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UA looks to offer public relations minor, major

The+UA+school+of+Journalism+and+the+Department+of+Communication+are+planning+a+public+relations+joint-degree+option+for+undergraduate+students.
Carmen Valenica

The UA school of Journalism and the Department of Communication are planning a public relations joint-degree option for undergraduate students.

The UA School of Journalism and the Department of Communication are considering the development of offering a joint-degree minor in public relations to interested undergraduate students.

Chris Segrin, head of the communication department, said the development of the minor is very speculative at this stage and that it relies on students’ reactions, demand and acquiring resources like new instructors. 

“I absolutely think there is a need for a minor and major in public relations to be honest,”  Nancy Kelly, the undergraduate program coordinator for the department of communication, said. “We have so many students that want to do public relations, and once we instituted a public relations class it was like gravy—everybody wants to take it.”

Segrin said if the student demand carried forward, the minor will be established. If it’s popular enough, a full-blown public relations major will be put together.

According to Segrin, for the students specifically interested in a PR career, the potential minor would be beneficial in the sense that it’ll develop more of a professional skill set for students and narrow the focus on the work they want to do. 

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In the potential minor, students would have more access to internship programs and coursework specific to the PR field, helping them land a job at a public relations firm.

“I think the reason we don’t have a minor yet is because we just don’t have the personnel for it, and that has to do with the money we get from the Dean’s Office and the provost office,” Kelly said. “The fact there is no public relations offered is mind-blowing.”

 According to Kelly, more courses in public relations are essential to keep up with the demand of journalism, communication and business students. 

“We want to hire someone specifically for PR, so the demand is there,” Kelly said. 

The department of communication is currently seeking an assistant professor of practice who will teach undergraduate public relations classes and contribute to the development of the possible minor.

Segrin said the coursework public relations would have would remain very similar to what is taught in the journalism and communication programs, the only difference in the minor would be the focus around more industry-specific education. 

“It’s not to say that it is an entirely unique skill set, but it does have components of a professional training that would be a little different than what is found in journalism and communication,” Segrin said.

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Alexa Agostinelli, a journalism sophomore, said that if she had the minor she feels it would open up many doors for her and make her more diverse when applying for jobs.

“I find that journalism is a bit restrictive for me because, as much as I love writing, it may not be what I want to do after college,” Agostinelli said. “I definitely have an interest in public relations, and honestly if there would be a minor, I would really consider adding that just so I have more options.”

Students enrolled in journalism and communications have been asked hypothetical questions about the possible minor in recent surveys to determine the likelihood of the school’s going forth with the minor. As more PR classes are added, the number of students enrolling in the classes will also play a role in the decision-making process.

At this point, according to Segrin, everything remains speculative. There will be a number of assessments as classes are added and an ongoing search for instructors. The minor could be submitted for approval as soon as sometime before the next academic year. 


Follow Angela Martinez on Twitter.


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