King's launches master of journalism program

"Putting this program together in less than a year is quite the achievement," said Kelly Toughill. (Photo: Mick Côté)

After a year of bureaucratic talks with Dalhousie, the University of King's College is now accepting applications for its master of journalism program.

"I'm wildly excited," said Kelly Toughill, director of King's School of Journalism, on Tuesday.

Offered jointly with Dalhousie University, this degree program is expected to accept 15 students. The application deadline for the first class is March 15.

In order to enroll, students must have a bachelor of journalism or an equivalent degree. Toughill and the King's registrar determine the equivalency of a degree upon receiving a student's application.

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This map pinpoints Canadian universities that offer graduate studies in journalism.

According to the program's website, a learning assessment will be available for those who do not have a journalism degree but who have previously studied another discipline and have significant experience in the field.

Applicants can choose between two streams: new ventures or investigative.

Investigative reporting is for people who want to dig deep into one topic. This usually requires a great amount of complex research.

"The other stream is for people who want to start their own journalism business. So if you want to be a really effective freelancer or if you actually want to start a new journalism outlet or a new journalism project within an existing media organization, the second stream gives you the business skills and the framework to do that."

Prospective students must also submit post-secondary institution transcripts, a personal statement including biographical information and reasons for wanting to take the masters program, as well as a portfolio of work and reference letters in their application.

Unlike other programs

Schools like Carleton University and the University of British Columbia offer similar programs, but their requirements are quite different than King's. The biggest variation is how long a master's in journalism takes to complete.

Where the master of journalism at Ryerson University takes two years to finish, the King's graduate program takes 10 months.

The reason why this degree is so much shorter lies in the prerequisites.

"Other programs are not really for people who have a journalism background or journalism education," said Toughill. "So they spend at least a year, sometimes both years, just bringing people up to speed in storytelling techniques and research techniques. We hope to attract people with strong skills in those already."

Course outline

Students will spend six months or the first part of the program in Halifax on the King's campus. In the second half of the program, students work on a professional project with a mentor in any city they choose.

"Every person in the program will be working closely with a leading practitioner in the field as they develop their professional project," said Toughill.

Toughill is uncertain about how many people will apply for a master's at King's because this program was announced fairly late in the school year. Despite this concern, she received three emails in the first hour and a half after the program was announced.

Pending approval

The program is expected to start in June, pending final approval from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC).

"It's very common for universities to accept applications before getting approval," said Toughill. The MPHEC still has to review the program request before King's can officially accept any students.

In the event that it is not approved, King's would return all fees and applications.

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