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ACEJMC Accrediting Standards
(superseded)

The Council adopted these standards Sept. 27, 1996 and used them in accreditation reviews through the 2004 - 2005 academic year. They have been superseded by new standards and are posted for archival purposes only.
Standards 10 and 12 revised May 1997; effective date: Sept. 1, 1997
Standard 3 revised Sept. 2000; effective date: Sept. 1, 2001


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Standard 1. Governance / Administration
Standard 2. Budget
Standard 3. Curriculum
Standard 4. Student Records / Advising
Standard 5. Instruction / Evaluation
Standard 6. Faculty: Full-time / Part-time
Standard 7. Internships / Work Experience
Standard 8. Equipment / Facilities
Standard 9. Scholarship, Research, Creative and Professional Activities
Standard 10. Public Service
Standard 11. Graduates / Alumni
Standard 12. Diversity


Standard 1. Governance / Administration

Standard:

The chief administrative officer of the unit and administrative associates must provide intellectual, academic, and professional leadership to advance the cause of the unit -- both within the university and to outside constituencies. Faculty control over basic educational policy must be demonstrated. The chief administrative officer of the unit must have the expressed and demonstrated confidence of the faculty and of the higher administration.

Explanation:

The journalism and mass communications unit should have an administrative structure and pattern of faculty governance that support its overall teaching, research, and service goals within the context of the institution of which it is a part. Both the admi nistrative operations and faculty involvement in governance should be organized to provide the strongest possible program for students in the unit and to advance the development of the purposes of the unit within its host institution. Students should be r epresented in governance as appropriate to the philosophy of the institution. The unit's organization and operation and the faculty's appropriate role in governance should be defined clearly. The unit faculty should meet regularly to provide timely advice and consultation about the unit's policies, procedures and operations.

Evidence:

  1. Effectiveness of the administration and the governance of the unit as shown in the self-study report.
  2. Position specifications for chief administrative officer and other administrators within the unit.
  3. Indication of how unit governance occurs through regular meetings of the full faculty and committees.
  4. Minutes of regular faculty meetings, committee reports, and other evidence of governance.
  5. Faculty responses to questions about their role, individually and collectively, in governance.
  6. Files showing how the most recent administrative and faculty appointments were made (search committee, etc.).
  7. Assessment of unit administrator by faculty and higher administration officials (liberal arts dean, provost, etc.).


Standard 2. Budget | top

Standard:

The budget must be adequate to provide a high level of quality in administration, instruction, facilities, equipment, and support services for each area of study. The budget should be adequate to carry out the mission of the program, and fair when compare d with the resources of other academic units at the university.

Explanation:

A high-quality educational program requires strong financial support. The journalism and mass communications unit should be supported fairly relative to other academic programs on the campus or in the university system. This relative fairness should be re flected in the budget for faculty, office and instructional space, equipment, student financial assistance, faculty research and travel, library resources, and other support services.

As long as the budget remains adequate to carry out the mission of the program, and fair when compared to the resources of other academic units at the same institution, visiting teams probably should not find a unit in non-compliance. If, however, fund ing for the program is clearly lacking, that is a different matter and might well justify a finding of non-compliance.

Often, a unit's state budget and its actual expenditures vary considerably. Many programs rely on internal soft money and/or private funds to supplement state budgets. If the unit is aggressive in seeking outside funding, programs can continue to move forward, even if state budgets are flat or cut. It is up to the unit to show how the university has reallocated soft money or possibly provided short-term bridge funding to tide the program over. Or the unit might emphasize how it has used private funding to bridge gaps or elevate programs to even higher levels.

If, however, institutional funding is down, there have been no temporary reallocations within the university, the unit has done little to help itself in the private sector and the quality of the program clearly has been affected, teams might be justifi ed in issuing a finding of non-compliance. The point is: The team should consider all these factors.

