Science and Medical Journalism Program

What is the science and medical journalism program?

The Science and Medical Journalism Program at UNC is one of the nation's first master's programs of its kind. Science and medical journalists provide a bridge between scientists and consumers by making complex science understandable to a broad audience of readers, viewers and listeners.

How can the program help me become a better writer and reporter?

Our two-year program provides both depth of knowledge and breadth of understanding in journalism, science and medicine. The program teaches skills needed to work as a practicing science and medical journalist across all media platforms. Our multi-disciplinary approach will hone your professional skills in print, audio and video, while allowing you the opportunity to specialize in the areas in which you are most passionate.

For more detailed information on the program and its requirements, go here.

Why should I choose Carolina over other science journalism programs?

UNC’s science and medical journalism master’s program offers advantages compared with other programs of its kind. Unlike many science journalism programs, we offer a two-year program, allowing you to explore a wide range of academic and professional interests during your time at Carolina. Beyond your core classes in science and medical journalism, you will take classes from other members of UNC’s esteemed journalism faculty. You’ll also take health or science courses outside of the journalism school. Students can take classes at nearby Duke University or North Carolina State University. Twenty minutes away is Research Triangle Park, home to many leading science and biotech companies, including the headquarters of Sigma Xi, the national scientific research society.

While you’ll take classes and collaborate with master’s students from the journalism school and the school of public health, the small size of the science and medical journalism program means you’ll have the opportunity for one-on-one, personalized instruction from Dr. Tom Linden, director of the program. Dr. Linden has served as CNBC’s first health and science correspondent, anchor for Lifetime Medical Television, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and author of a health reporting textbook with the writers of the New York Times.

Who should apply?

Students from varied academic and professional backgrounds have joined the program in its 15-year history. Some have been working journalists looking to sharpen their reporting skills or to specialize in science and medical writing. Others have been health professionals wanting to move into journalism. Some have worked for years before returning to graduate school, while others have come soon after completing undergrad or other master’s programs. Our students have majored in journalism, history, English, chemistry, applied physics, neurobiology, archaeology and many more.

Above all else, we’re looking for students who love to write, are eager to learn about science and medicine, and want to learn how to communicate complex ideas to the public.

How can I afford the program?

Tuition and fees for a full-time Master’s student in the 2014-15 academic year are $6,588.47 per semester for North Carolina residents and $14,614.47 per semester for out-of-state students. For information on funding and loan resources, visit UNC’s Student Aid page.

One of the journalism school’s most exciting funding opportunities for graduate students is the Roy H. Park Fellowship. Awarded each year to about 10 new Master’s students with exceptional qualifications, the Park Fellowship provides full funding for tuition and health insurance as well as an annual stipend of $14,000. For more information on the Park Fellowship and other fellowship opportunities available through the journalism school, visit our Cost & Funding page.

When should I apply?

The final deadline for applications is Tuesday, January 13, 2015. All applications will be automatically considered for the Park Fellowship. If you have questions about the application process or the program in general, contact Dr. Tom Linden at linden@unc.edu.

Where can the program take me?

Alumni of our master’s program have gone on to exciting careers in many areas of science journalism and communication. Graduates of our program include the managing editor for health and medical coverage for ABC News, agricultural reporter for Voice of America, and founder of IMPACT Health Communications. Our students’ work has appeared in publications like Scientific American, New Scientist and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While you’ll find Chapel Hill has plenty to offer during your two years here, there are also exciting opportunities for current students to travel throughout the United States and beyond. Funding is available to help students travel to conferences, where you can learn best practices from experienced journalists while expanding your own professional network. We’ve also worked on documentary projects that have taken us from profiling the state parks of North Carolina to reporting on solar power in Spain

Pictured: Dan Childs, graduate of the master’s program and managing editor for the ABC News medical unit, talks to students in Dr. Linden’s science and medical journalism class. Photo by Casey Toth.