Admissions


INTRODUCTION

The graduate program in the Department of Communication trains scholars to conduct original research contributing to the advance of knowledge in communication and related fields, and to teach at the university level. For this reason, the department will only accept students who are seeking the Ph.D. degree (a Master of Science degree may be earned as part of the process of completing the requirements for the Ph.D.).


In addition to the minimum University requirements (an acceptable bachelor’s degree, and a min. cumulative GPA of 3.0 “B” average), the Department of Communication requires:

  1. Three letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty who are familiar with the applicant’s written work and research experience.
  2. Transcripts from all colleges where the applicant has studied (the department’s evaluation considers not only the record in communication, but all undergraduate work and graduate work, where relevant). You may upload unofficial copies of your transcript to the application; official transcripts will only be required if you’re admitted.
  3. Statement of purpose outlining reasons for pursuing graduate work, interests within any social science, and any pertinent intellectual and career experiences and interests. Additionally applicants should indicate at least two prospective faculty mentors (see Research Areas). The admissions committee considers a strong applicant to have well-conceived research interests and past research accomplishments or experience.
    Instructions: Your statement can be up to 1,500 words in length (using 1-inch margins and 12-point font). Applicants may submit a supplemental research statement (up to 3 pages) with more details under the “Supporting Documents” tab in the online application, but it is not required.
  4. Personal Statement. While the statement of purpose (described above) is about your work, your personal statement is about you. It is an opportunity for you to provide additional information that may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA. It will also be used to consider candidates for the Cota-Robles and Graduate Opportunity fellowships. For additional guidance, please see the University of California’s guidance on Personal Statements.
    Instructions
    Your statement can be up to 500 words in length (approximately 1-page, single spaced, using 1-inch margins and 12-point font). Applicants may submit a supplemental statement (up to 3 pages) with more details under the “Supporting Documents” tab in the online application, but it is not required. To be considered for a Cota-Robles or Graduate Opportunity fellowship, be sure to describe your contributions to diversity. The University of California Diversity Statement can be found online.
  5. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score report. The institution code for UCLA for the GRE is 4837 and the Department’s code is 4507. Your score should automatically link to your application (based on your name and social security number). If it doesn’t, please email us a copy of your score report or your test number for us to manually look-it-up.
  6. For applicants whose native language is not English, an official statement of scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Testing System examination (IELTS). The minimum scores required is 7.0 for IELTS and 87 for TOEFL. If you received your bachelor’s degree or higher at a U.S. or English speaking institution, you are exempt from this requirement. Please see detailed information about English Requirements and Proficiency on the Graduate Division site.
  7. Resume/CV

Although undergraduate or masters-level study in communication or related disciplines is desirable, it is not mandatory for admission to the program. Applicants need not be uniformly high on all indicators of potential. The admissions committee examines a number of indicators of abilities and skills.

In addition to relatively formal criteria (such as analytic and verbal proficiency), the department pays particular attention to applicants who seem likely to contribute intellectual, social, or cultural diversity to its student body. Women and those from underrepresented backgrounds, in particular, are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to apply for the following Fall quarter is December 1st.

Applicants must submit electronically a completed Graduate Division Online Application and upload all supporting materials by December 1st.

All supporting materials, including transcripts and recommendation letters, must be submitted online.

Applications that remain incomplete after the deadline of December 1st will not be reviewed.

Applicants who are officially notified of admission: One official copy of your transcripts should be sent directly from the registrars of the academic institution(s) you have attended (beyond secondary school or community college). Please note that submitted records become the property of the university and cannot be returned. If you are a university/college senior, do not wait for senior-year grades before submitting your application and transcript. UCLA undergraduates, please note: you do not need to submit official copies of UCLA transcripts.

Please send transcripts to the following address:

Attn:  Graduate Admissions
UCLA Department of Communication
2225 Rolfe Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1538

Alternatively, if the electronic official transcript is available from your Institution(s), ask them to send it directly to gradprogram@comm.ucla.edu.

Anticipated expenses for graduate studies can be found at the Financial Aid Office website.

Actual living expenses will depend on personal circumstances. A breakdown of fee and tuition costs can be found on the Registrar Office website.

