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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Journalism major to return to A&M in fall

Austin Patterson

Bolton Hall

On Thursday, July 27, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or THECB, unanimously approved Texas A&M’s reinstated journalism degree program.

The degree will fall under the College of Arts and Sciences and be administered by the Department of Communication and Journalism. Students will be able to enroll in the major on a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree track starting in the fall.

University Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Affairs Officer Alan Sams, Ph.D, led the presentation to the board.

The journalism major returned after A&M stopped offering its then-55-year-old major in 2004 after it was consolidated into the communication department — a “victim of a budget reduction,” Sams said.

“Journalism has drastically changed in the digital age, and there is a great need to bring it back,” Sams said. “Journalism never went away when we consolidated the program. Just the major was sunsetted as it was merged, but now we seek to bring it back in its own right.”

Sams said there is a need for journalism graduates in Texas, citing over 1,500 available journalism positions in Texas alone, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sams said the number of jobs for journalists is expected to increase in the coming decade.

Sams also said graduates also work outside of the media industry, such as in corporate communication, public relations and as content creators for nonprofit organizations, marketing agencies and educational institutions.

“As journalism has continued to develop in the digital age, the information itself, as well as the technologies and functions, have all rapidly changed as well so that students need a multidisciplinary approach to their education,” Sams said.

Sams said A&M’s approach to a multidisciplinary program is what makes it unique, compared to other institutions.

“Through our extensive academic and strategic partnerships, and our propensity for blending disciplines, [A&M] is strongly and uniquely positioned to provide students with such an education and a wide array of immersive professional experiences to make them uniquely competitive in the job market,” Sams said.

The B.S. track will require students to have a specialization by minoring in a sciences discipline, encouraging students to pursue studies in A&M’s Institute of Data Science or its world-renowned visualization program.

Sams said A&M also has a vast network of partners to help all journalism students complete their required internship for the program.

The B.A. track will allow students to take advantage of both science and humanities programs at A&M, Sams said.

“Through our partnerships with the Bush School of Government and Public Service, just as an example, in both Texas and Washington D.C., we are strongly positioned to prepare students for careers in government reporting, public policy and community development,” Sams said. “Our land grant institution status also provides us community and local networks to help address news and information deserts in rural areas.”

Now that the program has been approved, the department has secured funding for a director position.

Sams said the Department of Communication and Journalism has strong leadership under its experienced head, Hart Blanton, and has 45 full-time faculty members. There are four full-time journalism faculty and an additional seven faculty members teaching courses in both communication and journalism.

Additionally, eight new full-time hires have been approved for hiring over the next three years, with four being approved for this coming year, Sams said.

Upon hearing the news that the reinstatement of the degree was approved, journalism professor Tom Burton was excited but felt cautious since the program has yet to secure a director.

“I’m encouraged that the journalism degree has been approved by the board and that we can move forward with those plans,” Burton said. “It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for sure, as we had outside problems that we didn’t anticipate. The university said they’re backing this program, and we have to take them at their word for that and work as hard as we can to make it happen.”

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About the Contributor
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
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