UNH to cut English/journalism major amid financial struggles and declining enrollment

The school plans to replace the major with an interdisciplinary program in communication and journalism


The University of New Hampshire (UNH) plans to end its English/ journalism major as journalism cuts impact higher education.

Faculty members have voted to eliminate the current English/journalism major following a decline in enrollment. A school administrator said the major could be eliminated as early as the 2025-2026 academic year following a review by the school's provost office and board of trustees.

Michele Dillon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UNH, told Editor & Publisher that the university needs the change because it faces financial troubles.

“Journalism is part of the English faculty for various reasons, some budgetary because we have relatively constrained resources in terms of tenure track hiring,” Dillon said.

The school is looking to create an interdisciplinary program for communication and journalism to replace the English/journalism major. The restructured program would meet digital communication needs, core writing and editing, and what it means to be a journalist, Dillon said. Students already majoring in English/journalism will graduate with a bachelor's degree until the change happens at the school. UNH alumni have won prestigious awards, such as a Pulitzer Prize.

“We know that what changes happen in the media world, people need to be able to think independently, to write properly and clearly and to know how to ask the right questions,” Dillon said.

Tom Haines, an English professor at UNH and a journalist, said the faculty decided to cut the English/journalism major after asking for additional resources and not receiving any funds. The school will use other pathways to teach journalism, such as introducing digital skills and media studies.

“I think we just decided that rather than stay within an old paradigm that had worked in the previous resource world, let's do things more nimbly and differently with what we have,” Haines said.

The dwindling of a journalism major is emblematic of the industry challenges. Journalism jobs are growing in some major cities where the salary is low, making it hard for people to stay within the field. According to Fast Company, media layoffs are on pace for up to 10,000 jobs lost in 2024. A 2021 Nieman Lab explained that journalism grapples with a class problem, and a way to resolve the issue is for news organizations to hire staff and pay livable wages. Going to a school for journalism, particularly at the master's degree level, has sometimes left graduates with debts as high as six figures.

Haines explained that the changes expected to happen at UNH are not an indicator of hardship for journalism but more for higher education.

“This was about resources that a university had to dedicate to particular fields of study,” Haines said. “That’s something universities everywhere are facing.”

Keldy Ortiz is a New York-based writer and educator. He has written for publications locally and nationally. Photo credit: Michael Jackson


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