Evidence:

  1. The detailed budget of the unit.
  2. Responses from unit and higher administrators to questions from the visiting team.
  3. Responses from faculty and staff to questions from the visiting team concerning budget and level of support.
  4. Responses from students to questions from the visiting team, especially with regard to student financial assistance.
  5. Information on private fund-raising attempts, if appropriate for the unit.


Standard 3. Curriculum | top

Standard:

Units must develop curricula that ensure students learn the mission and responsibilities of journalism and mass communications in a diverse and democratic society. Units must also ensure that students learn to communicate effectively in such a society. These requirements call for programs to develop curricula that lead to students acquiring the knowledge, values and competencies ACEJMC defines in "Principles of Accreditation." Therefore, units must have a balance between theoretical and conceptual courses and professional skills courses. Units must also ensure a balance between courses in journalism and mass communications and courses in other disciplines, primarily in the liberal arts and sciences.

Explanation:

To prepare students for an interconnected, competitive world in which the delivery of news, information, ideas and entertainment is changing and audience choices are increasing, a sound education program should provide broad exposure to the liberal arts and sciences. It should also provide up-to-date instruction in the skills and in the theories, history, functions, procedure, law, ethics and effects of journalism and mass communications. The educational environment, including course content, should support the need for journalism and mass communications industries to reflect in their employment and their products the diversity of the population they serve.

The unit curriculum should be systematic and comprehensive. Students should receive rigorous practical training and demanding scholarly instruction. Competence in language use, visual literacy and numeracy should be stressed throughout the curriculum. In fulfilling these requirements, the unit should include the knowledge, values and competencies ACEJMC defines in Principles of Accreditation."

The unit should offer courses to ensure that students learn to gather, analyze, organize, synthesize and communicate information in formats appropriate to particular forms of journalism and mass communications and systems of delivery. The unit should concentrate its professional courses in the last two years of a four-year program.

Graduate programs will concentrate on professional courses but they should not be limited to such courses.

Students in the undergraduate program must take a minimum of 80 semester hours or 116 quarter hours in courses outside the major area of journalism and mass communications, with no fewer than 65 semester hours or 94 quarter hours in the basic liberal arts and sciences.

The Accrediting Council will count courses taught outside of the journalism and mass communications unit the same as the university counts them. However, no course taught in the journalism and mass communications unit may be counted in the minimum requirement of 65 hours in the liberal arts and sciences.

To ensure compliance with this standard, and to ensure accurate data, ACEJMC requires that each unit seeking initial accreditation include in its self-study report the number of semester or quarter hours taken in non-journalism and mass communications and in liberal arts, sciences and social sciences by all members of each graduating class in the two academic years before an initial accreditation visit. This complete class census is necessary to prove compliance under the curriculum standard by at least 95 percent of the graduation classes in the two academic years before an accreditation visit.

Units seeking re-accreditation must determine the percentage of students meeting the 80/65 provision, but they are not required to provide a full census. They must also allow site team members to inspect their student records.

Evidence:

  1. The catalog, degree requirements, and outlines of courses demonstrating that students are receiving solid instruction in practical skills in addition to philosophical understanding of the history, law, ethics and theory of journalism and mass communications. Syllabi, class visits, course assignments and other materials, and rosters of guest speakers must be examined to ensure that units offer and promote course content of academic rigor that recognizes the contributions of traditionally under-represented groups to journalism and mass communications and that helps prepare students to understand and communicate with and about a diverse society.
  2. Student interviews and records showing that majors are gaining a broad education through distribution requirements in the liberal arts and sciences.
  3. Student interviews, course materials, and classroom visits showing that faculty integrate liberal arts content into journalism and mass communications courses properly and also stress how courses in other disciplines interrelate with assignments in journalism and mass communications.
  4. Student interviews and catalog statements indicating that students are taking courses in logical order and that prerequisites are carefully thought out and adhered to so that a coherent educational process is ensured.
  5. Course syllabi demonstrating systematic and comprehensive presentation of explanatory material through lectures, discussion, and laboratories providing rigorous practice in work skills.
  6. Interviews with students showing that the faculty make an effort to keep students abreast of current thinking and trends in the profession and in scholarship through exposure to professional and industry periodicals and scholarly writing and to visits by professionals and scholars.
  7. Class visits, course assignments, and student interviews indicating that students are challenged to think critically about their respective disciplines in addition to mastering practical skills and concepts.


