Jun 18, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 
    
Graduate Catalog

Applied Communication Studies, M.A.


Overview:

From corporate leadership and fundraising to communications director, public information officer, or researcher, our fully online MA in Applied Communication will strengthen your skills and open doors to new opportunities. Our two-year program is meant to serve both working adults/professionals & the traditional student, as we invite students to participate in our mission to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication. 

We engage in this mission by applying communication theory across interpersonal, organizational, and community contexts. Students learn to apply theory to everyday situations in order to improve communication within those situations, using various research methodologies, with an emphasis on qualitative and case study methods. 

Our program builds community by focusing on asking three big questions:

  • What are we creating in our communication?
  • What do we want to create in our communication?
  • What communication practices will facilitate what we want to create?

Specifically, by the end of our program, we expect students to be able to:

  • build healthy relationships through ethical communication
  • manage conflict more constructively
  • analyze how to improve communication within organizations
  • make recommendations for improving ethical crisis responses within organizations
  • design experiential training sessions
  • articulate how to spread innovations to facilitate change

Flexible Online Program

As part of the eLearning online campus, our courses are offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats. Our 7000/8000-level courses are mostly offered synchronously over Zoom, and our 5000-level courses are offered in an asynchronous format. Students can also be main campus students if so desired, but our required program classes are offered over Zoom synchronously. An undergraduate background in communication is helpful but is not required. 

For internationals, please note that most F-1 visas do NOT allow for enrollment in online-only programs. However, applicants can take online electives in our program if accepted into another face-to-face campus program as their primary program of study, such as the M.A. in Mass Communication, Public Administration, or Nonprofit Leadership.

Individualized Focus Area

The above six applications launch students into their areas of focus or emphasis. Elective courses, projects within required classes, and the final M.A. project involve students in tailoring their program to fit their goals. 

To support your career development, we will aid you in connecting with our diverse alumni network. You will find support for an array of emphasis areas, such as internal and external communication, public health and health communication, conflict management, business leadership and management, consulting, human resources, training, organization development, intercultural/diversity initiatives, non-profit leadership, relational communication, family communication, education, and public relations. 

Students may concurrently enroll in a variety of certificates, such as the Graduate Certificate in Conflict Management, the Human Resources/Organizational Communication Graduate Certificate, or the Nonprofit Management Graduate Certificate. Our department oversees the Graduate Certificate in Conflict Management, which can be completed online concurrently with our M.A. in Applied Communication Studies. This certificate, depending on students’ elective interests, may require only one or two additional courses outside the required coursework for the M.A. in Applied Communication Studies.

Students with an interest in doctoral work gain a solid foundation in applied communication research and theory. These students benefit from the personal attention of faculty devoted to preparing them for the next step in their education. Alumni from our master’s program have served as professors at schools ranging from Purdue and Clemson to Kansas State and the Clinton School of Public Service.

Application Materials:

  • Two recent academic writing samples (from the last 3 years) or send a request to graduate coordinator Dr. Bailey Blackburn (boblackburn@ualr.edu) for writing prompts to be sent to you (if requesting writing prompts, please reach out prior to submitting your application).
  • A 300-500 word Statement of Purpose – a professional statement that addresses how you see this program as a good match for your goals.
  • A current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Contact information (address, email, phone number) for two academic or professional references (reference information only, no letters should be sent).
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities.
  • Upload all of your application materials here.

Important facts about the application process:

  • International students should refer to the Graduate School International Student Admission Policy for information about eligibility and additional required application materials and limitations for entry based on the offering of 7000-level required courses synchronously over Zoom. Note that many F-1 visas do NOT allow for enrollment in online-only programs. However, applicants can take online electives in our program if accepted into another face-to-face campus program as their primary program of study, such as the M.A. in Mass Communication, Public Administration, or Nonprofit Leadership.
  • Applicants are reviewed and offered admission based on qualifications for admission in light of the number of available slots in the program. In some cases, admission may need to be deferred until slots are available.
  • Admissions criteria are based on three categories: regular and conditional admission, as outlined below.

Admission Criteria:

Regular Admission

Applicants seeking regular admission must meet one of the following requirements:

  • A baccalaureate degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale from an institutionally or regionally accredited domestic institution or an international institution recognized by the International Association of Universities.
  • A baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last 60 undergraduate hours (including post-baccalaureate hours).
  • An advanced degree (master’s or doctoral) with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from an institutionally or regionally accredited domestic institution or an international institution recognized by the International Association of Universities.

Applicants must also fulfill the following:

  • Writing samples must receive a 2.5 on a 3.0 rating scale demonstrating readiness for graduate-level work by the graduate faculty selection committee.
  • Be a good fit for the program based on your statement of purpose, resume/curriculum vitae, and references.

