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Journalism/Law 3+3

Program Overview

The journalism/law 3+3 program allows students to complete virtually all journalism and mass communication (SJMC) requirements in the first three years, including requirements for a specific undergraduate SJMC major. 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 journalism 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, based on high school GPA, test scores and an application letter. Students may apply to the program during their first semester on campus.


SJMC faculty are experienced professionals and leading academicians. The Drake Law School faculty includes experts in several fields of law, distinguished scholars and outstanding teachers.

Academic Preparation

No specific courses are required for admission. Students are encouraged to take writing and college preparatory courses while in high school.

Required credit hours and courses for a major

Up to 44 credits must be completed in an SJMC major. All SJMC students complete the following required classes:

All SJMC majors must complete (for students entering Fall 2015 and after):

  • JMC 30 Mass Media in a Global Society – Introduction to the role and functions of mass media. Survey of newspapers, magazines, books, radio-television, advertising, public relations, digital media and the Web. Discussion of media issues and professional opportunities. Fall semester reserved for entering first year JMC majors.
  • JMC 31 Multimedia Lab – Introduction to multimedia communication; lab component of JMC 030.
  • JMC 40 Pre-Professional Workshop – A short course introducing students to policies, practices and principles in internships and cooperative education. Course covers the nature of internships; developing resumes, portfolios or talent/audition tapes; and other concerns. The course is required of all JMC majors and should be completed during the sophomore year.
  • JMC 41 Financial Fundamentals for Communication Professionals – This one-credit course provides an introduction to basic business principles and terminology for non-business majors, with an emphasis on communications professionals. Topics include fundamentals of business organizations; reading and interpreting business financial statements; investment basics; understanding economic indicators; writing a business plan, and basic applied math. Must be sophomore classification.
  • JMC 55 Digital Media Strategies – Digital Strategies will introduce students to the tools and best practices to cut through the digital din. Students will understand how to grow, engage and maintain a digital audience, creating effective native social content and email newsletters while also using analytics to drive and adapt a multi-platform plan. Students will also delve into the complexities of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), data journalism, and data visualization, as well as investigate the latest tech advances popping in Silicon Valley, on the Silicon Prairie, and from the world at large.
  • JMC 54 News and Reporting Principles – Information evaluation, fact-gathering methods and journalism style, with extensive practice.
  • JMC 59 Introduction to Visual Communication – This course helps students master the fundamental principles of good design, color, balance and contrast using different media to convey a message. Photography, print and web will be explored. Instruction on using digital cameras, Photoshop, InDesign and other softwares will illustrate the elements of design and communication for each medium.
  • JMC 104 Communications Law and Ethics – Press freedom, ethics, social responsibility, pressures and problems; legal limitations, including libel, privacy, intellectual property and obscenity. Must be Junior Status. Not open to first-year students or sophomores.

A minimum of 48 credit hours must be taken in Arts and Sciences course work and must include Political Science 1 and a sociology course; 40 credit hours must be in upper division courses numbered 100 or above.

Required credit hours and courses outside major:

The Drake Curriculum, required of all undergraduates, is designed to help students meet personal and professional goals as they acquire fundamental knowledge and abilities in Areas of Inquiry, including communication, critical thinking, artistic experience, historical consciousness, information literacy, global and cultural understanding, scientific and quantitative literacy, values and ethics and engaged citizenship. Students work closely with their academic advisers to craft a program of study in general education that prepares students for civic and professional leadership.

The Drake Curriculum also requires first-year seminars, which foster development of critical thinking and written and oral communication skills through a topical focus; and a Senior Capstone, in which students demonstrate the capacity to bring information, skills and ideas to bear on one project.

The Honors Program is an alternative designed for motivated students who want to participate in challenging, discussion-based courses on interdisciplinary issues.

Graduate program requirements

Students who have met all requirements specified above, and who gain admission to the Law School, may start law school during their fourth year of enrollment. The SJMC will accept 21 to 24 hours of Law School credits as counting toward the 124 required for graduation and as satisfying area of concentration requirements. Law hours will not count toward the SJMC’s requirement for Arts and Sciences courses. Law courses will count toward the required hours outside of journalism. Once a student has successfully completed law school courses necessary to fulfill the required 124 hours of coursework for the bachelor’s degree, the bachelor’s degree will be awarded.

A student may withdraw from the journalism/3+3 law program at any time and complete his/her undergraduate study for the bachelor’s degree.

Special opportunities/internships

A number of organizations, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Society of Professional Journalists, offer nationally competitive internships in areas of media law, press freedom and freedom of information for which 3+3 students would be well prepared. Students have the opportunity to work with Drake’s Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement and the archive of Sen. Tom Harkin’s papers.  SJMC students also frequently have internships in the governor’s office, in the Legislature and with state and local government agencies. Every four years the Iowa Caucuses provide students the opportunity to work with national political candidates and parties and with national and international media.

Career options

Graduates are prepared to work professionally in the communications and/or law fields, for nonprofit organizations, in business and for government agencies.


Undergraduates have the opportunity to work with award-winning campus media, including The Times-Delphic, Drake’s student-run campus newspaper; Drake Broadcasting System; Drake Magazine; the Annual and Drake Political Review. There are also campus chapters of Ad Club, Society of Professional Journalists and Public Relations Student Society of America. SJMC students also frequently have leadership roles in university organizations such as Student Senate and Residence Hall Association.