Standard 4. Student Records / Advising | top

Standard:

Student records must be accurate, up-to-date and readily accessible to administrators, advisers and faculty. Records should show clearly each student's academic requirements and the student's progress toward meeting those requirements. A systematic and ef fective advising system must be maintained in which the unit takes responsibility for ensuring that students receive accurate information about academic requirements and enrollment and also provides students with career and professional advice.

Explanation:

A systematic, orderly, up-to-date system of student record keeping and a well-organized and conscientiously executed advising system are necessary components of a sound educational program. Units must maintain accurate enrollment records for the unit as a whole and for all departments, programs, or specialties within the unit. They must carefully monitor and strictly enforce curriculum pre-requisites, requirements, the sequence in which courses are taken and transfer credit articulation agreements and eva luations. They must regularly review student enrollment in courses required as part of a university's general education or core curriculum, in electives and in all courses outside the major so that students comply with institutional and unit regulations a s well as with the spirit of the accrediting process and its standards. Units should regularly monitor accuracy of academic advising, unit retention and graduation rates, student and faculty opinion of the quality of advising and other indices of the effe ctiveness of advising. Regardless of whether advising regarding enrollment and requirements is the responsibility of faculty or professional advisers within the unit or in a centralized institutional advising office, the unit must assume responsibility fo r ensuring that accurate academic and professional advice is provided to individual students regularly and systematically. A unit's faculty is obligated to maintain contact with students for academic and career advising even if students have professional or institutional advisers.

Evidence:

  1. Records kept in unit office.
  2. Matching of curriculum requirements against transcripts, student and faculty reports, etc. giving special attention to compliance with the curriculum standard.
  3. Student responses to questions from the visiting team concerning advising.


Standard 5. Instruction / Evaluation | top

Standard:

High standards in instruction must be maintained by every means available, and a regular program of evaluation, including but not limited to student input, must be undertaken for all teaching staff.

Explanation:

The quality of instruction should be monitored carefully and deficiencies promptly corrected, insofar as possible. The unit administrator has a special responsibility for setting and maintaining high standards of teaching. Active professional development programs and mentoring should be encouraged. Instruction should be evaluated and high standards of teaching set in both practical and academic courses and among both full-time and part-time faculty.

A student-teacher ratio of 15-1 in laboratory sections is strongly recommended. Student-teacher ratios in such sections should not exceed 20 1. Teaching loads in the units should be consistent with overall policy of the institution and should take ac count of the intensiveness of desirable student-teacher contact and the heavy load of effective marking of papers in such courses.

Evidence:

  1. Classroom visits to assess the quality of instruction.
  2. Students' appraisal of the quality of their instruction and comparison of it with instruction in other parts of the university.
  3. Questionnaires and other means by which instruction is evaluated.
  4. Citations for outstanding teaching and other evidence of instructional innovation, quality or dedication.
  5. Course syllabi and other materials distributed in the classroom.
  6. Professional development programs and workshops in teaching.
  7. The role of the unit administrator in discussions of teaching standards with faculty and other actions to encourage high quality teaching and to evaluate teaching.


Standard 6. Faculty: Full-time / Part-time | top

Standard:

Faculty must be academically and professionally qualified for their responsibilities, and full-time faculty must have primary responsibility for teaching, research/creative activity and service.

Explanation:

At the heart of a high-quality education in any field is the caliber of the faculty. All faculty must be academically and professionally qualified for their respective responsibilities. Those teaching skills courses must have appropriate professional expe rtise. Those teaching theoretical and conceptual courses must have appropriate academic expertise.

