The Master of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations is designed for aspiring students who wish to gain advanced knowledge and expertise in creating and managing persuasive communication. We help motivated students transition from a tactical to a more strategic, managerial approach to advertising and public relations, while becoming ethical and globally competent thought leaders in their future careers.

The Advertising and Public Relations Master of Arts program offers two concentrations that enable students to develop expertise in two growing areas of advertising and public relations.

The Advertising Creative concentration helps students build portfolios while learning to solve a client’s problems by beautifully wrapping smart strategies in provocative, layered, and memorable ideas.

The Media Strategy concentration equips students with analytic skills necessary to analyze traditional, digital, and social media data, uncover actionable insights, and develop brand strategies leveraging those insights.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are admitted into the program only for the Fall semester. Students cannot begin the program in the Spring or Summer semesters. Admission to graduate work in advertising and public relations requires a 3.0 or higher undergraduate grade point average (GPA) (on a 4.0 scale). Successful applicants must also earn a combined score of at least 300 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test, or at least 600 on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). International students are required to obtain a score of 90 or better on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT test. Required supporting materials include a statement of purpose explaining how a master’s in advertising and public relations would help you reach your career goals and three letters of reference (at least one from an academic source and one from a professional source).

Applications are reviewed starting November 15 on a rolling basis. The deadline for applicants to receive priority for departmental assistantships is March 15. Applications will be considered after the March 15 deadline, but they will not be considered for assistantships. No applications will be considered after June 15. The department offers a few competitive assistantships that provide a partial tuition waiver and a monthly stipend for support roles within the department.

Students that fall below the minimum grade point average or test score requirements may be admitted, but will require permission to continue. Students that require permission to continue must earn at least a 3.0 GPA after the first full semester in the program (minimum nine hours). Students that are transferring from another master’s program can have up to 12 hours accepted from their prior institution for the M.A. degree, pending a curriculum review by the graduate coordinator. In addition, non-degree seeking students can enroll in M.A. classes, pending a review by the graduate coordinator.

Accelerated Master’s Program

Through the Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP), talented seniors will be able to take courses that count simultaneously towards their undergraduate and graduate programs. Once admitted, an AMP student is approved to take up to 12 hours of graduate courses that can count towards both the B.A. and M.A. degrees, while also reducing the time it takes to earn his/her master’s degree by one year. Interested students will apply for the AMP program their Junior year and will work with the graduate coordinator to create their plan of study for their final two years. Applicants must have earned 90 or more credit hours by the Fall semester that they start the AMP program and have a minimum GPA of 3.3. Students must also score a 300 or more on the GRE for admission; however, students that have a GPA of 3.75 or higher in major classes may receive a GRE waiver, pending a resume and portfolio review by the graduate coordinator.

Expedited Admission Track into the C&IS Doctoral Program

The Expedited Admission Track into the C&IS doctoral program allows highly qualified students who completed an undergraduate degree to be admitted into the doctoral program. Such students will begin graduate coursework in the A+PR M.A. program and complete their graduate degree as College-wide doctoral candidates, without having to reapply for admission or to transfer credit hours from the M.A. program into the Ph.D. program. In short, if admitted on the expedited track, candidates will be able to count 24 hours of M.A. coursework, rather than the maximum of 12 hours, toward their doctoral degree.

  • Admission into the A+PR M.A. program and the CIS Ph.D. program
  • Submit a statement of purpose indicating interest and commitment to graduate work through the doctoral level
  • Upon completing 24 hours of graduate coursework at the master’s level (18 hours of core classes, a strategy class and a media class), students must pass a comprehensive, qualifying exam to continue towards the doctoral degree

Degree Requirements

The M.A. in advertising and public relations is a 30-36 (based on concentration) credit-hour program designed to provide students with knowledge of industry trends, proficiency in research-driven critical thinking and problem solving, and exposure to scholars and professionals who are well-connected to an evolving communication landscape in order to build a unique expertise in managing persuasive communication.

Students will work with a faculty advisor to create their own career emphasis from a wide range of electives within A+PR and other departments that will help them gain in-depth knowledge for their future career. These electives, along with a core specifically designed to provide students with a true blend of academic and industry knowledge, will help guide their capstone project. Students will choose from two options: a strategic plan for aspiring industry professionals or a thesis for aspiring scholars. In addition to coursework, students will be required to receive professional experience during the summer after their first year in order to enhance the training they receive in the classroom. 

Each student's progress will be guided by their faculty advisor. Students in each program must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 during their tenure in the program. Students who receive more than two "C" grades will undergo a faculty review to determine if they should proceed in the program.


