Masters FAQs

Have questions about the Merrill College's Master's of Journalism programs? See our answers below.


Q: Can I take classes online?

    A: No. All courses require attendance in the Washington, D.C. area as specified on the Schedule of Classes.


Q: What are the average GRE scores and GPA of successful master's applicants?

    A: The average GRE scores of admitted students are: Verbal: 600 Quantitative: 600 Analytical: 5.0 The average undergraduate GPA of our admitted students is 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale).


Q: Can the GRE requirement be waived for me?

    A: No. The Graduate School requires the completion of the GRE (general test) for all applicants.


Q: My scores and/or grades fall below the average. Should I be concerned?

    A: The average is just that; it is not a minimum score. An applicant can have exceptional GRE scores and still not be admitted to the program if their application fails to impress elsewhere. At the end of the day, we are looking for applicants with a passion for journalism. You'll want to demonstrate that in your application above all else.


Q: What is the statement of purpose?

    A: According to the Graduate School's Application Supplemental Form (ASF): "Write a brief (1000-2000 word) statement addressing the following two questions: 1.) What are your reasons for undertaking graduate study at the University of Maryland? Indicate, if appropriate, any specific areas of research interest. You may wish to discuss past work in your intended field and allied fields, your plans for a professional career, or how you developed your interest in or knowledge of your chosen subject. 2.) What life experiences that you have had that you feel have prepared you to pursue a graduate degree at a large, diverse institution such as the University of Maryland? Among the items you might care to include would be your financial, community, and family background, whether you are the first person in your family to pursue a higher education, or any other factors that you feel would contribute to the diversity of our academic community. You may also wish to give the graduate admissions committee some examples of your determination to pursue your goals, your initiative and ability to develop ideas, and/or your capacity for working through problems independently."


Q: Do I need to submit both a statement of purpose (goals and research interests) and a statement of experience?

    A: No. You may address both questions in a single essay.


Q: What should my statement of purpose say?

    A: There are no specific guidelines to writing your essay. Emphasize your strengths and individuality and tell us why the Philip Merrill College of Journalism is the best fit for you (and vice versa).


Q: Where do I send my official transcript(s)?

    A: In the online application to the Graduate School, you will be able to upload a copy of your official transcript in the Previous Education section. This is sufficient for the purpose of your application. If you are offered admission and choose to enroll in the University of Maryland, you will need to send your official (in a sealed envelope) transcript along with a literal English translation and proof of the award of your degree if necessary to:

    The Graduate School
    University of Maryland
    2123 Lee Building
    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD 20742

    Do I have to send my University of Maryland transcript as part of my application to the Graduate School at Maryland?

    Yes. You will need to upload a copy of your University of Maryland transcript to your application. You can obtain a print-out of your transcript from Testudo.

    How do I submit my letters of recommendation?

    Applicants and their references must electronically submit letters of recommendation through the online application. Electronic submission of application materials streamlines the review and admissions decision process for students. Sending paper copies of recommendation letters will increase processing and review times for your application.


Q: Do you offer study abroad opportunities to grad students?

    A: The program offers limited classes that travel overseas, but these opportunities are not considered study abroad. All or most of your studies will be done here on the College Park campus.


Q: When is the deadline to apply for admission to the program?

    A: February 1 is the deadline to apply to the master's program, whether you wish to begin your studies in the summer or fall. All supporting application materials must be received by that date. As always, the sooner your materials are submitted, the sooner the college can begin to consider your application. Please note that the deadlines for domestic and international applicants are the same.

Q: I've missed the deadline to apply for the fall term. Do you accept applications for admission in the spring?

    A: No, we only accept students for admission in the fall. If you submit your application after the published deadlines, you will be considered for admission in the next open enrollment cycle.


Q: Should letters of recommendation be from professional or academic references?

    A: Your recommendation letters may be either from academic references or professional references. Many of our prospective students have been out of academia and in the workforce for some time, so the graduate admissions committee welcomes both.


Q: How much is tuition?

    A: Our master's degree is generally a 36-credit course of study. Current rates can be found at:  bursar.umd.edu/t_grd1213.php. These rates do not account for the cost of living or books.