Faculties should be composed primarily of full-time personnel, although institutions might be in a position to make extensive use of particularly well-qualified adjunct faculty members. Part-time faculty members can make valuable supplementary contribu tions to a unit's overall program but should not have primary responsibility for the unit's curriculum or any substantial portion of it. When part-time faculty members, including graduate students who serve as teachers-of-record, are employed, there shoul d be a written policy covering their selection, supervision and evaluation. It is also important that units have a written policy providing for out-of-class office hours for all teachers of record.

Faculty members are expected to continue their growth throughout their careers, according to their duties and responsibilities, in relation to teaching; research/creative activity; and professional and service activities.

Evidence:

  1. Vitae for full-time faculty showing teaching responsibilities as well as growth and productivity in research/creative activity and professional activity.
  2. The method by which the teaching, research/creative activity and service of the full-time faculty are evaluated.
  3. Interviews with faculty members.
  4. Classroom visitations.
  5. Faculty course assignments for current and previous semesters.
  6. R?sum?s of graduate students who serve as teachers-of-record and of part-time faculty, and the methods by which their teaching is evaluated and supervised.
  7. Published advertisements for faculty openings that provide details on required and preferred qualifications of candidates.
  8. Faculty balance in terms of formal education, professional experience, age, gender, race, and rank.


Standard 7. Internships / Work Experience | top

Standard:

Quality experience in journalism and mass communications should be encouraged. Academic credit may be awarded only for carefully monitored and supervised experience in fields related to journalism and mass communications. Academic credit may be awarded fo r internships in fields related to journalism and mass communications, but should not exceed one semester course (or its equivalent) if the internship is away from the institution and, for the most part, supervised by media professionals rather than acade mics.

Schools may have up to two semester courses (or their equivalent) at an appropriate professional organization where the institution can show ongoing and extensive dual supervision by the institution's faculty and professionals. Schools may have up to t hree semester courses (or their equivalent) at a professional media outlet owned and operated by the school where full-time faculty are in charge and where the primary function of the media is to instruct students.

Units should advise students that employers are required to conform to applicable federal, state and local laws relating to employment.

Explanation:

Journalism and mass communications internships, practicums, and student publications can add a significant and realistic component to a student's education. Innovative programs in this area of the curriculum are encouraged. Many schools allow academic cre dit for work on campus student or quasi-professional publications. To ensure fairness, faculty also can craft equally outstanding academic experiences at cooperating professional media.

For that reason, the focus should be on internships not in isolation, but in the larger framework of how they contribute to the quality of the students' education. When academic credit is awarded for such experiences, the unit should develop a formally structured and supervised program monitored by a regular member of the academic staff.

Supervision should include consultation with the organization or business offering the internship or practicum, specification of the duties to be undertaken, regular reports from a designated supervisor at the employing firm and from the student, and f aculty visits to the site of the work. When students receive academic credit for work on student publications, that work should be under the direct supervision of a regular member of the academic staff.

Students employed as interns may be protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal, state and local laws relating to employment. Students and faculty should be aware of the obligation of employers offering internships to satisfy the applic able requirements of these laws.

Evidence:

  1. The structure and supervision of work experience programs as described in the self-study report and interviews with students, faculty, and cooperating employers.
  2. Student interviews about the quality of their work experience.
  3. Credit for work experience on official student transcripts, whether the credit is given by the unit or by any other department of the university.


Standard 8. Equipment / Facilities | top

Standard:

The unit must have facilities and equipment in sufficient quantity and quality to carry out its stated educational objectives.

