Grady College adds Sports Media Certificate to curriculum

The University of Georgia has become the first institution in the Southeastern Conference to offer an undergraduate certificate in sports media, following University Council approval on Feb. 19.

The certificate will be offered by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Aimed at preparing students for careers in sports writing, sports broadcasting and sports communications, the program will be led by veteran sports journalist Vicki Michaelis, the John Huland Carmical Distinguished Professor in Sports Journalism and Society.

“Sports offers our students an ideal venue for so many career paths,” said Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College. “Sport is culture, sport is business, and sport is news. This interdisciplinary certificate is an enormous step forward for the sports journalism program, which we see as a real opportunity moving forward.”

The certificate program, open to all UGA undergraduates, will train students to report and produce sports stories in the digital age. They will learn on a multitude of platforms, from text to social media to audio and video.

Experiential learning will be a core value, with UGA's sports programs, the Athens area's prep sports scene and Atlanta's professional sports teams comprising a real-world classroom.

Reporting and Writing for Sports Media class member Abby Hill interviews UGA shortstop Kyle Farmer after the Bulldogs’ 17-0 win over Georgia Tech in April 2013.

In addition, Grady Sports Media students will explore the role of sports in cultural and societal issues such as race, gender, politics, health and economics.

“We really want students to start thinking about sports beyond the scores and the statistics because there is so much more underneath those layers that you need to know as a sports journalist,” said Michaelis, who worked as a sports reporter for two decades, including 12 years as USA Today's lead Olympics writer. “Like all journalists, they need to have a very ethical foundation. They need to have a good sense of where journalism is at this point in its progression.”

The program will officially launch in Fall 2014. Some courses have been taught already on a pilot basis, so the program could award its first certificates to graduates in Spring 2015.

“We are absolutely thrilled about this certificate,” said Janice Hume, head of the Department of Journalism. “It is innovative and rigorous, and students are already lining up to participate. I can't wait for the first wave of Grady Sports Media graduates to get out there and start covering important sports stories in all sorts of interesting ways.”

Michaelis and Welch Suggs, an associate professor of journalism, developed a six-course curriculum (18 credit hours), making the Grady certificate the most in-depth sports media program in the country.

Students will take two topics courses to develop strong content knowledge and four skills-based courses to learn the mechanics of sports media as well as professional practices and issues.

Topics courses:

· Sports, Media and Society/JRLC 3800: How sports, and the media coverage of sports, reflect and drive social change. (Next offered: Fall 2014.)

· Advanced Topics in Sports Media/JRLC 5880: A course designed around issues of current interest. Previous topics include social media and college sports. This fall, Suggs will teach a course on health and medical issues in sports. Students also will be able to choose from selected offerings in the sport management program in UGA's Department of Kinesiology. (Next offered: Fall 2014.)

Skills courses:

· Introduction to Sports Reporting and Writing/JRLC 3850: A primer on the concepts and multimedia skills necessary to cover sports events. (Next offered: Spring 2015.)

· Multiplatform Storytelling for Sports/JRLC 4800: The art of telling a non-event sports story, using text, infographics, video, photos and audio. (Next offered: Spring 2015.)

· Sports Enterprise Reporting and Writing/JRLC 5800: An introduction to investigative, in-depth reporting practices and enterprise writing. (Next offered: Fall 2014.)

· Sports Media Relations/JRLC 5810: Managing sports media demands and coverage and producing multimedia content tailored to sports communications. (Next offered: Maymester 2014.)

· Sports Broadcasting and Production/JRLC 5820: Training behind and in front of the camera, with sports events as the focus. (Next offered: TBD.)

· Sports Media Practicum/JRLC 5900: A capstone course that allows for further exploration of a sports media specialty and possible career paths, in partnership with a professional organization. (Next offered: On demand.)

All Grady Sports Media students will take JRLC 3850 and JRLC 4800 before choosing among the advanced courses in sports enterprise, broadcasting and media relations.

Any UGA student can enroll in JRLC 3800. Those intending to pursue the sports media certificate will need to apply for JRLC 3850, which is the entry course for the program. The application process will take place every fall.

Interested students should contact Prof. Michaelis ( or Prof. Suggs ( for more information.

UGA Grady College
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media.

Date: February 19, 2014
Author:  Vicki Michaelis, Welch Suggs
Contact:  Vicki Michaelis,