Apply to the Graduate Program

General Information

An applicant must apply either as a degree candidate (M.A. or Ph.D.) or as a non-degree student. The admissions standards for non-degree students are not substantially different from those for degree students; non-degree students ordinarily are not eligible for financial aid, and non-degree students are admitted only in exceptional circumstances. 

Those applying as degree candidates must apply to either the M.A. program or the Ph.D. program. To apply to the M.S. in Health Communication, you must apply through the HCOM system. The M.A. degree may be taken either as a terminal degree or as preparation for doctoral work; those applying to the M.A. program should have (or be completing) a bachelor's degree in communication or a related field. Applicants to the Ph.D. program should have (or be completing) a master's degree in communication or a related field. Persons who have earned (or are completing) a bachelor's degree who plan eventually to pursue doctoral work should apply to the M.A. program; when they are near completion of the master's degree, they may apply to enter the Ph.D. program.

Deadlines

Ordinarily, applications are considered only for admission for the Fall semester (mid-year entry is discouraged and approved only in unusual circumstances). The deadline for completion of application files is December 1. The Admissions Committee begins formal review of applications soon after. Admission will not be offered to students with incomplete applications.

Requirements

The Admissions Committee considers the complete record of the candidate in reaching a decision. The required minimum academic grade point average (for the final 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of undergraduate work) is 3.0 on a four-point scale; normally, those admitted have a grade point average above this minimum. Ideally, applicants to the M.A. program will have at least sixteen semester hours of undergraduate credit in communication, but this is not a prerequisite to admission; applicants to the Ph.D. program should have strong academic records in their master's programs. The Committee on Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid considers all candidates in the applicant pool, then makes offers of admission beginning with the most highly qualified candidates and working down until all available spaces in the following year's graduate class have been filled. That is, admission is based not on meeting minimum requirements but rather by ranking high in comparison to other candidates in the applicant pool. The GRE is NOT required nor will it be considered.

Applying Online

Applications should be completed online through the Graduate College Online system. Note about the online application system: You may save your application in draft form and continue working on it over time; do not submit your application until you are satisfied that you have completed it and uploaded the correct documents. Neither you nor the department will be able to make changes or upload new documents after you have submitted.

A complete application file (for admission and financial aid) must include the following:

  • A completed online application form. Important: In completing the application form, the program name is Communication and the Department Code is 1489. The Program Codes are 10KS5164MA for the master's degree and 10KS5164PHD for the doctoral degree.
  • Transcripts from all previous college- and university-level work. Only after an offer of admission has been extended and accepted do applicants need to mail official transcripts; for the application process, only the transcripts that the applicant uploads are necessary.
  • Recommenders’ contact information. When you start your application, you will be asked to list the names of three recommenders; the system will then e-mail them with information about how to upload their letter. All letters must be uploaded by recommenders to the online application system; do not have recommenders mail or e-mail them to the program. Our graduate program application requires three academic letters of recommendation. Recommenders must also complete a short survey about your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate for graduate study in our department.
  • Academic statement of purpose. Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe (within 1000 words): (1) the substantive scholarly questions you are interested in exploring in graduate study, (2) your academic background, intellectual interests, and any training, research, or other experiences that have prepared you for graduate study, (3) how our program would help you achieve your intellectual goals, (4) any specific faculty members, if applicable, whose research interests align with your own interests, and (5) your professional goals. 
  • Personal statement. Please use the Personal Statement to describe (within 500 words) how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively together. This statement should discuss why you want to go to graduate school and how you would contribute to our department’s commitment to diversity Click here to learn more about our department’s perspective on diversity.
  • Writing sample. Our application requires a sample of your scholarly writing (no longer than 25 double-spaced pages, excluding title, abstract, and references). This sample should illustrate your best academic work. Students have the option to submit a term paper, an academic conference paper, an academic publication, or another form of scholarly product. The sample should begin with a brief introductory statement (max 100 words) describing the context under which you produced the sample (e.g., describing the nature of the assignment for which it was written, or identifying the conference to which it was accepted).
  • TOEFL Score. For applicants from countries where English is not the primary language, we require scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Submitting Materials

Applications should be completed online through the Graduate College Online system. All applications require online payment at time of application submission.

Applicants must upload a statement of purpose, personal statement, writing sample, recommenders' contact information, transcripts, and any additional information. Recommenders are to submit their letters online and fill out a short survey about your candidacy.

International Graduate Admissions

Applicants from countries other than the United States are required by the university to submit evidence of adequate financial resources to support them during their period of study. This may include any combination of personal or family funds, governmental or institutional support, and aid offered by the department to which the applicant is seeking admission. Doctoral program applicants must provide evidence of five years of financial support, even if they plan to complete their programs in fewer than five years.

Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to present evidence of English language proficiency. Typically that evidence is the applicant's score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within two years of the proposed term of entry. For more information regarding the Graduate College’s English proficiency requirements for admission, please see the following: https://grad.illinois.edu/admissions/instructions/04c 

Most of the students admitted by the Department of Communication meet the Graduate College requirements for full status admission (that is, scores greater than 102 on the Internet-based test, greater than 610 on the paper-based test, or greater than 253 on the computer-based test). International students are required to take an English placement test after arrival and may be required to take one or more courses in the Division of English as an International Language to improve their English proficiency.  All International students (whether exempt or not for admissions purposes) are required to take the TOEFEL if they want to receive TA funding. The TA requirements are more stringent than the admissions requirements and they can be found here: https://grad.illinois.edu/admissions/taengprof.htm