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Student photographing the Grand Canyon.Student photographing the Grand Canyon.

Health, Environment and Science Specialization

From the latest medical research to health care reform to climate change, the Health, Environment and Science specialization prepares future journalists to cover the hottest topics. Medill’s strong focus on reporting provides the tools you need to cover this fast-moving, complex and multi-faceted beat from the world-class city of Chicago with opportunities to pursue stories in the Andes Mountains, New Zealand and other environmental hot spots.

About the specialization

From breaking news on environmental crises and regulation to consumer reporting on medical advances and health care reform, the Health, Environment and Science specialization provides a solid foundation for journalists to understand how these issues touch so many areas. 

Why Health, Environment and Science?

Career opportunities in health and science media are growing as readers and viewers seek information on medical advances, federal health care reform and environmental changes -- and how these issues affect their daily lives. The demand is high for journalists who can explain these complex topics in ways that are easy to understand.

What will I learn?

At Medill, you’ll learn from experienced faculty who’ve seen coverage in this specialization grow and evolve over the years. They’ll teach you to use the latest technology to report on breaking news, trends and features related to issues surrounding health, environment and science. You’ll analyze data, interview sources and uncover stories on your beat as you report for Medill News Service, where your stories will be picked up by partner organizations.

In addition to hands-on experience, you’ll have the chance to participate in onsite training, attend guest lectures by journalists and go behind the scenes at laboratories, hospitals and environmental research centers. You’ll graduate with an impressive portfolio and connections to Medill’s vast network.

Watch an overview of the HES specialization

Your Medill Experience

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Courses include multimedia reporting assignments and field trips to meet science reporters, scientists, climate experts, lab researchers and physicians. You can pursue stories in a sub-specialty that most interests you, from medicine to the environment to technology to astronomy. In the fourth quarter you can do an embedded reporting experience with science field research teams.

Learn about the curriculum
Chicago skyline at sunset.


Our downtown space is home to nationally ranked academic medical centers, the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Midwest region headquarters and the Museum of Science and Industry. Federal laboratories Argonne and Fermilab are also nearby.

Learn about Medill's Chicago campus
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Medill Explores

You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a faculty-led learning adventure during a week-long suspension of classes. Previous opportunities have included shadowing scientists, clinicians, researchers and field explorers.

Learn about Medill Explores
Comer scholar Janice Cantieri with a baby goat around her neck during a reporting trip to India.

Comer Scholarship

The Comer Scholarship supports students who demonstrate commitment to covering environmental issues. Comer Scholars are selected for their academic excellence, passion for environmental journalism and vision of environmental journalism’s potential impact—and their role in it.

Learn about the Comer Scholarship
Photo collage of many events that take place in Chicago during Medill Fridays.

Medill Fridays

We welcome renowned journalists and host health and science writing workshops to help you expand your skills. These sessions offer a chance to get to know your peers in an informal environment.

Learn about Medill Fridays
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Career Services

Journalists skilled in covering health, environment and science are in high demand at traditional and non-mainstream media organizations. Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations also value communicators who can make these topics accessible to a wide range of audiences.

Learn about Career Services

Our Faculty

Abigail Foerstner

Abigail Foerstner

Foerstner’s 40-year career as a journalist began when she initiated science and environmental coverage as a staff reporter for regional sections of the Chicago Tribune. 

View Foerstner's Bio
Kari Lydersen

Kari Lydersen

Lydersen also works as a reporter, covering energy for Midwest Energy News and freelancing for other outlets including the Better Government Association, Discover Magazine, The Washington Post, People Magazine, The Chicago Reporter and In These Times.

View Lydersen's Bio
Patti Wolter

Patti Wolter

Wolter has deep experience in the magazine industry. She was the senior features editor at Self magazine, where she managed award-winning and investigative content on women’s health.

View Wolter's Bio

Our Alumni

Herman Wang

Herman Wang (MSJ03)

Managing Editor

Wang currently oversees Platts’ Middle East energy and OPEC news coverage. He previously covered U.S. oil and gas policy in Washington. 

Kristen Minogue

Kristen Minogue (MSJ10)

Science Writer

Minogue works alongside scientists and writes about their work for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, a coastal biology station on Chesapeake Bay operated by the Smithsonian Institution.

Natasha T. Metzler

Natasha T. Metzler (MSJ04)

Associate Director of Digital Media and Content Strategy

From her institution's communications shop, Metzler helps about 400 Earth, space and life scientists share their work with the press and the public using social media, online articles and videos, and quarterly print publications.