Journalism and Political Science, Bachelor of Science


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Modern journalists have a choice of reporting niches to choose from ranging from “info-tainment” to sports and on to public affairs. This degree sharpens students for careers that clarify and sometimes question the roles of government and politics, at all levels. A strong communication core develops competencies in speaking, writing, and visually demonstrating current events.

This plan will not be available to new students after Summer 2023

  • 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 60 units of major requirements
  • Up to 9 units of liberal studies requirements can have the same prefix as the major. For this major the prefixes include JLS and POS.

  • 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
Additional Admission Requirements Required
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link Not Available
Student Learning Outcomes


  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
Political Science
  • Conceptual and Analytical:  Students should have a basic knowledge of the political world, including contemporary political thought, and public policies, and be able to use key concepts and analytical approaches from Political Theory, U.S. Government and Politics, Comparative Politics, and International relations.
    • Identify and use salient political science concepts and analytical method to evaluate current public policies, political actors’ behavior, political events, and institutional arrangements within a diverse world.
    • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of a variety of significant analytical approaches used in political science.
    • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate the interconnectedness and interdependence of the human experience on a global scale.
  • Inquiry and Research:  Students should be able to define, design, and implement effective research projects in political science.
    • Devise a basic research design.
    • Test hypotheses with basic empirical data.
    • Write the findings in a research report.
  • Communication:  Students should be able to make clear and effective demonstrations of their work in writing and in public presentations.
    • Students will demonstrate advanced writing skills and be able to summarize and explain scholarly political science articles.
    • Analyze and critique the material read /discussed.
    • Suggest and discuss alternative possibilities and outcomes.
    • Engage and interest the reader.
    • Speak in public settings. 
    • Demonstrate an ability to apply the discussion to policy and “real world” applications.
    • Proficiency in and an ability to speak, read, and write in a language other than English. (Bachelor of Arts in Political Science only)
  • Professional and Citizenship:  Students should know, understand, and be able to meet the expectations of professionalism and citizenship.
    • Demonstrate professional behavior in terms of demeanor, personal presentation, ethics, and civic participation in experiential learning and classrooms settings.
    • Acquire the skills and knowledge base to understand the importance of and options for environmental sustainability and its tenuous relationship to economic development in local and global terms.
    • Critically reflect upon the nature and consequences of diversity (e.g. race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, culture, nation), and develop an understanding of how this diversity both alters and is altered in a world characterized by increasing global interaction.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • If you want to major in Journalism, you must complete the communication core classes before applying to the program.
Major Requirements
  • Take the following 60 units with a Grade of "C" or better in each course:

    Communication coursework (30 units)

    Political science coursework (30 units)
    • POS 110, POS 120, POS 201 (9 units)
    • Additional POS courses, excluding POS 220 (Consult with your advisor in selecting courses appropriate for your career aspirations and academic interests. If you repeat an area-studies or topics course more than once with different content, you may count it more than once toward your major requirements.) (21 units)
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 COM 101, COM 200, their required freshman composition 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.