098) Journalistic Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:2020 (019:088) Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling—4 s.h.

Intermediate/advanced reporting and writing—two of these:
*please note, not all classes listed below are offered every semester*

JMC:3400 (019:120) Specialized Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3405 (019:121) Depth Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3410 (019:122) Magazine Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3411 (019:123) Radio and Television Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3412 (019:124) Strategic Communication Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3415 (019:128) Writing Across Cultures—4 s.h.
JMC:3450 (019:125) Freelance Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3460 (019:126) Arts and Culture Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:3470 (019:127) Narrative Journalism—4 s.h.
JMC:3490 (019:129) Feature Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:4100 (019:171) Advanced Reporting and Writing—4 s.h.

Workshop—one of these:
*please note, not all classes listed below are offered every semester*

JMC:3600 (019:130) Topics in Media Production—4 s.h.
JMC:3603 (019:134) TV News Production—4 s.h.
JMC:3605 (019:136) Editing the News—4 s.h.
JMC:3610 (019:131) Graphic Design—4 s.h.
JMC:3615 (019:135) Strategic Communication Campaigns—4 s.h.
JMC:3620 (019:138) Applied Digital and Social Media—4 s.h.
JMC:3625 (019:137) Planning and Evaluation of Strategic Campaigns—4 s.h.
JMC:3630 (019:132) Photo Storytelling: Making Powerful Images—4 s.h.
JMC:3633 (019:133) Philanthropy Communication in a Digital World—4 s.h.
JMC:4120 (019:178) Iowa Journalist—4 s.h.
JMC:4130 (019:175) Advanced Public Relations Writing—4 s.h.
JMC:4300 (019:172) Advanced Photo Storytelling—4 s.h.
JMC:4310 (019:173) Advanced Media Workshop—4 s.h.
JMC:4320 (019:174) Advanced Television News—4 s.h.
JMC:4330 (019:176) Visual Storytelling—4 s.h.
JMC:4340 (019:177) Convergence Journalism—4 s.h.

And:

A third reporting and writing course or a second workshop chosen from courses not taken in the lists above—4 s.h.

CONCEPTUAL COURSES

Students complete two conceptual courses:

JMC:3300 (019:140) Media Law and Communication—3 s.h. (required)

And one of these:
*please note, not all classes listed below are offered every semester*

JMC:3100 (019:157) Fundraising & Philanthropy Communication—3 s.h.
JMC:3105 (019:141) Classic and Contemporary Sports Writing—3 s.h.
JMC:3110 (019:150) Visual Communication—3 s.h.
JMC:3115 (019:151)  Solving Communication Problems—3 s.h.
JMC:3120 (019:152)  History of Mass Communication in the U.S.—3 s.h.
JMC:3125 (019:154) Media and Consumers—3 s.h.
JMC:3130 (019:156)  Comparative Communication Systems—3 s.h.
JMC:3140 (019:158) News-Editorial Problems—3 s.h.
JMC:3145 (019:159) On the Campaign Trail: Elections & Media—3 s.h.
JMC:3150 (019:160) Media and Health—3 s.h.
JMC:3155 (019:161) Law, Media, and Current Issues—3 s.h.
JMC:3160 (019:164) Images and Society—3 s.h.
JMC:3165 (019:165) African Americans and the Media—3 s.h.
JMC:3170 (019:166) Communication Technology and Society—3 s.h.
JMC:3175 (019:167) Gender and Mass Media—3 s.h.
JMC:3180 (019:168) Journalism Ethics—3 s.h.
JMC:3185 (019:169) Topics in Mass Communication—2-3 s.h.

OPTIONAL JOURNALISM ELECTIVES

Students may earn up to 12 s.h. in additional journalism and mass communication coursework, but they may not count more than 48 s.h. of credit in the discipline toward graduation.

Why am I limited to taking no more than 48 hours in J-School classes as a major?

The 48 hour rule is part of our accreditation mandate. When you graduate with 120 hours from The University of Iowa, you can take up to 48 hours in journalism. The foundation of your journalism degree at The University of Iowa is designed to give you a broad liberal arts experience. We believe that a good journalist must have a wide knowledge base, and the 48 hour rule is designed to ensure that our majors take a significant number of courses outside of the J-School to build that wide knowledge base.

As a major, you can take more than 48 hours in the Journalism and Mass Communication program; however, for every hour over 48 that you take, you must also take an additional hour outside the J-School toward your total hours. For example, if you complete 51 hours in Journalism, you will need 123 total hours in order to graduate from the university.

How is a second major different from the area of concentration?

In addition to completing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education requirements, every journalism major must complete a second major or a second area of concentration outside the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Study in the second major or concentration area enables students to acquire a substantial body of knowledge, learn how another discipline views the world, and/or develop a companion set of skills to those in journalism and mass communication.

If a J-School major decides to choose a second major rather than an area of concentration, he/she will work with an advisor in the chosen department to make sure that he/she fulfills all requirements. The assigned journalism advisor will make sure that the student has declared that major and is working with an advisor in that major, but the advisor will not be responsible for that second major.

