Ours is one of the oldest journalism and mass communication programs in the United States. The school’s founder, Willard G. Bleyer, first offered instruction in journalism at Wisconsin during the 1904-05 academic year. We’ve honored Bleyer’s legacy for over a century, providing real-world preparation, with curriculum that is a near-equal mix of practical training and enrichment courses. This unique approach produces students who are both soundly trained in fundamentals and are critical thinkers, problem solvers and innovators — the kind of graduates employers are eager to hire.

Anticipating rapid and dramatic changes in the technologies of mass communication, we created one of the nation’s first “converged curriculums,” featuring strong training in a common skill set across journalism and strategic communication, and a digital first philosophy. We strive to keep enrollment in skills classes low, which enhances faculty-student contact and facilitates hands-on learning opportunities. In addition, we maintain strong collaborations with Wisconsin Public Television and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which provides real-life learning experiences in broadcasting and investigative reporting. Whether communicating in print, over the airwaves or online, our instructors and researchers take seriously the core principles of truth telling and community building upon which journalism is built, as well as the lessons of ethical and effective persuasion at the core of strategic communication.

Yet we do much more than teach technology and communication skills. As part of the UW-Madison College of Letters & Science—the heart of a great university—our students receive a solid liberal arts and science education, helping them to grow into critical, curious scholars and caring, engaged citizens. Many of our undergraduate students double-major in programs like communication arts, political science, Spanish and English. And our graduate program represents one of the leading centers of communication research in the world, scoring an impressive top three ranking in the latest National Research Council analysis of mass communication doctoral programs. From all levels of our curriculum, Wisconsin graduates go on to become leaders in their fields.

It is a privilege and challenge to serve as director of such a vibrant school in these uncertain but energizing times, and I invite all of our students, parents, supporters, colleagues and alumni to help us build upon our current and historic strengths in teaching, research and service for a second century of success. Feel free to email me at hgshah@wisc.edu with your ideas.


Hemant Shah

Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism


Headshot of J School Director Hemant Shah
Hemant Shah, Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism