PhD Admissions

We invite you to apply online

This 1-page flyer gives a brief overview of the PhD program. For a comprehensive description of the program, download this 43-page Graduate Program HandbookThe UMass Amherst Graduate School Bulletin also includes a Communication program overview.   

The department recorded this 45-minute graduate program information session video on November 2, 2022. The Google Slides from the information session can also be viewed.

The application requirements are:

  • Online application
  • Payment of the application fee
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Writing sample of no more than 25 pages
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • One official transcript from each school previously attended (sent directly to the Graduate School)
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 2.7 on a 4.0 scale or an equivalent to this score
  • English Language Proficiency Scores for non-native English speakers
  • OPTIONAL: GRE scores

Apply through the Graduate School Admissions Office

The UMass Amherst Graduate School Admissions Office has a standardized application form. For more application information and forms, including an online application, please visit the Admissions section of the UMass Amherst Graduate School website and the specific Program page for Communication.

The application deadline for fall admission is January 2nd. Spring admissions are not considered.

Application Materials

Here we elaborate on Admissions Committee expectations for the application materials in the Department of Communication.

The personal statement may be 1.5-3 pages single-spaced. The admission committee uses this statement to get to know the candidate, learn why they want to pursue a PhD in Communication and why they think our department is the right place to do it. The committee wants to find out what interests the candidate wants to pursue in their graduate study, and what past educational, research, or lived experiences and accomplishments the candidate will bring to their studies and their research program.

In the resume or CV, the committee hopes to see a concise summary of the candidate's educational history, employment history, publications if any (there is no expectation that an applicant has published), creative or community projects (if any), or other experiences and accomplishments the candidate deems relevant.

The committee will typically only read one writing sample of no more than 25 pages. From this sample, we hope to see how candidates write and think, and learn about candidates' substantive research experience and/or scholarly interests.

The letter of recommendation should speak to the candidate's potential for success in graduate school and scholarship. These letters typically (but now always) are from former professors who students have worked with closely. If letters are from former employers or collaborators, ideally, they will speak to the candidate's skills and interests that are relevant to graduate study.

GRE scores are optional. If a candidate feels that GRE scores will enhance their application, or represent academic skills not already represented elsewhere in the application materials, they are welcome to include them.

About the admission decision

Although the graduate school retains applicants’ official records, decisions to accept applicants to the Communication program (and to recommend admittance to the university) are made by the department's own Graduate Admissions Committee. The committee is highly selective. Admission decisions are based on all available information, not on any single criterion. Primary considerations include a statement of interest in areas in which the department has expertise, letters of recommendation, grade-point averages, and writing sample.

Most students admitted to the PhD program in Communication have or are in the process of completing a Masters degree in Communication or a related field in the social sciences or humanities. The Department may admit exceptional students with a B.A. directly into the Ph.D. program. However, these applicants will be required to demonstrate Masters level work and, if accepted, will be required to take additional coursework (at minimum one semester, as determined by the Graduate Program Director and the students’ Guidance Committees). If you are a student with a B.A. interested in applying for the Ph.D., please contact the Graduate Program Director or the Graduate Admissions Director prior to applying.

Financial assistance

Students in the program have a variety of options for financial assistance. Decisions about assistance are made subsequent to and independent of acceptance into the program. However, academic performance is the primary consideration in both decisions. See Funding, at left.