Q: Can I study part-time?

    A: Some of our students do attend part-time, although the bulk of our students attend full-time. The vast majority of our courses are offered during the day (as opposed to the evening), so this can make it difficult to pursue your studies if you have other daytime commitments. Our program aims to quickly educate our students and to provide them with the hands-on skills they need to thrive in the field of journalism. The curriculum is designed to be completed in 12 to 15 months, although alternative arrangements can be made for students requiring a slower-paced program.


Q: Do I need previous experience in journalism?

    A: No. Previous experience or formal training in journalism is not required. In fact, many of our incoming students have no previous background in journalism. Our program is skills-based as opposed to merely academic, so we will provide you with the skills and hands-on knowledge youÂ’ll need to succeed in your career as a reporter, producer, anchor, etc. Please note that in order to meet admissions criteria set forth by the Graduate School, you must have met the equivalent of a four-year Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.


Q: How is your program ranked?

    A: Journalism programs are ranked differently from standard graduate programs. That said our program has been recognized by the National Assessment of Journalism Education as one of "eleven exemplary Journalism schools" in the nation. The Washington Post called our college "one of the nation's best." The reasons are numerous: our location is unparalleled (we are nine miles outside of Washington D.C.); we are small (with only 70 graduate students total); and our faculty and staff are highly respected and distinguished experts in the field of journalism.


Q: What is the difference between the M.A. and M.J. degrees?

    A: Students who pursue the M.A. write a thesis. M.J. students compile a portfolio or tape of their clips/stories that they defend in an interview (as if they are applying for a job). Most of our students pursue the M.J. degree. Both programs require the completion of 36 credit hours of study. Students pursuing the M.A. must complete 6 credit hours of thesis prepartion (JOUR 799). This is often done in lieu of their six elective credits; students may also take 6 credit hours of JOUR 799 beyond those required for the degree so as not to forfeit their electives.


Q: Are my chances for admission affected by choosing M.A. or M.J.?

    A: No. The program you apply for (M.A. or M.J.) is not considered in our admissions decisions.


Q: What do you have in the way of co-ops/internships? What is your job placement rate?

    A: We're one of the top journalism schools in the country, so our alumni have landed top-rate jobs after graduation for organizations such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, NPR, and BBC. This national clout goes a long way with speaking for the quality of our education. One of the reasons our students are so successful is because they leave our program with real, practical experience.


Q: Am I required to submit a writing sample?

    A: A writing sample is not required, but you may feel free to send one if you believe it will enhance your application (you can also send us a tape if you would like). We do require all applicants to submit a statement of purpose, however. **Please note that with the exception of your writing sample (or tape) all supporting admissions materials should be sent to the Enrollment Services Office.** You may send writing samples to the following address:
      Graduate Program Coordinator
      Philip Merrill College of Journalism
      1117 Journalism
      College Park, MD 20742


Q: How do I apply for a fellowship?

    A: Those wishing to be considered for Fellowships must first apply to the program.


Q: How do I apply for a graduate assistantship (G.A.) position?

    A: Those interested in applying for G.A. positions must be admitted students. These positions are posted on the University's Human Resources website and are available on a competitive basis to all enrolled graduate students. Interested students apply for these positions as if applying for a job, submitting their resume to the department advertising the position.


Q: Would you like to get transcripts and recommendations in one package, or can my recommenders send their letters directly to the school?

    A: With the exception of your (optional) writing samples, your supporting application materials should not be sent to the College of Journalism. They should be sent to Enrollment Services Operations (ESO), a division of the Graduate School. ESO prefers to receive all your supporting application materials in one package to minimize the risk of your documents going astray. However, there is nothing wrong with having your recommenders sending their letters directly to ESO; some recommenders will prefer to do so to ensure that the confidentiality of their letter is not compromised. We advise all applicants to provide the Graduate School with their recommenders email addresses on their Application Supplemental Form (ASF). By doing so, your recommenders will be sent log in information that will enable them to electronically submit their letters. This is the quickest, easiest, and least stressful way of submitting your letters.