Information for Prospective Majors and Minors
Welcome to the journalism department at Western Washington University. Included here is information to assist you in deciding whether journalism is the field you wish to study, as well as information to get you started in our department. Please explore all the links provided throughout this site. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
What is Journalism?
"The role of a free press is to be the people's eyes and ears, providing not just information but access, insight, and most importantly, context."
-Jon Stewart, host, The Daily Show
Journalism is the work of supplying content, primarily news, for the ever-expanding world of mass media. Journalists are responsible for gathering information, analyzing and editing it for a mass audience, and dispensing it using some form of media platform. Increasingly the methods of distribution have become more complex, but the basic mission of a journalist remains the same: to serve the public by finding, defining, writing, and editing information.
Today's journalist may be found on traditional publications such as newspapers and magazines, broadcast outlets and specialized publications. They may utilize online delivery or other forms of electronic communication. The trained journalist may use their skills in the expanding field of public relations, working to serve as a bridge between those with a message to communicate and the journalist who seeks information.
Journalists "put content in the box," to paraphrase Edward R. Murrow. To the extent that they are successful, they can inform and influence a nation.
Why study Journalism?
Few fields of study prepare a young person for as wide a range of interesting and challenging careers. Journalists first and foremost learn to write, to accumulate and analyze information. This set of skills is in demand in a host of fields beyond traditional mass media.
The study of journalism exposes a student to current affairs and problems, from issues of campus governance to international news and concerns. Journalism students are expected to question, challenge sources of information, and seek a variety of data and opinions on any serious issue. These skills are useful in many interesting professions as well as the media itself.
Journalism students are given the daily opportunity to practice what they learn, in hands-on student publication laboratories, culminating in a professional internship. The world of work is but a quick step from the world of the classroom and laboratory. The journalism faculty at Western are prepared both professionally and academically to help students enter this exciting career field.
For more information, see Career Options.
Program Options: Majors and Minors
The Department of Journalism has programs leading to a B.A. in news/editorial, public relations, visual journalism, or a combined major in environmental studies/journalism. Journalism minors in news/editorial and public relations are available. Journalism courses also are options for the Freshman Interest Group (FIG) program.
For detailed information about each of these options, see journalism program requirements. Contact the department for advising if you have questions or need help deciding which option is for you. See criteria for declaring a pre-major below.
Student publications at Western include the semi-weekly newspaper, The Front; the semi-quarterly magazine, Klipsun; and the annual environmental magazine, The Planet. Policy for the publications is set by the Student Publications Council, and the majority of the funding is from student fees.
All Western students are eligible to participate in publications staff work. Student editors are selected each quarter by the Publications Council and receive a stipend, as do assistant editors. Students may enroll in staff courses for credit; the courses are supervised by faculty of the Department of Journalism or, in the case of The Planet, the College of the Environment. To inquire about opportunities in student publications, see any journalism faculty member or contact the publication's editor.
Applying to Western
For information about applying to Western Washington University, contact the Admissions Office, Old Main 200, (360) 650-3440. An Undergraduate Application for Admission is required of all freshmen, transfer and post-baccalaureate applicants. If you are thinking about transferring to Western and wondering what courses will apply toward a major in journalism, contact the journalism department manager for an appointment with an adviser. For advice about General University Requirements (GURs), contact the Academic Advising Center and Student Outreach Services.
Once you have been admitted to Western, we recommend that you attend a journalism advising session and formally declare a journalism pre-major as soon as possible to establish a plan of study, gain access to lower-division classes during Phase I of registration, and receive important information from the department (see Criteria for declaring a pre-major, below).
The Department of Journalism offers one scholarship to incoming freshman: The Pete Steffens Native American Scholarship. The University also has many scholarships available to new students. Contact the Scholarship Center for a list of available scholarships. The journalism department offers up to 10 scholarships each spring for students who have declared the major and have completed certain classes within the department.
Declaring the Journalism Major
The Department of Journalism at Western has a two-step process for major declaration. Most students declare a journalism pre-major while completing the requirements to formally declare a major in journalism.
Criteria for declaring a pre-major:
To be eligible to declare as a pre-major in journalism, a student must have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. Transfer students will be accepted during their first quarter on campus. Freshmen must complete one quarter of classes at WWU to establish a GPA before being considered as a pre-major. Current WWU students must show evidence of the required 2.5 GPA. Students are encouraged to declare as a pre-major while completing the requirements for the major. For complete details, see Steps to Becoming a Major, Declaring as a Pre-Major on the department’s website.
Criteria for declaring a major:
Before formally declaring a major in journalism, a student must complete the following requirements:
- Complete a minimum of 30 college credits with a cumulative 2.50 grade point average in both WWU courses and journalism courses.
- Pass JOUR 207 with a B- or better (transfer students must meet the same requirement for any course accepted as an equivalent of JOUR 207).
- Complete one journalism staff course (JOUR 214, JOUR 314, JOUR 321) with a B- or better.
- Meet with your faculty advisor to obtain their approval of your plan of study. If your advisor is unable to meet for any reason, then a meeting with the department’s Program Coordinator or Department Manager will satisfy this requirement.
Procedure for declaring:
When all the requirements have been satisfied, message the Program Coordinator to let them know that you are ready to declare as a journalism major. The Program Coordinator will review your record and guide you through the next steps.
Information for Journalism Minors
We offer a journalism minor in news/editorial and public relations. To declare a minor in journalism, you must have at least 2.5 GPA at WWU. Contact the journalism department manager or program coordinator as early as possible to fill out a declaration card and be assigned a faculty adviser. Journalism courses are in high demand, and we work closely with minors to place them in classes in a timely fashion for graduation. For complete details, see journalism program requirements.
Registering for Classes
During Phase I, declared journalism majors, pre-majors, and minors have priority for registration in some courses. Declared major status is required for all 400-level journalism classes. Please refer to the Western Washington University Catalog for information on class pre-requisites.
Western's automated waitlist system will be utilized for all courses. The Department of Journalism reserves the right to manage its waitlists on a case-by-case basis.
Please refer to registration information for details about registering for a class.
If you need help deciding on classes, have questions about registration, or if you need any other information, contact the Department of Journalism.