UCLA has various funding opportunities and all admitted Ph.D. communication students obtain competitive funding packages depending on their merit and progress in the program. The main funding opportunities are graduate division fellowships, departmental fellowships, and extramural funding. For incoming students, by far the largest source of support comes from one or multiple years of support that the department offers to admitted students. Some of these funds originate from external sources but are controlled by the department.

Graduate Division Fellowship Programs and Support from UCLA Centers

There are a number of campus-wide fellowship programs, e.g., the Eugene Cota Robles Fellowship for which the department can nominate admitted students if you apply and meet the eligibility criteria. To apply for campus-wide awards, complete the fellowship section of your online graduate admissions application. For the Eugene Cota-Robles Award, you must also complete the Diversity Fellowship portion of the admissions application.  Please note the Graduate Opportunity Fellowship Program (GOFP) is only for terminal master’s students. Please review Funding for Entering Students link on the Graduate Division website. Note that for most of these awards recommendation by the department is critical, and the department reserves the right to consider these awards that originate from other places on campus as part of the total award package that we are offering, fully subject to our rules and conditions.

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (FLAS) for the academic year or summer awards are available for the following languages:  Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean (East Asia); Spanish, Portuguese, and Quechua (Latin America); Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish (Middle East); Indonesian, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese (Southeast Asia). For additional information and requirements specific to each area program please consult the website at http://international.ucla.edu/.  New incoming students are eligible and there are funding opportunities for international studies.

Departmental Support

The department’s admissions committee will consider all admitted applicants, including international students, for departmental support (stipend, registration fees, nonresident tuition, and teaching assistantships) at the time of admission. Decisions are made based on merit, i.e., the applicant’s strength of record and promise in relation to the other students, and not on financial need.

Our typical funding offer provides five years of support that includes one or two years of fellowship (stipend, registration fees, and if needed, non-resident tuition for the first year) and three or four years of guaranteed teaching assistantship (TA) positions. Stipends have ranged from $18-24K and are ordinarily scheduled for the first and fifth years. In some instances, first-year students with teaching experience may be offered a TA position.

For each year of guaranteed TA support (typically years 2-4), the department will offer a TA position at 50% (20 hours per week). If a faculty member offers a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) position for one or all of these years, the GSR position will satisfy/replace the departmental support commitment. You can review TA salaries for a nine-month, half-time appointment and GSR salary scales. Under certain circumstances, TAs and GSRs qualify to have a portion of their mandatory registration fees (including medical insurance premium) paid by the university and in more limited circumstances, GSRs may qualify to have 100% of non-resident tuition paid. For more information on UCLA’s academic apprentice personnel positions, salary rates, remission rates, and policies go to the Academic Apprentice Personnel Manual.

Extramural Funding

There are many extramural agencies that provide fellowships for graduate students.

We strongly urge our applicants and continuing students to seek out external funding opportunities and apply for every fellowship for which they are eligible.

The UCLA Graduate Division has an online database of extramural funding opportunities called GRAPES available at: https://grad.ucla.edu/funding.  The GRAPES database catalogs over 600 private and publicly funded awards, fellowships, and internships and allows searches by field, academic level, award type, award amount, and other criteria. In addition, there are directories of extramural support that can be found at most university libraries.  You can find a list of these directories at: http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/asis/entsup/extramrl.htm.

Here are some of the well-known nationwide programs of which some are specifically for entering students:

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2004/nsf04615/nsf04615.htm

Check their website for deadlines. Application deadline for social sciences is generally in early November.

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program

https://www.ndsegfellowships.org/

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Program for Minorities

http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/FordFellowships/PGA_047958

UCLA campus application deadline is in September. For exact date please contact fhu@gdnet.ucla.edu. Last year the deadline was in November.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program (IIE)

http://www.fulbrightonline.org/us

Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program at the Department of Education

http://www.ed.gov/programs/jacobjavits/index.html

Check their web site for deadlines.  Application deadline is generally in early October.

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

http://www.pdsoros.org

Application deadline is November 1st.