A+PR’s M.A. program offers two concentrations that provide expertise in two growing areas of advertising and public relations to prepare students for more specialized jobs.

The Advertising Creative concentration helps students build portfolios while learning to solve a client’s problems by beautifully wrapping smart strategies in provocative, layered, and memorable ideas. At the completion of the program, students will have a portfolio that highlights their natural talents and emphasizes their newly developed strengths to help students find a job in their area of expertise, either art direction or copywriting. Admission into this concentration is by application only. Applications are available the spring semester before students begin the program.

The Media Strategy concentration equips students with analytic skills necessary to analyze traditional, digital, and social media data, uncover actionable insights, and develop brand strategies leveraging those insights. Through hands-on course work and industry collaboration, students will be prepared to pursue careers in media strategy and planning, brand planning, and advertising and public relations analytics. Students must have a quantitative GRE score at or above the 75th percentile to be considered for the Media Strategy concentration.

Individualized Plan of Study (no formal concentration)More Information

Core Courses (12 hours)
APR 551Foundations of Integrated Comm3
APR 550Analysis and Insights I3
APR 570Industry Outlook and Prof Dev3
APR 593Global Comm Management3
Elective Courses (15-18 hours)
APR 583Analysis and Insights II3
Media Course (3 hours - students must choose one)3
Media Strategy and Analytics
Media Relations
Strategy Course (3 hours - students must choose one)3
Reputation Comm Strategy
Brand Communication Strategy
Electives (6-9 hours - based on area of speciality)6-9
Capstone Project (6 hours)
Students will complete six hours of one of the following:6
Applied Project
Thesis Research
Total Hours33-36

Professional Experience Requirement

Students enrolled in the M.A. program will be required to complete an internship or some type of professional experience during the summer of their first year. This requirement is designed to encourage students to use the skills learned in the classroom in a professional setting. Students will be required to submit a job description to the graduate coordinator for approval prior to completing the internship. Internships will be approved on a case-by-case basis, but typical internships that are approved would require at least 10 hours a week and/or 80 hours during the summer semester in an advertising, public relations or a related role in a professional setting. After completing the internship, students will submit a short (1-2 page) description of what they experienced and learned during the internship, as well as a form signed by their immediate supervisor, in order to satisfy the requirement. International students that must receive course credit for the internship requirement will enroll for one hour in APR 596 Independent Study Resrch.

Capstone Project

The capstone project will be an individual demonstration of your knowledge of the skills, theories and concepts that you learned in your coursework during the program. Students will work with an advisor to determine the best course of action from two options:

Strategic Plan

Students will work with their advisor to identify a problem or opportunity facing an organization of their choice. The student will conduct secondary and primary research in order to assess the problem/opportunity and create a strategic plan that will address the problem/opportunity. Completing an integrated communication strategic plan will be suggested to students that are looking to pursue a career in the advertising and public relations industry. The student will submit a proposal to a three-member standing committee, and upon completion, the student will present his/her plan to the faculty for evaluation. Students will enroll for six hours in APR 598 Applied Project during the spring semester.


Students will work with their advisor to identify a gap in the scholarly research devoted to a topic in advertising and/or public relations. The student will conduct a review of related literature, and propose and execute original research that will answer the student’s overarching research inquiry. Completing a thesis will be suggested to students that are looking to pursue a doctorate. The student, along with their advisor, will form a committee that will evaluate the thesis upon completion. Students will enroll for six hours in APR 599 Thesis Research during the spring semester.

Advertising Creative Concentration

Program Core
APR 550Analysis and Insights I3
APR 551Foundations of Integrated Comm3
APR 570Industry Outlook and Prof Dev3
APR 593Global Comm Management3
APR 598Applied Project6
Concentration in Advertising Creative
APR 531Concepting3
APR 532Creative Leadership3
APR 533 or Copywriting Seminar3
APR 534 Art Direction Seminar
APR 535Portfolio I3
APR 536Portfolio II3
Total Hours33

Media Strategy Concentration

Program Core
APR 550Analysis and Insights I3
APR 551Foundations of Integrated Comm3
APR 570Industry Outlook and Prof Dev3
APR 593Global Comm Management3
APR 598 or Applied Project6
APR 599 Thesis Research
Concentration in Media Strategy
APR 522Media Strategy and Analytics3
APR 526 or Adv Media Res and Strategy (Advanced Media Research and Analytics)3
APR 596 Independent Study Resrch
APR 583Analysis and Insights II3
MKT 543Adv Digital and Social Media3
ST 531 or Data Mining I3
LS 590 Issues In Librarianship
NOTE: Topic for LS 590 must be Computational Research Methods
ST 560Statistical Methods3
Total Hours36

Master's Degrees

The primary purpose of master’s degree programs is to provide students with subject matter at an advanced level in their fields of study.  Master’s degrees are designed to assist students either to continue their graduate studies or to meet the goals of their professions.  In most cases, master’s programs also help students become familiar with methods of independent investigation.

