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University Bulletin: Undergraduate Programs The George Washington University  



Professors S.V. Roberts, R.M. Entman, L. Huebner, F. Sesno (Director), S.L. Livingston, S. Waisbord

Associate Professors J.E. Steele, L.S. Harvey, A.L. May III, P.F. Phalen, S. Aday, R. Russell, K.A. Gross, N. Seavey (Research), M. Hindman

Assistant Professors J.M. Shanahan, J. Osder, C.S. Bailard, N. Usher, D.A. Karpf, W.L. Youmans

The School of Media and Public Affairs, part of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, offers programs of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts with majors in journalism and mass communication and in political communication. Entering freshmen may be admitted to majors within SMPA through a competitive application process as specified in application materials distributed by the Office of Admissions.

In addition, a limited number of students will be admitted through a competitive application process that begins after the student is accepted to the University. Students are encouraged to apply during the first semester of their sophomore year; applications are not accepted from students with fewer than 30 or more than 75 credit hours. Minimum requirements for admission include a minimum GPA of 3.0, though achievement of the minimum GPA does not guarantee admission. Once admitted to the University, students desiring to enter an SMPA major face a highly selective process. Contact SMPA for specific information and applications; program application requirements vary and in some cases include achieving specific grades in certain courses and completion of an essay. Programs are listed below with their course offerings.

All students, both those admitted directly into SMPA and those applying after acceptance to GW, must achieve specified grades in some courses. Check with SMPA for particular grade requirements and course sequencing.

Bachelor of Arts with a major in journalism and mass communication—The following requirements must be fulfilled:

1. The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

2. Required courses in related areas—AmSt 2010 and 2011 or Hist 1310-11; PSc 1002; Stat 1053; one course chosen from Econ 1011 or PSc 1001 or 1003.

3. The SMPA core—SMPA 2151, 2101, 2102, 2110 (which requires a minimum grade of B to apply for or remain in the major), 2112, and 4199.

4. Required courses in the major—SMPA 2111 and either 2173 or 2177; four courses chosen from SMPA 3230-47, 3193, and 3197; four courses chosen from SMPA 2120, 3428, 3459-80, 3195, 3196, and 4198.

Bachelor of Arts with a major in political communication—The following requirements must be fulfilled:

1. The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

2. Required courses in related areas—AmSt 2010 and 2011 or Hist 1310-11; PSc 1002 and either 1001 or 1003; Stat 1053.

3. The SMPA core—SMPA 2151, 2101, 2102 (which requires a minimum grade of C to remain in the major), 2110, 2112, and 4199.

4. Required courses in the major—SMPA 2120 or PSc 2220; two upper-division PSc courses; seven courses chosen from SMPA 3428, 3241, 3245, 3350-58, 3459-72, 3194, 3196, 3197, and 4198.

Combined Bachelor of Arts in an SMPA major and Master of Arts in media and public affairs—Interested students should consult their advisor and the director of graduate studies and apply to the dual degree program during the second semester of their junior year.

Combined Bachelor of Arts in an SMPA major and Master of Professional Studies in the field of political management—Interested students should consult their advisor and apply to the dual degree program during the second semester of their junior year.

Special Honors in journalism and mass communication—Students with a 3.5 GPA in all courses completed at GW and in all courses required for the major may apply for Special Honors in journalism and mass communication. Students intending to apply must consult with their advisor at the start of the senior year. Application must be made by the mid-point of the student’s final semester (October 15 or March 15) and must include a letter of application and a portfolio of published or broadcast work. The work will be evaluated by the journalism and mass communication faculty on the basis of professional standards as outlined by the department. Students interested in pursuing Special Honors through writing a research thesis should consult their advisor.

Special Honors in political communication—Students with a 3.7 GPA in all courses completed at GW and in all courses required for the major may declare for Special Honors in political communication at the beginning of the senior year. Students take SMPA 4199 in the first semester of the senior year and SMPA 4198 in the second semester. To achieve Special Honors, the student must maintain the required GPA and present a successful oral defense of a research paper prepared for the Honors Research Seminar before a committee that includes the seminar instructor and two other faculty members nominated by the student and approved by the seminar instructor.

