Journalism, Bachelor of Science in Journalism


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This degree has evolved as the needs of the modern journalist have changed and escalated. The program gives students essential professional experiences, as well as practical and philosophical tools such as ethics, reporting, editing, and publication law.

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 56 units of major requirements
  • At least 18 units of a minor

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 114
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Journalism Program provides students with the hands-on experience to tell compelling nonfiction stories in a variety of media platforms. 

We build a strong foundation in the history, philosophy and ethics of journalism and photojournalism and emphasize how these disciplines serve varied communities and facilitate the free flow of information needed in a democratic society. Students learn to take a global perspective as they critically assess journalistic work from a variety of places and historical periods. By valuing the principles of the journalistic tradition, our students obtain the critical and creative edge to innovate and be relevant in an evolving media world. 
Built upon the fundamentals of storytelling and nonfiction narrative, our curriculum ensures that students can cover breaking news as well as develop features and deeper, under-reported stories. Our students are informed and curious about their communities, and develop a critical understanding of media forms that allows them to identify audience needs and place stories within context. By honing methods of investigative research, relationship building and interviewing, our students learn to gather the materials needed to craft compelling narratives. Their creative works are refined through individual mentoring from instructors as well as through intensive student peer review.
The program’s faculty are innovative teachers and professionals who engage students in their current projects through hands-on experience and personalized mentoring. Students produce and publish journalism for real audiences through classwork and in our state-of-the-art Student Media Center, which integrates a newsroom, TV studio and radio station. Internship and independent study projects allow them to report in depth on subjects important to our community or structured around their passions.
Our goal is to train students to be savvy media consumers and producers who can succeed not only in the realm of professional journalism, but within whatever future they create.

Student Learning Outcomes
Understanding the Role of Journalism in Society

Students will develop a strong foundation in the history, philosophy, laws, and ethics of journalism, and will incorporate this knowledge into their practice of journalism.  Students will:
  • Understand the laws governing news communication and American traditions of press freedom, particularly the democratic value and responsibility of circulating information in a free society.
  • Balance these freedoms and responsibilities within the constraints of laws and ethical codes in journalism, and apply this knowledge to differing codes of conduct, freedoms, and constraints that exist in other countries.
  • Critically examine and ethically adapt codes of conduct in journalism to current and emerging media technologies, with the goal of identifying how and where global populations consume and produce journalism, and how this experience of journalism affects codes of conduct and freedoms or constraints existing in other countries.
  • Recognize the underlying communication principles which guide visual, audio, and written nonfiction storytelling and decision making, and apply these principles to their own work.
  • Critically examine public information and narratives that represent and interpret societal issues, and identify how different reporting techniques and approaches can affect a story’s ability to shape and inform public perceptions and public policy.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Storytelling

Students will understand and apply the fundamentals of storytelling and nonfiction narrative to a variety of traditional and innovative media.  Students will:
  • Identify story ideas through observing their surroundings, connecting to communities, and understanding narrative structures; including applying such elements as timeliness, proximity, impact, and other news and storytelling criteria, to know when and how to dig deeper for stories that go beyond superficial topics and engage their audience in thinking differently about everyday events.
  • Engage in the process of research, relationship building, and investigative skill development, such as, interviewing techniques and other information gathering processes, to write and publish stories, from breaking news, features, and deeper, under-reported stories (and everything in between) occurring locally and globally.
  • Learn how to research, and write about city and county governments, police, courts, schools, and other public or citizen entities using the Freedom of Information Act and other tools.
  • Examine the research decision-making process and select approaches that are most appropriate for a given situation, particularly approaches which examine information in ways that challenge the “status quo,” and introduce new perspectives that go beyond the obvious and predefined.
  • Show attention to accommodating diversity in their news stories through identifying cultural differences in storytelling and the effects of cultural, political, historical, religious, ideological, and economic forces on the dissemination of information, and identifying how U.S. ethnic and global cultural diversity shape content and audience experiences of content

Mastering the Practice of Journalism

Students will learn about journalism by practicing it.  Students will:
  • Develop capacities to select the best media format(s) to tell stories in the most compelling, accurate manner, including writing, photojournalism, video journalism, audio, etc., and for multiple platforms (e.g., newspapers, websites, mobile media, etc.).
  • Develop self-directed projects that synthesize foundational theories and journalism ethics incorporating creative and technical approaches to journalism across a variety of media.
  • Assess and differentiate between aesthetically successful and unsuccessful journalism products and clearly identify what and how to improve through the analysis of their own and others’ work.
  • Consistently and continually develop their craft of writing through analysis and critique of their use of style, narrative technique, point of view, tone, etc. to compose compelling non-fiction narratives and accurately incorporate information obtained from multiple sources.
  • Identify how best to adapt the ethics and compelling storytelling needs of journalism to changing technologies and publishing trends and develop the capacity to adapt to technological change while embracing the challenge of mastering new ways to visualize and communicate stories across different media.
  • Apply publication-design principles, structure and styles to develop full news stories from concept to finished package, under tight deadlines and limited resources while using appropriate media to tell the best story, as well as developing skills of investigative journalism and feature writing.
  • While working in the Student Media Center as reporters, writers, designers, photographers, and in other tasks related to journalistic newspaper and website production, student storytellers will learn how to develop story ideas, gather news using interviewing and other techniques, and craft stories and other content for student media.
  • Develop an understanding of the need for journalists to create a brand and a portfolio, and to promote their work through online and social media tools.

Writing/editing track
Students on this track will intensively study and apply the use of language in journalism, with a focus on both writing and editing skills. They will:
  • Understand the responsibilities of editors and how editors work with other media professionals.
  • Gain familiarity with the software tools used in editing and in print publication design.
  • Practice the application of ethical considerations to editing and to planning how journalists cover stories.
  • Engage in intensive writing and rewriting of lengthy, detailed feature stories.

Photojournalism track
Students on this track will gain intensive hands-on experience in visual storytelling through the use of still images, photo editing, and audio and video storytelling techniques. They will: 

  • Demonstrate an ability to craft and deliver images and/or films that meet professional standards.
  • Demonstrate an ability to use specialty and advanced photographic optics and imaging systems to craft multimedia content requiring the use of such equipment.
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically analyze and evaluate photo/video/film/and or multimedia projects.
  • Demonstrate the ability to follow safety and ethical guidelines when photographing/filming in natural and urban environments.
  • Demonstrate an ability to edit images, audio and video using professional software.

Major Requirements
Minor Requirements
  • You must complete a minor of at least 18 units from those described in this catalog. In consultation with your advisor, you should select a minor that is appropriate for your career aspirations and educational needs. Your minor advisor will advise you about this part of your academic plan.

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • See the School of Communication page for information about the Communication Core, Advising and Student Responsibilities, and Graduation Requirements.
  • All majors must earn the grade of "C" or better in their freshman composition required course, and their foundation mathematics course.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.