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.


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 15. The Admissions Committee begins formal review of applications soon after.


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. GRE scores must be submitted, but there is no required 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.

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 must be uploaded. 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.
  • Scores on the General Aptitude portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants must request that scores be sent to the University of Illinois. The code for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is 1836.
  • When you start your application you will be asked to list the names of your 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.
  • A personal statement describing the applicant's relevant education and experience, as well as an expression of interests, goals and career intentions. Generally, these are 2-3 double-spaced pages in length.
  • Our program requires a major paper or essay to be uploaded with your application. This need not be a paper written specifically for the application; typically, applicants submit work developed for another purpose (e.g., a term paper for a class). The paper should enable the Admissions Committee to judge the quality of the applicant's best academic work. Applicants should provide whatever information is needed to understand the paper (e.g., the nature of the assignment for which it was written). Your writing sample should be uploaded in the designated spot for writing samples on the online application.
  • For applicants from countries where English is not the primary language, 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 personal statement, writing sample, recommenders' contact information, transcripts, and any additional information. Recommenders are to submit their letters online.

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. 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.