How to Apply

Where to Begin

To begin the application process, complete the online application via the Graduate College.  Because of the volume of application materials that we receive, electronic submission of documents must be made through the online application on the Graduate College’s web page.

The Graduate Committee is committed to holistically reviewing each application. Applications are evaluated based on how well the applicant will fit with our School and how well the resources of the School will enable the applicant to reach their professional goals.

Our competitive program fills approximately 8 to 12 funded positions each year. We do offer admission without funding to qualified individuals who have secure funding through other resources. However, we try to maintain a cohort size of 12 students or fewer. We expect all full-time students to begin the program Fall semester.

There are two kinds of funding sources that can alleviate the cost of pursuing a PhD in Communication Studies. Our School offers graduate assistantships that include tuition waivers for most of our PhD students. All PhD students are also encouraged to apply for special funding opportunities.


The deadline to apply for the COMS Doctoral Program is January 1, 2022.

It is important that the Graduate Committee has ample time to review application materials and while most of the application process is performed online, any items sent by mail must be received by January 1 for the fullest consideration. International applicants should ship any mailed items no later than December 10. The committee will begin reviewing applications mid-January. 

It is recommended that any materials being mailed are shipped with a service that provides tracking information. The US Postal Service's Express Service, DHL, FedEx, and UPS all include door-to-door tracking. 

While we will continue to review applications until all funded positions are filled, incomplete applications may not receive full consideration by the committee.  

International and Underrepresented Applicants

The School of Communication Studies has a long tradition of admitting and mentoring diverse students  from other countries and underrepresented groups in the US; in fact, we hold this commitment to be a part of our core values. We actively recruit highly qualified students from all walks of life and from all over the world. Interested domestic students are encouraged to contact the Associate Director for Graduate Studies to inquire about special fellowships that are available through the university.

Decision-Making Timeline

The Graduate Committee will begin extending offers to candidates mid-February and will continue through the end of March or early April. The order in which we make offers depends on a number of factors including how many assistantships we have available, specialized needs of the School, and undetermined numbers of graduating students prior to the upcoming academic year. We work as expeditiously as possible and try to ensure that all applicants are given due consideration.

Start Date

All graduate teaching assistants are required to attend a two-week orientation during the weeks prior to the opening of Fall semester. Information about the workshop will be included in the letter of appointment and in special mailings during the summer. All graduate students, regardless of rank or status, are expected to attend. Participation in the workshop is especially important for graduate students who hope to receive an appointment as a teaching assistant at a later date or whose future plans include college teaching. Because an assistantship carries a fee waiver and a stipend, assistantship recipients are required to enroll in 15 graduate credit hours for each semester they are receiving an assistantship. 

Direct to Doctorate Applicants

Students holding a BA degree from an accredited institution and who show extraordinary potential as a graduate student can apply for direct admission to our doctoral program following normal admission procedures. Those admitted will receive the MA degree as they complete the doctoral program and follow the same timeline as other students.