Prospective students looking for a journalism program may wonder is program accreditation important for a journalism degree. Although not strictly required, a program or school accredited by a recognized agency is usually the better choice for an aspiring journalism student. The following will go over what accreditation is, why it is important for journalism degree programs and discuss the agencies that issue this accreditation.
What Is Accreditation?
Accreditation is simply a review of an educational institution and/or its programs by an independent agency. Accreditation is voluntary but most serious academic institutions desire to have it for a number of reasons. For one, accreditation proves to prospective students that a school or program is committed to providing them a quality education. Secondly, accredited institutions and programs are more prestigious and held in higher regard by employers, which can make it much easier to get a job upon graduation. Individual programs as well as entire schools can be accredited by different organizations. Accreditation indicates whether a school is actually offering its students a quality education, which is an important factor to consider when choosing any degree program.
Why Is It Important For Journalism Programs?
Journalism is a career that requires its professionals to produce high quality, factual work and conduct themselves with integrity. They must adhere to strict standards at all times and champion ideals that are the foundation of US democracy such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Accreditation is particularly important for journalism programs and the schools that offer them because most employers, including the most prestigious news organizations, will be skeptical of a degree earned from a program that does not meet the industry’s standards. Getting a degree from an accredited school and/or program will prove that a student has been educated to be a qualified professional journalist.
The Regional Accreditation Agencies
In the United States, the most important accreditation is for entire schools, not just one program. Accreditation is issued by six agencies based on geographical region: the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and Western Association of Schools and Colleges. These agencies are overseen by both the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. It may be difficult to find whether a school is accredited by the association in its home region on that school’s website, so prospective students are encouraged to look up any schools they are considering on the relevant association site, where listings are maintained.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)
Journalism programs in particular are accredited by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, or AEJMC. It is an international organization that has been in existence since 1912 and accrediting journalism programs since 1945, with a particularly strong association with journalism programs in the United States. According to AEJMC, the organization currently accredits 117 professional journalism programs both in the United States and abroad. The AEJMC looks at nine standards, including curriculum, administration and student services, to make decisions regarding accreditation.
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Journalism is an incredibly important profession that helps uphold freedom of speech and freedom of information. Prospective students want to make sure the program they choose is going to provide them with a quality education. This is why program accreditation is important for a journalism degree.