Public Accountability

The Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama offers the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication, and the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts. 


The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication received a unanimous vote for an initial accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications at its May 1, 2015 meeting. ACEJMC is the agency responsible for the evaluation of professional journalism and mass communications programs in colleges and universities.  Only four schools in the State of Alabama are ACEJMC accredited; only 114 programs in the United States, and five countries outside the U.S., have chosen to submit their academic programs for accreditation review.  To read the department’s self-study, prepared as part of the accreditation review, go here:


Information on the accreditation requirements can be found here:


The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts does not fall under the accreditation guidelines of ACEJMC but the programs follow the curriculum requirements and benefit from resources provided in support of the accredited program.


The University of North Alabama received approval from the Alabama Communication on Higher Education (ACHE) to offer the BA/BS in Mass Communication in 2010; the program began accepting students in Fall 2010 under the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) category 09.0102.  The BA/BS in Communication Arts was reclassification in 2010 under the CIP category 09.0101. 


As part of our effort to provide public accountability of our programs, we provide the following data for prospective and currently enrolled students and their parents, for review by our educational peers, and for review by other interested parties.


Retention Rates


The percentages below indicate the first-year retention rates of students who declare the Department of Communications and mass communication as their program of study as an incoming freshmen and who returned as a communications major by fall of the next academic year.  We are aware of students who did return to the university but elected to change their majors from mass communication.  In some instances, they changed to a communication arts major within the department; in other cases, they went to another program at UNA.


Retention Rates for Entering First-Year Students in Mass Communication

Fall Term

First Year Students

Returned 2nd Year

















Why does the freshmen number decline from Fall 2010 to the present? We believe some students are incorrectly coded by the Admissions Office when they are enrolled.  We made a substantial number of corrections in the fall and spring semester during the advisement periods. 


According to UNA’s Office of Institutional Research, UNA’s freshman-to-sophomore retention averages 70% and is higher than the Alabama Peer average of 62%.  Both the four-year and six-year graduation rates are lower than the CSRDE average, but higher than the Alabama Peer average (Source: OIRPA, Performance-Based Ratios at UNA, Fall 2012).


Why don’t students return?  There are a number of reasons. Some UNA students don’t immediately return due to financial reasons—they may be working part-time and are unable to enroll the following fall but they return in the spring.  Still other students attend our university for general education classes and perhaps one or two classes in the major and then transfer elsewhere. While not specific to retention of mass communication students, OIRPA has found that among those students who did not return to UNA and who earned a UNA GPA of less than 2.0, almost 67% had inadequate college preparation based on high school GPA and ACT scores.


According to an eight-year trend for the university, there is a slight increase in retention across campus. Females demonstrated a higher retention rate (74.2%) than males (66.2%) in
2010. White students had a higher retention rate (73.4%) than Black students (59.9%), but not as high as Hispanic students (76.2%). Retention trends calculated by student ethnicity in mass communication are not yet tracked due to the size of the cohort.  (Source: OIRPA, Retention, Progress and Graduation at UNA, Spring 2012).


Graduation Rates

The Mass Communication and Communication Arts programs were initiated in 2010. The four-year graduation data for the mass communication program is shown below. Because our students often put themselves through school, we have shown other graduation rates beyond the four-year rate.


All students entering the Department of Communications were required to select either the BA/BS in Mass Communication or the BA/BS in Communication Arts beginning in Fall 2010.  During the Fall 2010 term, students previously studying in the Department of Communications were provided the opportunity to change to the new BA/BS in Mass Communication.  Many students stayed under their existing curriculum/catalog plan rather than change. Several did change; here are their graduation rates.



Number of Students

4 Years for Graduation

5 Years for


6 Years for


Fa 2010-Su 2011





Fa 2011-Su 2012





Fa 2012-Su 2013





Fa 2013-Su 2014





Fa 2014-Su 2015






Graduation rates for the Department of Communications mass communication program are substantially better than the graduation rates for the university.  There is awareness that steps need to be taken across the campus to improve student retention and graduation. The university has initiated efforts to improve student retention and to improve graduation rates. 


The retention efforts and graduation success program focus on an improved first year college experience for new students.  New on-campus housing opened in Fall 2015 for entering freshmen. The university has opened a new Student Commons building that includes the University Success Center, improved dining options and amenities, supplemental instruction and assistance in composition and mathematics and a single location for student services, including financial aid and student on-campus employment. 


Less talked about but of perhaps greater significance to communications students was the approval of fewer required hours for graduation.  The graduation rates shown here reflect a curriculum requiring 128 credit hours for graduation.  Beginning with the Fall 2014 to Summer 2015 graduation terms, most of these students graduated under a requirement of 121 credit hours.  Most universities require about 120 hours to graduate. The UNA move to reduce the requirements from 128 hours keeps the university in line with peer institutions and we are seeing student graduation success; two-thirds of our students graduated in four years!


Sometimes students delay graduation by enrolling in only 12 – 13 hours per term—against the recommendation of their advisors but needed to balance their school/work schedules.  Some of these students also attend
school on a twelve-month cycle. 


Students may declare a communication major upon enrolling at UNA but other students come to communications after a period of time in other majors. It is not uncommon to have students declare a public relations or journalism major after first trying education, nursing or a science area. Students with additional science or math courses have no difficulties counting those classes and credit hours as work completed from outside of communication and as approved arts and sciences classes. 


Students transferring from community colleges often come with 60 hours (UNA permits no more than one-half the hours needed for graduation to come from a junior institution). The department’s close advising and frequency of course offerings keeps most of these students on schedule to graduate, provided they enroll in 14 – 15 hours per semester and complete the internship during the summer. 



Graduation Rates for the University of North Alabama:


Freshman Term

Four-Year Graduation

Six-Year Graduation