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Academic Rules & Guidelines

Essential Timetable And Curriculum Choices

You are responsible for ensuring that you take all the courses required in each year of study. This can get tricky. Be sure to run your Academic Advisement Report every term and compare it with the Undergraduate Calendar to make sure you are enrolled for the required number and combination of courses. If you’re in doubt, fill out the Ask J-School Now Form.

Attendance and Class Participation

Attendance in some journalism classes is mandatory and may be recorded because of the nature of the assignments. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to contact the instructor to ensure that you do not fail to complete all assigned work. In some courses, you will be graded for participation.

Students with prolonged illnesses are advised to inform Ben Shelley of the expected length of absence so that notice may be given to other instructors and arrangements for assistance, etc., may be made. A  (PDF file) medical certificate or its equivalent is required upon the student’s return.

See the course outline for any attendance or participation expectations in a course. It is a good idea to maintain regular attendance to make the best of your academic performance. Some programs and/or some courses do have attendance regulations with which you will be expected to comply. In some courses you will be graded for participation. This usually includes regular attendance.

Curriculum Issues

The School of Journalism, like all schools and departments at Toronto Metropolitan University, has an internal body that handles academic policy and curriculum decisions that affect the program. Any changes to curriculum or policy must first be approved by this council before being put to the university's Senate for a final vote.

The school’s council is composed of faculty and students. Students who are interested in the council should speak with their Journalism Course Union representative or Ben Shelley.

Students should also know that there are a number of governing bodies at the university level on which they may sit as representatives; see the Board of Governors and Senate pages for more information.

Undergraduate Internships

The undergraduate journalism program includes an optional internship, which normally takes place in the student’s final year. Internships in journalism and related industries take many forms and occur in many environments. These range from traditional daily newsrooms such as the CBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail and others, to newer players such as The Huffington Post, Bell Media,, TSN digital, Daily Xtra and many more. Students may find placements in areas such as digital media marketing, content creation, and publishing.

Internships may be paid or unpaid. They may take place in the fall or winter semesters, and some are available in the summer months as well. The minimum number of hours is 210.

Exchange Programs

For information on exchange programs, please visit The Creative School's exchange website.

Academic Problems

If you are having troubles at home or are finding yourself feeling swamped, don’t wait until you receive your marks to try to remedy the situation. As soon as you realize that your academic performance may be affected by external events, let your instructor or another staff member, such as Bev Petrovic know. The staff and faculty can consider an extended deadline or a make-up assignment in such situations. The Students’ Union (external link)  and Student Affairs also offer aid and academic counselling.

Remember: if you fail a journalism course, you can’t make it up over the summer, and you will have to repeat the course the following year.


The School of Journalism adheres to Toronto Metropolitan University's policies on appeals.

You may also wish to consult the Student Code of Academic Conduct, the Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct and the policy on Undergraduate Academic Consideration and Appeals.

The process

The School of Journalism recommends strongly that you discuss your situation with your professor before beginning the formal appeals process.

You must submit your appeal to the Academic and Outreach Coordinator, Ben Shelley.

Your appeal will be adjudicated by the Journalism Chair, Ravindra Mohabeer

The deadline to submit an appeal can be found in the Significant Dates Calendar.

For the complete university policy on academic considerations and appeals, please visit the Policy number 167 document.

Grounds for Appeals:

You may appeal a grade based on one of the following grounds:

  • Course Management: You may appeal on this ground if you feel your professor failed to adhere to the course outline or to the university’s guidelines on course management, to the detriment of your academic performance. You should bring all course management issues to the attention of the instructor as early as possible.
  • Medical: If you have a medical condition that has affected your academic performance you may request an accommodation. You will require a medical certificate, which you should present to the School’s administration or your instructor.
  • Compassionate: You may appeal on this ground if unforeseen personal or family circumstances beyond your control have affected your performance. You should be prepared to document your claims.
  • Prejudice: If you feel that you have been treated differently from other students, or if you feel that your grade was affected by prejudice (i.e., different treatment on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination as outlined in the Toronto Metropolitan University's Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy, e.g. sex, race, ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)
    Appeals based on these grounds will automatically be referred to that Human Rights services before proceeding.
  • Procedural Error: You may appeal on this ground if there has been an error in the application of this policy or of any other Toronto Metropolitan University policy.

Please follow these guidelines if you are launching an appeal:

  • Your first step is to consult with the instructor to try to resolve the conflict directly with him or her. If that fails, you should speak with the School’s chair or his/her designated delegate before filing a formal appeal with the appropriate School or Department.
  • You have the right to see all of your graded work, including final exams (under appropriate supervision.) You may not, however, take your graded exams away with you.
  • You must document all your claims.
  • If you are on probation, you must adhere to the conditions of your probationary contract. You may not change those conditions without consulting your adviser. Any deviations from the contract may have an adverse effect on your appeal.

You must meet all of the deadline dates for appeals. The School will not accept late or incomplete appeals.

Challenge Credits in the Bachelor of Journalism Program

What is a Challenge Credit?

