Medill considers new business-oriented minor

Amanda Palleschi

The Medill School of Journalism may incorporate Integrated Marketing Communications into its undergraduate offerings in the next few years, creating an IMC minor and possibly a major that would be open to both journalism and non-journalism majors.

IMC is a graduate program in Medill. The program teaches marketing and marketing management along with finance, business skills, statistics and organizational behavior, according to Medill’s Web site.

Professor Clarke Caywood, who teaches in the IMC graduate program, said he will propose the idea for the IMC minor and major to the undergraduate curriculum committee and to the Medill faculty later this year. Caywood said he thinks there is a great need for such a program within Medill and Northwestern.

“This would be just another option for students at a school where I think students deserve more options,” Caywood said.

He said he hopes the program will be closely linked to the Business Institutions Program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and will initially attract students outside of Medill. He said he expects more students within Medill to become interested after two or three years in the cross-disciplinary program that will combine advertising, public relations, e-commerce and direct marketing.

Caywood found in an analysis of Medill alumni several years ago that it was just as likely for a Medill graduate to be working in a field related to the business side of the communications industry as to be working as a journalist.

“For this generation, location has become an extremely important part of career decisions,” he said. “Young people are saying they want a metro area kind of life. – People may have the opportunity to practice journalism in Omaha (Neb.) but don’t necessarily want to move there.”

Medill Senior Associate Dean Richard Roth said he isn’t sure how such a program would allow Medill to keep its accreditation as a journalism school. The accreditation program requires students only take 11 or 12 classes within Medill and the rest of the classes outside, and an IMC minor or major within the undergraduate program may require additional courses. However, he said he is in favor of IMC classes taught at the undergraduate level.

“I think there’s a demand for it,” he said. “It would be good for journalism students to know something about the business side of the media.”

The minor might include courses in data mining, where students analyze information to target audiences, and a course on marketing campaigns. A potential minor or major in IMC would still include core courses in Medill for journalism students, Caywood said.

“I don’t want to send out (IMC) students who do any damage to the Medill reputation,” he said. “But it doesn’t make sense to have a generation of journalists who don’t get what PR is.”

Caywood said he expects most of the Medill faculty members to support the proposal when made. But Elisa Chen, a sophomore majoring in economics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, said she thought the potential minor might appeal to economics and Business Institutions students.

“I’d have to hear more about it but it’s definitely something econ majors might be interested in,” she said. “I’m not sure we’d need another Business Institutions-type minor.”

Reach Amanda Palleschi at [email protected]