Applied Communication Studies

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Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

Speech Communication Bldg, Room 237, (501) 569-3158, Website

The Mission of the Department of Speech Communication is to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication. Our Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies provides graduate students with a solid theoretical and practical understanding of how communication practices operate in everyday life. Students learn to develop positive communicative skills that are necessary to function effectively in all areas of today’s business and professional world. The objective of the program is to guide students in the application of communication theory to a variety of interpersonal, institutional, public and organizational contexts. For more information, please visit the website.


The program is divided into two tracks with classes offered online, in the evenings and in a unique weekend format. These tracks are designed to provide options for students with differing goals. Each track maintains an applied focus on six pillars of communication: Ethics, Renewal, Excellence, Culture, Experiential Learning, & Diffusion. Students are expected to complete their course work, comprehensive exams, and a final project in two years. Opportunities for students interested in preparation for a doctorate after completing their master’s are available as well.

The Professional Communication Track is geared toward students seeking to enhance their communication skills and improve their abilities to positively influence internal and external communication in organizations. First year core course in theory and research lay a foundation for understanding and improving communication processes in a variety of settings.

The Health Communication Track includes the same first year core courses as the Professional Communication track, but in the second year, students venture into electives offered jointly by UALR and UAMS to prepare health professionals to meet the needs of current jobs in health-related fields.

Students interested in pursuing doctoral work may complete either of the above tracks. We encourage pre-doctoral students to take an additional research methods course and to revise and submit major course papers to professional conferences and journals. Students with interests in doctoral work thus gain the benefit of exposure to applied communication research and theory as well as the personal attention of faculty devoted to preparing them for the next step in their education.

Admission Requirements (for both tracks)

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75 (4.0 scale) or 3.0 in the last 60 hours
  • Score of at least 153 on the verbal and 144 quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Exam
  • Score of 400 on the Miller Analogies Test*
  • Two letters of recommendation (send to program coordinator)
  • 18 speech communication hours or Speech 7390 (a preparatory three-hour hybrid, 5 week summer course taught in July

Admission materials for the Fall of each year are due in the Graduate School by April 1, but applications are accepted until all slots are filled. Contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Gerald Driskill, 569-3158 if you want to be considered for early or late admission.

*We recommend the MAT except for those interested in pursuing a Ph.D.
Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available. Contact the program coordinator for information. Application forms are available through the graduate school. Deadline for application is March 15 or until qualified students are found for available positions.

Program Requirements

Professional Communication Track

The program is offered in the evening and weekends. Course work can be completed in two calendar years. Applied Track 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) begins at the start of the Fall semester and must be completed in sequence. Two courses (6 hours) of electives are offered during Summer semesters, but students seeking to take additional hours during the Fall or Spring may elect to take electives offered during the day, online, and/or during special weekend (5 week) courses. The final project (Speech 8301 Master’s Research Paper) grows from first year course work, and students are guided to complete this project during their second year. Students may also select a final project growing from an internship (Speech 8300 Internship or SPCH 8304/8604 Cooperative Education).

Example 2-year Plan (33 hours)
Fall – First Year

SPCH 7301 Human Communication Theory
SPCH 7321 Organizational Communication Theory Fall – Second Year
SPCH 7330 Communicating Change
SPCH 7302 Interpersonal Communication

Spring – First Year

SPCH 7322 Organizational Communication Culture
SPCH 7350 Crisis Communication Spring – Second Year
SPCH 8310 Seminar in Applied Communication Studies
SPCH 7323 Conflict

Summer – First Year

3-Hour Elective:

    e.g, SPCH 5312 Intercultural Communication ;SPCH 5313 Topics in Communication; SPCH 5323 Family Communications; , 7352 Org. Communication Training
Summer – Second Year

3 Hour Elective:

    e.g., SPCH 5312 Intercultural Communication; SPCH 5313 Topics in Communication; SPCH 5323 Family Communication; SPCH 7352 Org. Communication Training
Health Communication Track

Health communication is a field of study that uses communication theory to prepare health professionals to meet the needs of current jobs in health-related fields. This track is offered jointly by UALR and UAMS. This track requires students to complete 15 credit hours of core courses and 15 credit hours of electives plus a 3-hour master’s project for a total of 33 hours.

Core Courses

SPCH 7321 Organizational Communication (Fall)
SPCH 7301 Communication Theory (Fall)
SPCH 7322 Organizational Culture and Communication Analysis (Spring)
SPCH 7350 Crisis Communication (Spring)
SPCH 7302 Health Communications/Interpersonal Communication
or PBHL 5783 Health Comm (UAMS: Spring)

Elective Courses

PBHL 5003 Introduction to Public Health* (UAMS Fall, Summer)
PBHL 5123 Health Care Systems* (UAMS: Fall/Spring)
PBHL 5133 Intro To Health Behavior and Health Education* (UAMS fall, Summer)
PBHL 5653 Theories of Health Behavior and Health Education (UAMS Fall)
SPCH 7302 Interpers’l communication
or PBHL 5783 Health and Mass Communication (UAMS: Spring)
PBHL 7023 Health Administration (UAMS)
SPCH 5313 (Topic) Health Communication and Technology
SPCH 7320 Communication Change and Information Diffusion (Fall)
PBHL 5143 Management of Health Care

*These two courses are best taken before others in the Public Health area.

