The School of Journalism and Mass Communication – SJMC – is committed to developing educated professionals. Our School couples hands-on training in professional skills with a strong liberal arts education.
Our students are prepared not just for their first job, but for becoming leaders in their fields. Professional education begins early in the School. First-year students take SJMC courses and are encouraged to participate in campus media opportunities so that they are soon ready to take advantage of the hundreds of internship opportunities available to Drake SJMC students in Des Moines and all over the world.
In addition, the SJMC collaborates with the College of Business and Public Administration to offer a Master of Communication Leadership. The MCL is an applied career-development program aimed at professionals with at least five years of experience.
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The School of Journalism and Mass Communication awards a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication and a Master of Communication Leadership.
309 full-time and part-time undergraduate majors in Fall 2014
22 graduate students in Fall 2014
14 full-time faculty/4 part-time faculty
Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Drake is among 115 accredited programs worldwide. To earn accreditation, schools meet nine standards, which address such issues as class size and diversity within the faculty and curriculum. Accreditation reviews occur every six years. Drake’s program has been continuously accredited, most recently in 2011.
For the class of 2014, 100% of SJMC graduates reported working in jobs within their fields, other professional jobs of their choice or graduate school.
Entering first-year-students must meet Drake University’s admission requirements.
Transfer students must have a cumulative GPA of at least a 2.25 on a 4.0 scale. For a list of courses required to complete the degree, please see the check sheets on the individual majors pages.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication houses six undergraduate sequences. The school’s undergraduate “three legged stool” includes academics, extracurricular activities and at least one internship.
First-year students need not declare their sequence right away. During that transition they are listed as Open majors.
Two degrees for the price of one is very attractive to many students and parents, and it is certainly possible to double-major in SJMC and some other field. About half of SJMC students double major or dual degree. The SJMC demands much of its students. The workload is heavy, and many courses include several hours a week of production time. These time demands make it challenging to schedule courses in the second major; therefore, a student seeking a double major must plan very carefully in order to graduate within four years.
The SJMC/law 3+3 program allows students to complete virtually all journalism and mass communication requirements in the first 3 years, including requirements for a specific undergraduate SJMC sequence. If admitted to the Drake University Law School, the student then counts Law School courses taken in the fourth year as the area of concentration required of all SJMC majors. The fourth year also constitutes the student’s first year in Drake Law School.
Admission to the 3+3 program is by application to the dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Because of the rigorous nature of the program and the tight scheduling involved, admission is limited to exceptional and highly motivated students. Students may apply to the program during their first semester on campus.
To assure depth and focus, the SJMC student must complete a 21 credit-hour block of non-SJMC courses approved by the advisor and dean. At least 12 credit hours in the concentration must be in courses numbered 100 and above. The concentration may be taken in a single department or as a unified area of concentration crossing departmental lines. Recognized minors may also serve as an area of concentration, depending upon structure and credit hours required. Some that have proven beneficial include political science, management, theater, and the social sciences.
For students majoring in advertising or public relations, the minor in marketing in the College of Business and Public Administration is an attractive option.
Involvement from the first semester in major courses and in campus media are unique aspects of Drake’s SJMC. Most competitive SJMC programs at state universities require students to take a general education core during the first two years of study. Students in these other programs may not encounter courses in the major until the junior year.
Advisors encourage first-year students to participate in campus media activities, such as the Times-Delphic student newspaper, Drake Magazine and the Drake Broadcasting System.
All sequences include senior capstone courses that pull together the student’s coursework and experience into a comprehensive project that showcases professional, creative and critical thinking skills.
The SJMC’s magazine program has achieved national prominence. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) team that visited in 1999 called the SJMC a “real standout” and termed Drake’s Magazines program the strongest undergraduate sequence in the country, an evaluation reaffirmed in subsequent accreditation reports.
Magazines published by students either as laboratory projects or as independent publications routinely win national honors from the Associated Collegiate Press, the Society for Professional Journalists, and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Drake students have been selected for nationally competitive internships offered by the American Society of Magazine Editors, Scripps Howard Foundation, Dow Jones and the Bailey Lauerman and Olson advertising internships.
SJMC’s broadcast facilities include a fully equipped television and radio studios, and digital audio and video editing systems. Campus Radio KDRA-LP can be heard on 94.1, and streaming its signal to the web . Students can take advantage of unique and extensive opportunities to gain training and experience in live remote sports productions, highlighted by 18 hours of live broadcasting during the Drake Relays.
The Public Relations Student Society of America and the Ad Club give students the opportunity to network with area professionals in their fields.
