Journalism Major

Program Director: Rafael Lorente, Dean and Professor

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism prepares students for careers in newspapers, magazines, TV news, newsletters and online journalism outlets. The undergraduate journalism program culminates in a B.A. degree in journalism.

The College is fully accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

Students learn in college programs such as Capital News Service, a daily wire service in College Park, Washington, D.C., and Annapolis and UMTV, a cable station operated by the college.

Students majoring in journalism take approximately one-third (42-48 credits) of their total coursework in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Journalism courses are designed to provide students with a working knowledge of the tools and concepts they will need to perform as top-flight professional communicators.  Courses offered by this department may be found under the following acronym: JOUR.

The remaining approximately two-thirds (74-80 credits) of undergraduate coursework consists of a variety of other subjects such as history, economics, government, sociology and psychology. This exposure acquaints students with fundamental problems and issues they will encounter in their careers. Within these credits, journalism students must choose a "Concentration" (a core of advanced work in a substantive field) to establish competency in a specialized area of knowledge they will be able to use as professionals.

Program Objectives

About the College

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism is widely considered one of the best journalism programs in the nation, blending a mix of prize-winning journalists, communication scholars and nationally recognized professional programs. The school's mission is simple: to produce the best possible journalists for leading newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and online news outlets. Recent graduates are editors, reporters and producers at The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, Los Angeles Times, CNN and many of the nation's other top news organizations.

Located less than 10 miles from the news capital of Washington, students participate in internships during the academic year at The Washington Post, The (Baltimore) Sun, CNN, and a wide array of Washington news bureaus. In the summer, students intern at top news organizations around the country.  Broadcast news students produce and anchor a 30-minute nightly news show that reaches more than 400,000 households in suburban Washington on the college-operated UMTV station, and advanced students enroll in Capital News Service, an intensive reporting program in Washington, Annapolis and College Park. Students also participate in some of the school's professional programs.

The Vision

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism is shaping the future of news and media. As the top journalism school in the Washington, D.C., region and a global leader in journalism education, the college is committed to promoting a strong and independent free press.

  • Through its faculty and curriculum, the Merrill College champions the fundamental journalistic values of accuracy, accountability and fairness, and is a trailblazer in using digital and multimedia technologies in dynamic storytelling.
  • It prepares its undergraduate students for success in today’s exciting and innovative journalism landscape and gives its graduate students the skills and confidence to rise to the top of today’s demanding news and media-dependent professions.

The Mission

The college educates students at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels within a liberal arts context, preparing them for careers in journalism and related fields, as well as careers in academic research and teaching.

  • The college works to elevate professional and ethical standards of practice and advocates for increased public knowledge and involvement in democratic processes through dissemination of news.
  • The mission of the college is to improve the production, delivery, and access to news, as well as to enhance the understanding of journalism’s political, cultural and social roles in the United States and around the globe.

Our undergraduate mission is an uncompromising dedication to the principles of the journalism profession, with training in evolving types of news gathering and delivery.

Our professional master’s program provides a post-graduate education to those with a host of undergraduate degrees seeking to enter the field and intensive specialized training for mid-career journalists with a particular focus on investigative, sports, security and computational journalism.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to research, write, report and edit relevant news stories acceptable by a professional news outlet.
  2. Understand the history of journalism, its relationship with diverse groups in society and its historic special role in a democratic society.
  3. Understand the ethical guidelines and practices that govern the profession and the legal implications and considerations that inform the profession.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to apply tools, concepts and technology appropriate for the profession.
  5. Conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the profession.
  6. Apply basic numerical and statistical concepts appropriate for the profession.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax and an ability to apply Associated Press style to news stories in a manner acceptable to professional news outlets.
  8. Demonstrate preparedness for the media job market through resumes and published clips.

Students are required to earn a minimum of 122 credits. Accredited journalism programs require majors to complete successfully approximately two-thirds of their coursework in areas other than journalism and communication. The Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland adheres to this nationwide policy.  In practical terms, this means that of the 122 minimum credits required for graduation, a journalism student must take 42 credits (and may take up to 48) in journalism (numbered 100 or above). Of the remaining 74-80 credits, a minimum of 65 must be earned in liberal-arts designated courses.

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism stipulates that 57 of the total credits must be taken in upper-level courses (courses numbered 300-499).

