Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

You are here

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.  SJMC graduates enjoy a 92 percent placement rate at 6 months post graduation.  J-School alumni are working in a variety of media industries across the United States and around the world.

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.

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

To review the requirements for the BA and BS in journalism and mass communication, see our Major Requirements Page 


What are the specific requirements for J-School majors?

For Students who are entering the major fall 2016 or later, the specific requirements can be found here.

Requirements for students who entered the program prior to fall 2016 can be found here.

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 (advanced courses are numbered 3000 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?

The Four-Year Graduation Plan applies only to students who declare the major by the first semester of their sophomore year.  If you join 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 approved certificate. The number of hours required to complete your degree will vary depending on your choice of second major or certificate.  

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 fifth semester begins: JMC:1100 Media Uses and Effects, JMC:1200 Media History and Culture, JMC:2200 Principles of Strategic Communication or JMC:2300 Principles of Journalism, JMC:1600 Writing Fundamentals or successful completion of the SJMC Grammar Quiz, and at least one quarter of the semester hours required for graduation
  • Before the seventh semester begins: JMC:2010 Journalistic Reporting and Writing, JMC:2020 Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling, JMC:2600 Freedom of Expression, JMC:3180 Media Ethics and Diversity, and an additional course in the major, and at least one-half of the semester hours required for graduation
  • During the seventh semester: one writing or workshop course, one conceptual course, and at least three-quarters of the semester hours required for graduation
  • During the eighth semester: one writing or workshop course, one advanced workshop course, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

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

To graduate with honors in journalism and mass communication, a student must have a GPA of at least 3.50 in the major,  and also must complete JMC:4955  Honors Project (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.  For more information about the SJMC Honors Project and the timeline for completion, see our Journalism Honors Program page.

All majors with an overall GPA of at least 3.5 are encouraged consider completing a journalism honors project.  

Students who are members of the general University Honors Program may also use honors in the journalism major to fulfill the experiential learning component of University Honors. Contact the University Honors Program for more information

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 declared 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 (JMC:3100-JMC:3300) at The University of Iowa. Students are encouraged to take one of the following courses:

Mass Communication Minor
Course Number Course Name
JMC:1500 Social Media Today-3 s.h.
JMC:1100 Media Uses and Effects-3 s.h.
JMC:1200 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 know about declaring the major?

As a transfer student, your first step should be to make an appointment with a transfer counselor in the Office of Admissions to assess what courses have been accepted by the University, specifically those courses that are approved to fulfill general education requirements and courses identified as equivalents to UI courses. For questions about courses that might apply towards the journalism and mass communication major, contact SJMC's senior academic advisor, Anna Newnum.

Courses taken at other institutions cannot be substituted for JMC:2010 or JMC:2020.

The J-School will accept no more than 9 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 director 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. For questions about whether your transfer coursework will count towards the major or certificate that you're using as your second area of study, contact the academic advisor for that department.

All transfer credit intended to meet School of Journalism and Mass Communication requirements must be discussed with your SJMC Academic Advisor and approved by the director 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 (AJB) in January 2005. The 65,000-square-foot building has computer laboratories for audio, video, design, writing, web publishing, and a resource center. 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 $200,000 in scholarships and awards 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 E323 AJB), helps students find appropriate internships.

Undergraduate students may earn up to 4 s.h. of internship credit, registering with appropriate faculty sponsorship for JMC:2100 Journalism Internship (1–3 s.h.). Internships do not fulfill requirements for the major, but internship credit counts toward the maximum 48 s.h. 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 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 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.

Who are the current J-School faculty?

  • Director: David Ryfe
  • Professors: Stephen G. Bloom, Meenakshi Gigi Durham, David Ryfe
  • Associate professors: Venise Berry, Kajsa Dalrymple, David Dowling, Frank Durham, Brian Ekdale, Donald McLeese, Thomas Oates, Sujatha Sosale, Melissa Tully, Travis Vogan
  • Assistant professors: Kylah Hedding, Daniel Lathrop, Jessica Moorman, Kevin Ripka, Rachel Young
  • Lecturers and visitors: Rachelle Biderman, Ann Haugland, Tracy Hufford, Lillian Martell, Charles Munro, Heather Spangler, Jenifer Vick

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?

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.