COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism and College of Information Studies (iSchool) will begin offering a new from-anywhere data journalism master's degree in the Fall 2022 semester, and will begin accepting applications this fall.
The two UMD colleges will combine the best of Merrill’s journalism training and the iSchool’s STEM data-management techniques to produce the next generation of data journalists, while students will be offered all the perks that come with attending one of the world’s top public research universities.
Courses will be offered both online and in person, with it being possible to complete the degree from anywhere. Students can complete the degree entirely virtually, in person or via a combination of the two. It will be Merrill College’s first degree available with an online-only option.
"Merrill College and the iSchool have proudly combined forces to offer an interdisciplinary, affordable, accessible online degree for mid-career journalists who wish to learn marketable data skills, and for data scientists who want to learn storytelling skills from the best journalism teachers in the world," said Merrill College Dean Lucy Dalglish.
“In today’s world, gathering facts to report on a story can be a herculean task,” said iSchool Dean Keith Marzullo. “We are surrounded by a sea of data, much of which can be quite complicated to access, understand or translate into a cohesive story. Graduates of this new program will be the journalists and storytellers of today and tomorrow – with a deep understanding of how to tap into these troves of data and communicate meaningful findings.”
The program will teach students to find, access, gather, prepare and analyze data both using journalistic and scientific methods, to help journalists take their investigative chops to another level and help information professionals use their data skills to make a difference.
Students will learn to responsibly leverage open data, results of public records requests, scraped (or otherwise automatically accumulated) data and acquired data in their assessment, evaluation and investigation of an issue.
To help make this program possible, Merrill College took advantage of teaching grants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to further embed data into every level of its curriculum -- from first-year courses to capstones. Merrill now offers specialized classes in data journalism, data visualization, computational journalism and sports analytics.
The world-class faculties at Merrill College and the iSchool will prepare students to use open-source tools, application programming interfaces (APIs) and low-cost computing resources, and then use those resources to develop and visualize stories.
At Merrill, the faculty includes renowned data journalists Sean Mussenden (Data Editor, Howard Center for Investigative Journalism) and Derek Willis (Lecturer in Data and Computational Journalism). The iSchool faculty includes Assistant Professor Naeemul Hassan, who is jointly appointed with Merrill and directs the UMD Computational Journalism Lab, and Professor Jennifer Golbeck, an active science communicator.
Students will also apply what they learn by receiving real-world, hands-on experience with a capstone requirement, either within Merrill’s Capital News Service, the UMD Howard Center for Investigative Journalism or at one of the iSchool's many partner organizations.
Journalists, information professionals and data reporters who want to take their skills to the next level will all find a home in this program.
- Merrill College