Technical Requirements

Choosing a Laptop

Pick one!

  • 2.0GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5
  • 8GB 1866MHz SDRAM
  • 256GB Flash Storage
  • Intel Iris Graphics 540

$1,499 (from Apple)

  • 1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5
  • 8GB 1600MHz SDRAM
  • 256GB Flash Storage
  • Intel HD Graphics 6000

$1,199 (from Apple)

Laptop FAQs

Either of the laptops shown above is a fine choice. However, there are important differences:

  • The Pro is substantially faster – particularly when editing video.
  • The Pro has a much higher resolution display which is advantageous for all things graphical (and is generally nicer).
  • The Pro can be configured with 16GB of memory, and is available with a 15” screen should you prefer a bigger display.
  • The Air is smaller and lighter at 3lbs (vs. 3.5lbs for the Pro).

Great! Just make sure your laptop meets the minimum specifications.

Essential Tools

Picture of two laptops

We are an Apple-only facility. You’ll need a 2015 or newer laptop running macOS 10.12 (aka “Sierra”). Find the detailed requirements and laptop buying guidance earlier on this page.

Picture of Software logos

You’ll need to buy it and install software for your laptop. We’ll supply you with Office and McAfee for free. Avid Pro Tool and Audio Hijack are NOT required for students in the Social Journalism program or in the Entrepreneurial Journalism program.  Scroll down for details on purchasing required and recommended software.

Picture of Media Drive

In collaborating with your colleagues, you’ll exchange audio, video and photos. You’ll need a high performance media drive (1TB @ 7200RPM with USB connection) for sharing and storing your projects. Internet storage services (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive) are great, but they alone will not meet your needs.

Picture of mobile phones

You must have phone that shoots high quality photos and HD video, and your phone should include a data plan so that you can report from the field.

Picture of SDHC cards

To use our recording and field equipment, you’ll need a few SDHC (class 10) memory cards. These cards are easy to misplace and to break, so… keep them somewhere safe and handy.

Picture of mobile media drive

Theft, fire, toilet drops? Your work and your time are valuable, so we encourage you to back up your devices and files. Using a dedicated portable drive (at least 3TB with USB connection) along with Apple’s Time Machine should serve you well.

Picture of laptop covers

You’ll rely on your gear, and wear and tear is to be expected. You should have cases, covers, sleeves, and bags for storing and carrying your equipment.

Picture of www

As a journalism student, you’ll need a personal website with your own domain name.

Picture of a laptop inside a floatation device

Most warranties don’t cover accidental damage or theft. You may be able to add personal property protection to your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance.

Required Software

You need to install the following software prior to orientation


This suite from Adobe includes a collection of content creation tools, including: Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator.  Licensing is by subscription. Student pricing is $20 monthly for the first year, and then jumps to $30 monthly.  You will receive software updates from Adobe throughout the length of your subscription.  You must verify that you are an eligible student here, and must use your CUNYJ email address when purchasing your subscription.

Creative Cloud is required for students in the M.A. in Journalism and M.A. in Social Journalism programs.

Buy the Creative Cloud Suite


Avid Pro Tools is a software kit for recording and mixing audio.  You can buy a license or purchase a subscription.  You’ll probably want to subscribe.  An educational subscription costs $8 or $10 monthly (annual subscription vs. monthly subscription). As a subscriber, you will receive software updates from Avid. You must verify that you are an eligible student here, and must use your CUNYJ email address when purchasing your subscription.

Pro Tools is required for students in the M.A. in Journalism program and is optional for all other CUNYJ students.

Buy Pro Tools 12 (or cart it, then cart the dongle, then buy!)


iLok is a little device (called a dongle… really!) that plugs into a USB port on your laptop. It doesn’t do anything obvious, but without it, Pro Tools will NOT work. The iLok is needed to ensure that you’ve got a valid subscription or license.  You can purchase your iLok from Avid too, and it costs $50 outright.

Buy iLok


Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack is an application for capturing and recording audio.  You buy a license for $49 (or only $42 with academic discount), and then you’re good and done. Get your discount code first.

Audio Hijack is required for students in the MA program and is optional for all other CUNYJ students.

Buy Audio Hijack


At the start of orientation, we will provide you with licensed copies of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac and McAfee End-Point Protection, and we’ll be doing this for the low-low cost of… free! However, we’ve got some fine print too. We only offer these freely to matriculated students in our master’s programs.

EQROOM Image 1

Insuring Equipment

In your pursuits here, you will use video and audio gear from our equipment room – including taking it out into the field (aka ‘the big bad world’). To borrow equipment, you are required to have personal property insurance. We’ve arranged for a simple policy for you through Haylor.  It costs $200 and the coverage lasts for 18 months.  This insurance also covers your laptop and many other personal items… like your bicycle, and your very precious stones.

You will need to provide us with a certificate of insurance before you can borrow gear. 

NOTE: If you are in one semester program (such as the Entrepreneurial Journalism Program), or a visitor with borrowing privileges, please contact the equipment room manager for insurance options.

Have tech questions?

Our Help Desk is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Contact us at if you’ve got questions prior to attending orientation.