First class of CU-Boulder undergraduates enrolls in new ‘Journalism Plus’ program

Published: Jan. 9, 2012

As a new year and the spring semester begin, the University of Colorado Boulder is welcoming the first class of journalism students entering under a new undergraduate degree structure called “Journalism Plus” that CU officials say will create better journalists, better news content and, over time, a more informed society.

Currently, more than 45 new students are expected to enroll for spring semester under the new Journalism Plus requirements. Journalism Plus stipulates that students supplement their journalism degree requirements with an additional field of study in a specific arts and sciences discipline, an approach that Journalism Director Chris Braider says will make better journalists and communication professionals, better university students and better citizens.

“Journalism Plus ensures that the journalists and communicators CU produces will not only possess the updated skills they need to create and deliver messages, but will also possess the analytical abilities, research tools and knowledge of a subject to communicate something of value in those messages,” Braider said. “Our students will understand, with depth and context, the content they will create as journalists. We think this will set them apart from other journalism programs across the nation.”

Journalism and Mass Communication will continue to grant the Bachelor of Science degree in one of five sequences: advertising, broadcast news, broadcast production, media studies and news-editorial. Under the new requirements, students also will enroll in a 30- to 33-credit-hour additional field of study, the equivalent of work in a major in a discipline of their choice -- anything from English, physics and history to political science, environmental studies or film studies.

Students admitted prior to spring 2012 have until May of 2016 to earn a degree under the former requirements, or they can elect to complete the Journalism Plus degree requirements.

The changes, say CU-Boulder Provost Russell L. Moore, were deliberate and in line with CU’s larger goals for its students.

“We want CU-Boulder students to be both knowledgeable and engaged in the world they live in,” said Moore. “So the goal for us was never to make journalism go away, but to pair it with a discipline that would add the depth of knowledge of a liberal arts degree to the skills developed in a journalism curriculum. I think this is going to answer a call we’ve heard from media professionals -- don’t just send us skilled graduates, send us graduates who can interpret and understand the information they gather with some depth and context.”

At a practical level, Braider says, this will mean better, more contextual reporting to inform and shape our democratic society.

“In this model, science writers will possess first-hand knowledge of the sciences they report on,” Braider said. “Reporters covering government or business will bring an in-depth knowledge of political science and economics to the events they chronicle. Advertisers and graphic designers will explore the full range of expressive arts on which their professions rely.” 

As Journalism Plus is implemented, more students will be admitted directly to Journalism and Mass Communication as freshmen.

The university is continuing on a path to creating a new interdisciplinary college or school of information, communications, journalism, media and technology, which will one day house journalism and companion disciplines in an environment of sharing, innovation and scholarship.

Journalism and Mass Communication continues to be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education for Journalism and Mass Communications. In two years, the accrediting council will make a determination on accreditation for the following four years. 


Christopher Braider, 303-492-4364
Bronson Hilliard, 303-735-6183

“Our students will understand, with depth and context, the content they will create as journalists," said Journalism Director Chris Braider. "We think this will set them apart from other journalism programs across the nation.”