M.A. Professional Emphasis

About the Program

This program is well suited to those who obtained bachelor’s degrees in other fields and want to become journalists, as well as for those who recently received a journalism degree and are seeking more advanced training.

We also welcome mid-career professionals who want to gain greater knowledge of the legal, ethical, technological and management challenges that confront 21st-century journalists. Opportunities exist to tailor a program suited to your interests, such as science or environmental journalism.


The skills-oriented curriculum includes writing, multimedia and on-the-street reporting for print, television and online media serving communities in southern Arizona. Those interested in the professional emphasis program are expected to demonstrate outstanding English and writing skills because of the rigor of the assignments and the expectation that after graduation they may begin working immediately in a news organization. 

The program typically requires four semesters for full-time students. Students also can enroll part-time.

Course Requirements

You must complete a minimum of 33 units to graduate. This includes four required courses, including a thesis or final project, plus three highly recommended skills courses and a choice of four electives. Most electives allow you to specialize in your choice of an area of interest. These other electives can be drawn from journalism or, with permission from the director of graduate studies, from other disciplines.

An internship, apprenticeship or fellowship may be taken as an elective. It is recommended that students enrolled in the two-year master’s program earn no more than 3 units of internship credit for JOUR 593. Up to 6 units may be allowed in consultation with the director of graduate studies.

No 400-level credits will be accepted toward graduate degrees. All course work will be based on graduate-level work. Credits earned in the 500-level section of a co-convened course (400/500) will be accepted toward graduate degrees.

Required Courses

  • Complete four courses (12 units)
  • You can choose to complete either a master's project (JOUR 909) or thesis (JOUR 910)
This course introduces graduate students to the major theories related to the critical study of the media. Fieldwork may include publication of conclusions. Requirements include a major research paper.
Basic legal concepts for media in an international and U.S. context, including access to courts, public records and meetings; subpoenas and shield laws; prior restraint; libel; privacy; source confidentiality; intellectual property; obscenity; and broadcast regulations.
Students will be exposed to qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as historical and legal research, media analysis, content analysis, in-depth interviewing and discourse analysis.
Individual study or special project or formal report thereof submitted in lieu of thesis for certain master's degrees.
Research for the master's thesis (whether library research, laboratory or field observation or research, artistic creation, or thesis writing). Maximum total credit permitted varies with the major department.

Skills Courses (Highly Recommended)

  • Complete 9 units
  • Choose between 590C or 590F
This course is both an introductory and advanced reporting course for graduate students in the School of Journalism. It is intended for first year graduate students.
This course is designed to give graduate students an intensive hands-on introduction to multimedia reporting. Multimedia reporting is defined as the effective and ethical use of text, still photographs, video clips, audio, graphics and interactivity for the Web.
Through extensive hands-on experience in this capstone course, students learn how to write, report, shoot, produce and edit news for broadcast. Graduate-level students serve as producers, directing efforts of undergraduate reports, camera operators, and film editors. They are responsible for accuracy, completemess, fairness and objectivity of news packages. Composition of a major paper concerning a media management issue is also expected.
Students in Arizona Sonora News produce strong enterprise stories in written and multimedia formats, which are then provided to media for professional publication. Students learn the techniques of search engine optimization and key word construction, and apply what they have learned in their other classes through the major. This engaged learning news service class enables students to demonstrate that they can produce professional quality work. Graduate-level requirements include an additional assignment and/or taking on a leadership position.


  • Complete 12 units
  • Some courses are offered only occasionally
  • See lists below for options; other courses in journalism or outside the school may be counted with permission

At least one elective must be from the following list of professional emphasis courses:

