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Student reporting outside of Supreme Court in Washington DC

Politics and National Security

In our politically charged environment, almost all news can be considered political news. Likewise, issues of national security warrant extensive media coverage in our post-9/11 world. Students in Medill’s Politics and National Security specialization relentlessly cover these hot topics from Chicago, Washington and across the globe.

About the Politics and National Security specialization

From interviewing Democratic ward bosses in Chicago to attending Congressional hearings as a credentialed reporter to reporting from a U.S. Air Force base, you’ll have unique opportunities to cover history as it unfolds during your time in the Politics and National Security specialization.

The Politics and National Security specialization starts in the summer quarter.

Why Politics and National Security?

Politics and national security provide plenty of news to cover, even when it’s not campaign season—although you will get the chance to cover elections if the timing works out during your program. For journalists, the stakes are high; an informed electorate is crucial to democracy.

At Medill, you’ll build a solid foundation in reporting that will allow you to cover complex issues such as the deficit, immigration, national defense and security. You’ll hear from experts in the political and legislative processes. For many alumni, the experience has translated into positions at top-tier global news outlets, political organizations, think tanks, nonprofits, congressional offices and the federal government.

What will I learn?

You’ll report for Medill News Service in Chicago and Washington, covering news for print, broadcast and digital native publications. You can report from Chicago and spend three quarters at Medill’s Washington, D.C., newsroom, which has trained top journalists for more than 50 years. In Washington, you’ll have the opportunity to report as a credentialed journalist from Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, the White House and even the U.S. Supreme Court.

You'll complete an annual reporting trip to a site related to your specialty; previous locations have included military facilities and campaign headquarters. You can participate in a three-month reporting trip through the award-winning National Security Journalism Initiative, an opportunity unique to Medill.

You’ll be able to compile your published clips and multimedia productions into an impressive portfolio that will showcase your professional, hands-on journalism experience as a journalist for Medill News Service and its clients.

Your Medill Experience

Student interviewing someone on camera.


In class, you’ll analyze how news coverage has influenced election outcomes. National security courses introduce you to the issues reporters face covering war, terrorism, military conflicts and homeland security. You’ll hear directly from top-level current and former U.S. officials and other experts. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in a professional hostile environment training course.

Learn about the Politics and National Security curriculum
Chicago skyline at sunset


Our Chicago space in the heart of the Loop provides easy access to City Hall and other political hot spots. Chicago has hosted national political conventions and is known for its Democratic-machine politics and pro-labor union movement. Its tongue-in-cheek political motto is “Vote early and vote often,” a reference to its not-too-distant history of political corruption, making it an ideal place to cover politics.

Learn about Medill’s Chicago campus
Students reporting in DC

Washington, D.C

As a credentialed journalist in Washington, D.C., you’ll report from Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, the White House and even the U.S. Supreme Court. You’ll interview elected officials and political operatives and develop relationships with staffers on the Hill.

Learn about the Medill News Service in Washington, D.C.
Student wearing helmet and speaking to the army

National Security Journalism Initiative

You can participate in a three-month reporting trip through the award-winning National Security Journalism Initiative, an opportunity unique to Medill. You'll take three courses: covering conflicts, terrorism and national security; cybersecurity; and Washington national security beat reporting. The initiative is funded by Robert R. McCormick Foundation grants.

Learn about the Digital Security Course

Career Services

You’ll be paired with a Medill alumni mentor who can offer feedback and career advice throughout your time in the program. You'll also gain access to Medill’s vast and helpful alumni network. Whether you want to end up in Washington or any number of places where politics is center stage, chances are Medill alumni already are there, willing and able to help you succeed.

Learn about Career Services
Edith Chapin at Washington 50th at NPR.

Medill Network

You’ll be paired with a Medill alumni mentor, to offer story feedback and career advice throughout your time as a student. By completing the program, you will also become part of Medill’s alumni network, with connections to more than 15,000 Medill alumni worldwide.

Learn about the Medill Network
Susan Page at Medill Fridays

Medill Fridays

We welcome top political journalists such as USA Today's Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page (BSJ73) to speak with students in Evanston, Chicago and Washington as part of our Medill Fridays. In addition we regularly welcome politicians, authors, and national security experts as well. 

Learn about Medill Fridays

Our Faculty

Ellen Shearer

Ellen Shearer

Shearer directs Medill's National Security Journalism Intiative and has written and taught extensively in the areas of political journalism, national security journalism and watchdog journalism. 

Peter Slevin

Peter Slevin

Slevin spent a dozen years as a Washington Post staff writer. Following his reporting on the 2008 presidential campaign and extensive writing on the Obamas, Slevin authored “Michelle Obama: A Life” in 2015.

Jon Marshall

Jon Marshall

Marshall has written for numerous newspapers and magazines and is author of "Watergate's Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse." 

Our Alumni

Josh Lederman (MSJ 2011)

Josh Lederman
National Security Reporter
The Associated Press

Lederman covers foreign policy, the White House and the State Department for the AP and has reported from more than 20 countries, including Iraq, Israel, Russia and Cuba.

Gillian Roberts (MSJ12)

Gillian Roberts
Visual Reporting Editor
CQ Roll Call

Roberts oversees the data visualization and graphics, video and photography across the newsroom for Congressional Quarterly, which covers all things policy on the Hill, and Roll Call, which covers all things politics on the Hill.

Laura McGann (MSJ 2006)

Laura McGann
Editorial Director

McGann leads the newsroom at Vox, which aims to explain the news, from politics to pop culture to world affairs. 

Tanvi Misra (MSJ14)

Tanvi Misra
Staff Writer

Misra writes about inequality, immigration and urban policy for CityLab, The Atlantic's website about the future of cities. Previously, she contributed to NPR's Code Switch blog and BBC's online news magazine.

Gillian B. White (MSJ12)

Gillian B. White
Senior Associate Editor
The Atlantic

White is a writer and editor for The Atlantic's business and economics section.

David Eggert (BSJ00, MSJ04)

David Eggert
Statehouse Correspondent
The Associated Press

David Eggert has covered Michigan government and politics as a reporter for nearly 11 years, writing about the legislature, governor and state and national elections, among other topics.