The Department of Journalism offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, as well as a minor.

Major (BA, BS)

The journalism major prepares students to communicate to diverse audiences in a free society through critical thinking, analytical writing, real-time reporting and compelling multi-media presentations. It requires professional quality, versatility and performance.

Experiential learning is emphasized through a vibrant student media, hosted internships and coursework that include real-life assignments. One top intern program is the Schieffer School in Washington, offered to a select group of students, usually seniors, in the fall.

Patty Zamarripa, assistant professor of professional practice, watches as her Advanced News Production students produce an SGA presidential candidate debate in the Student Media Newsroom. The spring 2023 debate was hosted by TCU 360 and produced by News Now.

Students majoring in journalism should master the elements of written, oral and visual presentation of the news. As well, students should understand the role of the First Amendment and journalism in a democracy and the ethical and legal standards that accompany the gathering and distribution of news. This includes theory, history and concepts of journalism, as well as practical skills.

Classes in which journalism skills are taught and practiced are limited to 15 students.

Once students complete our foundational Reporting course, they can purse specialties such as sports, broadcast or business.

The goals of skills classes include development of a portfolio, or body of work, that becomes the basis for graduating students entering the job market. As part of their coursework, students produce professional-quality newscasts in the department’s high-definition broadcast journalism studio and practice real-time journalism through the Department of Journalism’s student media.

Professors and instructors in the journalism program have both academic credentials and professional experience. Students are allowed and encouraged to join Student Media as entering first-year students.

Incoming first-year and transfer students may declare journalism as a major upon entering the University. Students of sophomore standing or above who wish to declare a major offered by the Department of Journalism must have achieved a TCU cumulative GPA of 2.5 before they can declare a major inside the school. A journalism minor is offered through the department.

Major in Journalism



The Department of Journalism welcomes minors in journalism who are committed to significant journalism instruction while they specialize in majors that educate them in broad subject areas that may relate to news coverage.

The journalism minor is a complement to many majors and prepares students to apply journalistic skills to many fields, or produce journalism with an intense focus in another area. Minors will take several skills courses that provide them with experiential learning opportunities and can expect to create a significant body of work as part of the journalism minor.

Minor in Journalism


For additional information about the journalism major at TCU, including a list of classes and other requirements, see the university catalog.

Assessment Plan

In accordance with the requirement of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), the department of journalism at Texas Christian University in 2018 adopted an assessment plan to better help it track and enhance student success and concerns. The plan uses both direct and indirect measures of assessment to evaluate program effectiveness and determine areas that need strengthening. The plan is subject to periodic review and update. Overall, the areas being measured are reflected in the department’s Schieffer Seven, the learning outcomes members of faculty are expected to build into their respective courses and syllabi. The Schieffer Seven aligns with the revised 10-point “Professional Values and Competencies” recommended by ACEJMC.

In this Assessment Plan students are expected to develop competencies in the following areas:

  1. Writing and editing: Students will learn to write clearly for diverse audiences across appropriate multimedia platforms, to apply the conventions of the language, to edit, and to critically evaluate their work and that of others. [ACEJMC’s Value #5: Writing correctly, clearly and in the appropriate style]
  1. The tools of mass communication—statistics, research and technology: Students will apply the tools of effective communication practice: research and the evaluation of research, the use of numerical and statistical concepts, and the technology skills used to communicate effectively in their professional area. [ACEJMC’s Values #4, #8 & 10: Using basic numerical and statistical concepts and appropriate technology for image communication and news presentation]
  1. Free media: Students will understand and value the principles and laws that underlie a free media system, including their historical antecedents. [ACEJMC’s Value #1: Understanding and application of laws of freedom of speech and the press]
  1. Diversity: Students will value diversity in a global society and its impact on information-gathering and adapting messages to an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous audience. [ACEJMC’s Values #2, #3 & #6: Understanding of history, DEI/Fault Lines and being culturally sensitive in communication and the media context]
  1. Critical and creative thinking: Students will apply critical, creative, and independent thinking to their professional projects. [ACEJMC’s Values #7 & #9: Critical thinking and methodological evaluation of work for accuracy, fairness, clarity etc.]
  1. Theory: Students will understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information [ACEJMC’s Value #4: The presentation of images and information effectively].
  1. Ethical standards: Students will understand professional ethical standards and their relationships to critical professional choices. [ACEJMC’s Values #6 & #9: Understanding of ethical principles and the pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness, diversity etc.].


This Assessment Plan uses both direct and indirect measures to determine program effectiveness and identify areas that need revisiting and strengthening.

Direct Measures:

These are quantifiable and knowledge-based measures of students’ competencies and learning outcomes across fundamental courses taken in the journalism department. The direct measures are based on a 100-point set of questions that are administered to entry-level student cohorts and again to exiting senior cohorts. The measures are administered to students each academic semester to gauge what they know getting into our program and what they learned leaving it. Students are duly informed that the questions are solely designed to obtain longitudinal data for our program accreditation and faculty evaluation, not for the purpose of class grades and GPA. Data collected are consequently tabulated, analyzed, stored and made available to faculty for deliberation at appropriate meetings. The questions were developed at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, and are divided into four parts.

Part 1: Media Writing (64 Grammar and AP Style questions).

Part 2: Law and Ethics of Mass Communication (12 questions).

Part 3: Introduction to Journalism (12 questions on Theory and Concepts).

Part 4: Diversity & the Media (12 questions on DEI in relation to the media).

Indirect Measures:

The indirect measures of assessment are derived from what students have achieved, awards won, exit survey of graduating students in our program, reports from internships, the capstone Signature Learning Activity, and other indicators of learning outcome.

  • Exit survey of graduating cohorts: Graduating seniors complete an anonymous exist survey on a variety of issues including preparedness for professional engagement, levels of understanding of issues of DEI, law, ethics, numeracy, faculty and department response to students’ complaints, quality of facilities in the department, advising, availability of faculty, and ability to work with appropriate tools of technology.
  • Awards & Recognitions: They are awards won at Hearst competitions, our department’s Milner awards for excellence in news gathering and storytelling, competitive scholarships won, projects independently executed and published in our flagship TCU 360 news portal, and placement in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors annual awards.
  • Internship Reports: These include supervisor reports and completed projects for course credit.
  • TCU 360 ( This is a student-managed news and features hub in the department. It has a faculty director and advisor.
Project-based Measure:

This measure is our project-based, Multi-Platform Capstone/Signature Learning Activity class which was introduced in Fall 2021. In it, students are expected to choose their preferred topic as their project, and use all conceptual and skills competencies learned in our department to execute an independent project we call their Signature Learning Activity (SLA). Some of the projects are sent to some of our alumni for comments and feedback.

The department also regularly participates in TCU university assessment of required courses, which considers how students are mastering concepts in required courses and what instructors are doing to close possible loops that limit student comprehension and success.

Adopted 2018