UAA announces new Bachelor of Arts in communication

by Michelle Saport  |   

UAA instructor Michelle Scaman talks with student Selma Casagranda.
UAA student Selma Casagranda discusses her presentation with instructor Michelle Scaman in her public speaking (COMM A241) course. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

UAA now offers a Bachelor of Arts in communication, among the most in-demand degree programs for  employers and students. Developed with existing courses and faculty from the Department of Communication in UAA’s Community and Technical College, the new degree program prepares students for professional and personal success with a diverse skill set in communications and beyond.

“The communication program at UAA allows students to take advantage of high job demand while also honing the top skills that employers seek,” said Associate Professor Christina Paxman. “Some of these skills include the ability to work in teams, analyze data, solve problems and demonstrate superb written and verbal communication skills. Students enrolled in the UAA communication program develop these skills by taking engaging classes that are designed to be fun yet impactful.”

Brandon Stelzer discusses his presentation with classmates Daniel Price and Kiki Moua.
Brandon Stelzer discusses his presentation with classmates Daniel Price and Kiki Moua in instructor Michelle Scaman's public speaking course. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

The department offers a wide variety of upper-division courses, empowering students to explore the subjects that are most interesting and relevant to them. Recent offerings include courses on health communication, communication and gender, intercultural communication, communication in the workplace, advanced group communication and communication and leadership, one of professor and chair Barbara Harville’s favorite courses to teach.

“Not only is it a class that examines the crucial link between communication and leadership, but it also helps to uncover the potential for leadership in the students,” said Harville.

Students in any degree program can take advantage of the department’s broad selection with the growing minor in communications. In addition to a full suite of courses, communication students at UAA have abundant opportunities for experiential learning through research, internships and more.

Assistant professor Amber Worthington teaching.
Assistant professor Amber Worthington teaches health communication in UAA's Rasmuson Hall. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

“We have a lot of great undergraduate research and creative activity opportunities for our majors and minors,” noted Amber Worthington, assistant professor and incoming chair. “For example, my research focuses on health communication, message design and persuasion, and I always have space for several undergraduate student research assistants on my projects. Right now, I’m working on a project related to climate change and health, and several students have been able to work on all areas of research, including conceptualizing the project, creating and disseminating the surveys, analyzing the data and presenting our findings at conferences.”

According to Harville, the program is guided by a vision statement “to help our students understand the critical role of communication in the diverse contexts of their lives.” By honing students’ communication skills with lessons in and out of the classroom, the degree equips students for careers in the private or public sector.

“With a degree in communication, students are well-poised to serve the many diverse communities that exist within Alaska (e.g., rural and Native communities, large urban communities) and beyond,” said Paxman. “Upon graduation, students with a B.A. in communication have the opportunity to work in nonprofit, for-profit, educational and/or government positions that can positively impact and empower their communities.”

Morgan Walsh presents on her reading assignment.
Morgan Walsh presents on her reading assignment for assistant professor Amber Worthington's health communication course. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Several students switched their major to communication following the degree’s launch, and the program expects to graduate its first cohort in the 2023-24 academic year. The newly minted grads will have the skills and knowledge to succeed, even in an ever-changing job market.

“Our main focus is on increasing your understanding of the types of communication we engage in every day of our lives,” said instructor Michelle Scaman. “A degree in communication will allow you to understand human communication and interactions in a variety of contexts and give you the ability to be a more effective communicator throughout your career and life.”

Explore the communication major and minor at the UAA Department of Communication website.

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