Mass Communication

Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

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Master of Arts in Mass Communication

The Master of Arts in Mass Communication program is located within the School of Mass Communication (SMC) and emphasizes critical thinking about  media content and its effects on the public. It also teaches students how to analyze and conduct scholarly research in Mass Communication and how to write up and present the results of such research to both scholarly and non- scholarly audiences. Although the program does not emphasize the teaching of journalistic writing skills, it does offer limited opportunities to earn graduate credit in advanced skills course work in Mass Communication and public relations.

The program is open to students with undergraduate majors or minors in Mass Communication, to working journalists, and to those without Mass Communication backgrounds who are willing to complete several undergraduate Mass Communication skills courses, as determined by the program coordinator upon admission.

Most of the program’s graduate courses are offered during the evening and in the early morning for the convenience of the working professional. Generally, these courses meet once a week for approximately three hours.

Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a grade point average of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale) on the last 60 hours of undergraduate credit
  • Letter of 250-500 words outlining professional goals and purpose for desiring the degree
  • A résumé of professional and academic experience and accomplishments
  • Two letters of recommendation from former professors who can evaluate the applicant’s academic abilities

All of these materials, including official transcript(s) from the institution(s) awarding the last 60 undergraduate semester hours, all graduate hours, and all degrees must be submitted to the UALR Graduate School. In evaluating each applicant, the graduate program admissions committee weighs the transcript(s) and evidence of professional competence or potential. Students whose application materials do not satisfy regular admission requirements may submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as supplemental information to be considered by the admissions committee.

Program Requirements

The Mass Communication graduate program offers two options: thesis and professional. A comprehensive project and at least 33 hours of study at UALR are required of all students. Each student’s program is subject to an adviser’s approval.

All courses usually are taken in the School of Mass Communication; however, up to nine approved cognate graduate hours may be taken in other graduate areas. In some instances, courses from another area can form a concentration area. Only six hours with grades of C can count toward the degree.

If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, that student may enroll for only three credits per semester until the GPA rises to 3.0 or higher. The Mass Communication graduate program coordinator may make exceptions to this rule, if circumstances warrant them.
Students who have not studied Mass Communication at the undergraduate level or who do not have sufficient professional Mass Communication experience to master basic news writing, reporting, and editing skills will be required to complete any or all of the following courses:

MCOM 2350 Beginning Reporting
MCOM 3320 Advanced Reporting

Two of the following courses may be required for graduate credit:

MCOM 5350 Design and Production
MCOM 5352 News Media and the First Amendment
MCOM 5358 Reporting of Public Affairs

Students without an undergraduate background in Mass Communication should take MCOM 5352, News Media and the First Amendment. This class should be completed, either at the graduate or undergraduate level, before taking MCOM 7330, Seminar in Mass Communication Law. Students without a solid knowledge of mass communications history should consult with the Mass Communication graduate program coordinator about how to overcome that weakness.

Program Options

Thesis Option

Requires 33 graduate credit hours, including MCOM 7300 and 7305, 7335, 7340, and a six-hour thesis with oral defense (MCOM 8300 or 8600).

Professional Option

Requires 33 graduate credit hours, including MCOM 7300, the student’s choice between 7335 or 7340 and an approved professional project (MCOM 7180, 7280, 7380).

Transfer Credit

Up to six graduate hours with grades of B or greater may be transferred from an accredited institution, if approved by the Mass Communication graduate program coordinator.

Use of Materials

All materials submitted by students as assignments in writing, reporting, editing, photography, and electronic news gathering classes are subject to broadcast or publication. The School of Mass Communication uses a variety of electronic and print media outlets.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships may be available. Contact the graduate program coordinator for information.

Graduation Requirements

  • Earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved course of study as outlined above.
  • Complete the professional project or thesis, if applicable.

Courses in Mass Communication

MCOM 5350 Design and Production
Prerequisite: junior status and MCOM 2320 or consent of instructor based on demonstrable professional experience. Decision-making in the editing process. Principles of typography and design for print and online media.

MCOM 5352 News Media and the First Amendment
Prerequisites: junior standing; MCOM 3360 recommended prerequisite. The restrictions, obligations, and responsibilities of the news media; the law and its effect on publishing and broadcasting; relations between the law and freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution.

MCOM 5357 Seminar in Radio-Television Journalism
Broadcast news policies; history; governmental, other forms of regulation; social implications; influence of various publics on radio-television news coverage.

MCOM 5358 Reporting of Public Affairs
Prerequisites: MCOM 2320, 2350, and 3320; MCOM 3315 and 3360 may be taken as prerequisites or corequisites; or consent of instructor based upon demonstrable advanced media experience. Practice in gathering materials and writing in-depth stories on public affairs; emphasis on courts, police, government, education, ecology, the economy, and social issues.

MCOM 5359 Feature and Magazine Writing
Prerequisites: MCOM 2320 and 2350. Planning, researching, and writing the feature article for newspapers, magazines, and online publications. Emphasis on humanistic reporting and providing a context for the news through thorough research and application of this research to the article. Materials submitted as assignments are subject to publication.

MCOM 5375 Journalistic Freedom and Responsibility
Journalistic ethics and practices; professional conduct, responsibilities of the journalist in a free society.

