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Decisions, Decisions: Journalism Degree vs. Political Science Degree

Posted on November 15th, 2012 by Jenny Frankel

As a freshman in high school, I conclusively decided that I wanted to be a journalist. Granted, I had previously declared I was going to be an orthodontist, a pediatrician, and a flight coordinator for NASA with equal fervor and eventually graduated from college with a degree in History and Screenwriting. But for at least a few months, fifteen year old me was set on becoming the next big thing in broadcasting.

Right away, I started researching the best colleges for Journalism, but when I informed my uncle, the editor of one of the nation’s foremost financial publications, of my plans, he advised me to study Political Science in the US instead. While a Journalism major would give me the tools I needed to report the news, he told me, a Political Science major would give me a greater understanding and knowledge of the news I was reporting.

So, as an international student who wants to be a journalist, should you study Political Science instead of Journalism? Well, that depends. Any journalist would benefit from studying Political Science in the US; insight into domestic and international government systems and policies is an asset to a reporter. Yet, sheer knowledge of the news does not a journalist make. An international student pursing a career in journalism needs a precise skill set specifically covered in the Journalism major. So what’s a future reporter to do?

One option is to study Political Science as an undergrad and apply to a Journalism program for graduate school. That way, you have the foundation of the political science major and can then hone the craft of news reporting. Another option for the international student is to double major in Political Science and Journalism. Double majoring requires focus and ability to juggle a heavy course load, but it is quite doable for a motivated individual.

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