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A 2 + 2 Plan Leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism


All degree requirements are subject to the provisions and notices in the NIU Undergraduate Catalog. Information is valid through August 2015.


B.A. or B.S. Degree in Journalism

What is Journalism?

Journalists collect and distribute current news and information in a variety of formats including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet. Journalists also are involved in advertising and public relations.

Journalism at NIU

The journalism program is offered by the Department of Communication, one of NIU's largest and most diverse departments. The heart of the journalism curriculum is rich and demanding and consists of writing and editing courses. It includes study in the areas of print, electronic, graphic communication, and public relations, which enables students to focus on a specific emphasis while integrating subject matter in ways that provide career flexibility. Journalism majors are often attracted to the department's three communication studies emphases (organizational/corporate communication, media studies, and rhetoric and public communication) and may elect to earn a minor or double major in these areas.

The program has fully equipped facilities for courses in both print and electronic journalism. In addition to four computer news writing and editing labs, the program uses modern audio and portable video equipment.  Photojournalism includes digital equipment. Students in the program also work at the Northern Television Center (NTC).  Newscasts, talk shows, TV spots, dramatic productions, and documentaries are written, produced, and directed by students at NTC.  Student work is used for programming and competitive festival exhibition.  Journalism is also noteworthy for the dedicated support of alumni and retired professors who sponsor numerous scholarship opportunities.


Our internship program is proactive in its placement of students.  The experience gained from an internship is far too valuable to be available to only a few.  Recent placements have been made at newspapers and magazines, TV and radio stations, public relations firms, advertising agencies, government offices, graphic design departments, publishing companies, market research firms, and non-profit organizations.

Career Opportunities

Graduates are successful in their quests for print or electronic media-related positions because of the professional emphasis of the program; opportunities off campus to work in internships; opportunities on campus for broadcasting, newspaper, and public relations experience; and strong relationships with professional constituencies. Journalism graduates are employed at virtually every newspaper and electronic media outlet in the northern Illinois area as well as outlets worldwide.  NIU's journalism degree prepares students for a variety of exciting career opportunities.


Eleven of our faculty members have won the very competitive and prestigious Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award given by NIU.  Several other faculty members have won teaching awards and fellowships granted by state, national, and international associations and institutes.  Faculty members of the journalism program are committed to high-quality teaching as well as to scholarly research and publication in the form of books, chapters in books, journal articles, and papers presented at professional conferences.  In addition, our journalism faculty members have strong professional ties with area news organizations, media outlets, and our campus newspaper, The Northern Star, where many majors find employment.

Program Requirements

The B.S. and B.A. programs in journalism are structured so that transfer students may complete their degrees in two years. Students will meet with the undergraduate director or journalism faculty members to devise a two-year study plan in news-editorial, broadcast news, photojournalism, or public relations. Transfer students planning to major in journalism should take freshman composition courses and complete the B.A. language or B.S. mathematics/computer science/natural science requirements during the freshman and sophomore years.

Because journalists are advantaged by a broad liberal arts education, at least 90 semester hours of the total hours required for a baccalaureate degree must be taken in subjects other than journalism, with at least 65 of those hours in the liberal arts.  Most of the courses offered in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and courses in art history and appreciation, music history and literature, and theater history and criticism qualify.

Students must also fulfill the requirements for a minor or second major outside journalism.  They frequently choose second areas in the social sciences or business because of their importance in mass communication, or in communication studies or English because those majors are also concerned with the development of communication skills.  

*Journalism majors and minors must earn a grade of C or higher in all required journalism courses.

What Classes Should I Take at My Community College?

As you earn your associate's degree or work toward completion of the IAI General Education Core Curriculum, you should try to take classes that will satisfy requirements for your degree at NIU. For example, you must choose either a B.A. or B.S. sequence at NIU.  A B.S. at NIU requires you to take a combination of math and science courses.  A B.A. requires completion of a foreign language sequence or four years of a high school foreign language with grades of 'C' or better.  Check NIU’s Articulation Tables to see which classes will transfer to NIU from your community college.  For more details about these and other NIU requirements, consult the Undergraduate Catalog.

Suggested Semester Plans

Fall      Spring  
ENGL 103  3   ENGL 104  3
For. Lang1/MATH2 3-4   For. Lang1/MATH2 3-4
Soc. Science Gen Ed3  3   Soc. Science Gen Ed  3
Humanities Gen Ed  3   Humanities Gen Ed  3
Science Gen Ed  3-4   Science Gen Ed  3-4
  15-17     15-17
Math core 3   JOUR 200A or B 3
For. Lang1/MATH2 3-4   For. Lang1/MATH2 3-4
COMS 100  3   Gen Ed 3-4
Minor4 3-4   Interdisciplinary Gen Ed  3
Human. Gen Ed or ENGL 207  3   Gen Ed  3
  15-17     15-17

Suggested Semester Plans at NIU

 Semester 1      Semester 2  
JOUR 200A/B 3   JOUR 480 or COMS 455 3
JOUR 210/312/461 3   JOUR Elective Block 3
JOUR 335/350/407/449/481/482/483/486/487/490 3   JOUR Elective Block 3
BA/BS Course5 3   BA/BS Course5 3
Minor Course 3   Minor Course 3
  15     15
 Semester 3      Semester 4  
JOUR Elective Block 3   JOUR Elective Block 3
JOUR Elective Block 3   JOUR Elective Block 3
JOUR Elective Block 3   JOUR Elective Block 3
BA/BS Course5 3   BA/BS Course5 3
Minor Course Minor Course
  15     15

1 Required for B.A. degree. Previous foreign language background may reduce or fulfill this requirement; consult the NIU Undergraduate Catalog for further information on the B.A. requirement in foreign language. B.A. students must also fulfill the core competency requirement in mathematics.

2 Required for the B.S. degree.

3 The department recommends PSYC 102, SOCI 170, and, for sophomores, ECON 261. These courses also carry general education credit in the social sciences area of distributive studies.

4 Students must fulfill a minor or a second major.

5 If taken at the Community College as highlighted in the plan or completed in High School per university guidelines, replace these with other courses.

Minimum 120 total; 40 at the 300-400 level


For More Information

The Department welcomes all students seeking quality classroom experiences, numerous pre-professional opportunities, and involvement in our array of student organizations related to the field of journalism.

For more information on the program, please contact:

Gretchen Bisplinghoff, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Director
Department of Communication
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-2854
(815) 753-7107
FAX:  (815) 753-7109

For a current NIU Undergraduate Catalog and application materials, contact:

Office of Admissions
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-­2857
(800) 892­-3050 toll-free in Illinois)
or (815) 753-­0446


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