Internship with a news organization supplemented with professional development, analysis of industry trends and best practices. Graduate-level requirements include a major research paper. Graduate-level requirements include a major research paper.
Writing the feature articles for newspapers, magazines or other media; specialized reporting and writing techniques. Graduate-level requirements include additional in-depth assignments.
Learn how to find, request and create databases, uncover stories using various software programs, and turn them into compelling visuals. Whether you call it data journalism, computer-assisted reporting, precision journalism, or power reporting, these skills will set you apart from your peers in any line of work. Graduate-level requirements include an in-depth research paper on a topic of their choice related to CAR. Please confer with the course instructor early in the semester to have topic approved. This project will substitute for participation points for graduate students.
This class covers the law, history and philosophy of access to government information, as well as practical tools and psychological techniques in acquiring data from agencies and the internet. Students will build the knowledge, skills, and confidence in information acquisition to apply to their careers and personal life, including backgrounding individuals, exposing dangers, and even buying a house.
This applied course teaches you to write compelling, substantive stories that illuminate environmental subjects, trends and issues, often in human terms. This course emphasizes the role of the environmental journalist not as an advocate but as a reporter who accurately and fairly reports the news. We examine the principles of journalism, the scientific process and the differences between environmental journalism and environmental communication. Guest speakers - journalists, researchers and other experts - explore key issues involved in communicating with the public about the environment. Readings and discussions examine issues of balance, scientific uncertainty, risk, accuracy and ethical codes. Graduate-level requirements include writing an additional story and leading the writing workshops and case study discussion.
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'll examine the principles of journalism, the scientific process and the differences between science journalism and science communication. Guest speakers and 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. Graduate-level requirements include writing an additional story proposal, query letter and news report plus the in-depth story or multimedia piece will be longer that at the undergraduate-level.
Students will gain an understanding of best practices and challenges specific to reporting in the borderlands, and will conduct research in and about the border region, including interviews with area residents. They will report findings in the form of essays, oral histories, research projects and in-depth reporting projects. Graduate students are expected to take on a leadership role in the class and from time to time will be assigned to lead class discussions. Graduate students may also be assigned additional readings and duties, such as increased research, writing, and organizing responsibilities.
This is a hands-on advanced multimedia course that will provide students with the opportunity to refine their multimedia storytelling and technical production skills by producing journalistically interesting multimedia projects. The multimedia projects will be well researched and include some combination of text, video, audio, still photographs, graphics that will be presented on a website. Through interactive exercises and assignments, emphasis will be given to improving audio, video, still image capture and editing skills. This course is a combined lecture with outside lab work being required. Intermediate computer technical knowledge and skills, basic photojournalism and multimedia are required for successful completion of this course. Graduate students will be required to produce a well-researched and cited 30- to 45-minute in-class PowerPoint presentation on a documentary film or filmmaker. Acceptable subjects will be listed in the assignment sheet handout.
This course will be a hands-on, interactive class in which you research, and develop a mobile news application. You will develop and pitch an application, form teams and implement web technology to launch your application. By the end of the semester, you and your team will have a working application deployed on the internet. This course will take you from idea to application launch. Graduate students will be required to also research an emerging trend in news application design and functionality. The student will write an eight-page paper on the subject and present findings to the class and local media outlets.
This course will cover skills to help you write accurate, relevant and compelling stories on health science topics. We will explore the challenges in writing accurate health stories, cover basic knowledge of health sciences research and how to interpret studies, and critique media coverage of various health topics. We will also review the basics of storytelling, narrative, interview techniques, journalistic ethics and submitting your articles to publications.

Other electives include the following courses:

This course analyzes the history of Latinxs in the United States. Students also examine the history of Latino-oriented, Spanish-language and bilingual news media, as well as news coverage of Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S.
This course introduces the study of migrations, diasporic transnationalism and the media in Latin America. Students examine historical perspectives and contemporary trends in migrations from Latin America to Europe, Asia and North America (South-North) as well as migration news within Latin American (South-South).
In today’s world, it is difficult to imagine media separate from technology, given how intertwined the two are. This course examines this intersection and influence of media over technology, and vice versa, in a little more detail. Specifically, this course delves into the various facets of this intersection and relationship and what that means in terms of the media people use, the technology they use and the kind of discourse and society they create as a result of digital affordances and advances. Students explore topics such as media and technology as democratic tools and/or instruments of power, theories related to media technology and learning about different media systems and emerging technological systems prevalent in the global North and South. Students will delve into the importance and influence of social networks at a deeper level than what they may already be familiar with, how WhatsApp is increasing in influence and almost representing the digital global divide, the issue of disinformation and fake news and how advances in artificial intelligence may well influence the future of media.
This course investigates the history and coverage of acts of state and nonstate terror, the interplay between terrorism and societies around the world and media content about acts of terror. Students explore how news media portray terrorism and terrorists, the effects of terrorism and media portrayal of terrorism on the public and the use of propaganda by terror groups and other entities.
From human health to vanishing species, climate change is one of the major challenges facing people around the world. A vast majority of scientists agree that human-made climate change is a major factor threatening the planet’s future, but they worry that measures to stop or modify climate change are not taken seriously enough. What role do media play in this respect, and what role can they play in the future to communicate climate science and alert people of the challenges? How can media connect people’s everyday experiences to the global climate processes? Our exploration of different types of media will take us on a global odyssey into how media portray the problem, its causes and effects, what the future holds and what can be done.
This course surveys the history and functions of social justice media from the 19th century abolition movement to today’s online forms of global social justice journalism. Students consider the theoretical and practical frameworks of social justice media, which serve a swathe of social movements involving human and civil rights, education, labor, immigration, globalization, feminism, environmentalism, ethnic and racial equality, transgender rights and global inequity.
Students explore ethics questions related to cultural bias, political and economic pressure, diverse representation, accuracy, privacy, national security and other pressures on news media. This course provides students with a framework to think critically about media’s obligations to the public. Analyses examine ethical philosophies as they relate to both citizen-driven media and journalists’ roles and responsibilities in various societies and governmental systems around the world.
Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and movement, and rights to public information among other rights are explored in global, regional and country contexts. This course provides historical, philosophical, legal, political, societal and cultural perspectives about values related to online and offline freedom of expression and access to public information in a global context.
This course examines the rapidly shifting arena of armed conflict and political violence in an intensively and expansively mediated era. Students explore traditional journalistic business, culture and ethics in covering war and the more recent impact of technological transformations, focusing on new digital and social media forms employed by multiple actors and stakeholders.
This course examines how the global broadcast, print and digital news media cover major environmental news and issues around the world and how journalists’ investigations have led to change. The course also highlights the complicated nature of environmental reporting, including interacting with myriad stakeholders, assessing risk, interfacing with scientific uncertainty and racing against deadlines and extinctions.
Students learn of the role and responsibilities of national, transnational and social media in promoting human rights and cultural understanding and in documenting human rights violations at varying levels, such as government oppression, civil or political turmoil, armed conflict, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Conversely, the course also examines the role of human rights instruments and monitoring in protecting media workers and rights to free expression.
In this course we will explore science disinformation, misinformation, the media, and the public. We will begin by examining the hallmarks of science (as compared to pseudoscience and non-science) including the concept of falsifiability. Next, we will discuss the “public understanding of science” and why it is important. We will also study historical examples of science mis/disinformation including the ill-informed 19th century theory of climatology called “rain follows the plow,” the early twentieth century eugenics movement, the Andrew Wakefield autism/vaccine controversy, and other instances of pseudoscience or non-science masking as real science. You will learn about the science of science communication and why people are vulnerable to science mis/disinformation. You will read about and discuss modern problems that impact our understanding of science including the use of pre-print servers where scientific information that has not yet been peer-reviewed is published. We will discuss why some members of the public do not trust experts and expertise and you will learn for yourself hallmarks to look for in distinguishing scientific experts from non-experts. You will also learn how to speak to science deniers and others who question the reliability and accuracy of scientific information. You will cultivate scientific habits of mind and develop a toolbox of tips, tools, and skills with which you can arm yourself against science dis/misinformation.
The documentary genre has long focused on social, cultural, political, economic and environmental issues. This course begins with a selective overview of the history of documentary journalism beginning in the 1920s, then takes a multicultural global perspective of documentary work by comparing and contrasting efforts from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the United States.
This course will take you on a global journey through the law of digital communications, including but not limited to free speech v. hate speech, intellectual property, defamation, privacy, the right to be forgotten, access to information, media regulatory mechanisms and frameworks promulgated by governmental bodies, as well as those regulatory mechanisms and frameworks used by non-governmental bodies (such as the platform “law” concept used by Facebook and Twitter.) You will learn about comparative historical and theoretical legal concepts important to media professionals and responsible digital citizen-scholars.
Students examine the role and responsibility of global news organizations and citizen-based social media in reporting on humanitarian crises that may stem from natural disaster, climate change, the impact of globalization, conflict or social upheaval. This course explores the dynamic interaction among news producers, relief organizations, policymakers, the public and those directly affected by humanitarian crises.
Analysis of ethical theory and how it relates to journalists' roles and responsibilities in a democratic society. Case studies involve questions of bias, accuracy, privacy and national security. Graduate-level requirements include a research paper examining a major ethical issue and providing a critique regarding how the media covered the issue.
Science is one of the most powerful forces of change in the world. This discussion course introduces students to the professional, legal, economic and ethical factors that affect the science news agenda and the work of science journalists. We'll study the principles of science journalism, the scientific process and the differences between science journalism and science communication. We'll examine reporting methods used by print, television and online news organizations. Guest speakers -- prominent science journalists and scientists -- will explore the ways in which science news both reflects and influences the attitudes of the public and policymakers. Readings, case studies and discussions will look at issues of balance, scientific uncertainty, accuracy and ethical codes for science journalists. Graduate-level requirements include longer response papers and a longer research paper.


  • JOUR 593 Internship
  • POL 593L Legislative Internship
  • JOUR 596D Environmental Journalism (Costa Rica summer study abroad)
  • JOUR 597B Advanced Photojournalism (Italy summer study abroad)

Suggested Schedule

First Year

Fall Semester

  • JOUR 506 Introductory and Advanced Reporting (3 units)
  • JOUR 507 Reporting with Multimedia (3 units)
  • JOUR 508 Journalism Theory and Practice (3 units)

Spring semester

  • JOUR 509 Media Law and Ethics (3 units)
  • JOUR 589 Research Methods (3 units)
  • Elective: Professional skills course (3 units)

Second Year

  • JOUR 590C or 590F (School Media; choose one) (3 units)
  • JOUR 909 Project or JOUR 910 Thesis (3 units)
  • Electives (9 units)