M.A./Ph.D Admissions

NOTICE: Autumn 2021 admissions suspended for UW Communication M.A./Ph.D and Ph.D.

In light of the disruptions and uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Communication graduate faculty have voted to suspend admissions to our M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs for Autumn 2021. This one-year pause will allow us to marshal our resources, to focus our attention on our current and incoming students, and to fortify this excellent program which is so vital to our department. We fully intend to resume admissions for Autumn 2022. The Autumn 2022 application will open in June 2021, with applications due November 15, 2021.

The UW Department of Communication Ph.D. and M.A./Ph.D. graduate programs are built on four core principles: pluralism, interdisciplinary theorizing, collaboration, and public scholarship. These principles have shaped every facet of the programs, such as the core courses, committee structure, and admissions policy. Our graduate program’s strengths are emphasized in our seven areas of study.

We encourage you to apply to join our community of scholars.

The Department of Communication accepts applications to its Ph.D. and M.A./Ph.D. graduate programs for Autumn quarter entry only, with an application deadline of November 15. If you are interested in applying, please note the following important deadline and application information. If you have any questions about this information, please e-mail the Graduate Program Advisor, Heather Werckle, at cmuadv@uw.edu.

Application deadline

The application deadline is November 15, 2021 for Autumn 2022 admission.

A NOTE ON THIS DEADLINE: This application deadline is real and is a completion deadline. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Applications must be complete by the deadline to be considered. All application materials should be uploaded to our online application system. We do not accept any mailed materials.

  • Minimum 3.0 or B grade point average over the two most recent years of study (90 quarter or 60 semester credits) guarantees consideration. However, average GPAs for the students we have admitted have been higher. See recent applicant statistics below on this page.
  • Ph.D. applicants must show proof of completion of a master’s degree prior to starting the program, though it is common for those applying to the Ph.D. program to be working on their thesis in the year during which they apply.
  • M.A./Ph.D. applicants must show proof of completion of a U.S. equivalent bachelor’s degree prior to starting the program, though it is common for applicants to be in their senior year of college when they apply to the M.A./Ph.D. program.
  • Full-time status is required for all funded students, but domestic U.S. residents who do not receive assistantships can enroll half-time (please note this is exceedingly rare).
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English must meet language proficiency requirements set out in Graduate School Memorandum #8 and Graduate School Memorandum #15. Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States meet both requirements (Note: A master’s or doctoral degree does not satisfy this requirement). Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution must have a minimum total score of 92 and speaking score of 26 if using the TOEFL. If proof is not provided that these minimums are met as of November 15, the applicant will not be considered.

Submit the following materials online:

