UAFS Music Named Best Value in National Ratings

Jazz Catz Perform via Zoom
The UAFS Jazz Catz sing together from home, demonstrating innovative performance tactics to share their talents with others and comply with COVID-19 safety protocols.

The Department of Music at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has been named one of the nation’s best values in undergraduate music education by Great Value Colleges, a researched-based ranking site that aims to help connect prospective students with high-quality, affordable education.


Placing at 93rd in the United States, the UAFS Department of Music was acknowledged for its career-focused bachelor’s degrees, specialized student experience, and affordable cost to completion.


The Department of Music is housed in the College of Communication, Languages, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS) and awards two distinct bachelor’s level credentials, Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Arts in Music, both of which include customization options to individualize one’s course of study to specific interests and career aspirations. Additionally, over a dozen ensembles are active on campus, including the Wind Ensemble, Leonis Chamber Singers, Jazz Band, Jazz Catz, Opera and Musical Theatre, and a variety of chamber ensembles.


“Students seeking to further their education by earning a degree are investing in their future,” said Dr. Paul Hankins, Dean of the College of CLASS. “We strive to support this investment by providing a quality educational experience at an accessible cost.”


The accolades come during a time of uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, increased access to musical performances, thanks to a surge in digital and live streamed performances, has deepened the appreciation for the arts across the country. 


“During the pandemic, music and the arts have been especially important, not only for their entertainment value and in mental and emotional health, but also for expression and communication,” shared Andrew DeBoer, assistant professor of music and interim department head. DeBoer has helped lead the department through a series of digital performances reaching tens of thousands of viewers over the course of the Fall 2020 semester. “Being able to express and communicate through music and the arts is a uniquely human characteristic, helping us to connect and better understand one another.”


“It is important to train and bring up musicians and music educators to help continue and further the expression of the art form, not only to listen and think about it, but to help members of the community to learn to make music themselves,” he added.


The Great Value College ranking also acknowledged the prestigious accreditations held by the Department of Music from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the university from the Higher Learning Commission. 


According to the GVC website, rankings are based on publicly available information from reputable third-party sources. The methodology for this ranking examined tuition cost, student-to-faculty ratio, graduate degree opportunities, 20-year net return on investment, accreditation, and student support services available for music students. 

Singers perform
In 2020 UAFS music students transitioned from concert hall performances, like this 2019 performance, to digital and physically distanced performances to help mitigate the risks of COVID-19  


Rachel Rodemann Putman
Date Posted: 
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
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