The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has received approval to establish a bachelor of business administration degree in business communication, the first degree of its kind in the UW System.
The UW System Board of Regents on Friday approved the new major, expanding on the existing certificate program in this specialty. Though students can still earn the advanced certificate, Blugolds seeking to enter the growing "biz comm" field now have the option of studying business communication as their major.
“UW-Eau Claire’s strength in the field of business communication, which is widely recognized and appreciated by employers, has allowed the College of Business to design a cutting-edge curriculum and a degree that is only offered by a handful of universities in the country,” says Dr. Brewer Doran, dean of the College of Business.
Approval from the Regents met with a similar reaction from the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs.
“Students in this new business communication program will have a strong foundation in business coursework and essential communication skills to apply across a wide range of business functions,” says Provost Patricia Kleine. “As with all Blugold business degrees, the plan will emphasize experiential learning and high-impact practices like internships to enhance learning outcomes.”
The new major officially will be available for students to enroll in fall 2023, but current and incoming Blugolds can complete many degree requirements in the meantime, as the 120-credit comprehensive program includes 29 credits of the core classes common to all UW-Eau Claire business degrees.
Course delivery for the program will be primarily in-person instruction with some hybrid, high-flex and online course options.
As noted in UW-Eau Claire’s request for approval for this major, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) reports significant market demand for business-specific communication skills in the workforce, and according to COB faculty, student demand for this program at UW-Eau Claire has consistently grown as well.
Dr. Paula Lentz, professor of business communication and program director at UW-Eau Claire, knows how well received the new major will be by students who have been wanting this option.
“The business communication certificate has been one of the most popular certificate programs on campus,” Lentz says. “But we had many students in the College of Business who were saying ‘this is great, but it's not enough.’”
Based on recent UW-Eau Claire COB trends, enrollment projections for the new program estimate 33 declared business communication majors in 2023 and an additional 270 enrollees by the 2027-28 academic year.
“Foremost, the BBA in business communication is a business degree. It is a degree for students whose primary interest is business and, within a business context, an interest in business and workplace communication. This specific type of communication skill set is increasingly taking on discrete roles and functions in organizations,” Lentz says.
Lentz says that employees with working titles within the business communication field are charged with coordinating written and oral communication across all the functional areas of an organization. That includes, she says, departments such as operations, accounting, sales, information systems, computing, tech support and human resources — a web that becomes vastly more complicated as organizations are becoming more domestically and internationally dispersed.
“A business communication degree gives graduates the best of both worlds,” Lentz says. “They are internal communications specialists who understand the core functional components of economics, information systems, finance, accounting, management and marketing that underpin the world of business.”
Bethany Nelson, a 2021 marketing graduate from Cannon Falls, Minnesota, recently met with Lentz and was pleased to hear that a plan to create a business communication degree was well underway. Nelson completed the advanced certificate in business communication but says she always wished it could have been her major.
“I work as an insights analyst at a large retailer headquartered in the Twin Cities,” Nelson says. “I look at marketing campaign results and compile insights and recommendations for better performance for future campaigns.
“A focus for me comes down to the knowledge of formatting a report correctly and learning how to communicate effectively for the different types of messages you are sending. Those are skills I use daily working in a corporate setting. I have found that many people believe they have those skills naturally, like common knowledge. But that is incorrect — those skills need to be taught. This new major will deliver that niche skill set — it’s exciting.”
For more information about the bachelor of business administration in business communication, contact Dr. Paula Lentz at firstname.lastname@example.org.