Master's Admissions FAQ
Have questions about Merrill College’s master’s programs? See our answers below.
Still have questions? Contact assistant director of graduate studies Serap Rada at 301-405-2513.
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 GRE scores are optional. If you think your GRE scores will enhance your application, feel free to submit them. Otherwise, they are not required. The average undergraduate GPA of our admitted students is 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale).
Q: My grades fall below the average. Should I be concerned?
A: The average is just that; it is not a minimum. 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 (1,000-2,000 words) 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 at the University of Maryland, you will need to send your official transcript (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
Q: Do I have to send my University of Maryland transcript as part of my application to the Graduate School at Maryland?
A: 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.
Q: How do I submit my letters of recommendation?
A: 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: Feb. 4 is the deadline to apply to the master’s program. 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 Student Financial Services. 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 you’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 website Successful Student ranked our master's program among the 10 best journalism graduate programs in the nation. The reasons are numerous: our location is unparalleled (we are nine miles outside of Washington, D.C.); we are small; 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. degree write a thesis and must complete 6 credit hours of thesis preparation (JOUR799). M.J. degree students compile a portfolio or submit clips/stories that they defend in an interview (as if they are applying for a job). In their last semester, M.J. students enroll in a six-credit capstone course in one of the Capital News Service (CNS) bureaus on campus, in Annapolis or Washington, D.C. Most of our students pursue the M.J. degree.
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, The New York Times, The Associated Press, CNN, NPR, Reuters and the 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-world, practical experience.
Q: Am I required to submit a writing sample?
A: Three writing samples as part of your online application through the Graduate Office are required. Writing samples can include articles, academic papers, etc. Broadcast applicants should provide links to a YouTube or Vimeo (or similar) video resume reel as provided in the online application.
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: Your entire application is online. Please don’t send any materials to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 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 login information that will enable them to electronically submit their letters. This is the quickest, easiest and least stressful way to submit your letters.
Q: I have a transcript from my institution that is encrypted. What should I do? Should I still upload it to the application?
A: No, do not upload an encrypted transcript to the application. It will upload as a blank document. The program will not be able to use it for its evaluation. Please print the document out, scan it, then upload a scanned version.