The Social Science Resource Council

https://www.ssrc.org/

Need-Based Financial Aid

Support based solely on financial need is provided in the form of work-study and loans through the Financial Aid Office and is available only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  To apply for financial aid, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the Department of Education by March 2nd. For more information on applying for need-based support at UCLA, please refer to the web site maintained by the Financial Aid Office at www.fao.ucla.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to this FAQ, please read our Admissions Requirements section. It also addresses important application-related topics.

  1. Do you offer a terminal Communication master’s degree program? A: We only offer a doctoral degree program. However, our PhD students can – and often do! – apply to receive their master’s degree along the way to completing their doctoral degree.
  2. Do you have spring admissions? A: We are a fall-only admissions program.
  3. Can I attend your program part-time? A: It’s highly unlikely. We are a full-time resident program, except in rare case-by-case instances.
  4. How do I apply? A: The graduate application portal can be found on the UCLA Graduate Admissions website HERE.
  5. Can you tell me a bit more about your admissions timeline? A: Yes, let us use Fall 2022 as our working example. The application for Fall 2022 will be updated and go live around September 2021. The submission deadline will be December 1, 2021. Between September and December 1 none of our faculty will be reviewing applications; we are simply collecting them. Beginning around the second week of December, faculty start to review applications, conduct phone/online interviews, etc. In late-January, our faculty meet to discuss all applicants and create a list of students whom we plan to accept. In early February, we begin notifying applicants of their acceptance (it is normal for notification of acceptance to stretch through March). Every year, this same cycle will repeat.
  6. What components of my application are most significant? A: While every aspect of your application has value, some components usually possess more value than others. Of most importance are your letters of recommendation and your research experience and/or academic goals (CV, Statement of Purpose, and Personal Statement). Grades are important too, but if your cumulative GPA is above 3.0 (the UCLA threshold), we don’t have any program-specific cutoffs or thresholds. Grades devoid of the context in which they were earned are of limited utility and will not make or break your application. Did you push yourself to take advanced classes? Did you do well in classes most directly related to your research area? That’s what our faculty are often looking at. If you have special circumstances that explain some of your grades, you can certainly include it in your statement.
  7. What are you looking for in my Statement of Purpose and/or Personal Statement? A: This is one of the most important aspects of your application. Please be sure to read the Admissions Requirements section of our website for the basics. Now, for the expanded explanation: the statements us to learn about you and to evaluate your application holistically (CV/resumes often cannot provide this). Use your statements to create a narrative of your academic career/work, future academic plans, and personal background/story. Keep in mind that the Statement of Purpose has a 1,500-word maximum and should focus mostly on your work; the Personal Statement has a 500-word maximum and should focus mostly on you. Before you write your statements, it may be useful to think about what you want us to learn about you. Make a list of important achievements, perspectives, and goals. Build the statement around this list. We are looking for students who have made the most of the opportunities they have had, who are not only intelligent but creative and motivated as well. Keep in mind that we have your CV and letters of recommendation, so we don’t necessarily need a list of all accomplishments. However, the statements can fill in the narrative around what you did, specifically, why you did it. What motivates you? What are your research interests and why? These details usually aren’t found elsewhere in your application. There are a few things we suggest not including in the statement. While it can certainly be useful to provide your reasons for applying to our program, don’t include them if they’re too broad in scope, simplistic, or cliche. For example: “I have always wanted to apply to UCLA because it’s one of the elite universities.” However, if you have specific reasons to be interested in our program (e.g., location, specific project, faculty, etc.) be sure to mention them. Regarding your motivation, always be specific. If you write “I have always found AREA X fascinating,” be sure be sure to tell us why.
  8. Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation? A: The two foremost qualities we look for in a letter writer are: 1.) someone who knows you well and can speak to the quality of your work; 2.) someone who knows how to write an academic reference letter. First, it may be tempting to ask a prominent professor to write a letter for you because they are a well-known person in the field. While we can better contextualize letters from people we know, it’s only helpful if the letter contains meaningful information. If they write, “I’ve met the applicant a few times and they seem intelligent” that’s not useful information. It’s more important to select someone who knows you and can discuss your achievements in detail. Second, the letter writer should know how to write a letter. Academic research programs look for different things than a company. We sometimes read letters from work supervisors that say nice things, but don’t speak to the qualities we find most important.
