Universities and schools
In recent years, Lebanese universities have expanded and developed their focus on contemporary global issues and their attention to new technologies. Almost all the major universities in the country offer a programme of study for a degree in Journalism. All these programmes try to balance between theoretical and practical courses, so to be in line with all the developments in the fields of communication.
In the early 1990s journalism programmes were set up at the main academic institutions. The public Lebanese University and the four main private universities of the country (American University of Beirut - AUB, Université Saint-Joseph - USJ, Lebanese American University - LAU, Notre Dame University - NDU) started to offer degrees in journalism, including postgraduate studies, even though the nature of the syllabuses differed somewhat. The total study period is five to six years (three to four years for a BA and one to two years for an MA programme).
The public Lebanese University has the longest tradition in journalism education; a number of working editors and publishers have graduated from this institute, which now has an information and documentation centre and offers a French-language degree course, which combines theory and practical study.
The Journalism Training Program (JTP) at AUB is a programme for working professionals and not for university students, providing training in investigative journalism, elections coverage and newsroom management, with courses in Arabic, English and French, whilst the Maronite NDU offers a three-year course in English. In addition to this programme, AUB hosts a Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies where students can delve into a more academic-oriented path to better understand the Arab media environment from a theoretical point of view.
Rather than a BA in Journalism, the LAU has one in Communication Arts. The degree offers three areas of emphasis, one of which is journalism, often described as “the poor orphan” of the trio. The other two areas are drama and Radio/TV/Film combined. At the same time, LAU is home to the Institute for Media Training and Research (IMTR). Created in 2007 as the result of the merging of the Institute for Media Arts (BIMA) and the Institute for Professional Journalist (IPJ), the IMTR aims to help reporters, editors and managers improve their operational skills in the new media techniques. It also focuses on issues in media law, ethics and freedom of the press in the Lebanese and Arab contexts. Further education and training for practising journalists are rare. Media groups that have the resources provide occasional internships.
More recently, also other universities started programmes aimed to prepare students to media professions. The Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, a private Catholic university, for example, has introduced both an undergraduate and a graduate curriculum within the department of Journalism and Communication in the Faculty of Letters; the school of Arts and sciences at the Lebanese International University also offers a BA programme of study for the journalism major; the University of Balamand, has a relatively new and more generic programme in Mass Communication with three different curricula (Radio/TV Performance and Production, Journalism and News Management, Marketing Communication).