Minor in journalism and mass communication—Required: 18 credit hours, including SMPA 1050 and 2110; 6 credits chosen from 3230-47, 3193, 3197; and 6 credits from 2173, 2177, 3469-80, 3195. Students are limited to 3 credits of SMPA 3197 toward the minor.

The green leaf indicates that the course addresses environmental, social or economic sustainability.
1050 Media in a Free Society (3) Aday, Phalen, and Staff
  The role of mass communication in democratic political systems: informational requirements of democracy, sources of political information and the role of news media and other channels in creating and disseminating it; issues relating to propaganda and public information; and the interaction between information flows and democratic political culture. Not open to SMPA majors.
2101 Journalism and Mass Communication Theory and Practice (3) Steele, Waisbord, Usher
  An overview of journalism and mass communication in the United States. Organizations and institutions of print and electronic news media; the social context of journalism; how news is constructed; and intellectual underpinnings of occupational ideals and professional practices that guide journalism. Open only to SMPA majors.
2102 Introduction to Political Communication (3) Entman, Gross, Livingston
  Basic concepts and theories of political communication; development of a framework for analyzing political communication; applications in the United States, other countries, and the international system. Open only to SMPA majors. Prerequisite: PSc 1002.
2110 Introduction to News Writing and Reporting (3) Staff
  Fundamentals of news reporting and writing, with emphasis on the print media. News judgment, information gathering skills, and crafting news and feature stories. Regular in-class and outside reporting and writing exercises. Directly admitted freshmen may enroll in their second semester; all other freshmen need departmental permission. Laboratory fee.
2111 Advanced News Reporting Workshop (4) May
  Reporting, writing, and computer skills for covering beats and developing in-depth news stories. Techniques in researching, observing, and interviewing to frame stories of public interest; outside and in-class reporting and writing assignments. Restricted to Journalism and Mass Communication majors or permission of instructor required. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110. Laboratory fee.
2112 Introduction to Digital Media Production (3) Osder and Staff
  Basic introduction to digital media production, including web design and video shooting/editing, with emphasis on use in journalism and political communication. Laboratory fee.
2120 Public Opinion (3) Gross, Bailard
  Key aspects of the literature on public opinion, with emphasis on the role of media in opinion formation and change. Topics include the meaning of public opinion in a democratic society, a review of methods used to measure opinions, and media effects on opinion.
2151 Research Methods (3) Gross, Hindman, and Staff
  Processes of inquiry within mediated communication. The concepts of framing research questions, conducting literature reviews, developing a research design, and interpreting results of cultural and social science research within a societal framework. Prerequisite: Stat 1053.
2173 Media Law (3) Youmans and Staff
  Freedom of the press, censorship, legislative controls, copyright, laws of libel and privacy, and laws relating to the news business, privilege, and fair comment.
2177 Media History (3) Staff
  American media from colonial times to the present, set against a backdrop of ongoing political, social, and economic developments. The development of press, radio, television, cable, satellite, and the Internet; government regulation and media relations; journalistic rights and responsibilities.
3193 Selected Topics in Journalism and Mass Communication Skills (3 or 4) Staff
  Topics announced in Schedule of Classes. May be repeated for credit if the topic differs.
3194 Selected Topics in Political Communication (3 or 4) Staff
  Topic announced in the Schedule of Classes. May be repeated if the topic differs, but only two selected topics may count for credit toward the political communication major.
3195 Selected Topics in Journalism and Mass Communication (3 or 4) Staff
Topic announced in the Schedule of Classes. May be repeated for credit if the topic differs.
3196 Independent Study (1 to 3) Staff
  Students pursue a program of directed reading, research, and writing under the direction of a faculty advisor. Limited to seniors.
3197 Internship (1 to 3) Staff
  Students spend at least five hours per week per credit with an approved news organization, agency, or office under the general guidance of a faculty advisor. Guidelines are available in the SMPA office and online. May be taken P/NP only. Restricted to SMPA majors and minors in the junior and senior year. May be repeated for up to 6 credits.
3230 Reporting in the Digital Age (3) May and Staff
  Understanding the emerging tools and developing the technological skills needed to analyze data for news. Students learn to find reliable information through social media and other online tools, use spreadsheets as a reporting tool, and download data for analysis, to create graphics, and to report and write stories based on the analysis. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110. Laboratory fee.