MCOM 5380 Public Relations Writing
Prerequisites: MCOM 2320 and 2350; MCOM 2350 may be corequisite. The journalistic function in public relations, includes the writing and processing of news and feature releases for print and electronic media and editing internal and external publications.

MCOM 5381 Public Relations Cases
Three credits. Study of recent public relations cases involving business, industry, institutions and government. Students will also be introduced to public relations theories as they are applied in case studies and will analyze cases in terms of their component parts.

MCOM 5384 Topics in Mass Communication
Prerequisite: junior standing and consent of instructor. Advanced and specialized topics in mass communication, especially those of current interest and relevance to mass communication professionals. Possible subjects include the following: journalism, entertainment, production and design, Web and media, strategic communication, mass media, etc. Classes will provide an in-depth understanding of topics chosen. Refer to the semester schedule for specific topics offered.

MCOM 5386 Images of Minorities in the Media
This course examines the material and ideological representations of various racial and ethnic groups in the United States as reflected in the media including both historical and contemporary depictions. Students explore theories including racial formation, otherness, and commodification among others. In this course, students learn the origins of ideological and material representations of minorities; how they are maintained in the culture and in the media; the similarities and differences in depictions among and across racial and ethnic groups; and the impact of these representations on the various minority groups and society as a whole.

MCOM 7180, 7280, 7380 Special Problems in Mass Communication
Prerequisite: consent of a graduate faculty member. Individual work on selected problems in mass communication.

MCOM 7190, 7290, 7390 Readings in Mass Communication
Prerequisite: consent of a graduate faculty member. Individual readings of selected works in mass communication.

MCOM 7300 Proseminar in Mass Communication
Introduces graduate students to Mass Communication graduate program content and faculty expectations; to IRB certification; to social-science research techniques and interpretation; to scholarly manuscript process and presentation; and to post-MA career possibilities, both professional and academic.

MCOM 7305 Mass Communication Processes and Effects
Structure, theory, processes, effects of mass communication, mass media in the U.S.; relationships of media to one another, to other major institutions in U.S. society, to individuals and groups.

MCOM 7310 Precision Journalism
Application of behavioral science methodology to news reporting, especially to reporting of governmental, public affairs.

MCOM 7315 International Mass Communication
Comparison, contrast of mass media around the world; interaction between media and governments; role of media in the development of nations; international communication theories, models.

MCOM 7316 Ethnic and Alternative Media in America
This course examines the role and function of ethnic and alternative news organizations in America from historical to contemporary times. Students will consider how ethnic and alternative news organizations and outlets have changed and contributed to society, as well as obstacles facing these organizations. Students will explore similarities and differences between mainstream news organizations and alternative media outlets.

MCOM 7320 Literature of Journalism
Review and assessment of writings, primarily books, concerning various aspects of journalism to provide a familiarization with and understanding of the body of literature pertaining to the discipline.

MCOM 7325 The Press and Propaganda
Interaction between press and institutionalized propaganda; theory, practice of persuasive campaigns created and implemented by political, religious, commercial institutions; strategy and media use for creating public opinions and issues, candidates, products, policies.

MCOM 7330 Seminar in Mass Communication Law
Prerequisite: MCOM 4352/5352 or equivalent. Pinpoints research procedures and provides incentive, direction, and a forum for examining topics in mass communication law; treats specific problems by examining statutory confines and court interpretations.

MCOM 7331 Internet Policy and Regulation
This course is an overview of the policies and regulation that govern the Internet as a mass medium. It focuses on areas of active discussions among mass media practitioners, legislators, policy makers, the law courts, scholars and the American people.

MCOM 7335 Seminar in Journalism Quantitative Research
Prerequisite: MCOM 7310 or equivalent. Methodological approaches to the study of mass communication structure, processes, effects; emphasis on survey and experimental research procedures and content analysis.

MCOM 7337 Media Criticism
This course adopts a qualitative methodological approach to research in the framework of humanities, popular arts, critical theory, and cultural studies. It examines the social, cultural, and informational dimensions of mass media – the structures of mass media industries, and the mass media industries as culture industries.

MCOM 7340 Seminar in Journalism History
Historiography as applied in the field of journalism history; analysis of and practice in the scholarly writing of journalism history; selected topics in journalism history.

MCOM 7350 PR for 21st Century Non-Profits
Three credits. Study of public relations strategic media planning with special emphasis on the application of public relations principles as they apply to non-profit organizations. Includes student project.

MCOM 7360 Editorial Writing
Media’s comment function, policies, problems.

MCOM 7365 New Media Writing and Producing
Students in this course will learn how to use various multimedia tools to write and produce journalistic content for various online media venues.

MCOM 7370 New Media Publishing
This course involves learning how to design and publish multimedia mass communication content on the Internet. It is a lecture, lab and project based course that focuses on the principles of convergent journalism and the processes of responsive design and publishing mass media content on the Internet.

MCOM 7398 Professional Project
Under the direction of their supervisory committees students will use this course to complete professional-quality mass communication projects that integrate and synthesize their graduate experiences in the Professional Journalism/Public Relations Option. These projects will demonstrate the student’s mastery of the discipline and provide the framework for future work in the field.

MCOM 8100, 8200, 8300, 8400, 8500, 8600 Thesis
Prerequisite: successful completion of comprehensive examination. A scholarly work, based on research that advances an original point of view in the discipline of journalism. Variable credit of one to six hours.