Students who are interested in both the fields of law and journalism may want to consider enrolling in a dual graduate degree program. This would give students the opportunity to complete the requirements for both a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and a master's degree in journalism, which could prepare graduates for a variety of different careers. Details about these dual degree programs are covered below.
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Information About Dual Degree Programs in Law and Journalism
While law degrees typically take three years to complete on their own and master's degrees in journalism generally take one to two years, dual degree programs can typically be completed in three and a half to four years. The journalism degree may be offered as Master of Arts or Master of Science in Journalism; some schools may offer the option as communications with a journalism concentration. Students are required to complete roughly 100-120 credits, about three-quarters of which will be for the law degree. Courses that are common to these programs may include:
Law students are generally required to take a first-year course in criminal law. In this course, students learn about the fundamentals of criminal law and may cover topics like the criminal legal process, different types of criminal offenses, and what types of sentences are typically associated with specific crimes. In addition, students may study crime and punishment from a theoretical standpoint and discuss the overall purpose of criminal law.
Another course that is a typical requirement during the first year of law school is a class in contracts in which students survey contractual law. Topics discussed in a contracts course may include the bargaining process, how contracts are formed, agreement, resolution, and interpretation. Students will likely study why various parties enter into contractual agreements in the first place and the legal ramifications that occur when one or more parties breaks the contract.
A course in torts is another standard course that law students usually take, regardless of their respective concentration. In a torts course, students learn about the concept of damages to individuals and the legal process by which individuals can seek damages from another party. Topics that are typically covered include liability, intentional torts, the concept of fault, negligence, and wrongful death.
Journalism students may take one or more courses that focus on the visual aspects of journalism. Students in such courses generally learn how to make the best use of various visual technologies when telling stories and reporting the news. This course may require students to produce different types of news and media-related projects like advertisements, broadcast news segments, or promotional spots.
Master's programs in journalism may also include courses that focus on data reporting. In these courses, students generally learn how to properly access public records and data to support news stories and projects. Courses may cover basic mathematics and computer programming as applicable to the mining, management, and analysis of data.
General Admission Requirements for Dual Degree Law and Journalism Programs
Generally, students who are interested in dual degree law and journalism programs will be required to complete the admission requirements for both the school of law and the school of journalism at the school to which they are applying. This typically means they will need to fill out two separate applications and take both the LSAT, which is required for entrance to law school, and the GRE, which is sometimes required for admission to master's programs in journalism. In addition, students will need to prepare their applications by submitting letters of recommendation, personal statements, and transcripts of their undergraduate work. Graduate journalism programs may ask that students submit samples of their writing or relevant journalistic media.
To summarize, dual degree programs in law and journalism are widely available at many law schools around the country. These programs may be of particular interest to students whose career interests require knowledge and expertise in both of these fields.