Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Op-ed: Students advocate for curriculum modifications

Planning a class schedule can stress students out, especially with limited course options. / Illustration by Ally Rzesa

Planning a class schedule can stress students out, especially with limited course options. To understand what specific issues students face with course availability, we asked, “Course registration for the spring 2019 semester is right around the corner. When browsing for courses, are there any changes you’d like to see in course availability within your major? Are there any courses you’d like to see added?”


I knew I wanted to focus on print-based journalism since my freshman year of high school. Magazines like Teen Vogue and Marie Claire helped me realize my career could revolve around culture, specifically fashion and social issues. At Emerson, I chose all my courses carefully in order to develop skills and gain experience pertaining to long-form and feature writing.

I appreciate that I’m often required to create video or audio packages—however, I wish that the magazine-based classes listed as writing, literature and publishing courses are also offered to journalism majors. I can take these courses as long as I completed the prerequisites, but the larger issue is that, as a journalism major, I don’t know about these classes. While browsing for general electives for my final semester, I stumbled on travel writing and profile writing. I’m interested in both, yet they don’t qualify as journalism electives despite the fact that both types of writing are found in magazines, which is a type of journalism. The course description for profile writing included this sentence: “This course is designed for students interested in magazine writing, biography, journalism feature writing, and nonfiction writing that focuses on the lives of other people.”

Additionally, I wish minoring in a foreign language was also an option at Emerson. As the college expands globally, it should emphasize the importance of communicating in other languages. The school’s introductory courses are a good start, but it’s frustrating to not be able to continue learning a certain language. When I arrived at college, my French skills were higher than the courses offered at Emerson or through Berklee’s ProArts Consortium. I hope to live and work in France one day, so minoring in French, and therefore furthering my understanding of the language beyond introductory level courses, would make that transition abroad easier.

—Hannah Ebanks

Ebanks is a junior journalism major and the Beacon’s opinion editor.


As a first-year student, my schedule for next semester is set by my advisor. I could leave it as it is, but I am curious about the other courses Emerson offers. As I browsed through the courses online, my excitement increased over the classes I could take later on.

Before fall registration, I filled out a survey that marked the subjects that interest me. There weren’t any journalism courses on the survey, which I thought was strange. Now I realize there are set courses for first-year students and, later on, I can choose which path of journalism to pursue. I agree that learning from scratch as if we have no previous experience in our major will create a solid basis for everyone. However, I would prefer if we had the chance to experiment with specific sub-majors within journalism––such as photojournalism or sports reporting––earlier on. This would allow me to decide which direction I would want to take at Emerson.

College is a time to help young adults figure out their career. If Emerson could think of a way to allow diverse experience opportunities for students, it will help create confidence in our career choice.

—Grace Koh

Koh is a freshman journalism major.


As a writing, literature and publishing student, I am required to take two 400-level publishing classes to graduate in the spring. When researching and browsing course selections last week, I felt frustrated with the lack of diversity in the 400-level publishing course options.

Three of these courses center around book publishing, while only one focuses on magazine writing––my intended career field. Because of this narrow selection, I ended up in a book design course which doesn’t relate to my intentions of branching out into the magazine world post-Emerson.

The other 400-level course selections are either an internship, directed study, or “Topics in Publishing,” which includes a design course and writing for the Boston Globe Magazine––a course that even I as a writing, literature and publishing major didn’t hear about until a week before registration, after the professor filled all the seats in the class. As I begin to plan out my final semester at Emerson, I’m disappointed the college isn’t offering a wider variety of courses that center around the magazine industry or stray away from the typical “book publishing” topics.

Many of my classmates have spoken about their similar frustrations when registering. A lot of my peers with a publishing concentration have to take their two 400-level publishing classes and feel hopeless with the minimal selection Emerson offers. Numerous classmates admit the need to settle for a course with which they are uninterested in to meet graduation requirements. Unfortunately, I will do the same.

—Katie Schmidt

Schmidt is a senior writing, literature and publishing major and the Beacon’s deputy opinion editor.


I wish there were more topics in screenplay genres for screenwriters at Emerson. As of now, Emerson only offers “Writing the LGBTQ” and “Writing the Dark Femme.” I would love to see the inclusion of a horror option, a thriller option, and perhaps a course on writing a foreign script. I have wanted to learn how to write a script for a story that takes place in another country, in a different culture, or even in a different language. Unfortunately, Emerson only offers basic courses for screenwriting, and the options feel limited. Adding more classes in relation to directing will also be beneficial for those who want to become directors, which is a large portion of visual and media arts majors. However, Emerson only offers Directing Image and Sound and Directing Actors. The Emerson Los Angeles campus offers far more interesting visual and media arts classes compared to the Boston campus. I feel as if students at Emerson Los Angeles are more prioritized when it comes to better opportunities.

—Alfonso Mateo

Mateo is a senior visual and media arts major.

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