What’s required for admission to journalism school?

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is generally required, save for Columbia University’s graduate programs, which do not require standardized tests. It is possible to raise your test scores by studying assiduously for these tests; generally six months to a year of prep work is recommended. Dedication and motivation are required. But if you want it badly enough these programs will not deter you.

Only one school requires a written exam for admission that we know of, and that’s the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. It may include fill-in-the-blank, geographical and people identification, grammar and essay questions. To prepare for it, it’s generally a good idea to read the New York Times everyday for two or three months prior to the test date. By then you will know all of your U.S. Presidential cabinet members, famous as well as notorious judges, not to mention a bit about celebrity scandals and the hottest Broadway playwright. (You legal eagles and history buffs will answer questions on the constitution correctly, but current events are a big part of the exam too.) Sometimes you’ll be given a statement set as a basis for a news story that you’ll be asked to write.

All schools require purpose statements that must be visionary, flawless and captivating.  

Journalism schools strongly encourage or require you to submit samples of your journalism work; if you are submitting broadcast journalism samples in radio, TV, Internet or newspaper, you will do so using the CD or DVD formats. All written work, including story clips done for a class or publication, must be submitted in hard copy on 8½ x 11, unbound paper, and generally must not exceed 10 pages. Always retain originals of your journalism work.

If you haven’t any clips, you better get out there and find a way to generate some – be it with your school newspaper or local community rag. You’ll be working for no pay, but you’re after the clips, not the cash, remember?

In journalism, you really do need to follow directions and adhere to the AP writing style. You can find key writing guidelines in The Associated Press Stylebook. Get a copy today and make it your journalism bible. You’ll save yourself lots of grief down the line, especially in journalism school. Following directions also applies to your applications. DO AS THEY TELL YOU TO DO, NOT AS YOU WISH THEY HAD TOLD YOU TO DO.