Required courses for all journalism majors, whether primary or secondary major:

Course Title Credits
Journalism Requirements Outside the College
Abstract thinking skills requirement:
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Biometrics
Business Statistics
Statistics for Criminology and Criminal Justice
Applied Economic Statistics
Economic Statistics
Introduction to Educational Statistics
Introduction to Quantitative Methods for the Geographical Environmental Sciences
Quantitative Political Analysis
Statistics for Information Science
Breaking News With Numbers: Statistics for Journalists
Statistical Methods in Psychology
Introductory Statistics for Sociology
Applied Probability and Statistics I (or a more advanced statistics course.)
Select a minimum of 6 credits through one or a combination of the following options: 16
Language 2
Math/Statistics/Computer Science 3
Public Speaking:
Select one of the following:3
Oral Communication: Principles and Practices
Critical Thinking and Speaking
Argumentation and Debate
HIST200Interpreting American History: Beginnings to 18773
or HIST201 Interpreting American History: From 1865 to the Present
Behavioral or Social Science:
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistics
Introduction to Psychology
Social Psychology
Introduction to Sociology
Introduction to Contemporary Social Problems
ECON200Principles of Microeconomics3
or ECON201 Principles of Macroeconomics
Government and Politics:
GVPT170American Government3
Supporting Area:
Select 4 upper upper-level courses for a minimum of 12 credits in a supporting field 412
Select four additional upper-level courses for a minimum of 12 credits 412
Journalism Course Requirements
JOUR152Introduction to Storytelling with Code1
JOUR200Journalism History, Roles and Structures3
JOUR201News Writing and Reporting I3
JOUR320News Writing and Reporting II: Multiplatform3
JOUR352Interactive Design and Development3
JOUR396Supervised Internship2
JOUR402Journalism Law and Ethics3
Journalism and Society Course (One JOUR course from the 410-469 range)3
Media Research Course (One JOUR course from the 470-479 range)3
Menu 1 - Visual Menu (One course from the following):3
News Videography
Menu 2- Exploration Menu (One course from the following):3
News Editing
News Videography
News Writing and Reporting II: Broadcast
Feature Writing
Journalism Capstone Experience3-9
Upper-Level Courses of Choice. A minimum of 9 credits must be upper-level JOUR courses, at least 6 of which must be upper-level skills courses in the 321-389 range.9-15

Should a student choose to combine the options, at least one language course must be at the intermediate level


Up to two courses with at least one course at the intermediate level and no more than one course at the introductory level. (High school equivalency does not satisfy this requirement.)


Up to two courses:

  • Any mathematics (MATH) course numbered 107 or higher.
  • Any computer science (CMSC) course numbered 102 or higher (at least three credits).

 Numbered 300 or higher, cannot be in Communication.


For students seeking to develop skills in particular areas, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism offers optional specializations that fit inside the curricular requirements.

Broadcast Specialization

Course Title Credits
JOUR262News Videography3
JOUR360News Writing and Reporting II: Broadcast3
An approved capstone 13-9
Total Credits9-15

 Several broadcast capstones also require JOUR361

Investigative Reporting Specialization

Course Title Credits
JOUR343Investigative Reporting3
or JOUR353 News Bureau: Multimedia Reporting
JOUR472Data Journalism3
An approved JOUR seminar course in the 410-469 range3
Total Credits9

Sports Specialization

Course Title Credits
Sports skills JOUR course from the 321-389 range3
Sports discussion/seminar JOUR course from the 410-469 range 3
Sports capstone course 13-9
Sports experiential course (an approved sports internship for JOUR396 or a second sports-focused capstone course)2-6
Total Credits11-21

 If taking a second capstone for the sports experiential course, limit each to 6 credits

Specific Journalism Requirements

  • Completion of JOUR201: Students must complete JOUR201 with a "C-" or higher. Consult the Undergraduate Catalog or online Schedule of Classes for a list of prerequisites and restrictions for journalism courses.
  • "C-" Requirement: Students must earn a "C-" or higher in the following courses in order to have them count for the major: JOUR152JOUR200JOUR201JOUR202JOUR262, JOUR320, JOUR352, JOUR360, JOUR361JOUR370, JOUR371, JOUR402 and any course that qualifies as a Capstone Experience. This minimum grade must be achieved prior to taking courses which the aforementioned courses serve as a prerequisite.

Placement in Courses

Enrollment in JOUR201 requires proof of grammar competency through the attainment of at least a "C-" in JOUR181 or a score of 80 or higher on the grammar diagnostic exam, completion of ENGL101 (or another FSAW course) with at least a "C-" and completion of JOUR200 with at least a "C-".

Click here for roadmaps for four-year plans in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

Additional information on developing a four-year academic plan can be found on the following pages: