Welcome to the University of Montana’s graduate program in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism. Ours is a hands-on, skills based program that puts journalism students in the field reporting on issues affecting the natural world. Our masters’ candidates produce regional and international pieces for the print media, radio, television and online sites. Our faculty members have decades of professional journalism experience and are committed to guiding you along your way.
Montana’s program offers many unique features. One is the Story Lab course, which pairs students with scientists for one semester. The goal is for emerging journalists to learn how to better communicate science news; scientists also learn how to interact with the media to better tell their stories. The University of Montana is home to cutting-edge research, from Wildlife Biology to Fire Management and Environmental Health. We like to call our backyard the greatest outdoor laboratory on the planet.
The Master's program is an advanced program for applicants with undergraduate degrees in journalism, environmental and earth sciences, environmental studies or natural resources. We also seek applicants with professional experience in journalism, the natural resource industries and environmental non-profit organizations. Candidates without a background in the sciences or journalism may have to take foundational courses that will not count toward the degree.
We offer scholarships, fellowships and teaching assistantships to assist our graduate students. Financial aid and work-study packages are also available. Take a look at our website, send us an email or call us if you have any questions. We look forward to receiving your application. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. A new Master's class starts each fall.
A Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism requires 36 credit hours: 18 in journalism and 12 in natural resource issues and/or environmental science. The school offers two options for the remaining six credits. Students can either use them to work on a documentary-style professional project or opt for creating a portfolio of work in multiple media.
The professional project option allows students to embark on an ambitious investigation or create a comprehensive public information project. Students typically produce the project in their final semester at the university after completing the rest of the coursework. This allows them to travel outside Montana and abroad for research. They return to Montana to defend their project in front of their chosen faculty committee.
The portfolio option allows students to take additional journalism electives and produce a three-part portfolio that explores a common environmental or natural resource theme. The portfolio must include work presented in at least two different mediums, ranging from writing to photography, video, audio, multimedia, maps and graphics. This track is designed for those wanting more experience with different journalistic mediums.
All students in the master’s program produce original, substantive works of journalism as part of their degree requirements. Their work is supervised and evaluated by a master’s committee, consisting of a chair and reviewer chosen from the School of Journalism faculty and a faculty member from another school or department. The graduate program director vets project, thesis or portfolio proposals before the student recruits a committee.
In addition to their master’s stories, project and portfolio students produce a 1,000-word companion narrative that addresses context, story relevance, reporting and production process, sourcing, ethical considerations, media format choices and plans for publication. The master’s defense takes the form of a public presentation, where the candidate presents this narrative and shares some of her/his work. Committee members will attend this presentation and examine the candidate. In determining if the master’s work is fit for publication by a reputable news organization, they will consider accuracy, integrity, ethics, news value, depth, originality, language, style and effectiveness of technique.
The University of Montana’s Journalism School is housed in Don Anderson Hall, a state-of-the-art facility with abundant computer labs, wireless Internet, wired classrooms and top-notch digital video and audio capabilities. Opened in 2007, Don Anderson Hall boasts superior equipment and technology with a high-definition television studio and a robust audio facility. Students can check out any equipment necessary to complete course assignments, including still cameras, video cameras, audio recorders, microphones and tripods.
Our labs are equipped with the software you’ll need to work on design, photography, web, audio and video. We have a fully-staffed Information Technology Department (JTech) available to help with technology issues. Our students produce high quality work with top tier equipment.
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