3232 Online Journalism Workshop (4) Osder, Shanahan
  Capstone production experience for SMPA majors. Provides advanced journalism and multimedia production skills needed to produce and report for a news website. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110, 2112. Laboratory fee.
3233 Photojournalism (3) Staff
  Elements of effective news and feature photos, including study and evaluation of slides taken by students. Picture selection, cropping, captions. Student costs include film and developing. Laboratory fee.
3234 Publication Design (3) Staff
  Design, editing, layout, and photo selection for newspapers and magazines. Selecting and editing stories; writing headlines and photo captions; sizing and cropping graphic materials; laying out pages. Ethics of editing. Student costs include film and developing.
3235 Broadcast News Writing (3) Russell and Staff
  Introduction to writing television news scripts based on actual events. Using workshop techniques, scripts are evaluated for content, structure, and use of words, pictures, and sound. Extensive writing and rewriting using streaming video from professional newscasts. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3236 Broadcast News Reporting (3) Russell
  Advanced techniques in television news reporting and editing. Students produce, shoot, and edit news packages by teaming up to report in the field. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110, 2112.
3237 Broadcast News Studio Production (3) Russell
  Hands-on workshop designed to give simulated TV industry experience. Students work together to produce and direct a simulated broadcast news program. Recommended prerequisite: SMPA 3235 or 3236. Laboratory fee.
3238 Television Magazine (3) Staff
  Advanced techniques in writing, reporting, producing, and editing television news magazine packages. Prerequisite: SMPA 3236. Laboratory fee.
3239 Television News Workshop (4) Russell
  Capstone production experience for SMPA majors. Students report, produce, direct, and edit GW student news broadcast. Prerequisite: SMPA 3237. Laboratory fee.
3240 Washington Reporting (3) May, Shanahan
  Examination of reporting and writing techniques employed in news coverage of the national government, with an emphasis on serving a regional readership or audience. Using Washington as a laboratory, students focus on contemporary issues and news makers in the legislative and executive branches of government. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3241 Campaign Reporting (3) May
  Development of news gathering and writing skills needed for the coverage of political campaigns. Using in-class exercises and outside assignments, students acquire reporting and writing proficiency to illuminate how campaigns work and how politics affects the lives of citizens. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3242 Investigative Reporting (3) Staff
  Hands-on intensive training in reporting and writing in-depth enterprise news stories that expose hidden problems or wrong-doing. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3243 Feature Writing (3) Roberts
  Development and writing of a wide range of feature articles, including interviews, profiles, op-ed columns, and personal memoirs. Weekly writing assignments and practical experience, including marketing work to publications. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3244 Narrative Journalism (3) Steele and Staff
  The narrative or story-telling tradition in journalism. Students experiment with narrative techniques in a series of written exercises and a final project. Enrollment limited to 15 students with preference given to upper-class SMPA majors and graduate students. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3245 Editorial and Persuasive Writing (3) Keller
  Techniques of editorial and column writing; editorial page and public affairs programming; function of commentary in a free press. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3246 Specialized Reporting (3) Staff
  Advanced reporting in specialized fields, such as business, science, medicine. Topics and instructors vary each semester. Prerequisite: SMPA 2110.
3247 Documentary Production (4) Staff
  Advanced techniques in writing, researching, producing, and editing long-form documentaries. Prerequisite: SMPA 2112 and 3479 or permission of instructor.
3350 Public Diplomacy (3) Staff
  The theory and practice of public diplomacy: informing, influencing, and establishing dialogue with international publics and institutions. A conceptual and historical examination of public diplomacy, current practices, and contemporary issues, including international information dissemination, educational and cultural exchange, and international broadcasting.
3351 Public Affairs and Government Information (3) Staff
  Aspects of information and public affairs functions of government agencies at all levels. Role of the information specialist. Writing and editing for government publications.
3352 Principles of Public Relations (3) Staff
  Principles, problems, ethics, and law of public relations for government, private concerns, educational and other public institutions.
3353 Strategic Political Communication (3) Karpf
