The University of Alabama’s Department of Communication Studies offers a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with a specialization in Organizational Leadership through their Bama by Distance program that can be completed in approximately two years by taking at least two classes per semester. A fully online program, students interact with instructors, communicate with peers, and submit assignments using email and Blackboard Learn, an online learning management system.

There are two academic tracks available within the online program. The professional option is for students interested in pursuing careers outside academia, and includes the completion of a professional project and a culminating capstone portfolio. There is also an academic track that requires passing a comprehensive written exam to graduate. (Note: The on-campus program also offers a research track with thesis.)

The curriculum for UA’s online MA program focuses on the notion of human communication in written, oral, and visual formats. Students use the study of communication theory to develop strategic skills in critical areas of communication, such as negotiation, interpersonal communication, and public discussion. Through the program’s specialization in Organizational Communication, students explore the role of communication within businesses and other organizations, including how dynamic communication strategies produce leadership in the workplace, and why effective communication improves interpersonal and group relationships.

Curriculum is split between 30 credit hours of study, including core communication theory classes, method requirement courses, organizational leadership specialization courses, and a capstone portfolio. The core curriculum includes four classes (12 credit hours), covering topics such as relational communication, gender and political communication, culture and technology, and human communication theory. In addition to gaining a fundamental understanding of communication theory and practice, students build proficiencies in qualitative and quantitative research methods that are actively applied in the workplace through one class (3 credit hours) of research methodology instruction and one class (3 credit hours) related to a professional project or internship.

Finally, students must complete four classes (12 credit hours) of study in specialized organizational leadership courses. Specialized classes are geared towards helping students develop knowledge and skills in organizational leadership that can be applied to real-world situations. Topics may vary, but traditionally cover areas such as conflict and negotiation, group leadership, assessment and intervention, and organizational communication theory. Upon satisfying their course requirements, students complete their professional project and culminating capstone portfolio, or else study for and take their comprehensive examination during their final semester.

The capstone portfolio is comprised of several elements, including an introduction that summarizes the original proposal and academic course selection, a review of literature relevant to the student’s selected area of study, a review of how communication theory was applied to either the project or internship, a report on professional experience, and a personal summary of the entire educational experience.

The Department of Communication Studies is housed within the College of Communication Information Sciences, which is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and the American Library Association (ALA & ALSDE). The University of Alabama holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department: Department of Communication Studies
Specializations/Concentrations: Specialization in Organizational Leadership
Websites: Department and Program

Program Format
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Majority of instruction is asynchronous; however, some courses do require synchronous sessions
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Program can be completed in less than two years (by taking two courses per semester)
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Credits Required: 30 credits (10 courses)
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone professional project and portfolio or comprehensive exam
Example Courses: Conflict and Negotiation; Group Leadership; Seminar in Organizational Communication Theory; Gender and Political Communication; Relational Communication; Human Communication Theory

Application Requirements
GPA Requirements: Minimum GPA 3.0 or a 3.0 average in last 60 semester hours
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Admissions Requirements: Bachelor's degree; statement of purpose; resume or CV; three references (letters of recommendation are not required)

Tuition Costs
Estimated Tuition*: ~$13,200 + fees
Cost per Credit Hour: $440 per credit hour

State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states

*Estimated tuition is calculated by multiplying the cost per credit hour by the number of credits required to graduate. It does not include fees or other expenses.