Frequently Asked Questions

I’m interested in Journalism but I don’t think I want to be a reporter. Is this still a good major for me?

Students become journalism majors for lots of reasons. Most want to work for newspapers, magazines, radio, online or television news. Many go on to law school, do public relations or become teachers. Or they may just like to write and they don’t really know what they want to do. The skills you develop in this major like information gathering, the ability to do research, critical thinking and clear writing will help you in any career you choose.

I really want to major in Journalism but I know I need some help with my writing. What should I do?

By the time we accept you into the major, we assume students are proficient in basic writing skills. If you think you may need to review your writing skills, speak to one of your Journalism professors. Or check with the Writing Center in Bartlett 303A. You can use this center on a walk-in basis, and more extensive support is available there as well.

Can I minor in Journalism?


What if the class I want is full?

We do not keep departmental or online waiting lists for Journalism classes. If you are unable to get into a class because it is full, you may contact the professor and let him or her know of your interest. In most cases, the professor will tell you to come to the first class meeting of the semester. At that time, you should be given some idea as to the likelihood of getting into the class. In the meantime, you should have an alternative plan in mind in case you are not able to get into the class you want. Choose another open Journalism class, a General or Global Education requirement if you still need any, or something for your minor (or second major).

How big are Journalism classes?

Journalism lecture/discussion classes range in size from 20 to 60 students. Our writing classes are between 12 and 15 students.

Do Journalism majors have to read the news every day?

We assume Journalism majors are interested in the media and current events, and we expect you to know what’s going on in the world and to be conversant in the major issues of the day. Whether you get that news online, on TV, on the radio or in print is up to you, but you should be in the habit of getting your news from at least one mainstream news source.

What should I minor in?

Journalism requires a 15-credit minor or concentration in another field. Many students minor in fields that will complement their Journalism career goals, e.g., political science, Spanish or history. Many students minor in fields of personal interest, such as comparative literature, classics or psychology. The field is wide open. The only field you cannot minor in is Communication. Completion of a certificate program, such as Film Studies or Latin American Studies, will satisfy the minor requirement, as will the completion of a second major (except for Communication).

What is the difference between a minor and a concentration?

Most departments have an approved series of courses that constitute their official minor. We encourage students to complete the official minor in the field of your choice if it is available. This will appear on your transcript. However, some departments do not offer an official minor. In these cases, you would need to complete 15 credits (or five classes) above the 200 level. This would be called a “concentration.” It is also possible to put together a concentration of related courses chosen from more than one department. All concentrations require approval from a Journalism advisor.

Can I double major in Communication and Journalism?

Yes. But if you choose to double major in Communication, you must also complete a minor in something else.

What is the Global Education requirement?

Journalism is in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Students with a major in CSBS must complete the Global Education requirement.

What if my second major is in the College of Humanities & Fine Arts?

For Afro-American Studies, Art, Art History, Chinese, Classics, Comparative Literature, Dance, English, French, German, History, Italian, Japanese, Judaic Studies, Linguistics, Middle Eastern Studies, Music, Philosophy, Portuguese, Slavic and East European Studies, Spanish, Theater or Women's Studies, uou must complete the CHFA requirements. The CHFA requirement is the completion of the 240 (or 246) level of a foreign language. You may also satisfy the requirement by verifying you had four years of the same language in high school. You do not have to complete the Global Education requirements, but you must go to the Global Ed office in E-20 Machmer and complete the Option form.

Is Journalism the best major for me if I’m interested in public relations?

We think so. A recent graduate of Journalism who now has a successful career in public relations wrote a guide to Journalism for students interested in advertising and public relations.

Journalism Department
108 Bartlett Hall
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Phone: 413.545.1376