No Evidence that Accredited Journalism Schools are Better than Unaccredited Ones

[June 22, 2010]

A 30-year review of research comparing and contrasting accredited journalism schools with unaccredited ones shows many more similarities than differences, and no conclusive evidence that accredited ones are significantly or consistently better than un-accredited ones in any important way.

The literature review, by Dr. Marc C. Seamon, assistant professor of communication at Robert Morris University, was printed in the Spring 2010 issue of Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, a refereed quarterly published by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Columbia, S.C. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator is the world’s largest and oldest scholarly journal devoted entirely to education and training in journalism, media, and other mass communication.

In the United States, accreditation of journalism schools is available from only one agency, the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), headquartered at the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Kansas. ACEJMC accredits approximately one-quarter (about 110) of the journalism and communication colleges, schools, departments, and programs that are normally counted as such as in the United States (about 450).

Titled, “The Value of Accreditation: An Overview of Three Decades of Research Comparing Accredited and Unaccredited Journalism and Mass Communication Programs,” Dr. Seamon’s essay’s abstract reads, in part, that no study has “discovered evidence that accredited programs are strongly or clearly superior in major ways to unaccredited programs. In fact, studies generally find many more similarities than differences. A review of literature comparing accredited and unaccredited J&MC programs seems to suggest that ACEJMC accreditation is a credential whose reputation exceeds its actual benefit. Although the idea of a formal process by which programs can be evaluated and ‘certified’ as high quality is well intentioned, operationalization of that idea has proved to be difficult. Some accreditation standards ACEJMC has deemed most important (diver-sity and liberal arts curriculum) have resulted in controversial chapters in accreditation’s history.”

CONTACT: Dr. Seamon may be contacted at seamon@rmu.edu. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator’s editor, Dr. Dane S. Claussen of Point Park University, may be contacted at dsclaussen@hotmail.com.

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