Walter Cronkite and Fulton schools partner to offer dual degree program

The Brickyard is located on Mill Avenue in Tempe and houses labs and offices for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. The Cronkite School announced a dual degree program with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for the Fall 2015 semester and beyond for students interested in majoring in journalism and graphic information technology. (Nikiana Medansky/DD)
The Cronkite School announced a dual degree program with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for the Fall 2015 semester. The program combines journalism and graphic information technology. (Nikiana Medansky/DD)

Beginning in the Fall 2015 semester, the Walter Cronkite School and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will offer a dual degree program focusing on journalism and graphic information technology.

Through the program, students can simultaneously earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology. Instead of 170 credits for the two degrees, students only need to take 122 to 137 credits.

“What this [program] does is it packages it in a way that makes it much more streamlined,” said Christopher Callahan, vice provost of the Downtown Phoenix Campus and dean of the Cronkite School. “So, we sort of developed a program where a student can come in with an interest in these fields and get the two degrees, ideally, in a four year period.”

This is the first in a series of dual-degree programs the Cronkite school will take part in.

The graphic information technology program will help journalists learn about multimedia skills like web development and game design.

The Cronkite School’s New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, led by Retha Hill, has already been encouraging the knowledge of these skills in journalism students with its coordination with computer engineering, design and business students to create digital media before the program.

“I suspect that… for the folks who will be in this program, the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab is sort of an obvious place to go,” Callahan said. “It’s already — in a lot of ways, with what Professor Hill is doing — creating an intersection between these two disciplines.”

He said the program also makes students more marketable, as it increases multimedia knowledge for journalism students.

“To be able to come out of Arizona State University with not just a very robust skill set in journalism, but being able to have a very deep knowledge of web development, that’s a very marketable combination of skills,” he said. “Not just for students’ first jobs, but for their second, third, fourth jobs.”

Penny Ann Dolin, associate professor of practice and program chair of graphic information technology, said photojournalists could also benefit from this new program.

“They’re complementary in many ways, even though they have different endgames,” Dolin, who was a photojournalist for the New York Times, said of photography and graphic information technology classes. “As far as the imaging side, I think there is great combination between journalism and GIT.”

Paul Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, said the idea for the program came about when he and Callahan talked about the fact that many classes in the graphic information technology program and the journalism program intersect.

He added that engineers gain the ability to explain their work to the media, which he differentiated from public speaking.

“There’s one thing where you stand up and give a technical talk, but it’s another thing to talk to a reporter, sit in a studio and have a camera stuck on you,” Johnson said.

Callahan gave his own very personal recommendation of the program too.

“If I was going to a journalism school… this is the program I would do,” he said.

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