Goals: The MS program in science and technology journalism (STJR) at Texas A&M University is a broad-based science communication program designed to prepare students mainly for careers as writers and editors specializing in the communication of science, technology, and medicine. It also can serve as a background for related careers and as preparation for doctoral study.
History: In 1996, Texas A&M University, long known for its strength in science and technology, implemented its MS program in science and technology journalism. The program moved from the College of Liberal Arts to the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in 2006.
Philosophy: The program seeks to prepare graduates solidly grounded in both science journalism and science. Thus, each student completes graduate courses in both realms. The program is small and highly individualized, with each student choosing courses geared to his or her interests and goals.
Degree Options: After entering the program, students choose between an internship track and a thesis track. Recent internship sites have included Fermilab, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Microsoft, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Texas Sea Grant, and the Texas Water Resources Institute. Recent thesis topics have included science reporting in Ghana, best practices of journalists winning awards for mental-health reporting, science writers’ views and use of online comments, environmental risk communication in the two Cosmos television series, climate change coverage by a major Mexican newspaper, and comparative coverage of breast cancer and diabetes by major US women’s magazines.
Courses: All students in the program take the core courses Issues in Science and Technology Journalism, Reporting Science and Technology, Research Methods in Science and Technology Journalism, and Science Editing. They also take science communication electives and choose from a wide range of science courses throughout the university. In addition, they can take courses in related realms, such as web design, photography, creative nonfiction, and history of science.
Eligibility: Individuals with undergraduate degrees in science, the liberal arts, and other areas are eligible for the program. Some entering students have previous graduate or professional degrees. The program welcomes both domestic and international students.
Financial Support: Most students in the STJR program have graduate assistantships. Commonly, these assistantships entail helping with writing-intensive courses for undergraduate science majors. Out-of-state students with assistantships pay tuition at in-state rates.
Graduates: Graduates occupy a wide range of positions. Recent examples include science writer at the American Physical Society, medical writer at the National Institutes of Health, media relations specialist at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology, scientific editor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, technical writer at National Instruments, science reporter at Northeastern University, scientific script writer at Research Square, director of engineering communications at Texas A&M, managing editor at Texas A&M University Press, science writing instructor, and freelance writer or editor. Some graduates go on to obtain PhDs.