Dec 02, 2023  
2023-2024 APU Catalog 
2023-2024 APU Catalog

Master of Arts, M.A.

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Alaska Pacific University’s Master of Arts Program (MAP) is designed specifically for the working professional who is interested in pursuing advanced learning, but desires an individualized non-traditional approach to graduate studies.  For MAP, APU seeks creative people who are motivated by the love of learning and the desire to discover.

MAP is a program based upon individualized contract-learning. Students typically complete the degree requirements in three phases as self-directed learners, working with their academic mentors to develop semester study plans that identify the learning goals, research methodology, projects to be accomplished, and outcomes. Candidates must therefore demonstrate their ability to work independently in their proposed field of study. 

Some students may be drawn to the program because of past experience in the field and the desire to expand on their learning. Some may wish to enhance some aspect of their professional or intellectual background. Others may be looking for a career change or to contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular area of interest. The MAP provides the opportunity and flexibility to work closely with at least one faculty mentor to design and implement a learning plan that will allow the student to explore and discover new ideas and information in an interdisciplinary environment that extends beyond the confines of the classroom and traditional approaches in graduate schools.

Faculty-supervised, self-directed learning may be complemented by appropriate coursework drawn from other relevant graduate learning endeavors, including graduate-level work at Alaska Pacific University and transfer credits from other graduate programs or learning venues.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the degree, students will have:

  • Formed a self-assigned, graduate-level study plan that significantly contributes to knowledge in a particular field and rewards a student’s intellectual curiosity
  • Demonstrated disciplinary understanding of concepts and principles, as expressed in theories proposed by experts in the field of study
  • Identified productive research and methods to gather and present information ethically and accurately
  • Synthesized information, applying it in a real-world setting, and assessing results to refine the mastery project
  • Designed, researched, and completed a project demonstrating mastery of a self-assigned research topic, evidencing advanced understanding and integrating research and application into a thesis or narrative with work product
  • Used effective oral and written communication to present results of the mastery project


MAP admits students to the Fall and Spring semesters only.

The general requirements for admission to graduate studies at APU are found in the Admissions section of the catalog. In addition, there are supplemental requirements for MAP as follows:

  1. Three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources addressing your capability to complete advanced work though a self-directed Master of Arts Program. In addition, letters should address your critical thinking, analytical and communication skills. Recommendation letters must include the writer’s address, telephone number, title, and relationship to you. Letters should be dated within the past twelve months.
  2. Standardized Test Scores. Please see MAP Director for assistance in determining which test (the Graduate Records Exam (GRE), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), Miller Analogies Test (MAT), or PRAXIS CASE would be best suited for your application. Scores must have been within the past five years.
  3. Personal Statement that highlights the applicant’s strengths and interests.  This essay is reviewed by the Program Director as a demonstration of your writing competence, your ability to articulate your goals, the appropriateness of a non-traditional program for attaining your goals, as well as a measurement of your critical thinking skills.
  4. Study Plan. The Committee will give considerable weight to the thoroughness, specificity, and importance, and relevance of your proposed curriculum as defined in your Study Plan.
  5. Samples of your work (if applicable). Applicants are required to submit examples of work related to the proposed study plan in the form of portfolio. Depending on the field of study this may include research project narratives, manuscripts, creative writing samples, articles, short stories, photographs or images of artwork, major papers, or other materials and documentation.


Students are adequately prepared for MAP entry if they have a bachelor’s degree in any field.  The program encourages students with with a wide variety of undergraduate experience to apply for admission.  If, however, a student’s previous university coursework does not demonstrate adequate preparation in skills necessary for completion of the proposed study plan, the student may be admitted and required to take prerequisite courses. 

MAP Format and Program Delivery

The Master of Arts degree is designed as an individualized program.  Students maintaining full-time enrollment status can complete the program in 4-5 semesters.  Maximally, students have up to 7 years to complete the program.

MAP is a 36-credit graduate program that includes three phases of study:  research, application, and mastery. The program begins with an orientation course (MAP 60000 ) where all new students have the opportunity to share experiences with peers and faculty through regularly scheduled colloquia.  MAP 60000  is designed to help all students identify appropriate research methods for their particular field of study and develop a plan for subsequent studies.  Thereafter, students develop individual, mentor-advised academic study plans to meet expectations in each of the three required phases.

MAP Collloquia 

MAP Colloquia are held four times per year, two times during each of the Fall and Spring semesters. Colloquia provide all MAP students with opportunities to network and to share their MAP learning (progress, problems, discoveries, and more) both formally and informally. Across the program, students are required to make two formal presentations at MAP colloquia of their MAP projects as a prerequisite to graduation. The colloquial gatherings ensure that students receive peer support and offer individuals the chance to demonstrate their progress.

Phase I Research

Under the supervision of the Program Director and faculty mentor, the student’s obligation in the Research phase is to discover and understand the best and most important things that are or have been thought, said, and executed in their field of study. Students take one required seminar (MAP 60000, 3 credits) to prepare them for the journey ahead. Students then develop study plans to delve into and develop research appropriate for their program, earning 3-9 credits by the successful completion of independent learning contracts under MAP 62000 Research.  Students may also take, with approval of the Program Director, courses from the existing APU graduate curriculum that are relevant to the program of study. 

