Gather, critically analyze, and synthesize verbal and visual information to communicate accurate and clear news stories across traditional and digital media platforms.
The journalism major prepares students to gather, critically analyze, and synthesize verbal and visual information to communicate accurate and clear news stories across multiple media platforms. In addition to writing and reporting, students prepare audio and visual content for dissemination in a variety of media, making them a valuable asset to any future employer specializing in news reporting and factual storytelling.
The major is enhanced by RIT's reputation for using cutting-edge technology, yet is grounded in the traditional reporting and writing skills needed by professional journalists. The major prepares students for a converged digital media world. They learn the conceptual and practical skills demanded by the digital newsroom through a combination of journalism, communication, and applied professional courses, along with a professional core of courses from the colleges of Business, Computing and Information Sciences, and Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Plan of study
Students develop skills through a core of required communication courses, which cover news writing, news editing, multi-platform journalism, communication theory, mass communications, law and press ethics, and computer-assisted reporting. A professional core of four courses, chosen from the colleges of Business, Computing and Information Sciences, or Imaging Arts and Sciences, introduces students to photojournalism, multimedia, Web development, digital entrepreneurship, and building a Web business. Journalism electives, free electives, and liberal arts courses complete the curriculum.
In a senior capstone course students apply what they've learned to a project similar to one they would encounter in their profession. Students produce a long-form piece of journalism, a website, and a digital portfolio of selected works.
Students are required to complete one semester of cooperative education or an internship experience. This experience gives students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to a professional work environment. Past co-op positions have been at newspapers, including the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester's daily newspaper. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education assists students in identifying and applying to co-op and internship positions as well as permanent placement upon graduation.
This course presents the history of American journalism from colonial times to the present, including the advance of press freedom under the First Amendment and how it has affected the development of American media. The influences of Europe, colonial politics in America, national expansion, urbanization, war, and technology are further developed. Journalism’s relationship to politics, institutions, and culture will be investigated. Newspaper, magazine, and broadcast industries will be examined for ideas that have changed American journalism.
Introduction to Journalism
The course covers the impact/effect of journalism on American society, with an introduction to the history, freedom, technologies, ethics, and functions of the news media. Students will learn how to assess news value, develop news judgment, and analyze news stories.
Reporting and Writing I (WI)
This course introduces students to the principles and practices of gathering, evaluating, investigating, and presenting information to general audiences. Rights and responsibilities of the press will be analyzed. Although special emphasis will be given to writing and reporting for print publications, other media will be addressed. Special attention will be given to the qualities of writing, especially organization, accuracy, completeness, brevity, and readability. Assignments must conform to Associated Press style.
Reporting and Writing II
Practicum in advanced techniques of news gathering, reporting, and writing, with an emphasis on reportorial principles and practices. This class expands upon the processes of gathering, evaluating, investigating, and presenting information to news media audiences previously introduced in newswriting.
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
First Year LAS Elective
Professional Core Course
First Year Writing
Theories of Communication
An introduction to human communication theory, including a history of the field and major theories from the intrapersonal, language, interpersonal, small group, public, organizational, mass, visual, and computer-mediated communication contexts. Theories based both in the humanities and the social sciences are covered. This course should be taken during the student's second year.
This course introduces students to the principles and practices of editing hard news and feature articles, including news judgment, story selection, headline writing, copy editing, and picture editing. The course emphasizes reader interest, readability, clarity, verification, and style, as well as legality, ethics, and propriety.
Computer Assisted Reporting
This course covers how to report on, illustrate, find, and analyze records and databases, with emphasis on investigative reporting.
LAS Perspective 5‡ (natural science inquiry)
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles)
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical)
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical)
Professional Core Course
LAS Immersion 1, 2
Reporting in Specialized Fields
An in-depth study, analysis, and practicum of a selected advanced and focused subject in professional journalism. Specific subject matter of the course varies according to faculty assigned and is published when the course is offered; students may enroll in this class no more than twice as long as the specific subject matter is different. Examples include education journalism, health journalism, business journalism, reporting public affairs, sports journalism, editorial (or opinion) writing, and reporting for alternative media.
Communications Law and Ethics
This course examines major principles and trends in communication law. The course analyzes a broad range of issues related to the First Amendment, intellectual property, and media regulation. Special attention is paid to discussing the major ethical perspectives and issues surrounding contemporary communication behavior.
