Applied Liberal Arts

But many students are actively seeking pathways that lead to professional opportunities and employers also emphasize that they are seeking students who have applied learning experiences when they graduate. In response to these needs of both students and employers, we have developed an applied liberal arts Initiative for which each of our departments offers at least one applied pathway (and by the way, students don’t have to be a liberal arts major to pursue some of these options). Each of our applied liberal arts pathways is designed to meet critical needs in the 21st century whether it be in a technical field, in an area of professional expertise (such as teaching, writing, cross-cultural communication, graphic design, curation, musical theatre, translation, fieldwork, or politics), in learning to work in a diverse environment with an extensive understanding of the value of diversity and inclusion, or through pursuing an internship.


Our applied liberal arts initiative provides students with more focused directions for their employment future. Take a look at the variety of pathways we’ve developed, which are organized below by department. Some pathways are interdisciplinary and will thus show up in more than one department or even with an area outside our College.

  • Anthropology


    Bioarchaeologists study human skeletal remains in archaeological contexts. Students in this track are desirable for positions in cultural resource management and museum positions that need to be in compliance with NAGPRA and are pursuing repatriation efforts, or need general assistance to curate human remains.

    Forensic anthropology

    Forensic anthropologists study human remains in a medico-legal context. While more training would be required to be a practicing forensic anthropologist, this set of classes will expose students to the medico-legal system and death investigation in general and will prepare them for positions related to forensic sciences.

    Public health

    Anthropologists in public health and medicine use their skills to evaluate how communities live and subsequently find ways to improve the overall health of a community. The ultimate goal is to inform public health policy. These courses are designed to provide students with a unique position to understand the macro-level underlying causes of poor health in a population.

  • Art

    Graphic design

    The graphic design BFA is a professional degree that emphasizes hands-on design approaches, while critical analysis, theory, research and application will be explored. Students will become well-versed in graphic design competencies that will prepare students for career placement.

    The graphic design BFA program will offer a variety of field-related coursework that focuses on traditional, experimental and prospective projects and skillsets that can be applied to current and future industry thinking, making and implementation. Students will work toward building a portfolio of projects that will enable them to join the workforce of professional graphic designers.

  • Communication Studies

    Public advocacy and civic engagement

    This public advocacy and civic engagement pathway focuses on how we influence and persuade public audiences through speaking, argument and mediated communication. Students learn about advocacy campaigns in business, political, community, or social movement contexts.

    Relational and family communication

    Relational and family communication courses allow students the opportunities to consider relationships and families in communication contexts. In addition to learning key interpersonal and family communication theories, students learn applied skills for their personal and professional lives.

    Communication across cultures

    These courses will provides students with skills related to intercultural, cross-cultural, multicultural and intracultural communication practices. Students learn about diversity, difference and inclusivity as it applies to multiple contexts.

    Community organizing

    Students who engage in community organizing classes learn organization and coordination skills related to bringing communities together to promote their best interests. Skills include organizational communication, interpersonal interaction across cultures, public speaking, internet savvy and engaging political discourses.

    Business and professional communication

    The business and professional communication track prepares students with practical skills for the modern workplace including understanding organizational communication structures, interpersonal skills, computer-mediated interaction, intercultural communication and working in teams and groups, among others.

    Health communication

    Health communication courses allow students insights about communication practicesrelevant to the health professions. This includes courses in interpersonal interaction, health systems, intercultural communication, organizational structures and important to the modern health workplace, online communication.

    Communication technology

    Communication technology courses provides students with skills related to online interaction including social media use and management, online interpersonal skills, technical writing proficiencies and computer-mediated communication literacies.

    Career options

    A degree in Communication Studies lends itself to many extraordinary career opportunities. The interpersonal, written, public and organizational communication skills learned as part of the major, along with the technical savvy and intercultural awareness that are a key part of communication studies, prepare students for multiple career options.

