What is the Public Affairs Reporting program?
In one year, students receive a master’s degree and on-the-job experience with a professional media organization
PAR is a one-year, professionally oriented master’s degree program that trains students to become journalists who produce intelligent news coverage about government, politics and other public affairs.
The program concentrates instruction in three areas: journalistic skills (news reporting and writing for digital, broadcast and print), public affairs knowledge and professional responsibility.
The program’s centerpiece is a six-month paid internship, where PAR students work for a professional news organization in the Statehouse press room to report on the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session.
A new round of the program begins each August, when students spend the fall semester in the classroom taking required and elective courses intended to strengthen their news reporting skills and expand their knowledge of government and public affairs.
The internship, which begins in January, requires each student to work as a full-time news reporter for a newspaper, wire service, television or radio station, under supervision and mentorship of the outlet’s bureau chief, editors or news directors. Students’ work will be read, seen and heard by audiences throughout Illinois.
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.
Assuming the student successfully completes all aspects of the program, he or she will have a master’s degree, solid job prospects, and strong potential for a successful career as a professional journalist.
PAR is one of the most cost-effective and time-efficient ways for a journalist to earn a graduate degree while building a resume and getting high-level experience. During the internship, students receive a tuition waiver and a $585-a-month stipend. In addition, the program is supported by generous donors who provide thousands of dollars in scholarships to PAR students exhibiting exemplary academic performance and financial need.