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Beginning this fall, all students at the Missouri School of Journalism will be required to purchase an iPhone or an iPod touch.

But before both Zune users in The Reg's readership get their panties in a bunch, realize that the key word in the Missouri dictate is "required." If an item is designated by a school as required, the purchase of it may be covered by financial aid. If it's only recommended or suggested, the cost must be fully borne by the student.

Or, more likely, by the student's parents.

Still, the Missouri edict has a distinctly pro-Cupertino bent. The school's iPod Touch requirements statement, for example, could have been written by Apple's marketing department. "Yes, the device is a music player," it burbles, "but it is much, much more."

That "much, much more" - in the academic sense, that is - includes the ability to download freshman-orientation information, lectures, podcasts, and other course materials from Apple's iTunes U, the free educational area of the company's iTunes Store.

The iPhone/iPod requirement is in addition to a four-year-old directive that students also purchase a "wireless laptop" - and the school's preference for Apple's laptops is also abundantly clear.

In a FAQ response to the question of whether Windows-based laptops are allowed, the Missourians state, "That's an option, but it's one we do not recommend...By the time you purchase photo, audio and video software for a PC, you probably will have spent more than you would if buying a comparable Apple Computer."

It also argues that "Apple's OS X operating system is based on Unix, which makes these computers far less susceptible to viruses than other computers."

It appears that students are following the school's recommendation requirement - last year, 99.5 per cent of incoming School of Journalism students made the Jobsian Hobson's choice.

Although some students are sure to rebel - after all, that's what students do - there are four members of the university's Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute who aren't complaining. Their entry in the Institute's recent iPhone Student Competition, NearBuy (iTunes link), won them a free ride to Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, a $1,295 affair. ®

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