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School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Last updated 6/15/1999

Knowledge and skill goals for this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog.

In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).

The school's main undergraduate sequences include advertising, electronic media (broadcast), media studies and news-editorial journalism. The university catalog lists the goals in terms of both knowledge base and skills for each sequence. Outcomes assessment focuses on students' ability to perform in a professional setting, a goal that is common to all the sequences. We have used internship evaluations and alumni surveys to assess outcomes.

Internship Evaluations

In 1991-92, the school began surveying students' internship supervisors as a way of determining our impact on professional preparation. The internship is a capstone activity in all but the new (1993-94) Media Studies sequence and involves virtually all SJMC majors. Each student is individually evaluated by a working professional in the field, most often the executive who directly supervised the student's work during the internship. Each supervisor rates the student in eight performance areas: relations with others,reliability, punctuality, attitude, ability to learn, following instructions, work quality and career potential. Many supervisors also add narrative comments on intern performance. Finally, supervisors recommend grades for their interns based on their overall performance. Evaluations by editors supervising students in the news-editorial sequence's capstone Advanced Reporting course (JOUR 4502) have also been reviewed because they function in much the same way as do the internships.

Advertising supervisors come from a wide range of agency, product and advertising sales organizations. Advertising internships have been offered through companies such as Communications Plus, Leiweke Advertising, South Hill Mall, Global Access, Thomas & Perkins, Gardner, Geary, Coll & Young, Reece and Company, Media Strategies and Research, Hong Kong House Management, Copper Mountain Resort, LH Thompson Company, Inc., Striebling/Ali Advertising, Evansgroup, Jim Mitchell Advertising and Bozul Public Relations Agency.

In the Electronic Media Sequence, supervisors include assignment editors, planning editors, special projects producers, sports producers and production managers from local, regional and national broadcast, cable and in-house production units. SJMC students in Electronic Media in 1996-97 participated in internships at Antenna Group, Lutheran Medical Center, Pura Vida Imports, KMIR-TV6, WMAZ-TV, CNNSI, KREY-TV, KCNC-TV, People Productions, Northwest Teleproductions, Tribune Creative Services, Sterling Realty, and CATECS

News-editorial supervisors, generally city or copy desk editors, represent a wide range of regional and national news outlets. News-editorial students also intern in an array of public-relations offices. Internship placements have been made at US West Interactive, Breckenridge Ski Resort, J.S. Childs, Inc., Stitches Magazine, The Sporting News, Boulder Daily Camera, Henry Gill Advertising, Metzger Associates, Cable News Network Financial News (CNNfn), California School Employees Association, The Denver Post, Gilliss Marketing Group, Auburn Citizen, Greeley Tribune, The Alamance News, Cooley Godward LLP, and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

Students in the Reporting 4502 capstone news-editorial class have held internships at The Boulder Daily Camera, The Denver Post, Jeffco Sentinal Newspapers, The Golden Transcript, The Colorado Daily, and the The Longmont Times-Call

Internship evaluations in 1996-97 (Fall 96 and Spring 97) maintained the pattern of the previous three years' reports, with the vast majority of students receiving an A for their internship work. In all, 82 internships were taken; 67 were graded A , 1 was graded B, and 1 F. Thirteen students received an IW or dropped the internship in mid-semester. Given the high grades, it is not surprising that the narrative comments from supervisors were quite positive, as the following excerpts illustrate:

  • "Because M really appreciated the philosophy of Media Literacy education, she went over and above in every area of her internship."
  • "...has been one of our best interns this semester."
  • "...was great. Always willing to learn and to help."
  • "...was a strong member of our promotions team."
Several evaluators made comments on the creative potential of their interns and on their willingness and ability to meet deadlines.

