Undergraduate Overview

Ideal Mix of Practice and Theory

Our curriculum’s near-equal mix of practice and theory, underpinned by our top research/graduate program, is unique among the top schools in our field. It has given us a reputation as the brainy, academically high-powered department, where students learn not only how to practice, but what that practice means to society, culture, behavior, health, politics and all areas of civic life. Our curriculum equips students with a deep understanding of the ever-changing landscape of digital media and the modern communication environment.

Before beginning to specialize in either reporting or strategic communication, all students must take gateway classes that introduce them to the field, teach them common practices used by professionals, and acquaint them with information collection and analysis techniques. Students learn to cull and synthesize information, write clearly and effectively, produce compelling media content, analyze data rigorously, and form sound communication strategies. They also receive rigorous and systematic training in theories and practices leading to effective and responsible communications, regardless of whether they are informative or persuasive.  At the same time, students enjoy the flexibility of developing specializations such as sports communication, digital marketing, or investigative reporting to prepare for their individualized career path, so that no two graduates of the program are identical.

With a dazzling array of local and campus media opportunities, students have ample opportunity to put their training and thinking into practice. These include dozens of award-winning advertising and public relations firms and multiple local newspapers and local broadcasters, as well as the competing Daily Cardinal and Badger Herald student newspapers, WSUM student radio, no fewer than eight student-run magazines and journals funded by the Wisconsin Union Directorate. Internships are plentiful on our vibrant, research-rich campus and in and around the state Capitol blocks away. And our geographically diverse student population has carried our reputation far beyond the borders of Madison and Wisconsin, making our majors competitive for internships across the world.

The SJMC also has the school’s own award-winning student magazine, Curb, and award-winning student newscast, The Badger Report. There are also opportunities to extend learning beyond the classroom through student clubs and groups. SJMC houses one of the largest student advertising student organizations in the country – Ad Club, where students have the opportunity to work on real campaigns for actual clients through the Ad Club Agency. Other student organizations include chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) — which founded the university’s first student run public relations firm, Bucky PR— and the Association of Women in Communication (AWC), and Association of Women in Sports Media.

The undergraduate major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers an unequaled blend of skills training, theoretical learning and real-world practice. As a result, our graduates leave as able practitioners, critical thinkers, seasoned problem solvers and innovators. They go on to be leaders in their chosen fields.

Explore Our Degree Tracks

Strategic Communication

Strategic communication is communication that serves a strategic or persuasive purpose on behalf of a client or organization. Examples include: advertising; public relations; media planning; political communication; issue advocacy.

Katy Culver, left, a faculty associate in journalism and mass communication, facilitates an editorial-planning discussion with journalism students in a magazine-production class in Vilas Communication Hall.

Reporting

Reporting is communication that informs the public about issues and events of civic importance. Examples include news reporting (print, broadcast and digital); investigative reporting; magazine writing, editing and publishing; creative nonfiction.

CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi (at right in black shirt) ask questions of UW–Madison students commenting about the state of the American economy as a CNN Express video crew tapes the town hall-style meeting in the courtyard of Grainger Hall at the Wisconsin School of Business.