Medill Graduate

U.S. Security and Civil Liberties Reporting (1-unit reporting seminar in Chicago once a year) – caps at 15 students

This combined seminar-reporting class meets one full day per week for reporting and another day that is divided between reporting and a seminar. The class focuses on homeland security issues such as terrorism, port security, bioterrorism and pandemics, but also includes a basic understanding of the role of the military, intelligence and humanitarian law.

Covering Conflicts, Terrorism and National Security (1-unit seminar taught 3 times a year in Washington) – caps at 15 students

Before buying a helmet, flak jacket and plane ticket, heading to the local military base or covering the Pentagon or national security legislation, it is critically important to acquire deep knowledge of the U.S military, the theory of warfare, recent successes and failures, the rules of war, war crimes, counterinsurgency doctrine, efforts to do better at post-conflict operations and issues that confront journalists covering conflicts and terrorism, among other subjects. In addition, this seminar focuses on the rise of the Islamic State, the security issues that arise from displaced refugees, climate change and cyber attacks.

The course will provide a solid introduction to the critical issues in reporting war, terrorism, stability operations, the rebalancing of U.S. security policy toward Asia and the use of intelligence. It includes a look at how the various branches of government work with—and at times against—each other and their overseas counterparts in an effort to protect U.S. interests here and abroad.

There will also be several highly illuminating field trips, such as a trip to the Army War College to talk to top U.S. counterinsurgency officials, one of whom will lead us on an insider’s tour of the nearby Gettysburg Civil War battlefield. Students will also get dirty during a weekend of hostile environment training in the Maryland countryside to learn how to minimize risk in urban unrest situations, conflicts and other dangerous situations that confront reporters, especially when reporting from abroad.

Washington Reporting, Politics and National Security Beat(2-unit capstone reporting course in Washington)

Medill’s Washington Program provides graduate students with the opportunity to focus on the national security beat based in the heart of the military-industrial complex, which now has expanded to be the military-industrial-surveillance-cyber complex. From the Pentagon to Capitol Hill, students find great stories ranging from the global threats of pandemics and what Congress is doing to help fund U.S. responses to the latest cybersecurity technology, from the myriad of issues facing veterans to the role of drones in national security. Students may travel to Guantanamo Bay to cover the military commission hearings for detainees to Quantico to shoot stories about the latest training techniques for the Marines, and how women in the military are faring as they train for combat roles. All stories produced the national security reporters are published or aired by our medial partners, including the Military Times newspapers,, VICE News, and others.

Introduction to Cybersecurity (1/2-unit seminar in Washington)

This course examines issues relating to the organization of the internet and the United States government’s response to cyber threats. Students will be introduced to legal concepts relating to the private sector and civilian government engagement in cyberspace. The course also includes an examination of the application of traditional laws of armed conflict to the new cyber domain.

National Security Reporting Project(3-unit capstone course taught once a year in DC)

Medill offers a unique opportunity once a year for graduate students who have completed at least three of their four quarters to participate in a Specialization Program in National Security Reporting. Students will expand their knowledge of the issues through seminars, then launch major reporting projects with a unified overarching theme – such as military justice or failing states. Media partners will help define the projects and publish or air the stories.

The Reporting Project starts with several weeks of study and preparation in the Medill Washington bureau, although a number of field trips are planned. Students will meeting with relevant congressional committees and State Department experts. They also will attend lectures in Washington focusing on national security issues specific to their reporting project. After the seminar period, students will spend their time in the field reporting on their topic. The final weeks are back in Washington finishing the stories and working with the media partners to get them aired or published.

The first specialization was held in Fall Quarter 2010. Prerequisites are either the U.S. Securities class taught in Chicago or Covering Conflicts and Terrorism taught in Washington, preferably both.