Class projects in all majors offer students a chance to interact with Des Moines community members while providing service to a host of non-profit or charitable organizations. Such projects also enable students to work closely with faculty as colleagues outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Many excellent internships are available to students locally, regionally and nationally during the summer and throughout the school year. The SJMC fills hundreds of internships every year. The accrediting team noted that “virtually any student who wants an internship is guaranteed to receive one,” and about three of every four internships are paid. The team found students to be enthusiastic about their internship experiences and that employers were equally enthusiastic in their satisfaction with Drake students and their preparation for internship work. The School requires all students to take JMC 40, a one-credit workshop that focuses on job search strategies and resume preparation. Iowa’s presidential caucuses offer students special opportunities to work with international media and with political campaigns intensively every four years.
This focus on applied education extends to the Master of Communication Leadership program, where classes have completed projects for such organizations as the World Food and Music Festival, Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The 2011 ACEJMC accreditation report was glowing, citing as the SJMC’s strengths a “focused mission and healthy educational environment,” “hard-working faculty,” and a “nimble curriculum” with “strong sequences across the board.” Accreditors found “bright, committed and engaged students who take the courses, cocurricular activities and internships seriously – and who possess great pride in the education they receive.”
Employer evaluations of SJMC student interns show a high level of satisfaction with student preparation, attitude, initiative and skill. As the 2005 ACEJMC accrediting team noted in its report, “Drake prides itself on having a hands-on, practical, skills-based curriculum that prepares students for careers in journalism and mass communication. Media professionals are full of praise for Drake journalism school graduates. Students are involved in student media and obtain multiple internships by the time they graduate.”
Drake students who intern with local media outlets or corporations often parlay those internships into full-time employment after graduation. Meredith Corporation, for example, rarely hires students right out of college, but has hired a number of Drake SJMC students who have interned there or done freelance work for Meredith publications.
Recent public relations graduates took state civil service examinations for public information officer positions that also established grade/rank. The students scored well enough to earn the grade/rank usually appropriate to people with at least two years of professional experience instead of the more typical entry-level grade.
Alumni who chose not to pursue a communications career offer positive testimonials in support of their SJMC degree. Lawyers, health care professionals, retailers, entrepreneurs, coaches, corporate executives, even a romance novelist say they owe much of their various kinds of success to the writing, reporting, problem-solving and presentation skills that came with their majors. This also includes the depth and breadth of the “liberal education” that went along with their professional education.
Capstone experiences involving outside clients provide students and faculty with an excellent mechanism for professional review of student skills and curricular effectiveness. Recent clients for campaign capstones in the advertising and public relations programs include Nissan; Coca-Cola; Anawim Housing, a charity for low-income homeowers, Pella Windows; Tone’s Spices, and the Iowa Department of Education.
Communication education at Drake has a long and distinguished history, beginning in 1919 when the College of Commerce, Finance and Journalism was established. From that day to this, studies in journalism have retained a place of pride in Drake’s array of professional curricula. A separate School of Journalism was created at Drake in 1962.
Early leaders in communication education at Drake included Gardner “Mike” Cowles, who served as department head from 1928-29, while he was also managing editor of The Des Moines Register and Tribune. A year later, Cowles hired Dr. George Gallup to head the department. Gallup had served on the faculty at the University of Iowa and went on later to begin his national polling organization. These early leaders set communication education at Drake on a course that emphasized a strong relationship with practicing professionals, hands-on learning and applied research. Course offerings included newspaper management, advanced reporting, specialized writing and “newspaper trends.”
By the early 1930s, there were 24 JMC courses, including four advertising courses, high school journalism for teachers, dramatic criticism, play reviews and “camera reporting,” the department’s first venture into photojournalism. In a parallel development, a Radio Department began in the College of Fine Arts and moved into the College of Commerce and Finance the following year. Radio courses could be taken as part of the news-editorial sequence in journalism.
The decade of the 1960s was a time of major development for the newly established School of Journalism . The first television courses were offered in 1960. By mid-decade, Meredith Hall – designed by “less-is-more” architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – was built to house the school, and a radio-television department was established. Hugh Curtis, former editor of The Ladies’ Home Journal , was named the first dean of the school. The news-editorial and advertising sequences of the school won accreditation from the American Council on Education for Journalism (ACEJ) in 1972. In 1980, advertising and news-editorial were accredited again, and the public relations sequence was accredited for the first time. In 1981, the name of the school was changed to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to reflect its diversity of offerings. It was reaccredited in 1987, 1992, 1998, 2005 and 2011.
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