Master of Arts in Applied Communication

From corporate leadership and fundraising to public information officer and researcher, an MA in Applied Communication will strengthen your skills and open doors to new opportunities. We invite students to participate in our mission to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication.

Applied communication looks at how communication theory and principles can be used to better the communication that takes place in a variety of contexts. In our graduate program, we focus primarily on interpersonal and organizational 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 while focusing on asking three big questions across our course work:

  • 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 you are able to do the following:

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

Flexible Online Program

Courses for this program are offered online in uniquely synchronous and asynchronous formats. Our 7000-level courses and 8310 course are offered synchronously over Zoom, and 5000-level courses are offered in an asynchronous format.  The required zoom classes are offered on evenings and weekends. No matter where you live, you can engage in a mission-driven program focused on practical application.

Future Career Opportunities

Our MA graduates work in numerous industries in Arkansas and across the country. Many of our graduates go into careers in leadership and management. To support your career development, we will aid you in connecting with our diverse alumni network. Students use our degree for moving into various corporate leadership roles as change agents, both inside organizations and within their communities. Others excel in public relations, fundraising, consulting, and government.

Early Entry

We offer a great way for students to see if they’re interested in the graduate program while they work on their undergraduate degree. The early entry program allows students to earn up to 12 hours toward the MA while pursuing their BA, and will save up to 36% of the total cost of tuition. Students will need a 3.0 or higher overall GPA and a 3.2 GPA in ACOM 2310, 2311, 3320, and at least one ACOM elective. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Dr. Gerald Driskill.

Graduate Certificates

We identify ways to maximize coursework, electives, and the final project to fit a student’s career goals. Additionally, students may concurrently complete a graduate certificate in the following areas:

Conflict Management Certificate – Prepares students with a critical tool for supervisors, managers, and HR directors.

Nonprofit Management Certificate – Equips executives, directors, and managers of nonprofit organizations, as well as students interested in the nonprofit sector.

Human Resources and Organizational Communication Certificate – Gain specialized knowledge of effective interpersonal communication practices to human resource functions


Learning Outcomes and Goals

MA-ACS graduates engage in the departmental mission of fostering the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication by ethically:

Analyzing Messages to determine what we are creating in our communication. Students learn to apply theoretic models and research methods to better understand communication practices as they occur in real-life contexts.

Setting Communicative Goals to guide what we want to create in our communication. Students offer research-based and theoretically informed recommendations for both professional and personal contexts to better the communication in those contexts.

Influencing Discourse by advocating for communication best practices that will create what we want to be creating in our communication. Students model positive communication practices when productively responding to personal, local, national, and global issues.