Science Journalism FAQs

Our prospective students are all unique, but they often ask us the same questions. Click on each of the following frequently-asked questions to see our answers:

What qualifications do successful applicants have?

Our applicants come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are scientists, some are working journalists, some have just graduated from college. What they all have in common is a strong science background and a demonstrated interest in writing. We look positively on applicants with non-fiction writing experience, whether it be professional, freelancing, writing for a school newspaper or from coursework. Of course, grades are important and we look for applicants with excellent academic performance.

How big are the classes?

We purposely keep our classes small, with an average of eight to 10 students. The classes are designed to imitate the feel of a real newsroom, focusing on small group brainstorming and editing experiences. We have found that one-on-one attention from professors and classmates is essential for developing strong writing, thinking and editing skills.

What kind of jobs do alumni go on to have?

Our alumni hold exciting positions throughout the journalism field. Career paths run the gamut from newspaper and magazine writing and editing to television and film writing and production to radio work and web journalism. Many of our alumni also work in the press offices of universities and private institutions. For more information about where our alumni have ended up, visit our notable alumni page.

I was a science major. How can I make my application more competitive?

The best way to strengthen your application is to do some writing. You could take some writing classes through adult education programs or write for your school newspaper. We feel that it is important for you get some practical experience writing so that you know what is involved in the writing and reporting process and that science journalism is the right career path for you.

I was an English major. Can I get into the program?

Sure you can. You just need to have a strong background in science as well. Our program focuses on the implications of science in politics, culture and society, so it’s important that you have demonstrated a deep interest in the subject matter. Many of our alumni who were English majors have been science minors or bulked up on science electives. If you are a professional with no science coursework in your background, we encourage you to take some adult-education science classes.

Do you accept part-time students into the program?

Although we have accepted part-time students on rare occasions in the past, we have found that the full-time curriculum produces the most successful graduates.

Is student housing available?

Yes. A new graduate apartment building recently opened, just a block away from the College of Communication building. For more information about this and other on-campus and off-campus housing options, please see the housing section of College of Communication bulletin.

Could I take classes outside of the science journalism program?

Yes. In fact, it’s encouraged. Our students have taken classes in public health, law, environmental policy and basic science. Students who come into the program from a science background are urged to take advantage of the variety of electives available in the College of Communication, like screenwriting, radio journalism, photography, literary non-fiction and magazine writing.