Category Archives: Masters

Any MSU School of Journalism masters student can enroll in an environmental journalism class to fulfill graduate requirements or electives.
Students can also complete a specialized master’s degree environmental option that combines environmental journalism, science or policy courses. Students learn advanced reporting techniques for covering complicated environmental issues. The environmental option appears on a graduate’s transcript.
FAQ for masters program.
Students must be admitted into the M.A. Program in Journalism and have selected the Environmental Option. The MSU environmental journalism option requirements are here.

Knight Center and affiliated faculty teach a rotating schedule of graduate-level environmental journalism courses. Consult schedule of courses for the latest offerings.
Graduate students are encouraged to join the student Environmental Journalism Association and report for Great Lakes Echo, the Knight Center’s award-winning non-profit environmental news service.
They are encouraged to augment their study with environment classes and programs elsewhere at MSU such as through the Environmental Science and Policy Program.
Applications to the School of Journalism’s masters program are accepted on a rolling basis. Students should submit an electronic application and send GRE scores and two copies of their official undergraduate transcript. International students should submit TOEFL scores. Send to:
MSU Admissions Office
250 Administration Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Mich. 48824
Applicants should also send the following:

three letters of recommendation
a 750-word autobiography
a 1,000-word statement of purpose
a resume
and an indication of interest in an assistantship or other financial aid
to the Journalism School:
MSU School of Journalism
c/o the Graduate Secretary
School of Journalism
305 Communication Arts Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
For questions, contact graduate student coordinator Nancy Ashley,
Limited graduate assistantships are occasionally available, depending on faculty research grants. Students may also qualify for scholarships.


Knight Center student presents series on fire

Marie Orttenburger

Knight Center student Marie Orttenburger recently completed her professional project, culminating her graduate studies at the Michigan State University School of Journalism.

Orttenburger successfully defended her project before her committee, composed of Knight Center faculty Eric Freedman, David Poulson and Bruno Takahashi, on Aug. 16.

Her project is a series of three articles on the importance of fire in Michigan ecosystems accompanied by illustrations by artist Spencer High of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The articles cover research about Michigan’s early fire history through its fire-scarred tree stumps, an assessment of the ecological need for fire in Michigan and the barriers to meeting it, and a look at how climate change is calling for a shift in how Michiganders think about wildfire.

Orttenburger said inspiration for the series came from her job as the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s communications manager, as well as years of working as the assistant editor of Great Lakes Echo.

“I was fascinated by the conservancy’s use of prescribed fire and wanted to use this project as an opportunity to dive deep into the subject and how it is applied elsewhere in the state,” she said.

Orttenburger’s goal with the project was to explore long-form journalism and essayistic reporting. Her proposal was inspired in part by The Atlantic’s “Life Up Close” series.

With the successful completion of her project, Orttenburger graduates with a master of arts in journalism focused in environmental reporting. She began her studies in 2015 and gradually completed her degree over the course of six years while working full-time.

“I’m really grateful to have had the support of the Knight Center faculty as I took the long road to finish my degree,” Orttenburger said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Orttenburger’s complete professional project can be read at

Outdoor writers award scholarships to MSU J-School students

Two Knight Center for Environmental Journalism students have won 2019 Toyota Let’s Go Places Scholarships from the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association.

Angela Mulka and Andrew Blok recently each received a $1,200 scholarship and a two-year, non-voting membership in the organization. The group is comprised of outdoor writers, hunters, fishers, hikers and recreational boaters.

Angela Mulka

Both Michigan State University students are reporters for the Knight Center’s environmental news service, Great Lakes Echo.

Mulka has a summer communications internship with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. She plans to apply the scholarship to college expenses as she enters her senior year pursuing a degree in journalism.

Andrew Blok

Blok, a masters student in journalism specializing in the environment, has a summer internship with Environmental Health News. He plans to use the award to buy microphones and a camera to diversify into audio and visual reporting.

Knight Center team hits the Society of Environmental Journalists conference

A delegation of Knight Center faculty and students participated in the 2017 annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Pittsburgh.

Knight Center director Eric Freedman and sernior associate director Dave Poulson participate in a panel

Knight Center director Eric Freedman and sernior associate director Dave Poulson participate in a panel Photo credit: Mary Hoff

Knight Center director Eric Freedman and senior associate director Dave Poulson participate
in a panel, “How to Go from Prof(essional) to Prof(essor),” about making a successful transition from full-time professional journalist to full time college teaching.
Such a transition and the change in workplace cultures can be difficult, but colleges offer little guidance or mentoring for new faculty arriving from the profession. Freedman, Poulson and fellow panelists Randy Loftis of the University of North Texas, Kate Sheppard of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Sara Shipley Hiles of the University of Missouri drew on their own experiences to offer guidance and suggest best practices.
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Knight Center student recognized for food reporting


Carin Tunney

Carin Tunney

The Association of Food Journalists recently recognized Knight Center student Carin Tunney for excellence in writing about food.
Tunney received second place in the student division of the 2017 contest for her story about the growing interest in North America in raising insects for food. The story is called  “Can tiny livestock solve big hunger?
The 2017 awards, which recognized excellence in 13 categories of food writing and editing, visuals and multimedia, received 289 entries.
Started in 1986, AFJ’s awards competition is the oldest still-functioning contest for food journalists.
The story appeared in Great Lakes Echo and also in The Food Fix,  both news service published by the center at Michigan State University.
Tunney recently received her masters degree in journalism from MSU. She is now studying for her doctorate at the university.