The new joint-degree program, which was approved by Columbia University’s Faculty Senate on April 2, and is now up for final approval by the New York State Education Department, is designed to provide graduate students with both the editorial and technological skills to produce new applications and online tools that could help redefine journalism in a fast-changing digital media environment.
The program will begin accepting applications in fall 2010. Admitted students will enroll for a total of five semesters—approximately three in the engineering school and two in the journalism school.
"This should be journalism’s golden age; more people have access to more news sources than at any time in history,” said the journalism school’s Academic Dean Bill Grueskin
. “But most news organizations have not fully embraced the digital revolution. This program is designed to turn out graduates with both the highest caliber of journalism training as well as technical skills ranging from data mining to computational imaging.”
The new dual-degree program will be affiliated with the journalism school’s newly launched Tow Center for Digital Journalism. The mission of the center, established earlier this year, is to educate journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of professional journalism online and in other forms of digital journalism.
"New technology is profoundly changing the creation, presentation and distribution of news,” said Shree Nayar
, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science and department chair at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. “The goal of the degree program in journalism and computer science is to empower the next generation of journalists with the technical knowledge needed to create new and exciting digital media technologies that could redefine journalism as we know it. To our knowledge, this is the first truly integrated program of its kind.”
Students in the program will take classes at both schools during each of their five semesters. This will be a true dual-degree program, in which students will use the content of one discipline to inform their execution of the other.
In addition to taking classes already offered at the journalism and engineering schools, students will attend a seminar and workshop designed specifically for the dual-degree program. The seminar will teach students about the impact of digital techniques on journalism; the emerging role of citizens in the news process; the influence of social media; and the changing business models that will support newsgathering. In the workshop, students will use a hands-on approach to delve deeply into information design, focusing on how to build a site, section or application from concept to development, ensuring the editorial goals are kept uppermost in mind.