M.A. Applied Communication Studies

Applied Communication Dept.
Applied Communication Dept.
Master of Arts in Applied Communication Studies
Tamidra Marable & Becky Harwell
Derek Wingfield & Adena (Strickland) White
Bruce Trimble & Ashley McNatt
Mission Statement
Sasha Arjannikova & Mary Cantrell
Jacob Jenkins & Whitney Albert
Kristina Carnes & Andrew Pyle
Melanie Morgan & Chris Brown
Alumni (12)
Alumni (12)
Graduate Coordinator: Gerald Driskill

Admission Requirements & Procedures

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MA program graduates learn to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication by focusing on three big questions across the coursework in our program: (1) What are we creating in our communication, (2) what do we want to create in our communication, and (3) what communication practices will facilitate what we want to create.  Our alumni work in a variety of career fields grounded in the program outcomes.

Outcomes of Program

As a result of this program, students develop communication skills that are necessary for ethical and effective leadership in all areas of today’s diverse organizational professional world.  Upon graduating from our program, we believe that students will be able ethically to:

  • Analyze messages, answering the question, “what are we creating in our communication”?  They will do this by:
    • Situating communication-based research questions in the academic conversation around a topic
    • Demonstrating an understanding of specific theoretic models and applying those models to applied communication research questions
    • Making theoretic claims about what is happening in a particular situation or organization
    • Reporting data ethically
  • Set communicative goals, answering the question, “what do we want to be creating in our communication”?  They will do this by:
    • Identifying communication and theoretically-informed implications from data analysis
    • Identifying potential communication barriers to changing the communication in a given situation or organization
    • Anticipating the consequences of accomplishing potential goals for various audiences by identifying multiple diverse perspectives on goals
  • Influence discourse, answering the question, “what communication practices will facilitate what we want to create”?  They will do this by:
    • Generating theoretically-informed disciplinary knowledge and communication recommendations
    • Modeling ethical communication by providing the answer to the “now what” question
    • Adapting their communication to appropriate audiences to ethically advocate for change

We achieve these goals by having students complete class and final projects primarily focused on six communication applications:

  1. Some of our Spring 2016 graduatescommunication and organizational culture analysis
  2. communication and transformation/change
  3. positive interpersonal communication
  4. conflict management
  5. crisis and renewal communication
  6. experiential learning in presentations and training

Specifically, we offer courses that will allow students to be able to do the following, upon graduating from our program:

  • Build healthy relationships through ethical communication. (Interpersonal Communication course)
  • Facilitate difficult conversations. (Conflict Management course)
  • Apply a six-step model for analyzing and improving organizational cultures. (Organizational Cultures course)
  • Make recommendations for improving ethical crisis responses within organizations. (Crisis Communication course)
  • Create and assess experiential learning.  (Organizational Training course)
  • Articulate how to spread innovations to facilitate change. (Diffusion of Innovations course)

The majority of our coursework (24 hours) is offered in evening, weekend, and/or hybrid formats, with electives (6 hours) involving the choice of on-campus or fully online courses.  A final MA project (3 hours) is developed with an advisor, with foundational courses that help students launch their project in the first year of the program, while completing their research in their second year of the program.

Individualized Focus Areas

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.  Students are encouraged to identify focus areas relevant to their career 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:  internal and external communication, public health, conflict mediation, business leadership and management, consulting, human resources, training, organization development, intercultural/diversity initiatives, non-profit leadership, relational communication, health care, education, and public relations.

As students enter the program, we identify ways to maximize coursework, including electives and the final project to fit their career goals.  Review this Two Year Example Plan to understand the flow of our unique blended program designed for working professionals.  This sequence of courses is then adapted based on student goals.

Our program has built bridges with several programs outside of the department. Interested students should explore these options with the Graduate Coordinator:

  • Applied Communication Track – This is our most common track – the Applied Communication program.
  • Health Communication– UAMS offers courses to complement work a student may complete with this focus.
  • Conflict Mediation Certificate – U.A. Little Rock-School of Public Affairs offers an 18 hour certificate.  All 18 hours of this certificate can be included in your degree program since our M.A. already includes three courses in this program (ACOM 7323 Conflict Analysis & Intervention; ACOM 7324 Negotiation; ACOM 7350 Effective Crisis Communication).
  • Business electives– The College of Business has identified electives for students interested in courses that will complement a focus on applied organizational communication.  These electives may also, with approval, be combined with courses that lead to a Certificate in Business.
  • Public Health- A 60 hour concurrent program with the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. Students earn an M.A. in Applied Communication Studies and an M.A. in Public Health.
  • Graduate Certificate Program in Human Resources/Organizational Communication equips students with specialized knowledge of human behavior in the workplace and in the application of effective interpersonal communication practices to human resource functions.  A student may complete this program, with approved electives, con-currently with the M.A. in Applied Communication without additional hours.

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.  We encourage Ph.D. bound students to revise and submit major course papers to professional conferences and journals while they are in our master’s program. Alumni from our master’s program now serve as professors at schools ranging from Purdue and Clemson to Kansas State and the Clinton School of Public Service.

Graduation Requirements (for both tracks)

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