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Journalism & Digital Storytelling Equipment Requirements

The following purchasing list represents the minimum requirements and recommendations for students entering SOC's JRDS program. Our intention is to give you a general idea of associated costs throughout the program. Technology changes may require adjustments later in your academic career.

Students may wish to purchase faster or larger computers or peripherals depending on their individual interests, skills and budgets.

We recommend that you consider purchasing the required hardware and software apps from Apple, where you will find pricing and offers for AU students. Don't be alarmed if they are not the exact prices you see because they change, and educational discounts change. These are estimates.

If you find that you have questions about any of these specific requirements, please call the SOC Techline at 202-885-3570 or email at Identify yourself as an incoming Journalism & Digital Storytelling student and that you are calling about Tech requirements for JRDS. The Techline team plans to respond to inquiries from incoming JRDS students within two business hours. If you are new to this type of technology, don't worry! Our Techline staff is very nice and folks are happy to answer questions. But you are responsible for knowing basic literacy. They are not teaching anyone how to operate their own laptops, nor are your instructors.

Any other materials will be decided on a case-by-case basis by each instructor. The SOC Cage has loaner gear available, and it can accommodate many of the things listed as supplemental or suggested on our website. The Cage also has DSLRs, but students will use these so frequently that they are considered required. 

Have questions?

If you have any questions, contact SOC Techline at or call the Tech line at 202-885-3570.


American University has a relationship with Apple to offer savings to students. Pricing is here. We recommend a MacBook Pro; either the 13" or 16" works.

If you are not purchasing a new computer, the bare minimum computer specs for your existing computer is a MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM. If you are not sure about your current laptop's capabilities, contact the SOC Techline at (202) 885-3570 or

Any MacBook Pro purchased in the last year will have the right processor and video card. MacBook Airs and MacBooks do not meet the minimum required specs.

We recommend that you do not purchase your camera before your first visual classes in case the instructor has chosen a different model. You may wish to plan for the expense.

Students have access to video, audio, and photography equipment through the CAGE.

  • Open Office (free)
  • GoogleDocs (free)
  • FTP Client FileZilla (free)
  • Text Editor: TextWrangler (free)

Your instructor will specify which video editing and graphics software packages your class will use, so it's best to wait to make your purchases. Here are some examples of programs your instructor may recommend you to buy Adobe Creative Cloud, including Photoshop, Premiere, and other programs, now monthly subscriptions for the current educational monthly pricing.

External Portable Hard Drive--fast enough to capture video--at least 1 or 2 TB.

Earphones: High-quality "earbuds" or over-the-ear style headphones.

JDS students must register their own domain names and host their own Web sites as part of this program. We strongly encourage you to add to your site during/after each class, so you can build your portfolio as you proceed. We recommend that students sign up for web hosting with