A Challenge Credit acknowledges that you may have acquired learning and experience outside of formal post-secondary education – typically, a professional, work experience – that is equivalent to the learning you would do in a particular course.

The onus is on you, the student, to demonstrate that you have acquired this learning. It is not enough to say that you have learned a lot about a general area of journalism by doing work in that area: you need to show that what you learned in the course of that work is comparable to what you would have learned in the course. This is not necessarily a simple thing to demonstrate, because every university course seeks to do more than provide opportunities for "learning by doing." For instance, a course may, in addition to developing or enhancing professional skills, teach theory and context for that professional area. You may need to provide evidence that you have read, absorbed and/or critically reflected on equivalent material. This evidence may be obtained in the form of an essay, examination, interview and/or other supporting documentation.

Note that neither a Challenge Credit nor a failed Challenge Credit is included in your Grade Point Average. You may not challenge a course in which you are or previously have been enrolled at Toronto Metropolitan University or any other institution, or which or which you have already challenged or failed. No more than 50 percent of a program’s requirements may consist of credits or advanced standing (Transfer Credits, Challenge Credits or credits granted on a Letter of Permission). University policy provides for a maximum of five single-term, one-count Challenge Credits per student (and two-count courses will count as…two).

What courses may be eligible for Challenge and how?

Normally, some of our practical, workshop and laboratory journalism courses on the School calendar will be considered for Challenge. Usually a student will need to have relevant, professional experience that is directly related to the course they wish to challenge. Permission is the discretion of the School.

What courses are NOT normally eligible for Challenge?

Generally, students will not be able to apply to challenge theory courses, capstone
courses and senior-level workshops. This list includes:

JRN 319 Special Topics in Journalism Practice
JRN 344 Law, Ethics and Evolving Journ. Standards
JRN 400 Critical Issues
JRN 401 History of Journalism
JRN 402 Theory of Journ. & Mass Comm.
JRN 403 Journalism and Ideas
JRN 404 Journalism's Best
JRN 405 Special Topics in Journ. Theory
JRN 412 Documentary Survey
JRN 825 Review of Journalism, Magazine Masthead I
JRN 826 Review of Journalism, Magazine Masthead II
JRN 840 Journalism Capstone project
JRN 841 Advanced Multimedia Journalism
JRN 842 Building Your Brand: The Freelance Career
JRN 843 Reimagining the News
JRN 850 Internship
JRN 851 On the Record, Newsroom Masthead

The reason that these courses are not challengeable are many, and varied. But generally, challenging a theory course would involve a level of interviewing, exam invigilation, essay grading and administration that would essentially duplicate the work of instructing a course. It’s not practical to do this for one student. The rationale for not allowing challenges on upper-year and capstone courses is that, in these courses, the School reserves the right to make a judgment about the student’s fulfilment of the degree by actually completing these courses. In other courses, the School has deemed that specific modules and curricular learning outcomes can only be achieved through the course work.

May I challenge a Liberal or Open Elective course?

An application to challenge those courses must be taken to the teaching department responsible for those courses (not by the School of Journalism).

What is the process?

1. The University has guidelines on the Challenge Credits webpage.

2. Consult the Student Affairs Coordinator in the School of Journalism before applying for a Challenge Credit. You should read the course outline of the course challenged, and offer reasons why you think may not need to take the course. The Undergraduate Program Director may then advise whether you should proceed with a formal Challenge. (This preliminary step is suggested as a way to save you the trouble and expense of an application that's unlikely to succeed, but the advice you receive is no guarantee of the outcome of a formal application.)

3. For each course you're challenging, complete the  (PDF file) application form.

Please note: there is a fee.

4. The program director will review your application and may consult faculty members with knowledge of the course area before making a recommendation to the Chair of the School as to eligibility requirements for your Challenge. The Chair may set any combination of the following four possible requirements for challenge:

● Interview
● Special Examination
● Regular Examination
● Supporting Documentation (see next section)

4. After you have completed the interview or examination, and/or after all required
documentation has been reviewed by the program director or their designate, they will decide whether to accept the Challenge. As per University policy, the decision by the School of Journalism “is final and may not be appealed.”

5. If it is accepted, you will be graded with either a Pass or Fail. If you receive a Pass, a CHG designation will be added to your academic record for that course in lieu of a grade.

What supporting documentation may be required?

For each challenged JRN course, you may be required to provide documentation such as the following:

1. A written description of the work or other experience on which the challenge is
based. Be as specific as possible. This description should normally be between
500 and 1,000 words long.

2. A list of (1) learning goals and (2) evaluation elements as indicated in the Course
Outline or equivalent documentation. For each learning goal and each evaluation
element, make the case that you have achieved equivalent learning and/or been
evaluated or accountable for comparable experience.

3. A signed letter from the employer that describes the job you did and what kinds
of work it involved. You may wish to draft this letter for the employer to ensure
that the letter contains enough detail of the work done in order to satisfy the
conditions of Challenge spelled out in these guidelines. The letter must include
contact information for the employer.

4. Examples of work included in the list of learning goals and evaluation elements