Prospective Graduate Student FAQ

How long is your program?

The normative time for our program is six years. Some students graduate in as few as five years, but many others take up to seven.

Is there financial assistance?

As part of our offer of admission, the Department of Communication typically provides a funding offer that guarantees financial assistance for the first three and sometimes four years of our program. This offer may come in a variety of forms, including fellowships, tuition and fee scholarships and teaching and research assistantships. After the third year, our funding letter provides strong assurances that continued assistance in the form of dissertation fellowships and additional teaching and research assistantships will be available. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may also apply for need-based financial aid.  For more information on financial assistance, please refer to the Graduate Division’s funding website.

Is there financial assistance for foreign students?

Unfortunately, financial assistance for foreign applicants is quite limited. Consequently, we are able to make offers of admission to only one or two foreign students each year.  Foreign applicants are strongly encouraged to pursue funding opportunities from their home countries' government, as well as from international funding agencies, such as the Fulbright and Ford Foundation fellowships.  In addition, foreign applicants from Canada or Mexico may wish to look into funding opportunities though the following two agencies:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

UC MEXUS - The University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States

Is a master's degree required to apply to your Ph.D. program?

No, the only degree requirement is the bachelor's degree.  If your degree was received outside of the United States, we recommend you contact the Office of Graduate Admissions (858.534.3554; to confirm its equivalency to U.S. standards.  

Does your undergraduate degree have to be in Communication?

No. Our program is an interdisciplinary program and our students come from a variety of academic backgrounds, as do our faculty.

What are your GRE requirements?

We do not have a 'minimum acceptable' score, however a strong performance on the exam is required.  We do put more emphasis on the verbal and analytical sections of the exam, as our program is not quantitative in nature.

Do you accept transfer work?

The number of required courses for our program are few.  Consequently, we will accept a maximum of two graduate level courses as transfer credit.  These courses would be evaluated after you are admitted and have started the program.   Do not expect that transferring courses will reduce your time to degree.

How many applications do you receive each year, and what percentage are admitted?

Typically we admit about 15 students from an applicant pool of approximately 150. Of the 15 students admitted, typically 8 - 10 accept our offer of admission.

What types of employment do your graduates pursue?

Most of our graduates pursue careers in academia.  Others are employed by government and non-government organizations.  Almost all are involved in some way with teaching, research or other types of educational programs and outreach. For a list of our alumni, their dissertation topics and placement, please see our Graduate Alumni webpage.

How do I know if UCSD's Ph.D. program in Communication is right for me?

Please take the time to not only read about our program requirements and mission statement, but also read our faculty, graduate student, and alumni webpages. These will help you get an idea of the breadth of research interests being pursued through our program and whether there is a 'fit' with your interests.