Master of Arts
Charles N. Wheeler III
Adjunct Faculty: Melissa Hahn
The Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) degree is designed for the student who wishes to specialize in news coverage of governmental affairs. A primary goal is for graduates to obtain employment in which they can report or interpret governmental activity for the population at large. The objectives of the year-long program are to graduate men and women who are able not only to understand and interpret public affairs but also to communicate with the clarity, accuracy, and speed demanded of deadline reporters of the highest rank. The program directs students to an investigation of the interactions between the news media and society and the news media and government and encourages students to expand the knowledge of such interaction through research and experimentation. Program faculty also expect that each graduate, whatever the skill level upon entering the program, be proficient in reporting, editing, and writing at graduation. The unique nature of the program is derived from the simultaneous pursuit of various goals; none is considered paramount.
The program is open only to students who have completed the baccalaureate degree. Students are selected primarily on the basis of writing ability, interest in government and public affairs, potential for a career in journalism, and academic record.
The deadline for filing applications with the program director is April 1. Application forms may be obtained by contacting the program office. Applicants must submit samples of their written work, a narrative statement on why they feel qualified and want to enroll in the program, and three references. Applicants are required to take a literacy/competency and writing test and are interviewed by the PAR Admissions Committee, comprised of faculty and journalists.
The program director serves as principal advisor for PAR students, although special advising requests may be referred to other faculty members with particular expertise. After students are accepted into the program, they should contact their advisors for an appointment before initial registration.
PAR students must receive a grade of B or better in any required PAR course to receive credit toward the degree.
The M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting requires 40 hours of graduate-level course work. In the fall semester, students enroll in two required courses: PAR 501 Advanced Public Affairs Reporting (six hours) and PAR 510 Developing Public Policy in Illinois (four hours). Students choose other courses after consultation with their advisors.
During the spring semester, students begin an internship with an experienced professional journalist covering state government and the Illinois General Assembly. This internship (12 credit hours) includes a weekly seminar. PAR 503 Legislative Issues (two hours) is also required in this semester. After consultation with the advisor, a student registers for other courses to maintain a full course load.
Students participate in the second phase of the internship (four credit hours) during the summer term (until July 1). This internship period is considerably more intense, as it coincides with the conclusion of the legislative session. During the six-month internship, students receive a monthly stipend and tuition waiver.
Before graduation, students must complete a professional portfolio that demonstrates mastery of public affairs journalism. The portfolio will include a variety of hard news, analyses, in-depth and feature stories the student has reported and written and that have been published or aired by a professional media outlet, along with project memos detailing the news judgments involved in reporting and writing the longer pieces.
Required Courses (40 Hrs.)
PAR 501 Advanced Public Affairs Reporting 6 Hrs.
PAR 503 Legislative Issues 2 Hrs.
PAR 504 Internship I 12 Hrs.
PAR 505 Internship II 4 Hrs.
PAR 510 Developing Public Policy in Illinois 4 Hrs.
Electives 12 Hrs.