  • Criminal Justice

    Internship in criminal justice

    CRJ 491 (internship in criminal justice is an elective course that provides students a very strong applied learning experience which enhances employment opportunities in three major ways. First, the internship allows a student to take what was learned in the classroom and apply it to real world tasks and problems. Second, students will develop new skills and knowledge from working in the field. For example, a student who does an internship with a probation agency will learn and practice motivational interviewing. Third, a student will develop contacts at the internship agency who can provide career guidance and become a professional reference for the student. Having a variety of different types of professional references can aid a student in their employment search. A reference from an internship agency can also aid a student in finding a job after graduation.

  • English

    Public engagement M.A.

    The Master of Arts in English with a public engagement emphasis is designed to serve students whose career goals include teaching, working for nonprofits and/or continuing to Ph.D. programs in literature or rhetoric that emphasize community activism.

    Dual B.A. in English and education (PackTeach)

    The Pack Teach program is a dual degree program that prepares students to become state licensed secondary education teachers for grades 7-12. This four-year program offers students the opportunity to gain a strong liberal arts education, excellent preparation in their content area discipline, as well as the foundational and applied knowledge for instruction.

    English core-objective courses

    English 498A, 498C, 498D, 499B and 499C are writing in the communities courses. In addition, the English department also offers the following professional writing and document courses:

    • ENG 333 - Professional Communications
    • ENG 400B - Topics in Professional Writing
    • ENG 405A - Professional Editing and Publishing
    • ENG 406A - Document Design
    • ENG 407B - Fundamentals of Technical Writing
    • ENG 408B - Tutoring Student Writers
  • History

    Shared history

    The Shared history program provides a venue for collaborative student engagement in a variety of applied history projects that connect students to the larger community. A number of projects are underway at the undergraduate and graduate level including:

    • An oral history of food culture in Nevada
    • An oral history and preview documentary of Northern Nevada’s ski heritage, part of a larger ski museum project
    • An oral history and preview documentary of the 1960’s Winter Olympics and civil rights in Northern Nevada, part of the larger celebration of the 1960 Winter Games
    • An oral history/performance project focused on traditional Great Basin Native American (Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe) song.
    • An on-campus exhibit on women’s history, civil rights, and suffrage
    • An on-campus exhibit on the Hispanic heritage in historic northern Nevada mining
    • An off-campus exhibit on aviation in Nevada
    • A permanent exhibit on Marce Herz, which will be installed in the new Marce Herz Middle School in South Reno
    • The History Matters high school summer program where students will be brought to campus for workshops to learn of the new “applied” possibilities in history
    • An occasional, demand-dependent Kids-U history program for middle school students
  • Music

    Music performance

    The music performance degree offers multiple tracks including instrumental, vocal, conducting and jazz. The degree concentrates on developing technical skills for pursuing professional careers in music performance.

    Music education

    The music education degree also offers multiple tracks including instrumental, vocal and conducting, where students enhance personal skills as a musician and prepare for teaching others how to explore their own musical interests and talents.

    Minor in music industry

    The minor in music industry program allows students the opportunity to gain skills in the industry to help further their music careers.

  • Philosophy

    Research training

    Research training (PHIL 275) is an undergraduate research course that allows students to develop research skills by assisting faculty members on research projects where practical assistance is needed. Students are currently reviewing and summarizing judicial literature on reparations for a project of one faculty member.

    Community engagement projects

    Community engagement projects (PHIL 457) is our upper-level political philosophy course in which students are required to complete a project or structured experience of practical significance. Currently, students have a major assignment in which they conduct community interviews with politically involved people — elected officials, activists, advocates. (One student secured an interview with former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval).

  • Political Science

    Master of public administration

    The courses in public administration are designed to increase the student's understanding of the internal organizational environment and to help the student develop needed managerial skills. Courses in public policy give the student an understanding of the social, political and economic environment in which public programs develop and operate. Courses in research methods provide the skills necessary in today's complex government agencies and activities.

    Secondary education and political science B.A. (PackTeach)

    The Bachelor of Arts with majors in secondary education and political science provides students with a broad background in political science and allow students to take all the necessary courses to meet state licensure to teach social studies, together with secondary teaching certification. Students who successfully complete the program are prepared to pursue secondary school teaching, graduate school, or an immediate career in a professional field.