Important facts about regular admission:

  • If you are returning to school after a considerable time away or have no prior academic background in the field of Communication, please first email an unofficial transcript to the graduate coordinator (Dr. Bailey Blackburn, boblackburn@ualr.edu) for preliminary review prior to submitting your official application. This will help identify if you need communication-specific writing prompts to add to your application.
  • A 3.0 GPA must be met to maintain graduate student status. A GPA below 3.0 will result in academic probation for a semester to allow the GPA to be raised. Students not raising their GPA to a 3.0 after the probationary semester will be suspended.

Conditional Admission

Students who have supplied all admission materials and did not meet all requirements for regular admission may be admitted as special conditional students.

Students seeking admission for special conditional admission must meet all of the following requirements:

  • A baccalaureate degree with a cumulative GPA between 2.0 and 2.69 on a 4.0 scale from an institutionally or regionally accredited domestic institution or an international institution recognized by the International Association of Universities.
  • Writing samples must receive a 2.5 on a 3.0 rating scale demonstrating readiness for graduate-level work by the graduate faculty selection committee.
  • Be a good fit for the program based on your Statement of Purpose, resume/curriculum vitae, and references.

Important facts about special conditional admission:

  • Conditional admission applicants are reviewed and offered admission based on qualifications for admission in light of the number of special conditional admission slots available in the program. In some cases, conditional admission may need to be deferred until slots are available.
  • GPA of a 3.0 must be maintained in the first 9 hours of the program to qualify for review to move from conditional to regular admission. If the criteria are not met, a student can no longer be enrolled. Incompletes are also not permitted across the first 9 hours for conditionally admitted students unless an overt extenuating circumstance arises.
  • Graduate assistantships are not offered to conditional applicants.

Early Entry Admission

Exceptional UA Little Rock undergraduate students working toward a major or minor in Applied Communication Studies may apply and be accepted to the MAACS program and begin working towards their graduate degree while completing their baccalaureate degree. The Early Entry program allows undergraduate students to earn up to 12 hours toward the MA while pursuing their BA. This enables students to complete their graduate degree in a shorter amount of time than the traditional path and will save up to 36% of the total cost of tuition.

Early Entry Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate students who are majoring or minoring in one of the undergraduate programs in Applied Communication may apply and be accepted any time after completing 75 or more hours of undergraduate coursework. However, at least 90 hours of undergraduate coursework must be completed by the time the first graduate course is taken.
  • All applicants must have at least a 3.2 overall GPA in all their undergraduate coursework, and a 3.2 GPA in 12 or more hours in the Applied Communication program, including ACOM 2310, 2311, 3320, and one additional ACOM or equivalent class.
  • All applicants must apply by communicating their interest in the Early Entry Program via emailing the graduate coordinator, Dr. Bailey Blackburn, at boblackburn@ualr.edu and sending in a 300-500 word Statement of Purpose (a professional statement that addresses how you see the MA program as a good match for your professional and/or academic goals).
  • If accepted into the Early Entry Program, the graduate coordinator will complete an Early-Entry program form and have it approved by the Graduate School. This form must be approved before the student begins graduate coursework. Failure to obtain prior approval negates the ability to “double count” courses.

Alternative Pathways to Admission

If an applicant does not meet regular or special conditional admission requirements but can document a substantive career record that suggests the experience, maturity, and aptitude for graduate work in the communication field specifically, they may have the option of working with the graduate selection committee for an alternative pathway to admission. This path will vary depending on the factors that prevented the applicant from receiving regular or special conditional admission (e.g., a low score on writing samples or GPA). Additional undergraduate coursework may be required in order to be accepted into the graduate program.

Special, non-degree-seeking students—students not seeking a degree at UA Little Rock—who have completed all admission forms and have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.7 (2.0 for special conditional admission) may be admitted as special, non-degree-seeking students. Enrollment in this category of special students involves consultation with the graduate coordinator and the Graduate School.

Transient students enrolled in another institutionally or regionally accredited graduate school and who secure a letter of good standing from the dean of that graduate school may potentially be admitted to UA Little Rock as transient students.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available in the Applied Communication program. Although our MA program is fully online, these assistantships require in-person work on the UA Little Rock campus, located in Little Rock, AR. The position may involve full-time (20 hours a week) or part-time (10 hours a week) work and our GA roles require a two-year commitment. Our assistantships cover tuition for 9 hours of coursework each Fall and Spring (not including fees and books) plus a stipend. Conditionally admitted students do not qualify for our assistantships. The deadline for application is March 15 or until qualified students are found for available positions. Apply to assistantships offered through the ACOM department here and learn more about the university’s assistantships by clicking here.

Coursework can be completed in two calendar years. Students are required to complete 33 credit hours, which includes 24 core hours (8 courses), plus 6 elective hours (2 courses) and a final project (3 hours). The 24-hour core (8 courses) can begin either in the summer or at the start of the fall semester and must be completed in sequence. Students desiring to start the program in the spring semester can work with the program coordinator to identify electives to take.

Curriculum