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ASU Creates Dual Master’s Degrees in Journalism and Legal Studies

January 11, 2016

Arizona State University is establishing a dual master’s degree program in which students can earn degrees in both journalism and law within two years.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law are partnering to offer an accelerated path to a Master of Mass Communication (MMC) and a Master of Legal Studies (MLS).

This joint course of study, starting in fall 2016, is designed for incoming students interested in journalism careers reporting on legal issues, as well as for those in law who communicate with journalists or practice public relations.

The dual degree program allows students to complete the two degrees in less time by streamlining the admissions process and course requirements. The programs share 12 credit hours of study and eliminate overlapping course requirements. Students are able to complete the degrees in four semesters.

“Journalism and law represent a very powerful combination,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “This innovative dual degree program, combining the assets of the Cronkite School and the O’Connor College, will give journalists, aspiring journalists and communications professionals a much deeper understanding of complex legal issues and help improve news coverage.”

Under the program, students take courses in U.S. law and legal analysis, professional legal writing, business organizations, other basic foundational courses, and electives through the law school. The Master of Legal Studies degree provides a knowledge base and skill set that enables graduates to navigate and analyze general legal issues and apply them to their specific career interests.

At the Cronkite School, graduate students participate in advanced-level classes in media research methods, business and economic reporting and 21st century media organization and entrepreneurship. Students also have the opportunity to cover legal issues for Cronkite News, the school’s award-winning student news operation that also serves as the news division of Arizona PBS.

“The dual MLS/MMC reinforces our commitment to teaching law to students who may not practice law, but who want to master legal principles in their chosen professions,” said Eric Menkhus, ASU Law associate dean of new education initiatives. “Students tell us they appreciate the comprehensiveness and flexibility of our programs. We are dedicated to providing a multi-disciplinary education so that students are able to thrive in a complex world in which legal knowledge is becoming increasingly valuable.” 

The journalism-legal studies initiative is the fifth in a series of dual degrees to be offered by the Cronkite School in conjunction with other ASU schools and colleges. The others include undergraduate degrees in journalism and meteorology with the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, journalism and graphic information technology with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering as well as journalism and Chicano and Latino studies through the School of Transborder Studies. The program also has dual master’s degrees in journalism and sustainability with the School of Sustainability.

In addition to the MLS/MMC dual degree, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law offers the MLS degree concurrently with a variety of graduate business degrees from the W.P. Carey School of Business, and a Master of Sustainable Solutions (MSUS) from the School of Sustainability. It also offers an MLS with focus areas within the law school including international law, health law, patent practice, among others.  The law school offers other degrees including a Juris Doctor (JD), a Master of Sports Law & Business, and a Master of Laws (LLM). 

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs. The school’s 1,700 students regularly lead the country in national journalism competitions. They are guided by faculty comprised of award-winning professional journalists and world-class media scholars. Cronkite’s full-immersion professional programs give students opportunities to practice what they’ve learned in a real-world setting under the guidance of professionals.

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is one of the country’s preeminent law schools. Ranked No. 26 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, ASU Law is a leading provider of comprehensive and personalized legal education. The law school also ranks No. 11 in the nation for job placement. When ASU Law moves to the Arizona Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix in fall 2016, students will be steps away from the legal, political, and economic heart of Arizona, in the nation’s sixth-largest city. For more information, visit law.asu.edu.