Which concentration is for you?

What is a concentration?

A concentration allows you to learn from industry experts, develop specialized knowledge and gain practical skills that can help you apply for specific roles. Read on to learn more about the concentrations we offer. 

2022-2026 Curriculum Sheet (link) 

Take a look at the catalog curriculum sheet linked above to see which courses are required for each concentration. 


Concentration coordinator: Patrick Howe & Richard Gearhart

Students will learn how to ...

  • ethically report on events and trends
  • interview credible sources
  • produce accurate, timely news stories for digital, print and broadcast platforms
  • cover campus and local communities stories

Public Relations

Concentration coordinator: Yan Shan & Casey McDonald-Liu

Students will learn how to ...

  • develop accurate and ethical communication skills that build relationships between organizations and stakeholders
  • analyze public opinions and attitudes
  • plan, implement and assess public relations campaigns
  • produce communication that leverages multi-platform storytelling
  • work with campus and local organizations

Media Innovation

Concentration coordinator: Kim Bisheff

Students will learn how to ...

  • tell engaging stories on multiple platforms and develop new storytelling approaches
  • understand audiences behavior using metrics and analytics
  • foster inclusive civic participation
  • solve problems responsibly and ethically
  • create innovative media products and experiment with revenue models
  • drive change within media organizations

Individualized Course of Study

Concentration Coordinator: Patrick Howe (link opens email)

*Individualized Course of Study Concentration requires prior approval from ICS faculty concentration coordinator. Please 

This allows students to mix-and-match courses within the major. The ICS concentration consists of a minimum of 20 units, 16 of which must be upper division. The process entails:

  • Reserved for special circumstances. Student selects courses in consultation with concentration coordinator and department head. 
  • Providing written justification for the courses which will constitute a cohesive, integrated program of study. 
  • Coming up with a list of courses that serves as a contract between the student and the department


When do I need to select my concentration? 

Four-year students/first years may declare their concentration during spring term of first year. 

Two-year students/transfers may declare their concentration during winter of first year. 

If you'd like to change your concentration, please meet with the adviser of the concentration you'd like to switch to. 


Please read the scenarios below and if you still have questions, please reach out to the concentration coordinator.

What’s the difference between a “track” and a “concentration?” 

  • Concentrations appear on your transcripts. Tracks do not. Concentrations are easier for the university to oversee and are chosen proactively. Currently the university determines your track based on which courses you have taken.   

I’m on a catalog year prior to 2022. Can I change catalog years to select one of the new concentrations? 

  • You can, but you might not want to. New GE requirements may mean you will need to take additional GE classes. The good news is most students can take the new courses and count them toward their journalism electives. See your adviser or a concentration coordinator.  

If I'm already enrolled in Cal Poly as a journalism major on the public relations track, will I need to declare public relations as my concentration? 

  • No, you will stay on your current track. The same goes for news. 
  • Students who are on a catalog prior to 2022-26 will continue with their tracks through graduation. Declaring a concentration is not necessary.

How do I know which concentration is right for me? 

  • Meet with a concentration coordinator. The concentrations are also discussed in the JOUR 102 class.  

Can I take more than one concentration?  

  • No, you cannot declare more than one concentration. You can take additional courses as electives if you wish.  

How do I know which catalog I’m on? 

  • It is listed in your Degree Progress Report 

What if I want to substitute a major course in my concentration? 

  • Set up a meeting with the concentration coordinator to discuss concentration major course substitution. If they believe the course substitution is accurate, they will assist you in completing the substitution form.

What if I want to change my concentration? 

  • Students may change concentrations one time and should do so no later than their second term of their second year (four-year students). Changing farther down the line will cause a delay in graduation.
  • Make an appointment to meet with the concentration coordinator for the concentration you wish to change to. If they agree that changing your concentration makes sense and you won't be delaying graduation, they will assist you in changing concentrations. 

How does the Individual Course of Study process work?

  • You will meet with the ICS concentration coordinator to develop your course of study and plan the appropriate courses to complete your degree.

Where is the form to change catalog years? 

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