Science Journalism Master's Programs
Master's programs in science journalism equip students with skills in reporting science-related news and developments to the public. Students can expect coursework on reporting, science writing, multimedia journalism, and other relevant topics.
Science Journalism Master's Program Information
Graduate programs in science journalism allow aspiring journalists to sharpen their skills in reporting scientific findings and helping audiences interpret issues that affect the public interest. Sometimes available as concentrations within journalism graduate programs, science journalism programs often include opportunities to study science sub-fields along with journalism principles, and programs can usually be completed in two years or less. Graduates will be equipped to report on topics including climate science, ecology, medicine, and public health after completing courses like the following.
Early in their graduate programs, science journalism students enhance their understanding of standard journalism practices through courses on reporting. These core classes cover the process of story construction from effective methods of gathering information to synthesizing material from multiple sources and creating a finished product on a deadline. Students can expect to develop and pitch story ideas and build content for newspapers, magazines, and web sites. These classes may address reporting for long-form science articles or opinion pieces, and they sometimes include practice with photography and video and audio production.
The changing landscape of journalism means science journalism students need instruction in reporting for a range of media platforms and devices. Multimedia courses emphasize how to design stories that incorporate photography and video and audio components, often for publication online. Students learn techniques for creating stories that are accessible and visually appealing for mobile device users and how to construct interactive features to enhance reader engagement. Multimedia students can expect to complete hands-on projects like photography slide shows and podcasts.
Science-related stories often directly impact readers' lives through issues like health care policies or threats to public health, so graduate students in science journalism spend time learning about investigative reporting. In these courses, students have a chance to learn foundational approaches to investigative reporting including identifying and motivating sources, evaluating research, and obtaining and using public records. The goal of these courses is to cultivate reporters who can interpret data and analyze corporate actions and public policies with a critical eye; those who complete the course should be able to report valuable, trustworthy information related to science and health to the public.
Topics in Science Journalism
Master's degree students take one or more courses on special considerations in science journalism. Often conducted as seminars, these classes offer a background in scientific processes and the history of science along with current topics typically covered by science journalists like climate science, ecological threats, and emerging technologies. Students get practice interviewing scientists and conducting research for stories. In addition to reviewing case studies and learning from guest speakers with experience in science journalism, students in these classes often produce one or more articles for publication.
Students can expect at least one course offering a thorough introduction to the work science journalists do. Foundational courses in science writing cover ideas for conveying complex scientific information to readers and methods of organizing information so it is accurate, ethical, and understandable. By the end of the course, students understand the typical responsibilities science journalists face, and they may gain experience with pitching story ideas to editors and creating feature-length articles along with shorter pieces.
As with most graduate programs in journalism, those focused on science writing include courses in ethical considerations journalists face on the job. These classes introduce privacy rights and bias concerns, and they may also cover laws guiding journalists' actions. Students may conduct case studies analyzing ethical dimensions of a past issue and journalists' responses to it. Specific topics include libel, First Amendment rights, public records laws, and intellectual property.
Admission to Science Journalism Master's Programs
Those seeking to earn a master's in science journalism should hold a bachelor's degree. Although some programs prefer applicants with majors or academic backgrounds in science fields, admitted students often come from diverse academic backgrounds. Prospective students may need to compose essays on their professional and academic goals and interests, and programs often require samples of an applicant's work in journalism. Additional requirements often include letters of recommendation and a resume, and students may need to submit GRE scores.
Master's programs in science journalism offer advanced instruction in journalistic methods with a particular focus on the issues and challenges involved in covering science fields. Qualified students complete a series of courses designed to teach them to effectively and accurately communicate impactful information on science, technology, medicine, and public health.