THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA GRADUATE CATALOG
Table of Contents > College of Communication and Information Sciences

8.2 DEPARTMENT OF ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS (APR)
Chairperson: Professor Joseph Phelps, Office: 307 Reese Phifer Hall

The master of arts programs in advertising and public relations are intended for those who wish to acquire advanced understanding of and skills in the development of highly effective persuasive communication. The programs focus on prevailing communication theories, current research findings, and advanced practical techniques. The faculty seeks to educate highly competent, focused students who will be recognized for their leadership qualities: the ability to discern issues both in the practice of their profession and in their role in society; the ability to develop and execute successful communication programs; and the ability to lead others effectively.

Two programs are offered: (1) a two-year thesis program with specialization in advertising or public relations (Plan I), and (2) a one-year professional program combining advertising and public relations (Plan II).

Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate work in advertising and public relations requires a 3.0 or higher undergraduate grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and a combined score of at least 1000 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination general test. The department also accepts the Graduate Management Admissions Test with prior approval. International students are required to obtain scores of 600 or better on the centrally administered version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Required supporting materials include a statement of career objectives and three letters of reference (at least two from academic sources).

The deadline for all application materials to have arrived at the department is March 1. This is an earlier deadline than those established by the Graduate School and most other departments at the University of Alabama.

Conditional admission sometimes may be granted for a student who falls below the minimum grade point average or test score requirements. Students admitted conditionally must earn at least a 3.0 grade point average for their first 12 credit hours.

Each student's progress will be guided by an academic advisor or by the departmental director of graduate studies. Students in each program must maintain minimum grade point averages of 3.0 and may receive no more than two "C" grades to be eligible to continue.

Additional information is in the Admission Criteria section of this catalog.

Degree Requirements

Plan I, the Two-Year Research Program

The two-year master's degree program is intended for students seeking a strong research emphasis in their study of advertising and public relations. The Plan I program focuses on important problems and questions, gathering evidence, and setting standards for inference. The program specifically prepares students in the areas of (a) mastering the body of scholarly knowledge of advertising and public relations, and (b) contributing to the advancement of knowledge in these fields through basic and applied research. Students may decide to continue their studies, pursuing doctorates in advertising or public relations. Students in the Plan I program specialize in either advertising or public relations, learn the concepts and methods involved in productive scholarship, and collaborate with faculty members in conducting research.

Plan I requirements. Plan I is normally a two-year program and requires (a) a minimum of 30 hours of approved graduate courses, (b) demonstration of proficiency in research skills, (c) passing of a comprehensive written examination, and (d) completion and successful defense of a master's thesis. Students admitted to the program with little or no previous coursework in advertising or public relations may be required to take one or more undergraduate courses in the department to supplement their graduate studies.

All required graduate courses in the Plan I program are listed below; cognates and electives are chosen subject to the approval of the student's academic advisor.

 

Required courses

Semester
hours

APR 550 Advertising/Public Relations Communication
Research Methods

3

APR 551 Advertising/Public Relations Communication Theory

3

APR 570 Contemporary Advertising and Public Relations

3

APR 583 Research Applications in Advertising and Public Relations

3

Cognates

9

Elective (APR, JN, MC, or TCF course numbered above 550)

3

APR 599 Thesis Research

6

_____

Total

30

Nine hours of this program are devoted to a cognate area, usually outside the College of Communication and Information Sciences. The cognate is intended to provide concentrated study in an area related to the student's career interests. The cognate typically consists of courses in one discipline, but it can consist of courses in several disciplines if the overall topic is unified and contributes to the student's objectives. Cognate examples include marketing, organizational communication, psychology, sociology, and political science.

Research proficiency can be demonstrated by successful completion of one or more statistics or computer science courses approved by the student's academic advisor, or by proficiency in the research methods appropriate to the student's master's thesis.

Following completion of all coursework, students must pass a comprehensive examination.

The student must select a faculty member to chair the thesis committee. In concert with the thesis chairperson, the student chooses a three-member thesis committee. One member must be from outside the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Working with this committee, the student identifies an appropriate thesis topic and research approach. A thesis proposal must be approved by the thesis committee before a student is permitted to begin work on thesis research. The completed thesis must be defended in an oral examination before the thesis committee.

Plan II, the One-Year Professional Program

The professional program is an intensive, professionally oriented, one-year program that combines advertising and public relations. Recognizing the increasingly close links between the advertising and public relations professions, the Plan II program provides advanced preparation in both disciplines. The program provides intensive training to meet specific objectives. Graduates will be prepared to:

  • develop a thorough understanding of the institutions and processes involved in advertising and public relations, through a combined program of study
  • use research both to generate communication strategies and to evaluate the success of communication programs
  • write idea-driven persuasive communication
  • plan, implement, and evaluate media plans for advertising and public relations programs and campaigns

The Plan II program is for recent college graduates who see the advantages of having advanced skills in advertising and public relations. The students will recognize that preparation in the liberal arts, business administration, or communication has provided them with important knowledge but has not sufficiently prepared them in the communication concepts and skills needed to be a leader.

Speaking and writing skills are emphasized in all courses, with frequent papers and presentations. One course each semester emphasizes writing skills involved in the advertising and public relations professions.

Plan II requirements. The one-year Plan II program requires (a) completion of a specific 33-hour program of graduate courses, (b) demonstration of proficiency in research skills, (c) passing of a comprehensive written examination, and (d) completion of a master's project in the course APR 598 Communication Workshop. Students admitted to the program will receive a list of critical readings and will be expected to become familiar with these materials before beginning the program. The program starts with a series of orientation sessions aimed at evaluating each student's grasp of the critical readings and ability to proceed with the program without further background study.

Plan II required courses are as follows (semester assignments are provided only as illustration):

Fall semester
APR 570 Contemporary Advertising and Public Relations
APR 572 Persuasive Communication
APR 550 Advertising/Public Relations Communication Research Methods
APR 551 Advertising/Public Relations Communication Theory

Spring semester
APR 522 Media Planning*
APR 582 Advertising and Public Relations Management
APR 583 Research Applications in Advertising and Public Relations
APR 592 Integrated Communication Project*

*Depending on the student's background, an elective course may be substituted for APR 522 or APR 592.

Interim session
APR 590 Visual Communication

First summer session
APR 597 Communication Campaign Workshop I

Second summer session
APR 598 Communication Campaign Workshop II

Research proficiency can be demonstrated by completion of APR 550 and APR 583 with grades of "B" or better, or by successful application of research methods appropriate to the student's project.

The comprehensive examination will be conducted during the first week of the first summer term and may be attempted only twice.

Each year two faculty members serve on the project committee for the Plan II master's degree program. Those faculty members read each of the project reports submitted by students at the conclusion of APR 597/APR 598, and other faculty members may also attend the project presentations given by students at the end of this course.

 

See the online Graduate Catalog (Sec. 4.11.3) for details on Comprehensive Examination and all other degree requirements.

 


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