The internet is an important source of news information, rivaling print, radio, and television news. This course introduces students to the principles and practices of online news reporting, including writing for mainstream news sites, journalistic blogs (web logs), share and discussion sites, and other evolving online news outlets. The course familiarizes students with the tools of the online reporter: for example, vetting sources on the web, conducting e-mail interviews, and writing for web pages. Also, students explore the cultural and ethical terrain unique to the wired environment.
Professional Core Course
LAS Immersion 3
Cooperative Education (summer)
Communication, advertising, and public relations majors create a portfolio comprised of projects, papers, and related professional materials; Journalism majors complete a senior project. Near the end of every semester, the department hosts a portfolio review day when department of communication seniors present their portfolio or project work in a public space for review and comment by faculty, staff, and peers. The presentation constitutes completion of the course.
Senior capstone course culminating in the production of a long-form piece of journalism, a website and a digital portfolio of select works. The course brings together each participant's work in journalism and the professional core.
Professional Core Courses
Total Semester Credit Hours
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
‡ Students will satisfy this requirement by taking either a 3 or 4 credit hour lab science course. If a science course consists of separate lecture and laboratory sections, the student must take both the lecture and the lab portion.
Webpage Production I
Students in this course will plan and implement publishing projects with a focus on usability, accessibility, and information design for the World Wide Web. Application of standard Web protocols such as HTML and CSS will be applied in the context of Web publishing as a part of a cross-media production strategy.
Webpage Production II
In this advanced course, students will apply concepts and skills from previous study to determine optimal strategies for the development, deployment and evaluation of websites. Through a blend of research and practical application, students will evaluate and apply a range of methodologies for Web publishing.
Elements of Photojournalism
This course will serve an introduction to visual story telling as it relates to professional photojournalism. It will provide relevant practice in basic technical, compositional and interpersonal skills necessary in all aspects of modern photography. Students will be exposed to photojournalism - documentary, editorial, narrative and editing - as well as explorations of current career possibilities. Lectures, critiques, demonstrations and assignments will provide participants the opportunity to explore the still, audio, and multimedia strategies used for story telling in this era. Students will be expected to meet tight project deadlines and participate in both class discussions, critiques and practices required to be successful in this field. If you are pursuing the Photojournalism option this course is required.
This course teaches students how to tell stories in the digital world. Students will learn the skills necessary to gather and edit audio and how to combine audio, images, and text for compelling online storytelling. In addition to basic technical skills, the course will explore contemporary concepts for effective multimedia storytelling.
Choose one of the following:
Special Topics in Communication
An in-depth examination of a selected aspect of the communication discipline (e.g. strategic communication, technical communication, visual communication, computer mediated communication, advertising, public relations, journalism). Special Topics in Communication can be taken multiple times provided the topic being studied has changed.
Building a Web Business
This course gives students both a conceptual and hands-on understanding of the launching of web businesses. Students will study the full process of web business creation, including domain name registration, frameworks for application creation, hosting of web applications and search engine optimization. Students will apply their knowledge by designing and building a business website that can actually make money.
Digital Entrepreneurship brings together state-of-the-art knowledge in digital business practices with basic instruction in entrepreneurship and business planning. This highly interactive, applied experience will allow students to develop business ideas, discover RIT resources that support new ventures, network with and learn from industry experts, and complete a professional plan to communicate and advance a digital business venture. Student work for this course will involve research and analysis of electronic marketplaces and, ultimately, the design and development of competitive digital startups.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
Strong performance in English and social studies is expected
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in liberal arts, math, science, and computer science
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
Liberal arts with emphasis in communication and a technical field such as business, photography, or computer science
Every student is assigned a professional academic adviser and a faculty mentor in the department of communication. The professional adviser assists with course planning and registration; the faculty mentor provides advising about career development and planning, including information about research opportunities, graduate school, and jobs. Peer mentors, who are upper-level journalism students, are available to answer questions about classes, clubs on campus, student-run activities, and other matters from the student’s perspective.
Nearly all 18 faculty members in the department of communication hold the highest degrees in their fields. Many have won awards for teaching, and all have been published within their areas of expertise.
Journalism majors have a wide range of career options to choose from. It is expected that the market for writers and editors will increase by nearly 20 percent in the next few years, and graduates with experience in new media technologies will have a significant edge. The major also is ideal for those interested in pursuing graduate study in journalism or communication. The department of communication offers an MS degree in communication and media technologies. Please consult RIT's Graduate Bulletin for more information.