Joint Degree Journalism

The Juris Doctorate and Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications joint degree program is designed to better prepare students for a variety of professional roles in which the knowledge, skills and background of both law and journalism are important. These roles can be found in a variety of settings in the public and private sectors as well as in teaching and research.

The world of journalism and the world of law are closely interrelated. Students who study the role of media in a globalized world will confront legal structures and processes. Students who seek a law degree will often encounter processes in the media and need to understand the role of journalism in a democratic society. Students in each discipline can benefit from a better and more sophisticated understanding of the structures and processes of the other.

Admission Criteria

A new student must independently apply for admission both to the College of Law and the Graduate College and request admission to this joint degree program. Students must comply with the application procedures of each College. If the student is accepted by both Colleges, he or she is automatically admitted to the program.

The factors that weigh most heavily in admission to the College of Law are the applicant's undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score. The GPA is evaluated in terms of the applicant's undergraduate institution, courses taken, major and trend of academic performance. An applicant is also evaluated based on letters of recommendation, a personal statement, work experiences, extracurricular activities and any other information supplied by the applicant. For more detailed information on admission to the College of Law, see the College of Law website.

Admission to the Graduate College with the objective of the M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications is dependent upon favorable recommendation of the Graduate Committee of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The committee considers the applicant's academic record, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, professional experience in the media or media-related professions, letters of recommendation, statement of goals and objectives, and portfolio of work. If the student has already been admitted to the UNL College of Law, the GRE requirement may be waived. For more detailed information on admission to the Graduate College with the objective of the M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications, click here.

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Admission Procedures

The application form for the College of Law is available from the College or on the website. The College admits first year students only in the fall semester. The application deadline is March 1.

The application form for admission to the Graduate College is available either from the Graduate College or the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Applications are accepted at any time. However, students seeking financial assistance should file their applications by March 1 for fall semester or October 1 for spring semester. All application materials must be received by that date.

Students may apply to both programs before beginning either. Students admitted into the joint program before beginning either program will take only law courses during their first year. Students may then take both law and journalism courses in whatever sequence they choose, subject to the requirements listed below.

Students who are already enrolled in the College of Law, who have a cumulative GPA of at least 5.5 and who have not completed more than 51 hours at the College of Law may apply for admission to the Graduate College through the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and, if admitted, are automatically admitted to the joint degree program. Students may then take both law and journalism courses in whatever sequence they choose, subject to the requirements listed below.

Students who are already enrolled in a Masters program in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, who have not taken more than 12 hours of courses, and who have received a grade of B or better in each course may apply for admission to the College of Law and, if admitted, are automatically admitted to the joint degree program.

Students must complete the first year curriculum at the College of Law beginning in the fall semester of the academic year for which they are admitted, and may not take any journalism courses during that year. After they do so, they may take both law and journalism courses in whatever sequence they choose, subject to the requirements listed below.

Degree Requirements

The Law College requires 93 credit hours for the J.D. degree. A joint degree student must complete a total of 84 hours at the College of Law: the standard first year curriculum of 33 hours and 51 upperclass hours. The upperclass hours must include Constitutional Law I (3 hours), which must be taken during the first semester of the second year of law school, Legal Profession (3 hours), a professional skills course (Class of 2016, 2017, 2018: 3 credit hours/Class of 2019 and later: 6 credit hours), and a law seminar (3 hours) that satisfies the College of Law's substantial writing requirement. Descriptions of the Law College courses are contained on the College of Law website.

A joint degree student will be credited with 9 hours of approved course work in the College of Revised 2010 Journalism and Mass Communications toward his or her J.D. degree. A joint degree student will normally receive a J.D. degree only after the student satisfies the joint degree program requirements for both the Masters and the J.D. degrees.

To obtain the M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications in the joint program, a student must choose one of the following four specializations: Professional Journalism (36 hours; professional project required); Advertising (30 hours; thesis required), Broadcasting (30 hours; thesis required), or News-Editorial (30 hours; thesis required). The number of hours required depends on whether the Masters is with or without a thesis. For a Masters with a thesis, 30 credit hours are required. The student must complete 21 credit hours in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and will be credited with 9 hours of approved course work in the College of Law. The 21 hours in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications must include three core seminars (JGRD 915 Mass Media Theory (3 hours), JGRD 919 Mass Media Research (3 hours), and GRD 954 Mass Media and Government), 6 hours of either Professional Project or seminar courses in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and 6 hours of thesis.

For a Masters without a thesis, 36 credit hours are required. The student must complete 27 hours in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications and will be credited with 9 hours of approved course work in the College of Law toward his or her degree. The 27 hours in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications must include three core seminars (JGRD 901 Media Issues and Ethics (3 hours), JGRD 902 Multi-platform Journalism (3 hours), and JGRD 903 Media Management (3 hours), plus 6 hours of Professional Project and 21 hours of approved electives. For more information about this option click here.

A full description of the programs for a Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications is contained in the Graduate Studies Manual.

A student enrolled in the joint degree program must file separate applications for the J.D. and Masters degrees. A student must also file with the Graduate College a Memorandum of Courses form and a Final Examination Report for Masters Degree form.

Program Approval & Academic Requirements

Before the end of the student's first year at the College of Law, a dual degree student must submit a course proposal to the Associate Dean of the College of Law and the Chair of the Graduate Committee of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. The proposal will clearly show the College of Law courses the student intends to have credited toward the Masters degree and the journalism courses the student intends to have credited toward the J.D. degree. The proposal must be approved by the Associate Dean and the Chair of the Graduate Committee in order for the courses to be eligible for credit in the dual degree program. The proposal may be modified at any time with the approval of both the Associate Dean and the Chair of the Graduate Committee.

Before the student is halfway through the Masters program, the student must file a Memorandum of Courses form with the Graduate College. Any subsequent changes in the program must be reflected on an amended Memorandum of Courses to be filed with the Graduate College.

A student in the joint degree program must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 5.500 in courses taken at the College of Law and must receive a grade of B or better in each course taken in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. A student who fails to satisfy either requirement will be dropped from the joint degree program and cannot apply for readmission to the program. A student who is dropped from the joint degree program can still pursue a Masters degree and a J.D. degree but must meet the normal requirements for each degree separately.

Additional Information

For more information on the law portion of the joint program, contact:
Admissions Office
College of Law
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
(402) 472-2161

For more information on the journalism and mass communications portion of the Joint Program, write to:
Chair of the Graduate Committee
College of Journalism and Mass Communications
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328
(402) 472-2343