Undergraduate Journalism Curriculum

Whether you have a little journalism experience or a lot, our innovative curriculum for undergraduate journalism students allows you to solidify your writing and editing skills and explore your passions outside of Medill. Our curriculum is broken up into three components:

  1. Our core curriculum is built to get all first-year students on the same page. We’ll teach you the Medill way of reporting, writing, editing and thinking critically through our core courses, which include:
    • Philosophy of Modern Journalism
    • Reporting and Writing
    • Multimedia Storytelling
    • Journalism in Practice
    • Media Law and Ethics
    • Journalism Residency
  2. In addition to those core classes, every student selects a concentration in a discipline outside of Medill. Here, you can explore your passion for political science, history, economics, a foreign language, computer science and much more. You'll take a wide variety of courses to ensure a well-rounded education.
  3. Finally, we offer a wide variety of journalism electives. Students can choose the courses that are most appealing to build expertise in the areas you are most passionate about. Below is a sample of current offerings:
  • Journalism in a Networked World
    Taught by Professor Rich Gordon
    Search engines, social media and online communities are powerful networks that help people find journalism that interests them. In this interdisciplinary course, students will learn the principles that explain the groundbreaking science of networks and gain practical skills in areas such as website analytics, search-engine optimization and social media strategy.
  • The Googlization of America
    Taught by Professor Owen Youngman
    Led by Google, technology companies are taking a more central role in the American media landscape every day. In this course, students learn how Google and its competitors are continuing to change journalism, the media business and U.S. culture.
  • Journalism of Empathy
    Taught by Senior Lecturer Alex Kotlowitz
    This course will explore writing about people who live along the margins - individuals and places neglected and misunderstood by mainstream America. In this class, students learn how to report beyond the center of the storm, giving voice to those without, introducing readers to people they otherwise would never have reason to meet. Film, readings and peer editing, will help students understand the artistry behind compelling nonfiction storytelling.
  • International Journalism: South Africa
    Taught by Associate Professor Doug Foster and Professor Ava Greenwell
    South Africa’s history and contemporary social upheavals makes it a rich environment for considering the role of media, business, politics and public health in an emerging democracy. Just 25 years since the end of Apartheid, an extreme form of racial segregation and oppression, the country is in swift transition culturally, politically, and economically. This course offers a special focus on the country's newspapers, magazines, and broadcast outlets and is designed for any student interested in international reporting and/or health reporting.
  • Investigative Journalism - Medill Justice Project
    Taught by Professor Alec Klein
    Investigative reporting has proven to be one of the highest forms of journalism: shedding light on wrongdoing, exposing corruption at the highest levels and taking on powerful people and institutions that have abused their power. This course will focus on an important facet of journalism: investigating potentially wrongful convictions with in-the-field reporting. Students will be introduced to a variety of investigative techniques, interviewing skills, approaches to developing sources and employing public documents and databases. Of paramount importance in this class: student safety and adhering to the highest ethical standards in journalism. For more information, visit The Medill Justice Project, which supports this class.
  • Media Design
    Taught by Associate Professor Susan Mango Curtis
    This class explores the fundamental tools of design, typographic contrast and color theory. You will analyze current approaches to newspaper, magazine, web and mobile design. All students are expected to present and defend their design solutions to the class. This course is divided into lectures, research, sketching, computer lab time and critiques.
  • Health and Science Reporting
    Taught by Associate Professor Patti Wolter
    Health and Science Reporting teaches students both how to think about science writing and how to write about science and medicine. In this combination writing workshop and seminar we will read some of the best of the best science and health journalism; meet with expert scientists on campus; and meet the editors and writers from leading scientific journals and publications. Students will learn what makes good science writing, how to find sources, how to evaluate information and how to sort out science from pseudo-science.
  • Journalism Research Methods: Collecting and Analyzing Audience Data in the Digital News Age
    Taught by Assistant Professor Stephanie Edgerly
    Is Facebook saving or destroying the news industry? Are claims about millennials ‘fleeing’ from the news true? What type of story structure elicits the most attention from audiences? These are important questions facing today’s news industry. They are also empirical questions that can be addressed through systematic data collection and analysis. This class focuses on the foundations of social science research as it relates to the field of journalism.
  • Sports, Society & the Media
    Taught by Associate Professor Craig LaMay
    Modern sports are nothing if not media-made. Conversely, sports make media. The rise of mass media in 19th century America paralleled and its creators promoted the development of the major American sports, particularly baseball and football and in the digital world sport is the only form of programming that still commands national and global audiences that number in the billions. As a result, this class discusses how sport is a social institution no less than education, religion, or the military, and no less important.
  • Leadership Strategies
    Taught by Professor Candy Lee
    Students graduating from Northwestern will work or volunteer in many organizations, from non-profit to government, from start-ups to large, international organizations. This course teaches students how to communicate ideas orally in presentations to different audiences, participate effectively in organizations as an employee, as a member of a team, as a new thought leader on the path to becoming a leader and explore fundamentals of economics, finance and management literacy.
  • Documentary
    Taught by Associate Professor Brent Huffman
    This course provides students with a comprehensive overview of HD video production specifically geared towards producing short documentaries that tell human stories. Emphasis is put on the use of character, conflict, drama and surprise in telling these documentary stories. We also look at different documentary styles and how narrative structures like story arcs are implemented. Students learn documentary production with a journalism focus: reporting, camera technique, lighting and sound recording in the field. Students create a 7-10 minute documentary project in a group of three. They research and write a treatment, cast charismatic characters, get signed releases, shoot and edit the film.

Journalism in Practice

Journalism in Practice

During your time at Medill, you’ll have the opportunity to put your journalism skills into practice through sessions with practical application components, called Journalism in Practice.