Steps to Becoming a Major

Getting Started

If you are a freshman or are transferring with no courses in journalism, view the student course outline and start with Journalism 190 (Intro to Mass Media) and Journalism 207 (Newswriting).

For transfer students, college courses numbered 100 and 200 may be used to satisfy an equivalent lower-division course in the journalism major or minor, up to a maximum of 15 credits upon approval of the department. A maximum of four credits in staff courses taken elsewhere may be accepted as substitutes for WWU staff courses subject to earning a 3.0 grade or better in a newspaper staff course at Western. In that event, majors and minors must take at least two staff courses at Western. An unofficial transcript from your community college or previous university is required.

Recommended Supporting Courses

Journalists need a solid grounding in public affairs -- particularly the structure and functioning of local, state and national political and economic institutions -- and in the major issues of the day. Historical perspective is important as well.

Journalists also must be conversant with the sciences and the arts. Courses that broaden horizons or deepen insights are recommended.

Basic photography and video skills are recommended.

Declaring as a Pre-Major

We have prepared the following guidelines for pre-major status to help you move toward becoming a major. We urge you to move on to major status as soon as you can so you can graduate on schedule. The key to moving along quickly is to follow the guidelines for being a pre-major and major and to attend advising sessions.

  • Students must have completed at least one quarter at WWU to declare as a pre-major, but may be advised during their first quarter. Transfer students with an AA degree may declare as pre-majors in their first quarter at WWU. When you meet with an adviser or the department manager, be sure you sign up with your e-mail address so we can contact you. Notices regarding our department are sent via e-mail.
  • You must have at least a 2.50 GPA at WWU to declare as a pre-major. If you are transferring to WWU you must have at least a 2.5 GPA from the school you are transferring from. Use this tool to calculate your GPA, or bring in your unofficial WWU transcript when you come in to declare to verify that your GPA meets the minimum requirement.
  • To declare as a pre-major, students must meet with the department manager or program coordinator to fill out pre-major declaration paperwork.
  • Students will then be assigned a faculty advisor who will review and sign a plan of study that the student brings to an advising appointment they schedule. The plan of study outlines a personal course schedule so students know when they need to take courses to graduate on time.
  • After receiving a plan of study signed by a faculty advisor, students will be invited to our Canvas site and the declaration paperwork will be moved forward to become official.
  • Standing as a pre-major does not guarantee a seat in any class  at any time.

Declaring as a Major

Decisions on who to accept as a major rests solely with the journalism department faculty. Major status is required before students can take 400-level classes. A student who is not accepted into the major by the time they need 400-level classes will be directed to find a suitable major in another field.


Students seeking admission to the major must meet the following

  • Have at least 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 with a B- or better one journalism staff course
  • Submit a letter of application (in correct letter format). The letter of application should demonstrate in style and grammar the student’s understanding of writing and AP style. It should also include the following:
  1. A discussion of what brought the student to the journalism major, with particular emphasis on why the student chose that specific track (News-Ed, PR, VJ). What does the student hope to do with that degree upon graduation?
  2. An analysis of how the student’s performance in journalism classes and publications demonstrates appropriate aptitude for the field.
  3. A discussion of the importance of ethics in journalism and the student’s specific track. Why is it important for students to understand ethics prior to beginning an internship or a job? How will the student strive to uphold the ethical code of that particular industry?
  4. A detailed explanation of any areas that might stand out in review of the student’s files such as failing certain journalism courses, low GPA, etc.

The letter will be judged based on style and content, including how well the student speaks to the above areas, particularly interest in the major, aptitude and ethics.

If a course is waived by an adviser, the adviser's written note waiving the class must be attached to your transcript and kept in the department file. No courses will be waived without a transcript showing proof of the course and the grade.


Students who meet the above standards will be admitted as space allows and subject to the faculty's acceptance.

The deadline for pre-major and major declarations will be announced each quarter of the academic year. Students who miss the deadline must wait until the following quarter.

When declaring the major, students will choose the news/editorial sequence, the public relations sequence or the visual journalism sequence.

The faculty will review major applications and meet to determine which students to admit. Students not admitted may appeal the decision with evidence and supporting testimony of excellence regarding values, principles and practices in the field as judged by the faculty. Typical evidence would be clippings, supporting letters from faculty or intern supervisors and a letter from the student arguing her or his case. Faculty may reconsider student applications to promote diversity or with evidence of extenuating circumstances.

Declared majors may request change from one sequence to another by giving written notice to the department. Acceptance of the change will be based on space availability.

Probation and Removal

While a major, students must maintain a 2.50 GPA, both overall and in journalism and required courses. A student whose GPA drops below 2.50 overall and/or in the major for two consecutive quarters shall be considered to be on probation. If the student completes a third quarter with a GPA below 2.50, they will be removed from the major. Such students may be re-admitted to the major using normal procedures for admission. Struggling students should discuss the situation with their academic advisers early, before the problem grows too large to manage. Students are responsible for monitoring their own GPAs.