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Merrill College

Merrill College Adds Data and AI Pathway to Master of Journalism Options

COLLEGE PARK — The University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism has launched a data and artificial intelligence storytelling pathway as part of its Master of Journalism program.

Data & AI master's pathway promo graphicPathways allow master’s students to select a series of courses to complete the M.J. program especially prepared for a specific career, and the new pathway will provide students with elite training in data and AI.

“Our faculty and students are already leading the way in the use of innovative data storytelling and AI, especially in support of investigative journalism,” Merrill College Dean Rafael Lorente said. “In the coming months, we will build on our data and AI curriculum and expand collaborations with local news outlets that can benefit from the tools we are building.”

Graduates will leave the program having explored ways to ethically incorporate AI into journalism tasks while also learning skills in data analysis and storytelling.

Students choosing the data and AI path will be required to take two courses — one on data journalism, and one on journalism and AI. 

They will then choose two electives from tailored, flexible menus. Students will then select a capstone experience, where they will get to apply their data and AI skills on real-world projects produced by the college's Capital News Service, Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and Local News Network.

Derek Willis, Merrill College’s lecturer in data and computational journalism, and other Merrill faculty were awarded a nearly $50,000 grant from the UMD Teaching & Learning Transformation Center to expand the college’s AI-assisted journalism curriculum. 

All courses include significant discussion of AI or experimental AI workflows to support journalism and journalists rather than replace the human element.

The current open elective menu includes courses on search engines, social media and the news; sports data analysis and visualization; news application development; and computational text analysis in Python.

The current visual elective menu offers courses on interactive design and development, and data visualization.

The capstone options for the data and AI pathway include Capital News Service’s data and graphics bureau, Washington bureau, Annapolis bureau and broadcast bureau.

Capital News Service is the college’s student-powered news organization, staffed by students and managed by full-time faculty members with distinguished careers as professional journalists.

For more information, contact:
Josh Land

Dr. Naeemul Hassan, Assistant Professor

Adam Marton, Director, Capital News Service Data and Graphics Bureau

Sean Mussenden, Data Editor, Howard Center for Investigative Journalism

Dr. Daniel Trielli, Assistant Professor of Media and Democracy

Dr. Rob Wells, Associate Professor

Derek Willis, Lecturer in Data and Computational Journalism

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