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The South Dakota Board of Regents authorized Black Hills State University to offer a new bachelor’s degree, General Studies, and an additional major, Corporate Communication, this week.

The new Corporate Communication major is the only degree of its kind in South Dakota’s public university system to combine the study of communication and business. The Corporate Communication major is an excellent option for students who are planning a career in public relations, marketing, corporate advertising or communication, electronic media, writing production and management, event management, broadcast management and technical communication.

“In today’s business world, it is more important than ever to prepare effective communicators,” said Dr. Kay Schallenkamp, president of BHSU. “Students who pursue this major will develop and refine their oral, written, and visual communication skills, while studying the practice of organizational and business communication within corporate structures.”

Schallenkamp said the need for this major was demonstrated by student and business surveys and the growth of new career opportunities in the communications field. Sixteen of 17 local businesses surveyed by BHSU said they would want to hire someone with a corporate communication degree, she said.

The SD BOR also authorized BHSU to deliver its existing mass communication major, which is one of the fastest growing degrees, to students in Rapid City by offering it at the University Center-Rapid City starting this fall. This move accommodates students who are unable, due to work or family commitments, to commute to Spearfish to complete the major.

BHSU will also begin offering a bachelor’s degree General Studies this fall. The public university system in South Dakota developed the General Studies degree specifically for students who already have a significant number of college credits completed.

“Black Hills State University is looking forward to offering the General Studies bachelor’s degree because we know it’s an excellent opportunity for people who have earned University credits in the past but have not yet completed their degree. The General Studies degree provides a high level of flexibility which is vital for working adults who are seeking to complete their University degree,” Schallenkamp said.

The addition of the General Studies degree and the Corporate Communication degree, which was also approved the South Dakota Board of Regents this week, brings the total number of bachelor degrees offered at BHSU to 58. BHSU, which has experienced record breaking enrollment in recent years, also offers four master’s degrees and four associate degrees.

The General Studies degree will be available to students on campus; at off-campus centers; and by distance delivery. The bachelor of General Studies degree will also be available at Dakota State University, Northern State University, and the University of South Dakota.

In South Dakota, there are about 113,500 people who have begun college but did not earn a degree according to Dr. Jack Warner, executive director and CEO for the South Dakota Board of Regents. Research by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education found that people in certain fields, especially nursing, engineering, and math or science, are more likely to stop out before completing a degree. Oftentimes, these people have already completed 90 or more credit hours of study, Warner said, and need some flexibility to finish out a degree program.

“This degree accommodates students with a variety of career goals,” Warner says.

Warner said it is one more important step the state is taking to increase the number of postsecondary graduates in South Dakota. “We know that there are many so-called ‘ready adults’ who have earned significant college credit but stopped out before completing their degree. This new degree option allows them to use credits they have already earned,” he said.