COLLEGE PARK (5/7/18) — The University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism has revamped its undergraduate curriculum, giving students more flexibility to experiment and specialize while allowing the college to be nimble in the face of news industry changes.
The revision, which goes into effect this fall, was approved by the university after more than two years of study and discussion by Merrill College’s curriculum committee and after numerous conversations with alumni and industry leaders. It honors and preserves the college’s long history of teaching ethical public affairs reporting and emphasizes core journalism values.
The new curriculum allows students more flexibility to take elective courses across publishing platforms by reducing the number of specifically required courses and by collapsing two previous degree tracks — broadcast journalism and multiplatform journalism — into a single journalism degree.
Students may still choose to specialize in broadcast, sports or investigative journalism by selecting from a menu of courses in those areas. They will also have more flexibility to experiment or focus on data and data visualization, visual journalism, product development and more.
“We expect this new curriculum will serve students well in the ongoing digital media transformation,” said Chris Harvey (’80), the college’s director of assessments, senior lecturer and chair of the curriculum committee.
Incoming freshmen in 2018 will take courses under the new curriculum. Most current Merrill College students will take courses under the previous curriculum.
Two new required courses were created.
The first is a one-credit hybrid course titled “Storytelling with Code,” where students will be introduced to journalism jobs in data mining and data visualization. Students also will learn basic HTML and CSS coding skills. The course is taught online and in the classroom.
The second combines the college’s complementary law and ethics courses into one. To ensure journalism ethics are taught more comprehensively, a faculty committee is developing ethics modules that will be inserted into every core course. Modules on inclusion and diversity also will be created for core courses.
The revision allows the college to grow its award-winning nonprofit news organization, Capital News Service, by bringing more capstone courses under its umbrella and increasing the number of credits students can receive for enrolling in CNS.
With fewer required courses in the curriculum, students will have the opportunity to take more capstone courses, giving them more varied experience in a professional setting.
The college took its cues from its students, many of whom cram multiple skills courses, capstone experiences and internships into their overloaded schedules. With guidance from the college’s first-rate advising staff, students will now be able to tailor a significant part of their journalism education, allowing them to better prepare for an increasingly dynamic news industry.
Dean Lucy A. Dalglish praised the college’s faculty for unanimously agreeing to such significant changes.
“Changing a curriculum is difficult. I want to thank Chris Harvey, Associate Dean Rafael Lorente and the members of the curriculum committee who worked tirelessly on this,” Dalglish said. “Our new curriculum places us among the most flexible and innovative journalism schools in the country.”