  9. What should I do if I don’t know three recommenders that fit the criteria listed above? A: We understand that three letters are a lot, especially for an undergraduate applying directly to a PhD program. We don’t expect each candidate to have three amazing letters. Your choice is about balance. You want people who know you well, can write good academic letters, and know the research field. Use your choice of three people to create this balance.
  10. Is the GRE required or optional, and what are the score requirements? A: The GRE is a required component of our application. We don’t have any GRE minimum score cutoffs. GREs are most helpful in filling in the background that may otherwise be missing from your application. If you have many accomplishments, those outweigh how you did on a standardized test. If you have had fewer opportunities to demonstrate potential, we need to rely more on grades and GREs. In short: try to do well, but don’t let a disappointing GRE score get in your way.
  11. Is a TOEFL/IELTS score required, and what are the score requirements? A: If you are an international student, an English proficiency exam may be a required component of your application. Please refer to the UCLA Graduate Admissions English Requirements webpage to learn more. The overall UCLA minimum score for IELTS is 7 and for TOEFL it is 87. The department does not enforce any additional cutoffs. In accordance with UCLA policy, your TOEFL sub score minimums should be as follows:  Writing – 25; Speaking – 24; Reading – 21; Listening – 17.
  12. Do I need to submit official transcripts with my application? A: No. For the purposes of your application, uploading an unofficial transcript is perfectly acceptable. If you are admitted and you decide to enroll in our program, then you would be required to order official transcripts for our Graduate Admissions Office to review and verify.
  13. Do you require supporting documents like a writing sample or research paper as part of the application? A: Supporting documents such as these are not required. However, if you feel that including a writing sample etc. will provide useful context and/or strengthens your application, then we encourage you to submit it in the “Other Supporting Materials” section of your application. Pleas keep in mind that our faculty are reviewing many applications, so if your writing sample is concise there is a much greater likelihood that it will be fully reviewed.
  14. What is the Cost of Attendance? A: Tuition and fees for most doctoral and master’s programs are about $17,486 per year for California residents, and about $32,588 annually for non-California residents. Student fees are listed on the UCLA Registrar’s Office website.
  15. If I am accepted into your program, will I receive funding? A: Yes, all our PhD students receive funding packages upon admission. Typically, our PhD students will be funded for the duration of their Communication PhD career.
  16. Can you explain how student funding works in your program? A: Absolutely! Please refer to the Funding Opportunities section of our department admissions webpage for detailed information. In short, students will receive funding in the form of a fellowship for year one and guaranteed TA support for four more years. Additional opportunities for funding can be found on the UCLA Graduate Division website. If you have additional questions regarding funding, we strongly encourage you to email gradprogram@comm.ucla.edu.
  17. Are TA positions (and the funding that comes with them) only available after a certain period of time in the program? Does this look different for people coming in having already received a terminal master’s degree? A: Our students can serve as a TA at any point after their 1st year in the program. During the first year we provide our students with a fellowship, so finding a TA position is not necessary. This will allow you the necessary time to acclimate to life as a PhD student, especially in regard to balancing your research and coursework.
  18. If I am applying with a master’s degree already earned, is there any chance my previous coursework could be transferred in order to shorten PhD my time-to-degree? A: If you’ve completed relevant coursework at the graduate level, it’s possible that up to 3 of these graduate courses can be transferred in to fulfill the elective portion of our coursework requirement. Review/approval would need to be conducted by your advisor and the Vice Chair. Transfers cannot be used to substitute for any courses that comprise our core requirement. You can learn about our full coursework requirement HERE.
  19. Can I contact faculty members whose research interests I share? A: Yes- you certainly may. In fact, doing so is a good idea because our program uses a faculty advisor/mentorship model. This means that individual faculty members, especially those who are seeking new PhD students, play a large part in the department admission decisions. Email is the preferred method of contact. It’s also best to email specific faculty members only after you’ve submitted an application, so they have something to refer to. In addition to a brief introduction, feel free to concisely articulate what interests you about their research, and why. You can find a list of our faculty members, their personal webpages (by clicking on their name), and their contact info HERE.

If you have any additional admissions questions not covered in the FAQ, please feel free to email us at gradprogram@comm.ucla.edu.