Students who satisfy the requirement by completing a second area of concentration will choose 24 s.h. of related coursework in one or more departments; at least 15 of the 24 s.h. must be earned in advance courses (in most departments, advanced courses are numbered 100 or above). For example, if a student is interested in building a knowledge base for international reporting, he/she may take courses in various departments that examine different countries, languages, or globalization issues. A student who is interested in developing an expertise related to diverse cultures and communities might take a combination of courses from the African American Studies, Latino Studies, Native American Studies, or American Studies programs.

Coursework in the concentration area must be arranged in consultation with the student’s advisor; each student must have the advisor’s written endorsement of the second major or concentration area before graduation.

Can I complete a J-School major under the Four-Year Graduation Plan?

With the exception of students admitted to the major directly upon their initial enrollment in the University, students are admitted to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication on a competitive, selective basis. The Four-Year Graduation Plan applies only to students who are admitted to major status by the second semester of their sophomore year.

Your chance of completing a J-School major in four years is best if you are admitted into the program by the second semester of your sophomore year. If you are admitted into the program after your junior year, it is possible that you can graduate on time, but we cannot guarantee it. For the most part, it will depend on your area of interest, class availability, and priority status.

Also, each student must complete a second major or a concentration area consisting of at least 24 s.h., of which 15 s.h. must be earned in advanced courses. The checkpoints below show only the minimum requirements for a second area, not the requirements for a second major.

The following checkpoints list the minimum requirements students must complete by certain semesters in order to stay on the University’s Four-Year Graduation Plan. (Courses in the major are those required to complete the major; they may be offered by departments other than the major department.)

  • Before the third semester begins: either JMC:1100 (019:090) or JMC:1200 (019:091) and at least one-quarter of the semester hours required for graduation
  • Before the fifth semester begins: admission to the major, JMC:2020 (019:088), JMC:2010 (019:098), an additional course in the major, at least one second-area course, and at least one-half of the semester hours required for graduation
  • Before the seventh semester begins: two additional courses in the major, three additional second-area courses, and at least three-quarters of the semester hours required for graduation
  • Before the eighth semester begins: two additional courses in the major and two more second-area courses
  • During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining coursework in the major, all remaining General Education courses, all remaining courses in the second area, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

How can I graduate from the J-School with honors?

The University Honors Program gives students with outstanding academic records the opportunity to do honors coursework in their fields or individual interest areas under the guidance of a faculty member.

To graduate with honors in journalism and mass communication, a student must have a GPA of at least 3.50 in the major and must be a member of the University Honors Program, which requires that the students maintain a cumulative University of Iowa GPA of at least 3.33 (contact the University Honors Program for more information). Honors students also must complete JMC:4955 (019:191) (3 s.h.) under the supervision of a faculty member. The project may be a thesis or a professional project, typically completed during the last semester of the senior year. Students are encouraged but not required to take JMC:4950 (019:190) Honors Reading (1–3 s.h.) to prepare for the project.

All majors with an overall GPA of at least 3.33 are encouraged to take any journalism and mass communication course for honors credit and to make use of other honors opportunities in the school. Browse our website or contact the School’s honors advisor for details.

What is the National Honor Society?

The School’s chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national society honoring scholarship in journalism and mass communication, was founded in 1936 and is named for former director Leslie G. Moeller. Students are considered for membership if their grade-point average places them in the top 10 percent of their class and they have completed at least five semesters of university work, including a minimum of 9 s.h. in journalism and mass communications skill courses. Contact the school’s Kappa Tau Alpha advisor for details.

Why is it impossible to get a minor in Journalism?

In order to go out into the media industry and practice journalism, you need to develop a number of specific skills for success. The 15 hours required for a minor does not enable a student to build a strong enough skill base to effectively enter the field.

The number of professional skills courses offered in the J-School are limited based on faculty and resources, so available seats must be reserved for those students who are serious about a career in the industry and who have been admitted into the Journalism and Mass Communication major.

What is the Mass Communication Minor?

Students may earn a minor in Mass Communication by completing at least 15 s.h. in journalism and mass communication with a GPA of at least 2.00; 12 of the 15 s.h. must be taken in advanced conceptual courses at The University of Iowa. Students are encouraged to take one of the following courses:

JMC:1500 (019:050) Social Media Today-3 s.h.
JMC:1100 (019:090) Media Uses and Effects-3 s.h.
JMC:1200 (019:091) Media History and Culture-3 s.h.

Again, the minor does not prepare students for careers in journalism or mass communication, and does not allow students to enroll in the School's professional courses. It should be regarded as a general introduction to the field. Courses for the minor may not be taken pass/non-pass.

What do transfer students need to do to get into the J-School?

As a transfer student, your first step should be to make an appointment with the Academic Advising Center to assess what courses have been accepted by the University, specifically those courses that are approved to fulfill certain requirements and courses identified as equivalents to UI courses.

They may apply to the major during the semester in which they complete at least 30 s.h. of coursework at The University of Iowa and other institutions, including the rhetoric requirement, plus the prerequisite courses JMC:1100 (019:090) Media Uses and Effects and JMC:1200 (019:091) Media History and Culture. Courses taken at other institutions cannot be substituted for JMC:1100 (019:090) or JMC:1200 (019:091).