    Political science minor with track in public administration and public policy

    The public administration and public policy minor program provides students an analytical and practical education in public service administration and policy, and the opportunity to intern with a public agency or public service organization.

    Model United Nations

    The IAFF300 Model United Nations course offers practical training and experience in international diplomacy and coalition-building. It uses case studies and prepares students to simulate being a country delegation to the U.N. Students have the option to participate in a model United Nations regional conference (held in San Francisco annually).

    Supreme Court and public policy

    The Supreme Court and public policy, PSC403H course provides students the opportunity to grapple with U.S. Supreme Court decisions, developing arguments supporting one or the other of the sides in a case before the court and/or preparing an independent analysis.


    The political science department partners with several local agencies to provide internships for students in public service, Congress, international affairs and the Nevada legislature.

  • Sociology

    Certificate in social research methods and applied statistics

    The 12-credit certificate in social research methods and applied statistics requires four courses: one introductory social research methods and one introductory statistics course, one advanced social research methods and one advanced applied statistics program. The certificate prepares students for a variety of jobs that require applied social research skills.

    Community-based research experience

    Students can apply through the Office of Undergraduate Research to do community-based research for pay under the supervision of a sociology faculty member.


    Sociology students can gain job experience by completing approved internships for elective credit that count towards their major or their minor.

    Secondary Education and Sociology B.A. (PackTeach)

    The Bachelor of Arts with majors in secondary education and sociology provides students with a broad background in sociology and allows students to take all the necessary courses to meet state licensure to teach social studies, together with secondary teaching certification. Students who successfully complete the program are prepared to pursue secondary school teaching, graduate school, or an immediate career in a professional field

    Sociology M.A. program

    The M.A. program in sociology trains students in advanced social research methods and applied statistics, culminating in a research thesis that prepares students for advanced careers in social research methods or for Ph.D.-level study of sociology.

    Undergraduate research and the senior thesis

    Students can earn academic credit working with sociology faculty on faculty research projects that counts toward elective credit for their major or minor. Students can also complete a six-credit senior research thesis under faculty supervision.

  • Theatre and Dance

    Both the majors and minors in theatre and dance provide students the opportunity to apply their craft through production. Shows are the laboratories in which students come together collaboratively to produce live events and put into practice all the skills and techniques leaned in acting, directing, musical theatre, dance, choreography, design and management and technology course work. Courses which require application to production include:

    • Teaching dance
    • Musical theatre
    • Directing
    • Technology
    • Stage management
  • World Languages & Literatures

    Spanish through the professions

    Spanish through the professions is a track within the Spanish bachelor’s degree that teaches students the necessary skills to communicate in Spanish in a professional business setting, such as healthcare, courtrooms, or service agencies.

    Secondary education and Spanish B.A. (PackTeach)

    Students who complete this Pack Teach Program will earn two degrees: the Bachelor of Arts in Education/Secondary Education and the Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. This program provides students with a foundational background in Spanish linguistics, literature and culture, and includes all coursework required to apply for a license to teach Spanish in Nevada. Students who successfully complete the program are prepared to pursue secondary school teaching, graduate school, or an immediate career using Spanish.

    Secondary education and French B.A. (PackTeach)

    Students who complete this Pack Teach Program will earn two degrees: the Bachelor of Arts in Education/Secondary Education and the Bachelor of Arts in French. This program provides students with a foundational background in French linguistics, literature and culture, and includes all coursework required to apply for a license to teach French in Nevada. Students who successfully complete the program are prepared to pursue secondary school teaching, graduate school, or an immediate career using French.

    Spanish media

    A Spanish media studies track as well as a Journalism (bilingual media) and Spanish (media studies) dual major B.A. are two programs that teach Spanish in a media and journalism setting.

Explore career opportunities

There are thousands of career options our liberal arts students can choose to go into after graduation. Here’s a sample of some of the types of professions an applied liberal arts student could pursue.

Graphic Designer
Women sitting at desk in front of two computers
Government Official
Pillars and roof of outside the front of a court building
Museum Curator
Inside an art museum with a glass display case and Native American baskets inside
Non-profit Program Manager
Women standing in business suit holding files with other business people standing behind her