University Scholars Program in Journalism

News Media majors in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media are admitted into the University Scholars Program will be able to earn both the B.A. and M.A. in Journalism at the University of Alabama in five years. For the motivated and academically gifted student, this program offers several advantages:

  • Faster, more economical plan of study than earning the two degrees separately
  • Richer undergraduate degree experience, fewer unrelated core courses and more courses in the major
  • Stronger mentoring relationship with the faculty

Students may pursue only the two-year “thesis track” degree in this program.  (The one-year, professional-track Community Journalism Master’s Degree is NOT part of this program.)

Application Process

There are two phases in the application process for this program:


  • SOPHOMORE YEAR: START THE APPLICATION. Interested students should submit two letters of recommendation by the end of their sophomore year. One letter must come from a Journalism professor. Applicants must have at least a 3.5 GPA. The student must also be on track to complete (or have completed) 61 undergraduate hours by the end of sophomore year before they can be invited by the Department to apply for the program. Students should see their advisers to double-check their hours.
  • SUBMIT LETTERS. Applicants submit two letters of recommendation by the end of their sophomore year to the Department’s Graduate Coordinator. One letter must come from a UA Department of Journalism and Creative Media professor.
  • HOLD OFF ON TAKING SOME COURSES IN THE JN MAJOR. Any student applying should wait until their senior year to take MC 401 Law, JN 499 Issues and Ethics, the CIS elective, and any 400-level JN writing courses. In the University Scholars Program, these courses must all be taken as 500-level equivalents. See “Courses that double-count” at the bottom of this page for more info.


  • APPLY TO PHASE 2. If members of the Department committee (the Grad Coordinator, Dept. Chair and the student’s adviser) decide the student is a good candidate for the University Scholars Program, they invite the student to pursue the Phase 2 application, which involves application to the UA Graduate School. The applicant to Phase 2 must have completed (or be on schedule to complete) 91 hours and 2/3 of their courses in the major and minor by the end of their junior year. It’s preferable if the student completes the 91 hours by end of the first semester junior year, as this makes the grad school application process much easier. At least 30 of these hours must have been taken at UA.
  • APPLY TO THE UA GRADUATE SCHOOL. Students apply via the UA Grad School website during their junior (third) year. They must submit GRE scores, a statement, and a resume, just like any candidate for the master’s program. Letters are not necessary, as these were submitted in Phase 1.
  • REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS. Applicants should submit their application before the end of fall semester of the third (junior) year, as the student should be accepted by the Department and by the UA Graduate School before they register for their senior-year fall courses in March. The Department’s graduate faculty will review the applicant’s application just as they would review any other graduate application.
  • START THE PROGRAM. Students accepted into the program begin taking some MA hours fall semester of their fourth year, and also take the rest of their undergrad hours their fourth year, finishing the undergrad degree by the end of the fourth year. In the fifth year, all courses are at the grad level, and they complete the MA degree at the end of the fifth year. For a sense of the course flow, review this sample curriculum.

Courses that double-count. As mentioned above, in this program, a few courses taken at the grad level double-count for both MA and BA credit — MC 501 Law (for MC 401), JN 562 Contemporary Issues (for JN 499); MC 551 Theory (for the CIS elective); and a grad-level writing course — JN 511, 512 or 515 (for JN 411, 412 or 415). The student would still be required to take the core methods, history and orientation courses in the master’s program, in addition to grad-level electives and thesis hours.