  • Graduate School online application. The Graduate School requires all applicants to use the web application (if you are truly unable to use the web application, e-mail cmuadv@uw.edu).
  • Application fee. The application fee must be received and recorded by Graduate Admissions prior to the application deadline. You must pay the fee online using a MasterCard or Visa card (both credit and debit cards are accepted) or a TeleCheck (an online “check” taken from your existing checking account). If eligible for and requesting an application fee waiver, please note you must submit your application a minimum of 7 days prior to the application deadline, and earlier is recommended. Details on application fee waivers are available here.
  • Unofficial transcripts from each institution from which you received a degree of Bachelor or higher within the online application. Official transcripts are not required for the admissions application and should not be mailed. An unofficial transcript could be a scan of an opened official transcript, or a printout of your academic history from your university’s web portal. It must include all classes taken, grades received, and degrees granted.
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination). GREs are strongly encouraged from all applicants this year. If you have taken the GREs within the last five years, you are required to submit your scores. Applicants should report their scores in the online application, and also have an official score report sent directly to the Graduate School by the Educational Testing Service. GRE reporting code is 4854 (no department code). If reporting codes are not offered as a choice when taking your test, select University of Washington Graduate School (institution).
    • Important: It can take up to two weeks after your testing date or report request for UW to receive your scores, so the GRE should be taken/scores requested no later than November 1 to ensure your scores arrive by the November 15 application completion deadline.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English must provide evidence of English language proficiency (see Graduate School Memorandum #8) and evidence of spoken English proficiency (see Graduate School Memorandum #15). Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States meet both requirements (Note: A master’s or doctoral degree does not satisfy this requirement). Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution must have a minimum total score of 92 and speaking score of 26 if using the TOEFL, and must be from a test taken within the past 2 years, as of the date your application is submitted. Have your official scores sent directly to the University of Washington Office of Graduate Admissions. Official TOEFL scores must be transmitted directly by the Educational Testing Service. TOEFL reporting code is 4854 (no department code). Mailed score reports are not accepted.
  • Three recommendations. Letters of recommendation from professors are strongly preferred, but if you have been out of school for many years or have another reason for using non-academic references, other professional recommendations are acceptable. These recommendations are completed online and should not be mailed. The online recommendation includes a short questionnaire as well as the opportunity to paste or upload a letter. Please designate your recommenders within the online application early to allow enough time for them to submit their online recommendations no later than November 15.
  • Letter of intent (2-3 pages) detailing your educational and career goals. This letter should make it clear why you have chosen to enter graduate school to study communication, and why specifically in the University of Washington’s Department of Communication. You should indicate specific faculty here with whom you wish to study, and research interests you would like to pursue. You should not send a generic letter that does not pertain to the scholarly opportunities offered here in this program. State your academic goals so that the admissions committee may determine whether your goals could be met in our department. Write this letter to the best of your ability, as the admissions committee will also be reading it to discern your readiness for graduate education.
  • For Ph.D. applicants: Please provide a sole-authored academic writing sample, roughly 10-30 pages long, that demonstrates your research competence and your ability to produce original scholarship. This might be a thesis chapter, a journal publication, a seminar paper, or something similar. If necessary, edit your paper for length before submitting it with your application. The admissions committee will read your paper to evaluate your writing competence, the clarity of your argument, and the depth of your analysis and insight.
  • For M.A./Ph.D. applicants: Please provide a sole-authored academic writing sample, roughly 10-30 pages. This is typically a paper you wrote for a college or university class, but it can also be a thesis chapter, a journal publication, or a seminar paper. The admissions committee will read your paper to evaluate your writing competence, the clarity of your argument, and the depth of your analysis and insight.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae. If you don’t have a vitae, don’t worry. A resume will do. If you do have a vitae, use it instead.
  • Supplemental essay (optional). To promote a well-rounded student body, the Department of Communication seeks a diverse pool of applicants for graduate study. To that end, we offer each graduate applicant the opportunity to submit a supplemental essay, described below, as part of the application.
    • In one or two pages, please describe how your experiences and/or academic interests could contribute to a diverse community of communication scholars. For example, you might describe interactions you have had with people of cultural or ethnic backgrounds different from your own, or you might write about intellectual exchanges you have had with persons holding different viewpoints. Your essay might also discuss the unique qualities of your own intellectual or cultural background and how these are likely to enhance diversity in any community.

Are you an international applicant? An international applicant is anyone who is not a United States citizen or a Permanent Resident (green card holder). Please go to the following at the Graduate School website for further information for international applicants: Graduate School international applicant information. Undocumented applicants should follow the instructions here for completing the online application.

  • As a reminder, applicants who are not native speakers of English must meet language proficiency requirements set out in Graduate School Memorandum #8 and Graduate School Memorandum #15. Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States meet both requirements (Note: A master’s or doctoral degree does not satisfy this requirement). Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree from a US institution must have a minimum total score of 92 and speaking score of 26 if using the TOEFL. If proof is not provided that these minimums are met as of November 15, the applicant will not be considered.
  • Newly-admitted international students will be required to demonstrate adequate financial support without resorting to unauthorized employment. More information will be sent to applicants who receive an offer of admission. Financial documentation is not necessary at this stage of the application process.
  • Full-time status is mandatory for all international students.

Financial aid and funding from the Department

The Department maintains approximately 35-40 assistantships, which are merit-based awards available to students in the M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs. The vast majority of these are teaching assistantships (TAships), where graduate students assist in the teaching of undergraduate courses and receive a salary for their teaching. A few of these assistantships are for research assistantships (RAships). These students receive a salary for providing assistance to faculty research projects.

Students entering the Ph.D. program with an assistantship receive four years of support. Students admitted to the M.A./Ph.D. program with an assistantship receive five years of support. Continued support is always contingent on satisfactory progress in the graduate program and satisfactory performance of assistantship duties.

These positions normally require 20 hours of work per week, and they currently carry a minimum nine-month salary of $21,924 for M.A. students and $23,571 for Ph.D. students. Students holding these appointments receive a waiver of the operating fee portion of tuition and fees but are required to pay approximately $250 in fees per quarter, or $750 per nine-month academic year. Assistantships automatically include health insurance coverage.

Applicants to the M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D. programs are automatically considered for graduate assistantships. Funding in subsequent years is renewable based on satisfactory progress in the program and satisfactory performance of assistantship duties.

