Journalism Honors: Major Course Requirements

Journalism is fast-paced, stimulating and challenging.  For a working reporter, no two days ever unfold in the same way.  If you like to learn new things, meet new people, be the first “in the know,” as well as to write and read, then journalism might be a great fit for you!

You will need 30 units of honors credits from classes across the university to graduate with honors, and we recommend that you take at least half of the units in Journalism.  (Note the numbers are lower for transfer students: see Honors graduation requirements.)   You will receive six units of honors credit for your senior thesis, and you should plan on taking the one-unit honors class in preparation for your thesis.

Journalism offers more upper-division than lower-division courses, and most of the upper division classes have pre-requisites, since this is a professional program and students build their skills sequentially. The General Catalog has the journalism major requirements, and we have linked them here.

Journalism regularly offers stand-alone honors courses, which are described below. Note that most of our classes can be taken for Honors contracts with the professor. See Professor Sharkey for more information about Contracting.

Journalism also offers dozens of co-convened undergraduate/graduate-level courses of interest to majors, for which you can earn Honors credit. For example, Feature Writing, which is required of majors, is offered as JOUR411 and JOUR511.  In addition to working on voice and style, graduate students and Honors students contracting the class look at how storytelling has evolved in a digital landscape.  The graduate-level classes offer additional theoretical and research opportunities. You can discuss these options with Professor Sharkey and your academic advisor. In the course catalog, look for JOUR 4XX-5XX and talk to the instructor about enrolling in the 500-level section.

Some honors courses can be used to "double dip" within the major, and you do honors contracts for courses in your major, but you cannot double dip between Gen Ed and your major. (See university policy on double dipping.) AP credits may count towards the major, but only if you have not used them for Gen Ed.


Honors Advising

Academic Year 2014-15: Prof. Nancy Sharkey

The journalism honors major advisor maintains a listserv for honors journalism majors, to keep you posted about course offerings and events of interest to Honors students.  Professor Sharkey would like to see you at least once a semester.  

See the Advising page for Journalism advising hours with Paloma Boykin, Journalism’s interim academic advisor.

Want to declare Journalism as a major? See information on this page, and make an appointment with Ms. Boykin to fill out the paperwork and begin mapping your exciting journey through the Journalism program. See the Honors College information page for questions about Honors College requirements, programs and status. 

Study Abroad

Journalism offers honors credit in the three study-abroad programs currently offered – environmental reporting in Costa Rica; advanced photojournalism in Orvieto, Italy; and reporting on the Middle East in Oman. The Honors College offers honors credits in the five study-abroad programs that they sponsor.  As a budding journalism, you should make every effort to take advantage of this terrific opportunity to travel while you earn credit towards graduation and your major!

JOUR 498H: Honors Thesis or Project

To graduate with honors, you must complete an honors thesis or professional project. Honors College students must also complete and submit the Honors Thesis Prospectus at the end of the semester prior to beginning the thesis or project.

Journalism offers honors students the option of doing a traditional research project, using qualitative or quantitative methods, or both.  And it offers the option of a professional project, which can be a magazine-length reportage, a documentary film, a multimedia website or a series of investigative stories.

You are strongly advised to complete the journalism research seminar, JOUR 396A, in your junior year, before beginning the two-semester commitment to the thesis or project.

To select a thesis advisor, consult with the honors major advisor or, if you already have someone in mind, contact him or her directly the semester before you want to start your thesis. A faculty thesis supervisor can be anyone in the Journalism School, or a faculty member in another department (with prior approval from the journalism honors advisor), but s/he must be a full-time university faculty member (not a graduate student or adjunct faculty member). Once a faculty member agrees to supervise your thesis, have them sign an Add form for the semester you will begin the thesis.

Most of the journalism faculty members are willing to supervise your Honors thesis work. Browse through our faculty directory for inspiration and ideas!  You will see experts in freedom of information, history, war coverage, Latin American studies, cinema, Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.   

Students in past years have successfully written their theses about baseball jargon, American English, Twitter, and many other subjects.  Here are some examples of their Honors Thesis work:

Evolution of English by Lauren Shores, 2014

Twitter Versed by Kate Newton, 2013

The Rise of Sabermetrics in Sports Coverage, by Kyle Johnson, 2014 (Copy available at UA Library, Honors College and Journalism School).

In addition, freshmen journalism majors may consider First-Year Projects and work with a journalism faculty member to follow their passions and interests.  One example of this is journalism major Kayla Samoy’s first-year project that followed the Rogue Theater production of Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare.  She produced a multi-part website as her project. 

JOUR 396H: Journalism Honors Thesis Workshop

We have a new option for students who are engaged in the research and writing of their honors thesis: a one-unit Honors Thesis Workshop (JOUR 396H), offered in the spring semester. The one-hour workshop meets weekly, often with students in the Journalism graduate research methods class. The goal is to provide mentoring and support for students as they progress with the thesis, from initial research, to narrowing the topic and creating the preliminary research proposal, to writing and revising. Thesis students will continue to work directly with their thesis advisers; the workshop is supplemental to the required 3 units of thesis supervision each semester.  Workshop participants will earn one unit of honors and journalism elective credit.



Special Honors Classes in Journalism

JOUR430H: Inside The New York Times: Behind the Headlines at the Nation's Greatest Newspaper

This Honors course will introduce students to the story behind the story of the nation's greatest newspaper. The New York Times will serve as the text for this class, along with several books about The Times and the media.  At the end of the semester, an optional trip to New York will include a visit to The Times at its new headquarters at Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st streets. We will also plan visits to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and to the "Today Show" at Rockefeller Center, meeting UA alumna Savannah Guthrie. 

The course is intended to help future leaders in journalism, political science, law, the arts and the sciences gain news literacy, an important complement to critical thinking. They will also be able to describe and explain global changes, cultural and social trends and domestic politics. And they will get an insider's look at how The Times is produced every day and the challenges it faces in a digital world. The course is taught by Professor Sharkey, who was a senior editor at The New York Times, retiring after a 27-year career there.


JOUR472H Science Journalism

Science is one of the most powerful forces of change in the world. This applied course covers the fundamental elements of producing news reports about science events and issues. We will examine the principles of journalism, the scientific process and the differences between science journalism and science communication. Guest speakers -- prominent science journalists and scientists -- will explore key issues involved in communicating with the public about science. Readings, case studies and discussions will examine issues of balance, scientific uncertainty, accuracy and ethical codes for science journalists. 

You'll write professional-quality science articles for general interest and specialized news media. You'll learn how to gather, evaluate and organize information in ways that will produce accurate, comprehensive information for the public. Each student will write one short piece, and in pairs you'll research and produce an in-depth article. The course is taught by Prof. Carol Schwalbe, who was a senior editor at National Geographic magazine and is a nationally recognized professor of science and environmental journalism.


JOUR493H – Honors Internship

Work on-site for a news or news-related organization under the supervision of an experienced communication professional, performing to the standards of the Honors College.  The internships are guided by the Journalism internship coordinator, Renee Schafer Horton.