Explanation:

A professional program worthy of accreditation should have the equipment and facilities necessary for carrying out the educational mission that it has assigned itself. The library should have at least a representative collection of the most reputable boo ks, current periodicals, and other information resources common to the field, and its holdings and services should be not only accessible to, but used by, the students and faculty. Students and faculty should have access also to other sources of informati on, including databases, computer networks and online services. Faculty members should have offices with sufficient privacy for their own study and for conferring with students. Laboratories should have ample space and equipment for efficient instruction. Students in print journalism, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, and other fields should have training in the use of the basic equipment that they will need in their careers.

Evidence:

  1. Inspection tour of quarters and equipment.
  2. The evaluation made of the equipment and facilities in the self-study report.
  3. Observation of the adequacy, availability, and use made of equipment.
  4. Student responses to questions by the visiting team about the adequacy and accessibility of necessary equipment and facilities.
  5. Basic reference works and other sources of information in main library and/or unit reading room.
  6. Utilization of current periodicals by students in keeping abreast of the field.


Standard 9. Scholarship, Research, Creative and Professional Activities | top

Standard:

Units must have specific policies and take administrative actions to require faculty scholarship, research/creative activity and professional activities that go beyond the teaching function.

Explanation:

Journalism and mass communications faculty members have an obligation to engage in scholarship, research/creative activity and professional activities, as well as to communicate the results of those activities to other educators and to practitioners.

All units must show evidence of faculty scholarship, research/creative activity and professional activities, but the emphasis a particular program places on these activities likely will align with whether it offers only an undergraduate program or also offers a master's or Ph.D. program, or both. Regardless of whether the program is housed in a predominantly teaching institution or in a university that places significant emphasis on research, however, a documented and appropriate level of scholarship, research/creative activity and professional activities is expected.

Creative activity and the types of media projects for which practitioners normally are recognized should be considered as part of formal academic scholarship and should be considered in the promotion and tenure process.

Such activities enhance the quality of classroom instruction by keeping faculty current, assisting practitioners in the execution of their responsibilities, and advancing the understanding of the role of journalism and mass communications in contempora ry society. There should be some system of institutional support for these activities such as grants, sabbaticals, or leaves of absence.

Evidence:

  1. The role of scholarship, research/creative activity and professional activities in promotion and tenure.
  2. Alerting of the faculty by the unit administrators to opportunities to engage in scholarship, research/creative activity and professional activities.
  3. Discussions with faculty, examination of vitae, etc., showing that faculty have played an active role in professional organizations, engaged in research/creative activity and taken other steps to participate in scholarly or professional endeavors.
  4. Books and monographs, publications in scholarly journals, papers read at meetings, articles in the trade and popular press , creative works such as films, audio and video productions, photography exhibits and multi-media presentations, all of which de monstrate that the results of faculty scholarship have been brought to the attention of professional and research groups in communications fields both within and outside the academy.
  5. Information from local and regional practitioners about the professional activities of the faculty.


Standard 10. Public Service | top

Standard:

Unit records must demonstrate that the unit is providing coherent, creative service to the journalism and mass communications profession, to journalism and mass communications education and to the public. Regular evaluation of these service programs must be undertaken.

Explanation:

A unit has an obligation to provide creative educational services to the public and to the journalism and mass communications profession on a continuing basis. Such public-service activities should benefit the unit's educational program including its resp onsibility to train students for work in a diverse, multi-cultural society. The nature and content of such activities will, and should, differ as each unit emphasizes its particular philosophy and expertise. Activities might include lectures, seminars, de monstrations, conferences, short courses, media-access workshops and other continuing-educati on programs. Innovations in program content and in community outreach are important considerations.

For example, the unit might help professional press or broadcast groups. The unit also could help citizens learn how to be knowledgeable consumers of the media.

Realizing that many of their students come from nearby high schools or community colleges , units also could extend appropriate assistance to those institutions. This assistance may include refresher workshops for teachers, workshops for minority and o ther students, encouragement of those journalism programs to diversify their faculties and student bodies by race and ethnicity, special enrichment programs involving new technology, joint efforts to safeguard students' First Amendment rights, strong cert ification programs for teachers, on-campus journalism days, publications assistance, and/or help in maintaining journalism as a credit-bearing academic subject in those institutions.

