Graduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are your minimum requirements for applying?

Prospective students must meet the minimum requirements of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S. (or its equivalent from a foreign institution), having earned at least a 3.0 or B grade-point-average in the most recent 2 years of study. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants; scores must be received directly from the Educational Testing Service. International applicants who are not native speakers of English must also demonstrate English proficiency. There are a number of ways this may be established. (See Graduate School Memorandum #8 and Graduate School Memorandum #15.)

What are the average GRE scores of admitted applicants?

See the statistics on the scores of our admitted applicants over the past 5 years >>

What percentage of applicants do you admit?

It varies from year to year, but in a typical year we receive 140-200 applications, and we end up with an entering class of 10-15 people. Of those, roughly half enter the M.A. program, and half join the Ph.D. program. We are able to offer teaching and research assistantships to roughly 6-12 new students per year.

If I have a master’s degree, can I apply directly to the Ph.D. program even if my master’s is not in the field of communication?

Yes, you may. We do require, however, that your prior degree offer a relevant foundation to graduate study in communication.

What’s the difference between the M.A. program and the M.A./Ph.D. program?

The M.A. program is designed to be a two-year course of study leading to the awarding of the M.A. degree. The M.A./Ph.D. program is a five-year course of study leading to the awarding of the M.A. degree after the first two years, and the Ph.D. at the conclusion of the fifth year. If you have a B.A. and you are sure that you will want to continue into our Ph.D. program when you complete your M.A. degree with us, you could apply to our M.A./Ph.D. program. If you are not sure that you want to get a Ph.D. degree in communication, or if you think you might want to take some time between M.A. and Ph.D. programs, or if you think you might want to apply to another Communication department for your Ph.D. degree, the M.A. program may better fit your goals.

What if I enter your stand-alone M.A. program, but then change my mind and decide that I want to continue directly into the Ph.D. program after completing my M.A.?

That’s fine.  You can then apply to our Ph.D. program in the second year of your M.A. program and be considered for acceptance along with other applicants who are applying to our Ph.D. program.

What do you look for in an applicant?

We look carefully at everything you send us. Beyond meeting the minimum requirements, we review your letter of intent and references for evidence that you have the capability and desire to research questions relevant to the field of communication. We look at your transcripts for a solid undergraduate or master’s level background, with evidence of courses taken in the humanities and social sciences. We also look closely at your letter of intent to make sure that we can satisfy your needs by offering faculty who align with your research interests. If you provide it, we also read your supplemental essay, which often gives us a better sense of how you could add to the intellectual and cultural diversity of the department. We want you to attend a graduate program that is a good fit for you, so we also evaluate applicants’ educational and professional goals in relation to what our faculty have to offer.

Can I get financial support?

Maybe. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer financial assistance as such. Teaching and research assistantships for students entering the Department of Communication graduate program are based on merit, not financial need. Typically, we’re able to extend support offers to 6-12 of our new graduate students. If your financial need is severe, students should see if they qualify for need-based financial aid from the UW Office of Student Financial Aid. Please note that if you wish to be considered for a graduate assistantship you must submit your complete application materials no later than December 15.

If I am not a United States citizen, can I get an assistantship?

International applicants are considered for graduate assistantships on the same basis as U.S. applicants. If you are not a native speaker of English, the University requires evidence of spoken English proficiency to receive departmental assistantships involving classroom duties. Permanent residency/immigrant status or a degree from the U.S. does not exempt one from this requirement. If you are submitting official English proficiency exam scores with your application, they should be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions. See the international applications page for more details.

The tuition for non-Washington residents seems high! How does one become classified as a “resident” in Washington?

It takes one year, and establishing certain “ties” to the community. For the most complete information contact the Residence Classification Office, 264 Schmitz Hall, 1410 Northeast Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington, 98195; phone 206-543-5932,

When is the application deadline?

Because the Department receives such a large volume of applications, we follow very strict deadlines. For U.S. applicants and international applicants, all application materials must be received by December 15. The Graduate Admissions Committee will only review applications that are complete, so many applicants submit their applications early and make certain that those materials provided by other people or institutions, such as official test scores and letters of recommendation, are sent well before the deadline.

Will it help if I submit my application more than a month before the deadline?

Very early submission of applications will not make a difference in your eligibility. All reviews of application materials take place after the deadline date. Each application is reviewed by a committee of four to five professors in the department.

Can I enroll part-time or during evenings?

At present, we do not offer graduate level courses in the evenings, and we only offer summer courses occasionally. Our graduate courses are all daytime courses, typically in afternoon hours (12:30-5:30 p.m.). International students and students with assistantships must attend full-time (10 credit minimum per quarter). Other U.S. students may attend on a part-time basis, though, for obvious reasons, these students will take longer to complete their studies. That said, it is not unusual for students without assistantships to enroll full-time but find part-time jobs around campus or the community to help support their studies.

Can I start mid-year?

We only accept applications for Autumn-quarter admission. Starting mid-year is not allowed because of the core series of courses that all new students take in succession during Autumn and Winter quarters.

What if I have more questions?

This web site is designed to answer most of your questions, and you may find answers to your questions by browsing through this site. If you have general questions about graduate study costs and policies, financial aid or other academic departments, visit the University of Washington or the UW Graduate School. If you have questions that cannot be answered by reading this site, contact the graduate program advisor at or (206) 543-6745.