UGA is the first institution in the Southeastern Conference to offer an undergraduate certificate in sports media, following University Council approval on Feb. 19.
The certificate will be offered by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Aimed at preparing students for careers in sports writing, sports broadcasting and sports communications, the program will be led by veteran sports journalist Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Distinguished Professor in Sports Journalism and Society.
“Sports offers our students an ideal venue for so many career paths,” said Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College. “Sport is culture, sport is business and sport is news. This interdisciplinary certificate is an enormous step forward for the sports journalism program, which we see as a real opportunity moving forward.”
The certificate program, open to all UGA undergraduates, will train students to report and produce sports stories in the digital age. They will learn on a multitude of platforms, from print to social media to audio and video.
Experiential learning will be a core component, with UGA’s sports programs, the Athens area’s prep sports scene and Atlanta’s professional sports teams comprising a real-world classroom.
In addition, Grady sports media students will explore the role of sports in cultural and societal issues such as race, gender, politics, health and economics.
“We really want students to start thinking about sports beyond the scores and the statistics because there is so much more underneath those layers that you need to know as a sports journalist,” said Michaelis, who worked as a sports reporter for two decades, including 12 years as USA Today‘s lead Olympics writer. “Like all journalists, they need to have a very ethical foundation. They need to have a good sense of where journalism is at this point in its progression.”
The program officially will launch this fall. Some courses already have been taught on a pilot basis, so the college could award its first certificates to graduates in spring 2015.
“We are absolutely thrilled about this certificate,” said Janice Hume, head of the journalism department. “It is innovative and rigorous, and students already are lining up to participate. I can’t wait for the first wave of Grady sports media graduates to get out there and start covering important sports stories in all sorts of interesting ways.”
Michaelis and Welch Suggs, an associate professor of journalism, developed a six-course curriculum of 18 credit hours, making the Grady certificate the most in-depth sports media program in the country.
Students will take two topics courses to develop strong content knowledge and four skills-based courses to learn the mechanics of sports media as well as professional practices and issues.