  Origins of strategic approaches to political communication; techniques. Use of strategic communication by individuals, groups, organizations, and governments in both domestic politics and policymaking and in the international system. Prerequisite: SMPA 2102 or permission of instructor.
3354 Political Campaign Communication (3) Staff
  Communication aspects of political campaigns for candidates and ballot issues. Examination of techniques and channels of communication, role of communication in campaign strategy, ethics and implications of campaign decision making.
3355 Campaign Advertising (3) Staff
  Introduction to the theory and practice of campaign advertising. Emphasis on televised political campaign spots, but a range of campaign advertising media are included: radio, direct mail, and the Internet. Prerequisite: SMPA 2112.
3356 Political Debate (3) Staff
  Theory and practice of political debate. The campaign context, candidate strategies, debate issues, and debates and voter behavior. Participation in classroom debates.
3357 Political Speech Writing (3) Huebner
  Theory and practice of public speaking in the context of mediated political communication. Students analyze, write, and give speeches.
3358 Strategic Practicum (3) Karpf
  Working in small groups, students research and develop full-scale plans for hypothetical, reality-based, strategic communication campaigns that test and apply theoretical advances in the field. Prerequisite: SMPA 3353.
3428 Media, Politics, and Government (3) Roberts
  Exploration of the role played by communication, principally through the mass media, in the conduct of government and the making of public policy. Same as PSc 2228.
3459 Language and Politics (3) Staff
  Connections between language and the political world. Theory and practice of language in politics and the impact on the creation and consumption of politics.
3460 Race, Media, and Politics (3) Gross, Entman
  Examination of the place of race in American society and politics, with attention to the role of media reporting in helping to shape understanding of race and racial matters, public opinion about race, and race and electoral politics.
3461 Campaigns and Elections (3) Gross, Aday
  The role of the news media in campaigns and elections. Offered in even-numbered years.
3463 Media Bias, Power, and Democracy (3) Entman
  Exploration of empirical and theoretical understanding of media bias, its effects on power, and implications for democracy.
3469 International Communication (3) Youmans
  Major international news-gathering and broadcasting organizations, international communications policy forums, organizations and treaties, spectrum allocation criteria, communications technology, and trade in communication.
3470 Comparative Media Systems (3) Waisbord
  In-depth study of the developmental, regulatory, political, economic, and cultural dimensions of selected foreign communication systems.
3471 Media in the Developing World (3) Steele, Waisbord
  Contemporary views of media roles in developing nations. The role of the press and electronic media in economic, social, and national development, including media as agents of modernization, development journalism, and post-colonial responses to Western “cultural imperialism.” Media and Islam; role of the Internet; and theories of media and globalization.
3472 Media and Foreign Policy (3) Livingston
  The emerging role of news media in international affairs and diplomacy, particularly as it relates to U.S. foreign policy. Globalization of news media advances in instantaneous communication technologies; consequences for international diplomacy.
3474 Electronic Media Policy (3) Staff
  Legal, technical, political, economic, and social aspects of radio, television, and cable and related delivery systems. Structure and operation of the FCC and other agencies; the role of Congress and the courts. Spectrum allocation, behavioral regulation, the trend to deregulate political influence, and current policy issues.
3475 Media Management (3) Staff
  Decision making, strategic planning, and daily operations of all types of media organizations. Sales strategies, promotion, and research.
3476 Changing Media Technology (3) Harvey
  Current and likely future trends in electronic media, with emphasis on radio, television, and cable, including developments in technology, programming, and public policy and their cultural implications.
3479 Art and Genre of Documentary (3) Sesno
  Origins, genres, and future of documentary film. Power, reach, and conceptual frameworks of documentary filmmaking.
3480 Convergence and the Future of Journalism (3) Shanahan
  Reasons behind the decline of traditional newspaper and broadcast journalism; the impact of the web and other digital tools on traditional journalism values.
4198 Special Honors Research Seminar (3) Staff
  Open only to special honors candidates in political communication in the senior year. Prerequisite: SMPA 4199 and departmental approval.
4199 Senior Seminar (3) Staff
  Capstone course limited to SMPA majors.

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© 2013 University Bulletin
The George Washington University All rights reserved.

Information in this bulletin is generally accurate as of fall 2012. The University reserves the right to change courses, programs, fees, and the academic calendar, or to make other changes deemed necessary or desirable, giving advance notice of change when possible.