Schieffer School of Journalism Overview

The mission of the Schieffer School of Journalism is to educate journalism and strategic communication students to think and act as responsible professionals and ethical citizens in a global community. The Schieffer School helps students develop competencies that prepare them for professional employment and advanced studies. It seeks to create skilled professional communicators who understand their social, legal and ethical responsibilities in a rapidly changing media landscape that has, for the first time, connected societies around the globe.

Each degree program in the school prepares students to communicate to diverse audiences in a free society through critical thinking, analytical writing, real-time reporting and compelling multi-media presentations.

Founded in 1927 as a department, the Schieffer School of Journalism was named in 2005 for legendary CBS journalist Bob Schieffer, a TCU alumnus. All programs require professional quality, versatility and performance. The Schieffer School of Journalism is one of 18 programs at private universities in the nation accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). About 10 percent of the journalism programs at public and private universities in the country are accredited by the council. The school fully subscribes to ACEJMC guidelines that at least 72 semester hours of the student's coursework be taken outside journalism and/or strategic communication classes. The Schieffer School strongly recommends that students use the 72 hour requirement outside the unit to ensure a broad liberal arts education.

Experiential learning is emphasized through a vibrant student media, hosted internships and coursework that include real-life assignments with commercial media and corporate clients. One top intern program is the Schieffer School in Washington, offered to a select group of students in the fall semester of their senior year. A second top intern program is provided through the Schieffer School's student-run advertising and public relations agency called ROXO.

Students majoring in journalism should master the elements of written, oral, and visual presentation of the news, as well as understand the role of First Amendment journalism in a democracy and the ethical standards that accompany the gathering and distribution of news. This includes theory, history and concepts of journalism, as well as practical skills.

Classes in which journalism skills are taught and practiced are limited to 15 students. Classes that address deep specialties in reporting such as public affairs, business, visual and sports journalism often have fewer students and are platform-agnostic. Through other courses, students are encouraged to use their enthusiasm for a subject, such as sports or politics, in their assignments.

The goals of skills classes include development of a portfolio, or body of work, that becomes the basis for graduating students entering the job market. As part of their coursework, students produce professional-quality newscasts in the school's high-definition broadcast journalism studio and practice real-time journalism in the Schieffer School Convergence Center.

Professors and instructors in the journalism program have both academic credentials and professional experience. Among them are an Emmy-Award winner, a former local news anchor, authors of books and other scholarly research, a lawyer who specializes in freedom of information issues and a former officer of an international news agency. Full professors teach entry-level courses in the journalism major. Students are allowed and encouraged to volunteer for student media as entering first-year students, based on submissions of work in high school media.

Specialization in story-telling techniques is supported by faculty, but not before the future journalist is exposed to news-gathering skills across online, print and video platforms. This focus on cross training is a distinction of the Schieffer School.

Students majoring in strategic communication learn the theories and methods of advertising, public relations and new media to meet the strategic goals of organizations. Students learn to conduct research; write and create content for print, broadcast, online and mobile platforms; design; choose channels to place the message; and evaluate effectiveness.

Many Schieffer strategic communication classes are small so that full-time professors can help students work on projects for real clients. Students are strongly encouraged to put their skills into practice by interning for local agencies, companies or nonprofits. Students compete annually in national advertising and public relations campaigns competitions. In recent years, students have placed in the top 10 nationally ranked teams in the AAF (American Advertising Federations) National Student Advertising competition, the Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman Competition, and the Texas Public Relations Association's annual competition.

Most strategic communication graduates begin work in advertising or public relations agencies, corporations, governmental agencies, nonprofit groups, health care groups, sports teams and consulting firms. Others enter graduate school or highly specialized post-graduate pre-professional programs.

Whether journalism or strategic communication majors, students must develop the ability to write clearly, distinctively and correctly. The first writing course, JOUR 10113, is for both majors and has a grammar/spelling/punctuation module that must be successfully completed at the conclusion of the class. The course must be passed with a grade of "C" or better before students can take any course for which JOUR 10113 is a prerequisite. Journalism majors and minors and strategic communication majors must make a "C" or better in any course that is a prerequisite for another journalism course before enrolling in the course for which the prerequisite is required. All skills courses must be taken sequentially.