Program Requirements

Two plans are offered for the master's degree:

Plan I.  Candidates for the master's degree under Plan I must earn a minimum of 24 semester hours of credit in coursework plus earn a minimum of 6 additional hours of thesis research hours, for a total of 30 hours.

Plan II.  Candidates for the master's degree under Plan II must earn a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework credit and pass the comprehensive examination or complete a culminating or “capstone experience” as described under the Comprehensive Examinations section below.

Both plans require a minimum of 18 semester hours in the major subject.  With the approval of the major department, the remainder of the coursework may be completed in either the major or a related field.

In some divisions and in many departments of the University, candidates are required to do their work under Plan I.  Candidates working under Plan II may be required to participate successfully in seminar or problem courses that will give them an acquaintance with the methods of research and an appreciation of the place and function of original investigation in the field.

Residency Requirements

A student's program at the master's level must provide sufficient association with the resident faculty to permit individual evaluation of the student's capabilities and achievements.

Graduate Credit

A student must be admitted to the Graduate School and must register as a graduate student in order to receive graduate credit.  Approval for graduate registration must be obtained from program advisors prior to registration.

Graduate Credit for Noncredit Experiences

All course credit used toward a UA graduate degree must be taught at the graduate level.  No graduate credit may be earned by correspondence study or for experiential learning not conducted under the direct supervision of graduate faculty of The University of Alabama.  UA does not offer graduate credit for noncredit workshops, seminars, continuing education experiences, professional development, internships, work/life experience, and so forth.  

Transfer of Credit

Courses of full graduate-level credit earned in a regionally accredited institution where a student was enrolled in the graduate school may be submitted for review for inclusion in a master's degree program. Evaluation of credit for transfer will not be made until after the student has enrolled in the Graduate School of The University of Alabama. Acceptance of credit requires the approval of the student's advisory committee and the dean of the Graduate School.  Credit will not be accepted for transfer from any institution at which the student failed to achieve a "B" average on all graduate work attempted.  Only courses in which a student earned a "B" grade or better may be transferred. Thesis Research (599) may not be transferred in from an outside institution.

In some cases, foreign educational credentials may not meet the Graduate School's criteria for transfer of credit.  It may be necessary for students in this situation to secure an evaluation of their credentials from World Education Services Inc. (WES), an external foreign credential evaluation service.  Additional information on their services can be found at their website. 

A student initiates at the Graduate School’s website a Request for Transfer of Graduate Credit earned at another institution.  It is also the student's responsibility to assure that the Graduate School receives an official transcript from the other institution where the transfer credit has been requested, well in advance of the final semester. 

With the approval of the student's department and the dean of the Graduate School, the greater of 12 hours or 25 percent of the required coursework for a master's degree may be transferred from another institution.  All credit toward the master's degree, including transfer credit, must have been earned during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the master’s degree is to be awarded.  Revalidation or recertification of graduate credits that will be more than 18 semesters old at the time of UA master's program completion is not an option.

Please note that some departments allow fewer than 12 hours of graduate transfer credit.  Be sure to check with your department's graduate coordinator regarding your department's transfer policy.

400-Level Courses

A maximum of 6 semester hours of 400-level course credit may be accepted for a master's degree program, but only if a form for Approval of 400-Level Course Work for Master's Credit is approved by the Graduate School prior to the semester in which the 400-level coursework will be taken.

Time Limit

All requirements for the master's degree must be completed during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the degree is to be awarded.  There is no provision for an extension of the time limit beyond six years for master's students.

Admission to Candidacy

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Graduate Council eliminated the master’s candidacy requirement.  Departments may monitor master’s candidacy if they wish, but the Graduate School does not monitor it and will not accept master’s candidacy forms.  Doctoral and Educational Specialist candidacy are not affected and remains an important program requirement.


A thesis evidencing research capacity, independent thought, and the ability to interpret materials is required of all master's degree candidates who pursue Plan I.  The subject chosen must be in the major field and must be approved by the graduate committee of the major department or school and by the head of the student's major department or division.

The final oral thesis defense is the culminating experience in the master’s program.  As such, all members of the thesis committee are expected to attend and participate in real time.  Virtual attendance via interactive video or teleconference is permitted for off-campus external committee members, but Tuscaloosa campus faculty should attend in person unless extraordinary circumstances dictate the need for virtual attendance.  