Evidence:

  1. Records showing specific objectives of each public-service program and the performance against these objectives.
  2. Comments by practitioners , alumni or community leaders regarding participation in these public-service programs.
  3. Records indicating involvement in assisting area high schools and community college mass media teachers and their students; alternatively, records indicating that these institutions, teachers and students receive sufficient support from other sources.


Standard 11. Graduates / Alumni | top

Standard:

A unit should keep in regular contact with all its alumni. It should assess periodically the experience of its graduates who work in journalism and mass communications and incorporate that assessment into its operation.

Explanation:

A unit should provide its graduates who seek employment in journalism and mass communications with a distinct advantage in their first employment and with a depth of educational experience that contributed positively to their career development.

Recent graduates and all other alumni play an important role in assessing the progress and development of the unit. With a good set of records on recent graduates, the unit can determine the kinds of jobs received after graduation, the salaries receive d, how well the degree program prepared the student for the first job. From the rest of the alumni files, the unit continually can receive firsthand information about how degree requirements meet job expectations.

Evidence:

  1. Copies of newsletters or other means of contact with alumni.
  2. Alumni responses to questions provided in the self-study report.
  3. Alumni records.
  4. Indication in the self-study report on method of maintaining alumni records.
  5. Utilization of alumni in educational and public service programs, including placement, internships, fund-raising, etc.


Standard 12. Diversity | top

Standard:

Units should demonstrate a commitment to increased diversity and inclusivity in their student populations and faculties and to the creation of a learning environment that exposes students to a broad spectrum of voices and views.

Units must have written diversity and inclusivity goals, and they must demonstrate specific results achieved toward accomplishing those goals.

Units are encouraged to make effective efforts to recruit, advise and retain minority students and minority and women faculty members for their intended career paths.

Recruitment efforts must not be discriminatory in nature and must have as their objective enlarging the overall talent pool.

Accreditation site visit teams will apply this standard in compliance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

Explanation:

Freedom of expression and freedom of access to information are fundamental to the exercise of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The field of journalism and mass communications carries a special responsibility of sup port for these rights in fulfilling its role of providing access to a wide variety of opinions and information. In order to meet their obligations under this special responsibility, institutions in the field must make a strong contribution to the preserva tion and dissemination of diverse opinions and information, and must serve audiences of diverse origins and interests. To do so effectively, it is necessary that employment in the field reflect the diverse nature of America. While race and gender are not the only factors important in protecting and advancing a diversity of opinion and information, they contribute heavily to the divergent views in a multi-cultural society.

Central to the mission of journalism and mass communications units is the preparation of students to serve such a diverse society. Because of this important role, journalism and mass communications educators must emphasize the importance of diversity a nd the roles of women and minorities in teaching students to understand, communicate about and relate to a multi-cultural society.

Evidence:

  1. Units should present written goals for diversity and inclusivity. The goals should include efforts to recruit and retain women and minority faculty members and minority students. Evidence should be provided that such efforts for recruitment and retent ion are not discriminatory, but are part of an overall program that recognizes the contributions of all under-represented groups. The goals may be part of a unit's overall strategic plan or a separate diversity plan, and should be set regardless of whethe r the university has its own diversity and inclusivity goals or requires the unit to set its own goals.
  2. Units should describe in their self-studies the specific actions they have taken and the specific results achieved and progress made toward their diversity and inclusivity goals. Information should include the unit's accomplishments toward increased diversity and inclusivity in each of the following areas:
    • the student populations it serves
    • its full- and part-time faculty and administrators
    • recruitment and retention of students and faculty
    • outreach to introduce students to diversity in media, including visiting professionals and professors or guest speakers
    • its efforts to heighten student and faculty awareness of and comfort with diverse colleagues and with diversity and inclusivity issues.

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