Class of 1996 Alumni Survey

In the School's fourth alumni survey, questionnaires were mailed to 189 graduates of the May and August 1996 classes eight months after each group graduated. Fifty-six completed questionnaires were returned. Forty-two came from the undergraduate ranks, 15 from the Master's program. The overall response rate was 30%. This report will focus on the undergraduate responses. Numbers of respondents by sequence are as follows:

Advertising: 12 respondents
News-Editorial 15 respondents
Electronic Media 15 respondents
Media Studies 00 respondents


Alumni were asked if the School had adequately prepared them for the positions they now hold. Responses were on a seven-point scale, with one reflecting "very inadequate preparation" and seven reflecting "very adequate preparation." The average rating given SJMC preparation was 4.65, down from 4.85 in 1995-96 and 4.72 in 1994-95 but up from 4.63 in 1993-94.

96-97 95-96 94-95
Advertising 4.15 5.04 4.21
News-editorial 5.29 5.31 5.14
Electronic media 4.71 5.50 4.43

Strongest and weakest points:

The surveys asked graduates to evaluate the strongest and weakest points of their educational experiences. What follows is a summary of those comments, broken down by sequence.

Advertising graduates: As in previous surveys, graduates were consistently pleased with internships which put them in professional settings; several praised the work of the advertising faculty ("The professors were excellent. A nice, close environment with great advice."). They were especially impressed with the quality of adjunct professors who are currently working in industry settings. They commented on the benefits of having small classes, working on team projects, and developing close relationships with their teachers. Respondents also noted the value of learning writing skills and of learning a variety of computer programs that are used extensively in agency work.

As in the past, advertising graduates responding to the survey said the School needed to give graduates more help in career planning and job placement; students said they needed to become more familiar with computer-assisted design and they wanted more classroom work that would prepare them for industry positions.

News-Editorial graduates: As in the past, respondents noted the value of strong writing skills; they frequently praised their internship experiences, and specifically noted the value of learning interviewing skills. These graduates said they appreciated the strong, professional backgrounds of the faculty; they noted the importance of having a student newspaper and were especially positive about their studies of on-line newspapers.

Again, as in previous surveys, the program was criticized for not offering more training in computerized technologies, specifically in the area of computer assisted reporting. Respondents frequently noted that the program should be more rigorous, requiring students to cover more government meetings and to understand ethical issues more fully. Some respondents noted that the School focuses on newspaper work but offers comparatively little in magazine writing. Some graduates requested more courses in Public Relations.

Electronic Media graduates: These graduates noted that their program had helped them develop important skills in writing, videotape shooting and editing, critical thinking, and team building. Many noted the value of their internships, and of doing live cable television coverage of sporting events as well as live news shows in their capstone course, Newsteam.

These respondents frequently mentioned that the School needed to have a more effective program for job placement and career counseling, and that the equipment needed to be upgraded and computer training needed to be enhanced. Respondents from the News track specifically requested more applied classes in news production, more work on the preparation of resume videotapes, more emphasis on performance skills and more work in developing strong news judgment. Respondents from the Production Management track noted the need for more practical training in areas that are not typically dealt with in the program, such as entertainment writing and production.

Current Employment:

Overall, 69% of those employed were in communications-related fields; 61% are working full-time. The average time spent seeking employment was 6.5 weeks, somewhat shorter than the 7.1 weeks reported the previous year.

The advertising graduates reported working as copywriters, graphic designers, marketing assistants, video conference coordinators, media buyers and media planners. Their employers included the following agencies: Leiweke, Thomas and Perkins, Gardner, Geary, Coll & Young, Reece and Company, Media Strategies and Research.

News-editorial graduates were working as reporters, writers, on-line editors, assistant editors, production coordinators, copy writers and advertising account executives. Their employers included the Boulder Daily Camera, the Denver Post, CNN/financial, Stitches Magazine, The Sporting News, Gilliss Marketing Group, and Henry Gill Advertising.

Electronic media alumni were working as reporters, show producers, production coordinators, anchors, videotape editors, public relations associates. Their employers included KMIR-TV, KREY-TV, WMAZ-TV, all small market television stations, CNN/SI, People Productions, Northwest Teleproductions, Tribune Creative Services, and the Antenna Group.

