By Bailey Herring
new Bachelor of Science (BS) in Professional and Technical Communication degree program will be available for University of North Texas students. The program has been approved by the UNT Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The BS degree program shares many of the requirements with the existing Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Professional and Technical communication program offered by the TECM department, but with one key difference. Instead of six to twelve credit hours in a foreign language, students in the BS program are required to complete six hours of 'technological foundation' courses. These alternative classes cover topics like computer programming and data analysis.
Dr. Erin Friess, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the department, thinks of the new degree program as a way for technical communicators to take on more technical roles. She chose software development as an example. "Software developers need colleagues who understand coders and can communicate with them, their management, and their clients. This degree could get someone that kind of position," she said.
Students who complete the BS are qualified for jobs as business systems analysts, user experience (UX) designers, and web developers, but their opportunities are not limited to just these positions. Undergraduate advisor and lecturer, Lee Dollar, thinks of the new Bachelor of Science degree as something geared for communicators who want to involve themselves in technological work, rather than work solely as writers.
Mr. Dollar emphasizes, however, that technical communicators can find a place in nearly any company. "There's no limit to what industry you can go into," he said. For Dollar, the new BS degree is an opportunity to diversify the choices the TECM department can offer students.
In the past, STEM students who became interested in technical communication through TECM courses were required to take a foreign language in order to pursue the Bachelor of Arts degree. Because this often meant delaying their graduation, the only viable option for these students was to opt for a TECM minor or certificate instead. The new Bachelor of Science degree is meant to alleviate this issue. "For [STEM students], this degree is right up their alley," Dollar said.
Several current UNT students have also expressed their interest in the new Bachelor of Science degree. Guthrie Schoolar, a senior pursuing a degree in computer science, says the new Bachelor of Science program would have been a strong contender for his primary degree. "The option to take tech courses offered by different departments on campus makes the degree feel like a viable option to get exposure to specific fields and interests that other degrees do not offer," Schoolar said.
Augustin Tran, another senior pursuing a computer science degree, believes the BS program will offer new opportunities for students preparing to enter the workforce. "A technical writing degree gives immense proof that the student knows how to communicate and is qualified for an industry job," Tran said.
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