Master’s Graduate Puts U of A Program On Top After Close Examination

December 7, 2023  |  by Heidi Wells, Global Campus

Rob McCloud
Rob McCloud

Rob McCloud was looking for value and quality in a master’s degree in education delivered online. He found it at the University of Arkansas.

He liked that the U of A charges students studying online in-state tuition, regardless of where they live. He also noted the adult and lifelong learning program in the College of Education and Health Professions doesn’t require the GRE, a standardized test required for admission to many graduate schools in the United States and other countries. One less expense.

The U of A admissions process didn’t require things that took what he considered unnecessary time and effort such as making videos of yourself to submit, McCloud said. He is an instructor in the Office of the Dean of Academics at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is retired from the Army, and he doesn’t want extra hoops to jump through or unnecessary contact from an institution.

“I didn’t have to deal with any of that craziness when applying to the U of A,” he said. “They treated me like an adult. When I requested information from another university, I was bombarded by telemarketing calls. At Arkansas, they cared, but they didn’t bombard me. I don’t need to be treated like a child. It’s really important that admissions counselors understand as people are going into these programs, regardless of the degree, it helps if they step back and look at the age of the individual and their life experience. That’s another thing that brought me to Arkansas.”

He also examined the coursework required in similar degrees at different universities and liked the courses offered at the U of A and the way the master’s program was structured.

“Once I got in and started talking to Dr. (Kenda) Grover, I had the flexibility to change some of the things based on the experience I already had,” McCloud said. “I had already done course development so I didn’t need a course on course development so that was changed to an elective. The program took into consideration the realm of how I worked. I was already committed to a career in the federal service. How could I make this degree benefit me to the fullest possible potential?”

Grover is an associate professor of adult and lifelong learning.


Journey to Degree

Although he took his first college course in 1993, McCloud didn’t get his associate’s degree until 2006 when he was still on active duty with the Army. He was used to online education, having first taken online courses in 2002.

“I liked how I had freedom to manage my time, not my time being managed for me,” McCloud said about learning online.

He believes an online degree can be more work than, in his military lingo, an on-ground program, partly because, in order to encourage interaction, instructors teaching online often require a student to write weekly discussion posts and reply to one to three people. Participation in classroom discussion in an in-person program, on the other hand, is often voluntary.

In his job with workforce development in the VA, McCloud is involved in nonclinical training such as leadership development. Courses are offered both in person and online, and McCloud has created video lessons for courses.

“The master’s program has helped me learn to do some of those things and be comfortable with it,” he said. “My exposure doing virtual classes and asynchronous material was lacking, and I gained that from being in the program.

“Everybody gets what they want to get out of it,” McCloud continued. “It all boils down to how receptive they are to gain this information. There is a ton of information from the professors. Hopefully, you can follow along, absorb it and digest it. I still go back to my textbooks to refresh my memory.”

The program gave him a well-rounded view of how to educate adults and inspire them to want to be in your class, McCloud said.

“You are not the sage on the stage, especially for leadership training,” he said. “I tell my students, ‘You will learn a lot more from each other than from me. I’m just one person with information. You have all the information that you can synthesize and make sense of. Getting you that information is my job.’

“I can’t say enough good things about Arkansas, although it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. When you can be gone out of a program for over a year and still feel that place holds value, that’s significant.”

McCloud is also using information he learned from Kit Kacirek, U of A associate professor of adult and lifelong learning, about mentoring and coaching in a new mentoring program the VA is launching in partnership among its facilities and higher-education institutions throughout regions called Veterans Integrated Services Networks. His region covers North Carolina and Virginia.

McCloud is now working on a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University.

Award for Excellence

Rob McCloud didn’t feel like he was an online student at the University of Arkansas.

“I felt we were treated as equals with regard to the on-campus students. As an online student, you only ever expect to get a degree from the institution and then go on your merry way. The biggest shock I have ever had in my academic endeavors was being selected as the 2021 Outstanding M.Ed. Student in Adult and Lifelong Learning. How often do you see online students get recognized for their hard work and effort?”

Rob McCloud, Dean of Academics at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

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Heidi Wells

Content Strategist

Heidi Wells is the content strategist for the Global Campus at the University of Arkansas and editor of The Online Learner. Her writing spans more than 30 years as a communicator at the U of A and a reporter and editor at Arkansas newspapers. Wells earned two degrees from the U of A: a master's in 2013 and a bachelor's in 1988.

Wells can be reached at or 479-575-7239.

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Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning

The M.Ed. in Adult and Lifelong Learning degree will prepare students for employment in programs that provide adult literacy and education, lifelong learning, community and nonprofit organizations, military education, post secondary education, and continuing professional education.

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