A first for Texas: UTA offers degree in philanthropy

Starting this semester, The University of Texas at Arlington will offer a bachelor of arts in philanthropy, the first such degree in the state of Texas and the second in the nation.

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Colton Strawser, coordinator and lecturer for the new program, said the new degree offers a chance for UT Arlington students to turn their passion into a profession.

“Many college students want to change the world,” Strawser said. “Americans gave nearly $450 billion to charity in 2019. Slightly over 5% of individuals living in Texas work in nonprofits, making it one of the largest employment sectors in the state.

“Having a degree program preparing students for these jobs is an essential way UTA can help contribute to a vibrant nonprofit field that builds strong, healthy, sustainable communities.”

The new major in philanthropy will prepare UTA students for various positions in the nonprofit industry, including roles in fundraising, communication, volunteer management and coordination, program leadership and coordination, donor and foundation relations, and research and public policy. Students will have the opportunity to implement communications strategies within the nonprofit sector to advocate, elevate and lobby for change in communities.

Fernando Jaramillo, associate dean for students and programs in the College of Business, said there is a strong business demand for the degree.

“Based on projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected that this new degree will produce employable graduates who will meet a growing regional and national workforce demand,” Jaramillo said. “The nonprofit sector in the United States is comprised of nearly 2 million organizations, and corporate giving and community outreach provides additional opportunities.”

The College of Liberal Art’s Department of Communication provides students with a foundation in both established organizational communication courses and new philanthropic communication courses. Charla Markham Shaw, chair of the Department of Communication, points to the collaboration among multiple departments and schools at UTA that results in a unique experience for students.

“The new courses provide students opportunities to be engaged in the community and understand, firsthand, how nonprofit organizations operate and provide essential programs and services locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” Markham Shaw said.

In addition, students can complete courses in grant writing with the Department of English and earn a minor or certificate in business philanthropy to prepare for management roles.

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