About our Graduate Program

The prospect of choosing among the nation's numerous institutions that offer graduate degrees in communication can seem daunting. But the many graduate students who chose UC Davis over the years did so with sound reasoning, and have reaped the rewards professionally.

Why Communication at UC Davis?

We maintain small class sizes to provide a personal educational experience and extensive student-faculty contact. Most courses are taught as seminars in which students learn from each other in small, faculty-facilitated groups.

We stress knowledge generation and the primacy of scientific theory. We expect our students to master the fundamental theories that explain the dynamics of   communication, learn how to apply and critique extant theories, and develop the research skills required to generate and test their own theories and models of communication.

The focus of our program is on quantitative methodologies. Our students receive advanced training in statistics, as well as instruction in experimental and survey research methods, content analysis, and emerging methods such as "big data" analysis. 

Our students become involved in programmatic research in their very first quarter of studies. We expect our students to graduate well-published and we nurture them to make that happen! We also give our students experience presenting their research and arguing their positions through our weekly brown bag speaker's series. These experiences prepare our students for the job talks they will eventually need to give.

Our program draws upon communication researchers from other fields to offer a rich, interdisciplinary experience. We have strong relationships with people engaged in communication research from other social sciences (e.g., Psychology, Sociology, Political Science), Computer Science, Engineering, Medicine, Public Health, and other fields. 

We are able to offer financial assistance to most of our doctoral students through teaching assistantships. We also offer support for travel to conferences and have a small grants program to support student research. Many of our students are funded in the summer through teaching assistantships.

Most important, our faculty is of the highest quality. As a student, you will learn about research by doing research in collaborative projects with some of the most productive and innovative thinkers in the field.

Study with Productive Faculty

The online biographical profiles of our renowned faculty members reveal that we are extremely productive and programmatic researchers. The members of our faculty take an interdisciplinary approach to communication. Our faculty scholars regularly publish research articles not only in communication journals, but also in academic periodicals in the fields of sociology, psychology, linguistics, political science, economics, information and computer science, informatics, network sciences, statistics, women's studies, medicine, and public health.

During the past five years our group has been involved in various capacities on grants totaling more than $6.6 million. Beyond that, a member of our faculty generated $25 million in funding while heading a research organization on technology and development at the United Nations. Numerous prestigious organizations have conferred awards to our faculty members for their insightful, innovative research studies.

The Vanguard of Research

Advances in information and communication technology are transforming all aspects of society. Our faculty and students are carrying out research at the cutting edge of this new era in human social evolution that seeks to elucidate the fundamental processes of communication. For example, we study virtual reality, massively distributed human systems, computer-mediated interaction, online communities, human-computer interaction, and technology and development. We are applying advanced methods from network sciences to a wide range of phenomena, including social media, patient care, and even global telecommunications networks.

Global Reputation

Our faculty is respected, as evidenced by the many invitations we have received to present lectures at some of the world's foremost universities and institutions. UC Davis Department of Communication faculty members have addressed audiences at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Francisco. The list of international inviting institutions at which our faculty members have presented lectures includes the National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan; Sungkyunkwan University, Korea; City University of Hong Kong; Chinese University of Science and Technology; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Members of our faculty also have been invited to teach courses at other institutions, including, in recent years, the City University of Hong Kong, the University of Science and Technology of China, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. The governments of Canada, Argentina and Portugal have called upon members of our faculty to investigate research policy issues related to communication technologies, as has the international agency UNESCO.

We have given keynote speeches before the Chinese Communication Association, the Chinese Internet Research Conference, the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning, the European Communication Research and Education Association, the National Communication Association, and the Daegu Gyeongbuk International Social Network Conference.


Our faculty is visible in the public sphere. For example, two colleagues recently gave TED talks on virtual reality and big data; one was given at prestigious University College London. Members of our faculty have appeared on television (notably PBS, the Discovery Channel, Nat Geo) and has testified before the California State Senate on the topic of media violence. We are proud to have a colleague who has published in Science, an accomplishment few social scientists can claim.

World-Class University

Students admitted to our graduate program can draw upon a wealth of intellectual resources to that extend beyond our program and faculty. The University of California, Davis, is an amazing place, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top-10 public university. We are proud to be a part of the world’s most renowned institution of higher education, the University of California, which is home to five of America’s top-10 public university campuses.


The Department of Communication at the University of California Davis is committed to supporting the diversity of the graduate student body and promoting equal opportunity in higher education. This commitment furthers the educational mission to serve the increasingly diverse population and educational needs of California and the nation. We affirm that diversity is critical to promoting lively intellectual exchange and the variety of ideas and perspectives essential to advancing higher education and communication research. Our graduate students contribute to the global pool of future scholars and academic leaders, thus high value is placed on achieving a diverse graduate student body to support the University of California’s academic excellence. We invite you to include in your Personal History and Diversity Statement (part of your application) how you may contribute to the diversification of graduate education and the UC Davis community.

STEM Classification

The Graduate Program is classified as a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program under the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code 090702: Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia. This is code is defined as:

A program that focuses on the development, use, critical evaluation, and regulation of new electronic communication technologies using computer applications; and that prepares individuals to function as developers and managers of digital communications media. Includes instruction in computer and telecommunications technologies and processes; design and development of digital communications; marketing and distribution; digital communications regulation, law, and policy; the study of human interaction with, and use of, digital media; and emerging trends and issues.

This classification has important implications for international students. Students on an F-1 visa qualify for the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT), which adds an additional 24-month extension to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. This means that students who earn their graduate degree in the Department of Communication can extend their stay in the United States for up to 36-months post-degree. To learn more, visit the UC Davis Services for International Students and Scholars website.