College of Arts and Sciences offers new degree program

The office of the College of Arts and Sciences is located in Scofield Hall. (UMKC)

Richard Schneider

The UMKC College of Arts and Sciences announced a new bachelor’s degree aimed at local transfer students. The Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) will help those with an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) transfer their career-specific technical degree to UMKC. 

“The number one question I get when working with these students is, ‘How are my credits going to transfer?’” Christiana Rangel, manager of requirement and outreach for the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

That’s the problem for roughly 20% of the area’s community college graduates – their Associates of Applied Science would not transfer, even as electives. As a result, many transfer students have had to completely start over on a four-year degree.

UMKC leadership has designed the new B.A.S. degree to increase university enrollment by presenting a solution for transfer students who would not typically come to UMKC.

College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Beth Vonnahme proposed the idea for the degree to the chancellor as a feature of the UMKC Forward Initiative. Since then, Vonnahme has helped develop curriculum and work the program through the approval track, where it is currently on its last step with the Missouri Department of Higher Education. 

The new bachelor’s degree will offer five emphases in high-demand fields: business and organizational leadership, data analytics, digital humanities, digital media and health services management. However, the B.A.S. does require an A.A.S. For students who do not have an A.A.S., many course structures are mirrored in minors.

Dr. Majid Bani-Yaghoub, the mathematics and statistics department chair, said he was excited about the development of the data analytics emphasis and minor. The curriculum involves courses from the Bloch School of Business and the School of Computing and Engineering to provide multiple levels of understanding. 

“The Bloch School has been very active in gearing courses for business analytics,” said Bani-Yaghoub. He also said that UMKC is one of very few universities that have such a broad range of analytics classes, despite data analytics having a large job market.

While the B.A.S. is on the final step of approval, the digital humanities minor is still under development with the hope that it will be available beginning in the fall 2022 semester. 

UMKC’s digital humanities courses are also interdisciplinary and are present in the anthropology, art, art history, communication studies, english, history and sociology departments. Digital humanities programs combine humanities and technical skills, which are highly transferable.

UMKC published preliminary information about the B.A.S. program last week, and Rangel has already heard from several interested people. This degree will be a resource for the 20% of community college graduates desiring to pursue higher-level degrees at UMKC. 

“We are looking for a way to reach this target audience in a way that is meaningful for them,” Vonnahme said.

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