International students are considered for graduate assistantships on the same basis as U.S. applicants. International applicants who are not native speakers of English must demonstrate English proficiency in order to receive appointment as Teaching Assistants. There are a number of ways this may be established (see Graduate School Memorandum #8 and Graduate School Memorandum #15).

The Graduate School offers a limited number of fellowships for entering students. The Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS) offers a limited number of Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships to graduate and professional students and applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who meet designated requirements. The University of Washington’s Office of Student Financial Aid has a variety of need-based funding available to prospective students.

Application statistics

Each year, we keep statistics on the average GPAs and GRE scores for those students we accept for admission to our graduate program. These are statistics for the applicants admitted in the last five years:

Averages for accepted applicants

20202019201820172016
Applications received140120130186213
Offers of admission1413121517
Number of students entering class10 (8 Ph.D. and 2 M.A.)5 (2 Ph.D. and 3 M.A.)7 (6 Ph.D. and 1 M.A.)5 (2 Ph.D. and 3 M.A.)7 (6 Ph.D. and 1 M.A.)
Entering students with assistantships105757
Average undergraduate GPA3.533.833.533.403.46
Average GRE scores156 Verbal
151 Quantitative
46 Analytical
158 Verbal
153 Quantitative
46 Analytical
157 Verbal
154 Quantitative
41 Analytical
160 Verbal
152 Quantitative
44 Analytical
158 Verbal
151 Quantitative
44 Analytical

Graduate Non-Matriculated information

Taking a course as a graduate non-matriculated (GNM) student can be a useful way to make a more informed decision about going to graduate school. It also allows faculty in the Department of Communication to become more familiar with your interests and aptitude for graduate study. The Department only grants GNM status on occasion and usually under special circumstances, as faculty focus their graduate teaching on the population of matriculating graduate students in the Department. In a typical year, there are only one or two GNM students in the Department.

If you are interested in applying for GNM status, please note the following important deadlines and application information.

Graduate non-matriculated (GNM) is a classification for post-baccalaureate students who are not seeking a graduate degree at the present time. As such, it is not available to international students or anyone who requires a student (F-1) visa. While you do not need to have GNM status to register for a graduate-level class, you must have it in order to apply the credits to a graduate degree at the University of Washington should you later be admitted as a graduate student. By contrast, courses taken either as a post-baccalaureate student (those seeking a second bachelor’s degree) or as a non-matriculated undergraduate cannot be applied to graduate degree requirements.

The GNM application process is distinct from the regular graduate program application process and GNM status does not influence decisions about admission into the Department of Communication’s M.A./Ph.D. or Ph.D. graduate programs.

A maximum of 12 GNM credits may be applied toward a graduate degree at the University of Washington. In the Department of Communication, this is the equivalent of two 5-credit seminar courses.

GNM students are not permitted to enroll in the core sequence of courses (COM 500, COM 501) or in any COM courses at the level of 590 or higher, with the exception of COM 597, the special topic seminars.

Entry QuarterApplication Deadline
AutumnMay 15
WinterNovember 15
SpringFebruary 15

We do not accept GNM applications for summer quarter entry.

  • Minimum 3.0 or B grade point average over the two most recent years of study (90 quarter or 60 semester credits).
  • U.S. equivalent bachelor’s degree.

Submit the following in the online application:

  • GNM application. Note that there is a $75 application fee for GNM status.
  • Unofficial transcripts should be uploaded from each institution from which you received a degree of Bachelor or higher.
  • Letter of intent (2-3 pages) detailing your educational and career goals. This letter should make it clear why you have chosen to apply for GNM status in the Department of Communication. State your academic goals so that the admissions committee may determine whether your goals could be met in our department and through GNM status.
  • Three recommendations. Letters of recommendation from professors are strongly preferred, but if you have been out of school for many years or have another reason for using non-academic references, other professional recommendations are acceptable. These recommendations are completed online and should not be mailed. The online recommendation includes a short questionnaire as well as the opportunity to paste or upload a letter. Please designate your recommenders within the online application early to allow enough time for them to submit their online recommendations by the deadline.
  • Academic writing sample (roughly 10-30 pages). This is typically a paper you wrote for a college or university class, but it can also be a thesis chapter, a journal publication, or a seminar paper. The admissions committee will read your paper to evaluate your writing competence, the clarity of your argument, and the depth of your analysis and insight.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae. If you don’t have a vitae, don’t worry. A resume will do. If you do have a vitae, send it instead.
  • GRE scores are NOT required, but should be included in your application if they are available. Official scores should be sent directly by the Educational Testing Service. GRE reporting code is 4854 (no department code).

For more information, visit the M.A./Ph.D. Frequently Asked Questions page.