Example Two-Year Plan
Fall – First Year

SPCH 7301 Human Communication Theory
SPCH 7321 Organizational Communication Theory

Spring – First Year

PBHL 5003 Introduction to Public health
SPCH 7350 Crisis Communication
or PBHL 5123 Health Care Systems Communication

Summer or Spring – First Year

PBHL 5133 Intro. to Health Behavior and Health Education

Fall – Second Year

SPCH 7320 Communication Change and Information Diffusion (Fall)
SPCH 7302 Interpers’l Communication
or PBHL 5783 Health Comm.

Spring – Second Year

PBHL 5143 Management of Health Care Organization
or PBHL 5783 Health and Mass Communication
PBHL 5783 Health Comm.
or SPCH 7322 Organizational Culture and Communication Analysis (Spring)

Summer – Second Year

Health Communication and Technology
A final project is also required. The student and his/her advisor should determine the term during which this requirement is fulfilled.

Graduation Requirements (for both tracks)

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study
  • Successful completion and defense of internship, master’s paper, or thesis
  • Successful completion of the comprehensive exam

Courses in Applied Communication Studies

SPCH 5310 Investigations into Communication
Prerequisite: SPCH 1300, 4300. This course addresses the applied role of communication research methods in a variety of contemporary organizations. Topics include the research process, both quantitative and qualitative research approaches, as well as questions of research ethics. The focus is on identifying the practical applications of research methods for organizational members.

SPCH 5311 Organizational Communication
Prerequisite: SPCH 1300, or consent of the instructor. This course examines organizational communication theories, communicative implications of historical and modern management theories, as well as special interest topics. Major topics include cultural and critical approaches to organizational communication, classical management and human relations theory, and communication effectiveness. Special topics may include teams in organizations, diversity, organizational politics, leadership, and change. The focus is on applying organizational communication theories and concepts to understand others better and to control one’s own communication in organizations

SPCH 5312 Intercultural Communication
Prerequisite: SPCH 1300. This course examines culture as it influences human interaction in a wide range of contexts, including work, medical, interpersonal, and political. Topics include culture shock, language, nonverbal, intercultural conflict, and culture and the media. The focus is on using major intercultural communication theories and concepts as well as in-class activities to develop a heightened awareness of intercultural issues and intercultural communication competence.

SPCH 5313 Seminar: Topics in Communication
Prerequisite: SPCH 1300. This course investigates timely communication theories, skills, and practices. Topics may be selected from a variety of theoretical or practical perspectives. The focus is on an in-depth treatment of a content area not typically represented in other courses in the major. This course may be repeated for credit.

SPCH 5323 Family Communication
This course examines communication networks within families that support or inhibit cohesion or change. Topics include: family systems, communication patterns, self-disclosure, family themes, rules, relational stages, conflict styles, power, and decision-making. Students analyze applied communication research and theory and make application to cases.

SPCH 5324 Organizational Communication II
Prerequisite: SPCH 5311. This seminar addresses special topics in organizational communication. Course topics may include organizational identification, risk and issue management, organizational change, or critical approaches to organizational communication. The focus is giving students an in-depth understanding of a specialized aspect of organizational communication.

SPCH 5350 Effective Crisis Communication
This course investigates and analyzes instances of effective and ineffective crisis communication. Students will examine the internal organizational processes and the larger environment within which various organizations exist, focusing on issues such as stakeholders, legal environments, and the larger social and cultural contexts.

SPCH 5357 Communicating with Difference
This course explores communication and difference in such areas as race and ethnicity, social class, age, sexual orientation and disability. Through applying communication theories and ideas to our experiences in each of the targeted areas, we can emerge with tools to manage communication across lines of difference and create more positive social worlds. Dual-listed in the UALR Undergraduate Catalog as SPCH 4357. Three credit hours.

SPCH 7300 Interpersonal Communication Concepts
Prerequisites: graduate standing, consent of instructor. (For on-IOC graduate students.) Concepts of human interaction as basis for developing interpersonal communication skills, framework for personal growth in one-to-one interaction, small group dynamics, leadership roles, and other interpersonal relationships.

SPCH 7301 Human Communication Theory
Co-requisite: SPCH 7321. Basic theoretical approaches to human communication; includes symbolic interactionism, systems, rules, linguistics, relational, rhetorical theories. Offered in Fall.
SPCH 7302 Interpersonal Communication: Theory and Context
Co-requisite: SPCH 7332. Influence of contexts on various theories of interpersonal communication; each theory is evaluated, placed in a relational context, considered for its applications to personal and professional interaction. Offered in Fall.

