Master's Program in Science and Medical Journalism

Mission

The overall mission of the program is to educate journalists so that they can communicate about medicine and science effectively. Competent science and medical journalists are needed to provide a bridge between the scientist and the consumer.

Who should apply

The program would be of interest to both journalists and health professionals who

  • hold a bachelor’s degree,
  • have previous journalism education or experience,
  • have demonstrated writing skills.

Applicants should view admission requirements for the graduate program as well.

Requirements

Any graduate student who receives any funding for his or her education from a school-based source is required to maintain at least a P average each year. Grades are reviewed each spring in order to make this determination. L grades must be balanced by H grades in order to maintain this average. If a student gets an L in one of the journalism and mass communication core courses (JOMC 701, JOMC 740, JOMC 753 or JOMC 782), that L is not removed by passing the examination or by getting a P upon retaking the course. That L must be balanced by an H.

All master’s students must pass the school’s usage and grammar test by the end of their first semester. This is a basic requirement for graduation for undergraduate students and normally poses no major problem for graduate students. Information about the spelling and grammar test, including instructions on how to study for it, is included in the orientation packet sent to new students each summer.

Master’s students in science and medical journalism must earn at least 36 graduate-level credits (12 courses numbered 400 or above) including credits for a thesis or special project. Course requirements are divided into five categories: core science and medical journalism courses, required journalism and mass communication graduate courses, courses outside the School of JOMC (including at least two public health courses), other advanced JOMC courses, and thesis or non-thesis project. In addition, students can receive three credits for an approved summer internship between the first and second years of study.

Core science and medical journalism courses

Other required JOMC courses

All master’s students must take the following journalism and mass communication courses:

  • JOMC 701: “Mass Communication Research Methods”
  • JOMC 740: “Mass Communication Law and Ethics”
  • JOMC 753: “Reporting and Writing News” (course designed to be cross-platform)
  • JOMC 782: “Multimedia Storytelling”

Courses outside JOMC

All master’s students in the Science and Medical Journalism Program must take two graduate-level  courses outside the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Those courses must be approved by the director of the Science and Medical Journalism Program and be in a content area pertinent to the student's focus of interest. 

Other advanced JOMC courses

  • One seminar (in specialization if offered) at the 800 level
  • One additional graduate-level skills or conceptual course

Thesis

  • JOMC 992: Non-traditional thesis OR
  • JOMC 993: Master's thesis

Exams

All students must pass the appropriate examinations, which include a comprehensive written examination covering the material in the student’s path courses. All course work must be completed before a student may take his or her path exams, which generally are administered in February of the second year of study. Each student must also pass an oral examination on the thesis or professional project, given by the student’s advisory committee.

Thesis, project or articles

Students in science and medical journalism have the option of writing a traditional thesis (JOMC 993) or doing a non-traditional thesis project (JOMC 992). Examples of projects include preparing a broadcast-quality television or radio report; writing a series of medical and/or science journalism articles suitable for publication in a magazine, newspaper or Web-based format; or preparing a medical or science journalism multimedia project.

Length of program

Students will complete the master’s program in two years by attending classes full time during the first three consecutive semesters and then completing the thesis or project during the fourth semester. There is no provision for part-time students in the master’s program in science and medical journalism.

Graduate committee

Students select a three-member advisory committee. Headed by the director of the Science and Medical Journalism Program or another appropriate professor who serves as the student’s adviser, the committee acts as a resource as well as referee of the thesis or project. One member of the committee should come from outside the School of JOMC, preferably from a health- or science-related discipline and should be someone with whom the student has taken a class.