Journalism department creates advertising major

This new major is the only one in the UW System

Josh Lehner, Staff Writer

After about 18 months of work, the journalism department began its new advertising major this semester. Previously, students could only receive an emphasis in advertising.


Kristine Nicolini, the associate chair of the journalism department, said that alumni feedback and industry demand led the department to create a separate major. 

“Students already enrolled in the advertising program will be able to declare an advertising major or continue on the multimedia journalism – advertising emphasis path,” she said. “The coursework will not change with the introduction of the new major.”

The major pushes UW Oshkosh—which already has an accredited journalism department—to new grounds in Wisconsin.

“The advertising major is the only one in the UW System and offers UWO students a creative, yet business-driven career path,” Nicolini said. “Coupled with our public relations major, the journalism department offers two nationally accredited, award-winning programs that are unique within the UW System.” 

The accreditation of UWO’s journalism department speaks to its success. “Accreditation is a process by which an external entity evaluates the program,” explained T. R. Gleason, the chair of the journalism department. “I think of it as sort of trying to jump over a very high bar.

“It helps with recruiting because students and parents know an accredited program has met a standard of quality,” Gleason said. “There are only two other [accredited schools] in Wisconsin, and only one of them is a state university campus.”


Gleason said that the addition of the advertising major primarily benefits the school via the recruitment of new students. “The new advertising major is more of a shift … A major gets more visibility than an emphasis.”

Going forward, Gleason expects to flesh out the majors within the journalism department instead of adding more. “The department now has three majors—advertising, multimedia journalism and public relations—and a minor for each of those, as well as a media studies minor.

“At this point, we are more geared toward growing these existing programs than creating new ones,” he said.

“We already have a very successful ad club and we have great people teaching courses in the field. Increased enrollment from the previous advertising emphasis, which we want, will enable us to offer more sections of courses,” Gleason said.

In agreement with Gleason, Nicolini said that the focus for the journalism department now lies in expanding existing majors with more outlets for students.

“In the past few years we have focused on creating a series of certificates so UWO students can gain in-demand skills sought by employers,” she said. “We currently offer certificates in social media, multimedia journalism, public relations and advertising.”

The benefits of the new major extend beyond UWO as a school. Students now have a pathway to more resolute resumes and job prospects.

“Having an advertising major will be like a shout-out on a resume,” Gleason said. “There are not a lot of advertising programs in the country that focus on the creative side of the business. Students on campus don’t necessarily think of the advertising field being in the journalism department.”

“Advertising relies on clever copywriting, eye-catching visual design and dynamic media interactions to help consumers make purchasing decisions,” Nicolini said. “Our program provides courses and experiences to cover the full scope of the advertising industry, including advertising graphics, visual media design, media planning and buying, research and campaigns.”

Gleason shared her sentiment, saying: “Marketing, in the College of Business, deals more with the data and business side, and we work on advertising copywriting and design, social media content creation and interacting with other media creators. The industry needs people with advertising and marketing degrees, so interested students just need to find which best fits their interests. If a student likes the creative side, come talk to us. Our graduates work for leading advertising agencies in Chicago, Facebook and local businesses. They get paid well to express their creative sides.”