Courses in the journalism majors or minor must be taken for a letter grade. No course applied to the student's major, minor or associated requirement may be taken on the Pass/No Credit basis. Journalism courses taken in those sequences must be passed with a grade of "C" (2.0) or better to fulfill prerequisite requirements for any journalism course and for graduation requirements for the majors or minors. [Note: a "C-" (1.67) does not meet that requirement]. Any journalism elective in which a student earns between a "D-" and a "C-" will not count toward any journalism degree requirements but may be used as a general university elective.

Professional organizations that have chapters affiliated with the Schieffer School of Journalism are The Society of Professional Journalists, American Advertising Federation and the Public Relations Student Society of America. The school also has a chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha, the National Honorary society for journalism students.

Journalism majors are also eligible for the endowed Jay Milner Distinguished Student Journalism Awards for work in TCU student media, with prizes of up to $1,000.

Declaring Journalism as a Major

Incoming first-year and transfer students may declare journalism as a major upon entering the University. Current TCU students of sophomore standing or above who wish to declare one of the majors offered by the Schieffer School of Journalism must have achieved a TCU cumulative GPA of 2.5 before they can declare a major inside the School. A journalism minor is offered through the Schieffer School.

Admission to the Strategic Communication Major

Admission to the Strategic Communication major requires multiple steps. Entering TCU freshmen who declare Strategic Communication as their major prior to the first day of TCU classes are automatically admitted to the program, though they are still required to attend the Saturday Application Forum and complete steps 2 through 5. Once school begins all students, including freshmen, must apply to the major. Admission to the Strategic Communication major is competitive. As a result, a student may be admitted to TCU but not to the Strategic Communication program if they apply for Strategic Communication on the first day of class of their freshman year or thereafter. Students with more than 80 college credits will not be admitted to the major, whether internal or external transfers, because course sequencing in the major requires at least four long semesters to complete.

To be considered for admission to the Strategic Communication major in the Schieffer School, students must complete all of the following steps:

  1. A. INCOMING FRESHMEN: Entering freshmen students, once admitted to TCU, may declare the major prior to the first day of TCU classes and be directly admitted to the Strategic Communication major in only the fall semester if they meet the following requirements: they must have completed no hours at TCU (except for hours awarded for AP or IB courses, or dual-credit hours awarded in high school through another university or college); and they must complete steps two through five of the application process, including mandatory attendance at the Saturday Application Forum and completion of the other steps of that process. Once TCU classes begin, entering freshmen must apply. B. INTERNAL TRANSFER STUDENT: An internal transfer student is one who is currently enrolled in another degree program at TCU. These students must have a 2.50 minimum overall TCU GPA (and should have a 3.0 GPA to be competitive); C. EXTERNAL TRANSFER STUDENT: The TCU Office of Admissions makes the decisions on all transfer applicants. To be considered for provisional admission to the Strategic Communication major during the first semester after admission to TCU, students should have at least a 3.0 transfer GPA from a four-year institution and a 3.25 GPA from a two-year institution. If this GPA is in place and there are open spaces in the Gateway courses for Strategic Communication in the first semester, students may enroll in these courses and then will be considered for full admission only after they complete steps two through five of the application process.
  2. Attend a mandatory Saturday Application Forum (held on the first Saturday in October in the fall and on the last Saturday in February in the spring semester);
  3. Complete a Personal Creative Narrative about reasons for selecting the Strategic Communication major, written on-site after the mandatory Saturday Application Forum;
  4. Read and sign the Ethics and Professionalism Statement for Strategic Communication, based on the Schieffer School’s Honor Code;
  5. Turn in an application packet at the end of the Saturday Application Forum that includes: transcripts verifying the GPA (for internal and external transfer students only); the Personal Creative Narrative; and the Ethics and Professionalism Statement for Strategic Communication.

After admittance to the Strategic Communication major, students must earn a grade of "C" or higher in each required course, and a combined GPA of 2.5 must be earned in the four Gateway courses before students may enroll in any advanced required courses for the Strategic Communication major.

In the event of a formal appeal concerning the application process, the Director of the Schieffer School will appoint a committee of three faculty tenured in the Schieffer School to review the appeal and report to the director.

Honors College

Candidates for Departmental Honors should take JOUR 30003 during their junior year and JOUR 40003 during the fall semester of their senior year.

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