Program changes

During the 1995-96 academic year, the School conducted a series of in-depth workshops which were designed to critically evaluate how well we are preparing our students for a field that is undergoing intense change. Those sessions continued through the 96-97 year, and in the Spring of 1997, the faculty adopted a new core of courses that are now required of all students in the School. The new core includes a course devoted to computer-assisted research strategies and is designed to engage students early on with the role of new technologies in the news and advertising industries.

The four-course core includes two conceptual classes, one focusing on the role of media institutions and the other examining the role of media in creating public culture. The other two core courses are applied or skills-based. One will help develop expository writing skills, the other, as described above, will concentrate on research and information-gathering strategies.

In the 1999-2000 academic year, faculty members from each of the Sequences will review course offerings, again with the intent of improving and upgrading approaches to a dynamic set of industry practices. One important goal is to incorporate aspects of new media--in which text, graphics, audio, video, animation and music are often combined into new forms and formats--into existing courses. Another goal is to create new courses that specifically emphasize a conceptual and practical understanding of these new media models. The course in Electronic Journalism, where students learn to design on-line products such as newspapers and magazines, has already become a vital part of this initiative. In the Fall 1996 semester, we added a Special Topics course in New Media Use and Design, which continues to be offered every year. In the spring of 1999, the school secured an ATLAS Grant to offer a cross-disciplinary workshop course entitled "The Digital Newsroom."

The School continues to upgrade its computer labs, facilities that are used by all of the sequences. In addition, a $75,000 grant from the Freedom Forum funded a professional-in-residence at the School for the 97-98 year. In the fall semester, the professional-in-residence worked with faculty and students to upgrade their skills in computer-assisted reporting. In the spring semester a second professional, whose emphasis was on computer-assisted design, also resided in the School.

Class of 1997 Alumni Survey The School of Journalism and Mass Communication's fifth annual alumni survey was sent to approximately 300 graduates of the class of 1997, of whom approximately 100 responded, for a response rate of 30%. The survey found 69% of the respondents working in journalism-related jobs eight months after graduation. The average salary was $22,690, which is $5,565 a year more than the $17,125 average salary reported by the class of 1993 in the School's first comprehensive survey. SJMC graduates working full-time reported an average salary of $23,727, or nearly $1,000 higher than those of 1997 journalism graduates nationwide. The 1997 SJMC graduates found jobs much faster and rated the level of career preparation by the School slightly higher than did the class of 1993. An average job search took 6.3 weeks compared to 9.3 weeks for the 1993 graduates. The 1997 graduates rated their preparation by the School at 5.0 on a 7-point scale. On average, the 1997 graduate completed 1.9 internships, roughly the same number as the 1993 graduate. They rated their happiness in their current positions at 5.4 on the 7-point scale. As was the case five years ago, the highest level of graduate satisfaction was reported by the news-editorial graduates, who rated their professional preparation by the School at an average of 5.8. They had also completed more internships than graduates from any other sequence, 2.5, and they reported the highest level of job satisfaction, at 5.8 on the 7-point scale. At the same time, the news-editorial graduates reported the next-to-lowest average salary, at $21,250. The average salary of the broadcast production management graduates was the highest in the 1997 survey, at $25,000. They rated their preparation by the school at 5.3, and happiness in their current position at 5.6. Advertising graduates reported the next highest salaries, with an average of $23,562. They rated their preparation by the School at 4.2 and happiness in their current positions at 4.6. Broadcast news graduates reported a salary average of $21,000. They rated SJMC preparation at 5.5 and happiness with current positions at 5.5. The salaries of master's graduates-- surveyed since 1994 -- have also steadily risen. The average salary for 1997 graduates was $27,917, compared to $22,200 annual salary for 1994 master's graduates. SJMC master's graduates salaries match the national average. They rated the School preparation at 4.5, and happiness in current positions at 6.2, on the 7-point scale.


Last revision 07/12/02

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