The J-School will accept no more than 7 s.h. of transfer credit toward the major in journalism and mass communication, or up to 3 s.h. toward the minor in mass communication. Those hours will be accepted as electives unless otherwise approved by the head of Undergraduate Studies.

Professional skills courses from other ACEJMC accredited colleges and universities may be accepted for up to 4 hours. Professional skills courses from community and other non-accredited institutions can be considered if the student demonstrates additional journalistic experience such as media employment, high school journalism experience, a completed Associate Arts degree in journalism, a media internship, or other media activities.

Coursework taken at another school may be used to satisfy requirements for the second area of concentration. The SJMC Educational Advisor will ultimately make that assessment. Therefore, you will need to be admitted into the major first.

All transfer credit intended to meet School of Journalism and Mass Communication requirements must be discussed with a journalism faculty advisor and approved by the head of undergraduate studies.

Where is the J-School located?

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication moved into the Adler Journalism and Mass Communication Building in January 2005. The 65,000-square-foot building has computer laboratories for audio, video, design, writing, web publishing, and a resource center. Photography and typography laboratories are located nearby. The building also is home to offices of the Iowa High School Press Association, the Quill and Scroll Society, the University’s award-winning student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, and DITV, a student run newscast.

What kind of financial support is available to majors in the J-School?

More than $100,000 in scholarships is disbursed to undergraduate journalism majors and graduate students each year. Scholarship information and applications are available each fall. Journalism and mass communication students have also been successful in winning competitive scholarships outside the School, such as Hearst Foundation awards (sometimes called the Pulitzers of college journalism), the Murray Scholars awards, and others.

Do I need to complete an internship as part of my J-School major?

You are not required to complete an internship, but the J-School strongly encourages you to do so. Professional enrichment is important in the field, so we assist students in the completion of at least one internship during their study program. The School’s internship coordinator (located in E346 Adler Building), helps students find appropriate internships.

Undergraduate students may take one internship for credit, registering with appropriate faculty sponsorship for JMC:2100 (019:099) Journalism Internship (1–3 s.h.). Internships do not fulfill requirements for the major, but internship credit counts toward the maximum 40 s.h. (48 s.h. beginning Fall 2013) of journalism and mass communication credit that may be applied toward the bachelor’s degree. Students may take additional internships for no credit through CCP:1019 (409:019) Internship in Journalism.

Does the J-School have job placement assistance?

The School’s internship and assessment coordinator helps students seeking career guidance and employment opportunities. The School posts notices of professional jobs open to journalism students and graduates and publicizes them on its e-mail listserv. It cooperates with the University’s Pomerantz Career Center in providing career guidance and placement services as well as workshops and programs on job-seeking skills.

What are some of the groups and activities in the J-School that I can get involved in?

The school engages in a variety of activities for the enrichment of students, faculty, and the entire campus. Speakers may visit campus each year under lectureships funded by the John F. Murray and Leslie G. Moeller Fund. In addition, guest speakers are funded through the Hearst Visiting Professionals Program and the Hageboeck Daily Iowan Visiting Professionals Program.

Campus organizations for students include Kappa Tau Alpha (KTA, a national society honoring scholarship in journalism), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Radio and Television New Directors’ Association (RTDNA), and ED on Campus (a J-School student magazine group). Many students work for the award-winning campus newspaper, The Daily Iowan. Opportunities with DI-TV are also available for those interested in broadcast and cable media. A current list of media-related organizations can be found here.

How is my J-School faculty advisor assigned?

Once you are admitted into major status, you will be assigned a faculty advisor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. An effort is made to link a student to an advisor in one of his/her top three areas of interest.

Who are the current J-School faculty?

  • Director: David Ryfe
  • Professors: Daniel A. Berkowitz, Stephen G. Bloom, Meenakshi Gigi Durham, Judy Polumbaum, David Ryfe
  • Associate professors: Stephen Berry, Venise Berry, Frank Durham, Lyombe Eko, Donald McLeese, Jane Singer, Sujatha Sosale
  • Assistant professors: Kajsa Dalrymple, David Dowling, Brian Ekdale, Thomas Oates, Melissa Tully, Travis Vogan, Rachel Young

I have already earned a bachelor's degree, but now I'd like to study journalism. Do I have to get another BA?

Students who have already earned a bachelor's degree in another field can apply for one of our advanced degree programs.

I am not an SJMC major. What SJMC courses can I take?

In addition to the two prerequisite courses required for application to the School, students may take JMC:3300 (019:140) Media Law and Communication and/or an advanced conceptual course before they are admitted to the School.

How do I declare a minor in Mass Communications?

You don't need to declare a minor in Mass Communications. Simply complete the coursework as listed in the Course Catalog, and indicate the minor on your graduation application. Graduation Analysis will determine if you have successfully completed the minor.

If my question is not in this FAQ, who should I contact?

Please contact Admission Services:
    E350 Adler Journalism Building
Phone: 319-335-3416
e-mail: jmc-admissions@uiowa.edu