Jul 26, 2021  
2021-2022 General Catalog 
2021-2022 General Catalog

Journalism and Communication

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Departments

Department Head: Susan Polster (July 1, 2021)
Location: Animal Science 310
Phone: (435) 797-3292
FAX: (435) 797-3973
E-mail: jcom@aggiemail.usu.edu
WWW: http://www.usu.edu/journalism

Associate Department Head: Candi Carter Olson, Agricultural Sciences 322, (435) 797-3253, candi.carterolson@usu.edu

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Journalism; BS in Agricultural Communication and Journalism (offered jointly with School of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education Department  ), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) in Communication

Note: Applications for admission to the MS and MA degrees in Communication are not currently being accepted. For information about when they may be accepted, contact the Department of Journalism and Communication.

Undergraduate emphases: Broadcast/Electronic Media, Print Journalism, Public Relations/Corporate Communications, Social Media

Full Details of the learning objectives, assessment plan, student outcomes, and evidence of continuous improvement for these programs of study can be found at journalism.usu.edu/about/assessment.

Undergraduate Programs


The undergraduate major in the Journalism and Communication Department, leading to the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, is designed to prepare students for careers in a wide range of communication fields, through instruction in the philosophical groundings, theoretical perspectives, and hands-on applications of communications skills and practice. The curriculum integrates practical mass communications skills training with critical thinking skills, while helping students to understand the processes and effects of communication, as well as the relationships, roles, and interactions of mass communication with other social institutions.

Attainment of the goals articulated in the Journalism and Communication Mission Statement requires that Journalism majors exhibit proficiency in the following areas:

  1. Journalism and Communication Skills: Writing and verbal skills, information-gathering, fact-checking, the synthesis of ideas, and deductive logic.
  2. Technological Skills: Both the ability to use effectively, as well as the knowledge of, current delivery systems for information and their impacts.
  3. Philosophical Grounding: Understanding of the philosophical, historical, and ethical antecedents of modern mass journalism and communication practice in the context of the First Amendment and a free and open society, and how these lessons apply in day-to-day mass media practice for media producers and consumers.
  4. Critical Thinking: The ability to evaluate mass media messages and campaigns, to understand how media and society interact, and the implications of that interaction.
  5. Professional and Personal Responsibility: Affirmation of the individual’s responsibilities as either a producer or consumer of information in a democratic mass media age.
  6. Market Savvy: Exposure to real-world situations that instruct and demonstrate application of classroom lessons.

The Department of Journalism and Communication maintains professional studios and labs, designed to train students in various communications and journalism skills. These include the multimedia computer newsroom, a digital nonlinear video editing lab, and a full TV studio. Students receive instruction in traditional journalistic basics, such as writing, information-gathering, reporting, and video production; in new technologies of online information gathering; and in critical thinking skills of media literacy.

Sample Four-year Plans

Sample semester-by-semester four-year plans for students working toward a bachelor’s degree are available in the Journalism and Communication Department.

Students should consult with their advisor to develop a plan of study tailored to their individual needs and interests.

Financial Support

In addition to general scholarships and other financial support opportunities available through the University and the college containing the humanities and social sciences, the Department of Journalism and Communication awards various scholarships to majors. For a listing of scholarships, deadlines, and application requirements, contact the Department of Journalism and Communication. In addition, many professional paid and unpaid internships are available through the department.

Careers in Journalism and Communication

Journalism majors often begin their careers in various media professions, such as newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting, and public relations, many serving as interns while still attending school. Upon graduation, they land jobs in a variety of capacities for both journalism businesses and other industries requiring workers with excellent communication and problem-solving skills. In recent years, USU journalism students have routinely won state, regional, and national awards in print and video journalism, multimedia and new technologies, and, increasingly, public relations.

This success translates into an excellent reputation for USU students among businesses hiring USU students as interns and hiring USU graduates for professional positions. Jobs held by recent graduates include newspaper and magazine reporter, photographer, graphic artist, and editor; radio and television reporter, anchor, and producer; public relations director and account executive; multimedia software designer for HTML, web pages, CD-ROMs, etc.; and public information officer for politicians, legislative and lobbying groups, sports teams, and colleges, as well as for environmental organizations and other groups in the business and public sectors. Training and expertise in communication, including writing and reporting, visual literacy, publication layout and design, computer graphics, and online applications, prove to be valuable add-on skills for graduates entering a variety of occupations or going on to graduate school and law school.

In addition to these kinds of opportunities enjoyed by undergraduates, master’s degree graduates often return to communication careers in new capacities, or teach at the community college level in journalism and communication departments.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program offers students in all colleges and majors the unique opportunity to deepen their educational experience with hands-on practical applications of their academic knowledge. The Honors Program admits incoming, transfer, and existing USU students based on application. High achieving students with at least one year remaining are encouraged to apply.  See the University Honors Program catalog entry and website (honors.usu.edu) for more information.


Additional Information

For further information about publications, curriculum, scholarships, faculty, and other program offerings, including USU’s TV studio facilities; weekly newscasts and TV programs; the award-winning student news website, the Hard News Café; and the Media and Society Lecture Series; check out the Journalism and Communication Department’s website: http://www.usu.edu/journalism

For detailed information about requirements for the Journalism major and minor, see the major requirement sheet, which can be obtained from the department.

Graduate Programs

The Master of Science (MS) and the Master of Arts (MA) degrees in Communication combine professional practice and theoretical training, and are designed to fit individual student needs. Students may specialize in print, photo, or broadcast journalism. Application to the graduate program is made through the USU School of Graduate Studies.

Note: Applications for admission to the MS and MA degrees in Communication are not currently being accepted. For information about when they may be accepted, contact the Department of Journalism and Communication.


The master’s program in Communication at Utah State University offers a three-track approach to graduate study, designed for the maximum individual flexibility in pursuit of the student’s goals.

The Plan A, also known as the “Thesis Option” or “Media Research,” is a course of study designed for students considering or planning to go on to a doctoral program. The Plan A option requires more coursework in theory and methodology, as well as in research tools, in order to provide grounding for advanced study at the PhD level, whether in communication or another discipline. This option also requires completion of a master’s thesis, consisting of original research.

The Plan B, also known as the “Professional Option” or “Media Practice,” is designed for students seeking the master’s degree as a terminal degree, and planning to go from USU into the mass media professions, or into a teaching position at the junior college level. Typically, Plan B students are mid-career media professionals seeking retooling, refreshers, or credentials for community college teaching. The Plan B option requires a professional project, approved by a major professor, in place of the research thesis.

The Plan C, another “Professional Option,” is the same as the Plan B except, instead of a professional project, the student enrolls in additional coursework.

All three options—A, B, and C—require the student to pass comprehensive exit exams.

Graduate students in Communication work closely with advisors throughout their programs to design coursework and a research or professional activity agenda, along with appropriate study in a cognate area outside of Communication, that will permit them to achieve their individual goals, within the core framework of Communication coursework, whether they include professional training or additional doctoral work.

Additional Information

For more information about graduate studies in the Department of Journalism and Communication, contact the School of Graduate Studies or the Department of Journalism and Communication. Also, check out the departmental website at: http://www.usu.edu/journalism

FACULTY - College of Humanities and Social Sciences   

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Departments