Graduate Studies - FAQ

What types of degrees do you offer?

We offer an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in communication theory and research.  We do not offer a Master's degree program.  We also do not offer a specialization or programs in advertising, public relations, journalism, intercultural communication, speech communication or rhetoric.

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 to confirm its equivalency to U.S. standards.  They may be reached at: 858-534-3555 or

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. 

What are your TOEFL and IELTS requirements?

The TOEFL or IELTS exams are required of all foreign applicants to UCSD whose first language is a language other than English.  The minimum TOEFL score accepted by UCSD is 80 (Internet-based exam), 213 (computer-based exam) or 550 (written exam). The minimum of IELTS score accepted by UCSD is 7. Exemptions from this requirement are made when an applicant has studied full-time for a minimum of one year in a university program in an English-speaking country, such as, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand or Australia.

What are your GRE and TOEFL university and department codes?

  • GRE/TOEFL University Code: 4836
  • TOEFL Department Code: 83

How long is your program?

Normative time for our program is six years.  Some students complete it in as few as five years, but many others take up to seven.

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.

What application materials are required?

  • Application for Graduate Admission and Fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Three academic letters of reference
  • Transcripts from all colleges attended
  • Official GRE scores
  • Official TOEFL scores (if foreign applicant)
  • Academic writing sample(s)


Can I get some information on the number of applications your receive, percent admitted and other background information, such as GPA requirements?

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 is your admissions deadline and when will applications be available? When will students be notified of your decision and how?

Applications will be available by September 1 of each year.  Application is done at (, UCSD does not offer a paper application process.

Our deadline to receive all components of your application is January 13, 2017.  We do not start our review of applications until after the deadline; we do not admit on a 'rolling' basis. All materials must be submited by the deadline to have your application considered for admission.

You will be notified via email of our committee's decision, usually by the end of February.

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

If you are a foreign applicant, please refer to Question 13 below for additional information.

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

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 Graduate Alumni.

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.