Phase II Application

Under the supervision of the faculty mentor, students in the Application phase put into practice what they have discovered and articulated during the Research phase. Students pursue the practical work of their project, such as collecting data, developing and refining project methods, completing a practicum or other applied learning, earning 3-15 credits by the successful completion of independent learning contracts under MAP 64000 Application. With the Program Director’s approval, students may take courses from the existing APU graduate curriculum that are relevant to the program of study.

Phase III Mastery

Under the supervision of the faculty mentor, students complete one of two options to demonstrate graduate-level mastery in the field of study. Students pursuing Option 1 will produce a standard academic thesis. Students pursuing Option 2 will complete a work product accompanied by a narrative of research, reflection, and learning that informs the work product. The theses or narrative accompanying a work product will offer a significant contribution to the student’s field of study.  For both Options, Mastery is evidenced by significant synthesis of the knowledge the student has gained across the three phases of the program. The academic mentor(s) and the Program Director must approve thesis or narrative with work product, and sign off on its successful completion.

Academic Study Plan

The semester study plan is used by the student and the mentor(s) as a guide for that portion of the student’s program. It is a dynamic document, subject to modification as circumstance dictates. The study plan must be approved by the student, the mentor(s), and the Program Director prior to the start of the semester. The semester study plan is a more fully developed outline than that required in the application process and includes quantifiable learning outcomes that are then assessed through narrative transcript evaluation.

Program Variations

While the program is designed to be a three-phase academic effort, there may be variations on this model. Variations occur due to specific circumstances that affect the overall goals and objectives of the plan of study. For example, a student may choose to pursue 12 credits one semester, and attempt 6 the next because her or his work schedule or other commitments. Students may wish to focus proportionately more credits on Research than Application, or vice versa. Some students may also need to acquire more than the 36 credits required by APU, in the case of certification requirements. It might also be appropriate for the student to participate in outside seminars or trainings; some of these may be included in the 12 transferable credits while others may be additional activities. The variations to the basic program are negotiated between the student and MAP Director while developing the overall study plan.

Academic Mentors

Typically the primary academic mentor will be a full-time faculty member at Alaska Pacific University. Mentors need not be subject-matter experts in all of the areas in which the student seeks to increase his or her knowledge, but they will be expert in the academic process of organizing the learning program for the student. Students are encouraged to work with more than one mentor during their MAP studies and must have a minimum of two committee members on their Mastery committees. (The additional member need not be a full-time APU faculty, but his or her qualifications for this service must be approved by the MAP Director.)

Student Evaluation

The MAP is not a traditional letter-graded academic program, but rather it is evaluated as Credit/No Credit, with narrative evaluation on the transcript. “Credit” is understood to represent a grade of B (3.00) or better. Students receive a narrative evaluation of their progress at the end of each semester for each semester study plan.  These evaluations, in turn, become part of the student’s official transcript.

Narrative evaluations provide for mentors (and committee members) to document and comment upon the student’s learning outcomes.  Success or failure is measured in relation to the accomplishment of goals and outcomes as established in individual study plans. In the case where a student does not meet the academic standards of the university or the study plan objectives, ‘No Credit’ is recorded on the transcript, and no academic credits are awarded.

Students are expected to perform at the graduate level and to demonstrate written and oral communication, critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as content knowledge and the ability to apply theoretical concepts consistent with a graduate program.

Master of Arts Degree Requirements (36 credits)

The program consists of three phases of coursework, with courses structured in 3-credit increments for each study plan.  A total of 36 credits is required as outlined below:

  • MAP 60000  Graduate Seminar (3 credits)
  • MAP 62000  Contract Learning: Research (9-15 credits)
  • MAP 64000  Contract Learning: Application (3-15 credits)
  • MAP 68100  Contract Learning: Mastery (9-15 credits)

(These courses may be taken multiple times as designated by unique, documented, and approved individual study plans.)

Other graduate-level APU coursework or credits transferred into APU must:

  • follow university graduate admission guidelines for transfer credit
  • directly apply to the student’s proposed field of study
  • align with MAP course designation and phases of study
  • be prearranged and/or approved by the MAP Director

MAP Completion with Teacher Education K-8 Certificate (36 credits)

Students completing APU’s K-8 Certification, may apply for admission to MAP to complete a master’s of arts degree.  If accepted, K-8 Certification courses with grades of ‘B’ or better meet MAP degree requirements as listed below.  Students must meet all admissions and prerequisite requirements for both programs. 

For the master’s degree, K-8 Certification students are encouraged to be in communication with the MAP Director throughout the K-8 Certification coursework and training.  Students will want to develop Research and Application skills appropriate for MAP through K-8 Certification that can facilitate completion of Mastery level work for the master’s degree.

With successful completion of the K-8 Certification certificate, students admitted to MAP complete another 9 credits for the master’s degree, from across MAP 62000, MAP 64000, and MAP 68100 as appropriate to the program of study.

Students must realize Program Outcomes for both programs, inclusive of the Mastery level thesis or narrative with work product, and all requirements related to master’s degree completion.

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