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Computer Buying Guide

The WVU Reed College of Media requires its entering freshmen and transfer students (journalism or strategic communications majors) to have their own laptops for use in journalism and strategic communications classes and projects.

Students will also be expected to have access to a smartphone with a photo resolution of at least 5 megapixels for work they will create in class. It must be able to capture both still photographs and video. This decision was made to help address the growing need for digital skills in the media professions and for our students’ need for continuous access to software for individual and collaborative work.

The College is a Mac-based environment, but students may also use PC (Windows) laptops, as long as they have the minimum specifications, which are noted below for both operating systems.

Mac Operating System Requirements

15” Macbook pro | Approx Cost $2,700

13” Macbook Air | $1,400

* Prices current as of Spring 2017 from the online  Apple Education Store.

Minimum Windows Operating System Requirements**

Dell computer purchases can be made at a discounted price for students at

Software Requirements

College of Media students are required to have Adobe Creative Cloud. The software is available to WVU students at a discounted rate. Visit to download. On this site you can find links for other software, including Microsoft Office and university-provided anti-virus software, which are free to WVU students.

Students are encouraged to purchase a 2TB external hard drive for backup and storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will financial aid be available to help pay for the laptop or other equipment?

If you qualify for financial aid through the federal FAFSA process, it is possible that some of the cost of the computer - because it is required - could be included in your expected expenses. It is suggested you visit or contact the Mountaineer Hub to discuss whether this is an option for you. The Mountaineer Hub is located on the 2nd floor of the  Evansdale Crossing and can be reached via email at or by phone, 304-293-1988, Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Q. What happens if I have problems with my laptop?

We strongly suggest students purchase insurance and warranties for their computers. (Students may want to check with their family insurance agents about renter’s insurance and/or with a vendor such as Safeware:
For warranty information, see the WVU Technology Support Center webpage at
West Virginia University offers PC/MAC repair services on campus for all computer brands. For Apple and Dell computers that are under warranty, repairs are given priority and provided at a nominal cost. (See for a list of repair policies and prices.) If a student is without his or her computer for an extended period of time because of a repair issue, the College will provide a loaner laptop that can be used during College of Media classes, but the laptop must be returned to the College at the end of each class period. The College continues to maintain desktop computers that are available to students during open lab hours as well.

Q: Can I print wirelessly from my laptop?

Yes. Printing wirelessly to College printers is possible once you have downloaded the correct printer drivers (Pharos version) for the College of Media. College of Media staff will be available to assist students with this process during the first week of class. If problems arise during the school year, students should contact the College of Media support staff at Students can also access and email print jobs to the printers in Martin Hall as well as most dorms and libraries.

Q: What if I am not yet a major in the College?

If students are interested in pursuing a journalism or strategic communications major, it is recommended they go ahead and purchase a laptop that conforms to the minimal specifications noted above, so they may use them in these courses. Even if they do not ultimately enter one of these majors, it is likely they will still make good use of the computer.

For more information regarding the College’s laptop requirement, contact the College of Media’s technical support staff at