NOTE: The ESC program and application process differ depending on students’ intended master’s program of study. Students interested in the Journalism program of study will not begin graduate courses during their undergraduate senior year and will apply to our master’s program alongside outside applicants during their senior year. Students interested in the Strategic Communication program of study will follow the admissions process outlined below.

The application for conditional admission, allowing current juniors to take strategic communication graduate courses starting next fall, is due Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. Please note that the application does not allow you to save your progress. You must complete the brief form, answer the Community Standards questions and upload your documents (e.g., statement of purpose, course history) all in one session. Please prepare all documents in advance.

Overview

The dual degree program represents a unique partnership between the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and the Environment, Ecology and Energy Program, with support from Honors Carolina. Students earn a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies (or a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) and a Master of Arts in Media and Communication (Strategic Communication program of study). The program is designed to be completed in five years.

The program offers students the opportunity to gain a thorough knowledge of environmental science and the training and skills needed to share that knowledge and information in compelling and easily understandable ways. Students will be prepared for careers in a variety of institutions, including news organizations, the government, nonprofit and advocacy groups, businesses and research organizations.

Requirements

• Students must complete 120 semester credit hours at the baccalaureate level, which will conform to the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from the College of Arts and Sciences and the major in environmental studies or environmental science, and recommended coursework in strategic communication. Courses will be chosen in consultation with advisers in environmental studies and in media and journalism.

• Students must complete 36 credit hours at the post-baccalaureate level. This will consist of 33 hours of additional coursework in the Strategic Communication program of study and 3 hours of non-traditional thesis credits. In their final summer semester, students will produce a master’s thesis project. Courses will be chosen in consultation with advisers in media and journalism.

• Students will begin taking courses at the master’s level in their fourth year in college. While they are still officially in the baccalaureate program, they may take up to three post-baccalaureate-level courses (9 credit hours) that will subsequently be transferred to the master’s program, as long as they take enough courses in addition to these graduate-level courses to meet the 120-credit bachelor’s graduation requirement. Hence, by the end of their fourth year, students will have taken 126-129 credit hours, six or nine of which will be at the graduate level and do not count toward the bachelor’s degree requirements.

• Students will not be officially offered admission by The Graduate School until they complete their Bachelor of Arts graduation requirements. As a result, students must apply and be conditionally accepted into the program in their junior year.

• Students must complete The Graduate School’s dual-degree application form when they are about to earn their bachelor’s degree. Note: Conditional admission does not guarantee admission to The Graduate School.

Dual bachelor's-master's admissions

Applying to the dual degree program occurs in a series of three steps:

  1. Students must complete and submit pre- and post-advising surveys in their first and/or second years. These help our faculty keep track of what courses each student needs in order to complete her/his undergraduate MEJO courses. Many MEJO courses are reserved for Hussman majors, but completing these forms and receiving advising from faculty members enables students to reserve spots in the courses they need.
  2. Students must apply in their third year for conditional admission to the professional track of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media’s Master of Arts in Media and Communication program. The conditional admission application form and supporting materials must be delivered to the media and journalism graduate program coordinator by the second Tuesday in January. Applicants will be notified of the conditional admission decision by March 1. The GRE is not required for conditional admission. At the formal graduate application stage, students must meet all admissions requirements of the UNC Graduate School and the Master of Arts in Mass Communication program. Note: Conditional admission does not guarantee admission to The Graduate School.
  3. The student must officially apply for admission into The Graduate School by completing The Graduate School dual-degree application as they are about to earn their bachelor’s degree. For admission to study at the master’s level in the fall semester, students should meet the application deadline in the prior spring or summer semester. In other words, the student needs to be continually enrolled, with no “gap” semester.

How to apply for conditional admission (in the third year of undergraduate studies)

The completed application and all applicant-provided supporting materials must be submitted by the second Tuesday of January. After that date, conditional admission applications will not be accepted by the Hussman School. Letters of recommendation will be coming from the recommenders, so those will not be required to be in the package from the applicant; however, they must be received by the deadline.

Applicants are required to submit a completed application for conditional admission*, along with the following materials:

  • A resume
  • A three-page statement of purpose that reflects the applicant’s career goals, how the applicant’s educational background and experience will contribute to their master’s experience, and how completion of the program will assist the applicant in achieving their career goals
  • A writing sample
  • UNC-CH course history, saved as a PDF from the applicant’s ConnectCarolina Student Center
  • Three total letters of recommendation, two from Hussman School instructors for courses the student has taken and one from an Environment, Ecology and Energy Program professor. Recommenders must email their letters on letterhead to the Hussman Office of Graduate Studies, at mjgrad@unc.edu. The letters must be in PDF and contain the recommender’s written signature and should be submitted in an email with your name and “ESC REC” in the subject line. You have the option to use this template to request recommendations from your instructors.

The application process is competitive. The program will accept a limited number of dual-degree students each year.

As a reminder, students applying to the program are required to double major, minor or complete a selection of at least three of the prerequisites in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, based on their desired M.A. program of study. See the Curriculum page for more information.

Admissions decisions are based not only on the standard criteria — grade-point averages and letters of recommendation — but also on a determination of whether the applicant’s interests and goals fit with those of the program and faculty. For that reason, the statement of purpose that must accompany an application is extremely important, and applicants are encouraged to be as specific as possible in outlining their career goals.

For questions about the conditional admission process, contact the Office of Graduate Studies at mjgrad@unc.edu.

*Applicants who have already begun an application on the previously used PDF form may submit that form without penalty. They should combine all of their application materials (besides letters of recommendation) into a single PDF and email it to the Hussman School’s Office of Graduate Studies at mjgrad@unc.edu.

Requirements

Minimum criteria for conditional admission to the dual degree program include:

• An undergraduate grade average of “B” or better (3.0 GPA) at the time of application;

• Fulfillment of required undergraduate prerequisites in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

Meeting the above criteria is not a guarantee of admission.

Notification

Because the Hussman School admits students only for fall semesters, the admissions committee meets only during the spring semester — generally through February. Formal conditional acceptance and rejection letters will be sent from the Hussman School by March.

After admission

Conditionally admitted applicants to the dual degree program must respond affirmatively by April 1 to ensure enrollment in required M.A. courses for the fall semester.

Incoming dual degree graduate students must participate in the dual degree orientation program before they begin to take master’s level courses. Orientation is typically held the week before fall classes begin. An orientation information packet is mailed early summer.

At orientation, students are assigned a temporary faculty adviser to help select appropriate courses for the fall semester and register for courses. It is imperative for accepted students to attend orientation.

How to apply for official admission to the master’s program (upon completion of the bachelor's)

Students will apply to The Graduate School as they approach completion of their bachelor’s degree. Conditional admissions does not guarantee admission to The Graduate School. Students must demonstrate sufficiently positive progress to be recommended for admission to The Graduate School. The Graduate School waives application fees for UNC-CH undergraduate students applying for full admission to the master’s degree as part of the dual-degree program. The admission deadline is listed here.

Applicants are required to:

Complete the application and turn in all supporting materials to The Graduate School.

In addition to the application, please submit:

  • A copy of your transcript. If admitted, you’ll be required to submit a final transcript.
  • An updated resume.

Notification

Formal acceptance and rejection letters are sent from The Graduate School, which can take several weeks after the admissions committee meets.