M.S. in Agricultural and Extension Education
"Pursuing a master’s with the AECT department felt natural and was the perfect fit, especially with a degree emphasis on communications. I believe that you never quit learning, never quit growing. I found the online program to be the perfect opportunity for me to continue my education while continuing to work full time."
Haley Burden found the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas to be not that much different from her small hometown of Decatur in Northwest Arkansas.
“Coming from a small school where you know everyone, it is nice to find that same close-knit, niche community at the university,” she said. “I finished my bachelor’s within three years, but after graduating with a major in agribusiness management and marketing and a minor in agricultural communications, I thought it best to go into the workforce and get some experience. I’m continuing to work full time, but it was weighing on my heart to continue my education beyond my bachelor’s.”
In pursuit of that goal, Burden, 23, is enrolled in the online Master of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education degree program and hopes to graduate in December 2022.
“I love the community that I found in the agriculture, education, communications and technology department within Dale Bumpers,” she said. “Pursuing a master’s with the AECT department felt natural and was the perfect fit, especially with a degree emphasis on communications. I believe that you never quit learning, never quit growing. I found the online program to be the perfect opportunity for me to continue my education while continuing to work full time.”
Burden works as a digital marketing specialist for a marketing agency based in Northwest Arkansas, where her responsibilities range from managing social media accounts and digital advertising, to optimizing website and writing press releases for her company’s clients in the medical field. Her undergraduate minor in agricultural communications emphasizes her skills in marketing and media, allowing her take on more job responsibilities within her company, she said. “While my classes may use examples of agricultural communications, the concepts of communication and marketing can be applied to any discipline,” Burden said.
Burden graduated from the U of A in 2019 as an on-campus student, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. The option to work full time is as important to Burden as her desire to continue learning, so attending classes on campus would not have fit with her current schedule. Pursuing an online degree lets her continue her education while working full time to fund her classes.
It was the best of both worlds, she said.
“The classes that I’ve taken so far have been amazing,” she said. “The information and assignments have been so involved and invigorating that I want to read them. When I get off work, I still have the motivation to dive into my readings and do my assignments.”
Burden still believes in the traditional, face-to-face degree plan but also supports an online program for any who may be interested in that study option, she said.
“Studying online seems scary for some people, but in this day and age, with the technology that we have, I believe that your professors work hard to make sure that your online classes are no different from any traditional class. That you will get the same education and value out of them as you would a traditional class,” she said. Burden found the only difference between online and traditional classes is your surroundings.
Burden was one of 25 people to receive the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship for online U of A students for the 2021-2022 academic year.
“I am having to pay for my master’s out of pocket, which is why an online program that allowed me to continue working was so important. I’ve been applying to scholarships left and right as another way to help fund my education,” Burden said. “I feel very blessed to have been awarded the Manning Scholarship. This scholarship has helped me to continue my education and better myself as a professional. It has been a great opportunity and a blessing.”