A thesis committee must consist of at least three members appointed by the dean of the Graduate School.  A form for Appointment or Change of Master's Thesis Committee is used to request that the graduate dean approve all members of a thesis committee.  The request normally is made as soon as the successful defense of the thesis proposal has been completed.  All members of a thesis committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty.  The Committee Chair must be a full or associate member of the Graduate Faculty.  One member must be from outside the student's major department.  If the outside member is not a full or associate member of the UA Graduate Faculty (e.g., a highly qualified person from another university, a business, or industry), the graduate dean needs to appoint that member by approving Temporary Graduate Faculty status for the specific purpose of serving on the student's thesis committee.  Unless there are extraordinary circumstances meriting approval by the graduate dean before the final oral defense of the thesis, all members of the thesis committee must attend the defense.

The candidate must give members of the examining committee a minimum of two weeks to read the thesis before the date of the final oral examination.  A final oral examination is required of all students completing a thesis.  All members of the thesis committee must be members of the UA graduate faculty and must attend the final oral examination unless there are extraordinary circumstances warranting the graduate dean's approval of the absence prior to the defense meeting.

Article Style vs. Journal Format

Article Style.

At the doctoral level, "article-style dissertations" are unified works that include several distinct but related studies of research or creative activity, each of which is of publishable quality.  The University does not permit an "article-style thesis" to be presented for a master's degree.

Journal Format.

A "journal-format thesis" is acceptable.  Such a thesis follows the format of a particular journal in which the student and advisor want the thesis to be published.  To prepare a journal-format thesis, the student uses the journal's "information for authors" or similarly titled guidelines in conjunction with the Graduate School's Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

As of August 15, 2009, all theses are submitted electronically rather than on paper.  See the Graduate School's homepage for a link to information on Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) for details.

Theses must comply with the regulations set out in A Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations, available on the Graduate School's website.  Approval of the thesis by the graduate dean is necessary before graduation.

The thesis should be completed, if possible, while the student is in residence at the University.  To request permission to complete a thesis in absentia, the student must, before leaving the University, submit a satisfactory outline of the thesis, as well as evidence that adequate facilities are available where the work will be done, to the head of the student's major department.

Protection of Human Subjects for Research

Scientific research involving human subjects has produced substantial benefits for society, but it also can pose troubling ethical questions.  The mission of the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Protection of Human Subjects is to ensure that research involving human subjects is conducted ethically.  University and federal policies require that review and approval to use human subjects in research precede the research.  In the case of thesis research that involves the use of human subjects in any way, the principal investigator is responsible for contacting the college Human Research Review Committee to obtain approval for the planned research. 

Comprehensive Examinations

In addition to the regular course examinations, a final comprehensive examination representing a "culminating" or "capstone" experience for a degree is required of all candidates for the master's degree (except for those candidates pursuing the Master of Accountancy, the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Library and Information Studies, the Master of Social Work, and the Master of Tax Accounting).  The comprehensive examination is a culminating experience in which the student is expected to integrate prior learning.  Each department, with approval of the Graduate Council, determines the most appropriate format. The various exams may consist of one or more of the following: 

  • a written and/or oral examination based on the content of the degree program;

  • a thesis and final oral defense;

  • a course requiring interpretation and integration of information from previous courses;

  • a research paper, a "policy and practice" paper, or equivalent experience;

  • a public performance or exhibition along with a contextualizing paper; and/or

  • a practicum or internship.

If the comprehensive exam requirement is met with option 1 and/or 2 above, then the examining committee for comprehensive examinations must consist of at least three members of the graduate faculty from that department and appointed by the dean of the Graduate School.  The examination must be given at least six weeks before the date of graduation (two weeks before for Plan II) and reported promptly to the dean of the Graduate School on appropriate forms.  A final report, on the Master's/EdS Examination Form (this link needs to be changed to is on the Graduate School website.  The form should be submitted when all examinations are completed.  A student may take the final oral or written examination only twice.  Failing the examination twice results in dismissal from the degree program and the Graduate School.

Application for Graduation

Each candidate for a master's degree must apply for graduation through myBama no later than the last day to add a class for the semester or the first session of the summer term in which requirements for the degree are to be completed.  

Second Master's Degree

Six (6) semester hours of eligible credit from one master's degree at The University of Alabama may be applied to the requirements for a second master's degree, but only if the department of the second master’s agrees to the courses in the plan of study.  Any hours from the previous master’s degree must have been earned during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the second degree is to be awarded.  ***Please note that if a student double counts six hours between two master’s degrees, no hours may double count toward any additional master’s degrees.