William J. O'Neil Program in Business Journalism

Journalism alumnae discuss entrepreneurship at a table.

SMU Journalism alumnae Kian Hervey (‘14), founder of Forty Magazine, and Natalie Wolfe (‘12), co-founder of StudioHop, discuss their entrepreneurial journeys with undergraduate students in JOUR 3355, Prof. Jake Batsell’s Media Entrepreneurship class. Students conceive, develop and pitch an entrepreneurial project during the class, which counts toward fulfilling course requirements for the O’Neil Program in Business Journalism. 

 As global markets and fast-paced technological change transform the American economic and media landscapes, mastery of business news and familiarity with entrepreneurship have emerged as marketable skills across multiple professional fields. The O’Neil Program equips aspiring journalists and media professionals with the knowledge to understand complex business and economic issues, the journalistic skills to make those topics understandable and accessible to multiplatform audiences, and the entrepreneurial spirit to take charge of their own careers. And because financial literacy is critical to many professions, the tools and techniques developed in this program also will prepare students for more sophisticated and insightful coverage of subjects ranging from politics to technology to entertainment to the environment to the fashion industry. Students will put into practice what they’re learning about business, financial markets, entrepreneurship, and economics in advanced journalism classes, through coverage of North Texas companies and the regional economy, and in the development of their own ideas. 

Students enrolled in the program are eligible for generous SMU scholarships courtesy of William O’Neil and the publication he founded, Investor’s Business Daily. Alumni of the O’Neil program have landed jobs at organizations including Bloomberg Radio and TV, Goldman Sachs, Harper’s Bazaar, and numerous newspapers and broadcast stations.

This innovative interdisciplinary program includes courses in both the Cox School of Business and the economics department. In addition to the 37 credit hours required for the major in Journalism and/or Fashion Media, students wishing to concentrate in business and finance journalism must complete either:

Within the JOUR curriculum, O’Neil students must complete:

  • JOUR 4306: Business and Journalism, and
  • A second business-related JOUR elective, such as JOUR 3355: Media Entrepreneurship; JOUR 4307: Business News Seminar; or another course approved by the O’Neil Chair. 

Admission to the program is subject to the approval of the O’Neil Chair, Jake Batsell. For more details, contact Prof. Batsell at jbatsell@smu.edu.

O’Neil Program Graduates

  • Kathryn Chavez, B.B.A. in Mangagement, B.A. in Fashion Media, and B.A. in Advertising, with minor in Journalism (May 2021)
  • Giovanna Hnath, B.A. in Journalism, B.A. in Fashion Media, and B.B.A. in Marketing (May 2021)
  • Alexa Vickaryous, B.A. in Journalism and B.B.A. in Finance, with minor in History (May 2021)
  • Marcela Zanini, B.B.A. in Marketing and B.A. in Fashion Media, with minor in French (May 2021)
  • May Bolte, B.A. in Journalism, with minors in Business and Corporate Communication and Public Affairs (August 2020)
  • Uma Assomull, B.B.A. in Marketing and B.A. in Fashion Media, with minors in Journalism and Advertising (May 2020)

O’Neil Lecture Series

The William J. O’Neil Lecture Series in Business Journalism brings outstanding business journalism professionals to the SMU campus each spring. Past speakers have included Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times, Kevin Delaney of Quartz, Alison Overholt of ESPN The Magazine, and Matthew Winkler of Bloomberg News. The 2021 O’Neil Lecture featured Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora, co-founders of The 19th. The virtual lecture can be viewed below or at http://j.mp/oneil19th2021.