SPCH 7310 Topics in Interpersonal Communication
Topics vary; chosen for interest, needs of current class; may include in-depth study of topics from earlier courses. Offered on demand.

SPCH 7311 Small Group Communication
Co-requisite: SPCH 7351. Systems study of small group formation, maintenance, performance; special attention to problem solving in groups. Offered in Spring.

SPCH 7312 Intercultural Communication
Intercultural factors influencing human interaction; how cultures, subcultures interact verbally, non-verbally; how communication patterns are inherently culturally determined. Offered in Summer.

SPCH 7320 Topics in Organizational Communication
Topics vary; chosen for interest, needs of current class; may include in-depth study of topics from earlier courses. Offered on demand.

SPCH 7321 Organizational Communication Theory
Co-requisite: SPCH 7301. Theoretic overview of organizational communication, includes communication flow, networks, organizational relationships, groups, conflict, language. Offered in Fall.

SPCH 7322 Organizational Communication Culture Analysis
This course explores the concept of organizational culture and its relationship to effective and ineffective organizational communication. Students develop an understanding of a model for analyzing organizational culture and communication and apply this model to a case analysis.

SPCH 7323 Conflict Analysis and Intervention
An introduction to conflict dynamics with an emphasis on communication intervention skills; covers different frames for analyzing conflict analysis tools, opportunities for conflict self- assessment, and skill-building in difficult conversations.

SPCH 7324 Negotiation
Examination of the nature of conflict and presentation of theories and techniques of negotiation as a method of resolving or managing conflict. Students will analyze cases of negotiation at many levels such as buying and selling, contracts, group decision making, plea bargaining, international treaties, and organizational creation. Emphasis is on solving problems through negotiation. Consideration of the role of third parties. Current events are used for relevant examples.

SPCH 7330 Communicating Change and Information Diffusion
This course provides an understanding of diffusion theory, which seeks to explain the process through which new ideas (innovations) spread over time via communication channels among the members of a social system. Students will apply diffusion theory to corporate, public health, social change, and policy contexts.

SPCH 7332 Communication Assessment and Consulting
Co-requisite: SPCH 7302. Methods used to assess communication behavior in organizations, prepare intervention techniques, evaluate communication effectiveness. Offered in Spring.

SPCH 7341 Organizational Communication Applications
Prerequisite: 15 program hours. Co-requisite: SPCH 7302. Role of applied behavioral research methods in developing effective communication in organizations; focus on use of organization development theories to change the way people in organizations communicate. Offered in Fall.

SPCH 7350 Seminar in Effective Crisis Communication
This course investigates and analyzes instances of effective and ineffective crisis communication. Students will examine the internal organizational processes and the larger environment within which various organizations exist, focusing on issues such as stakeholders, legal environments, and the larger social and cultural contexts. Students will apply concepts to case analysis and development of crisis communication plans for actual organizations.

SPCH 7351 Managerial Communication
Co-requisite: SPCH 7311. Communication skills needed by supervisors, managers; focus on conflict management, interview skills (selection, performance appraisal, discipline, information gathering); includes theory, research, applied projects. Offered in Spring.

SPCH 7352 Organizational Communication Training
Development, delivery of a training project; student prepares and presents an intervention for a specific organizational communication problem. Offered in Summer.

SPCH 7390 Introduction to Graduate Study in Speech Communication
Prerequisite: program admission or consent of instructor. (Prerequisite course for entering students with fewer than 18 undergraduate speech hours; does not count toward degree requirements.) Speech communication theories, terminology; program writing, speaking responsibilities; emphasis on research skills necessary for the field. Offered in summer.

SPCH 8300/8600 Graduate Internship
Urban-related practical job experience; students apply theoretical knowledge, develop interpersonal and organizational communication skills, meet regularly to share experiences, write a paper related to experiences.

SPCH 8301/8601 Master’s Research Paper
Students apply theoretical knowledge to an action research project, dealing with the identification of a need in an organization and the implementation and evaluation of an intervention to meet that need.

SPCH 8310 Seminar in Applied Communication Studies
This capstone seminar draws on various applied communication theories to engage students in reflection on two years of study in the program. Students develop and present their final project proposal for their MA in Applied Communication Studies. A final portfolio will be presented before faculty and students. Only students who are in the final semester of this program are allowed to take this course (SPCH 7301; SPCH 7321; plus 12 hours grad level SPCH courses).

SPCH 8304/8604 Cooperative Education in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication
Prerequisites: graduate standing and approval of assignment advisor. Job experience in an organization approved by the Speech Communication Department and the Cooperative Education Office. Students gain job experience through application of relevant theories, develop impersonal and organizational communication skills, meet regularly with their faculty member, and complete a major paper reflecting on their experiences in light of communication theory. This course requires a minimum of 200 semester work hours for 3 credit hours or 400 semester work hours for 6 credit hours.

SPCH 8602 Master’s Thesis
Prerequisite: successful completion of written comprehensive examinations. Preparation of an appropriate original investigation demonstrating knowledge and methods of scholarship.