Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to questions that prospective graduate students frequently ask.

Questions About the Program

I do not wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree; I want to earn only a master’s degree. Should I apply?

No, our program probably is not well suited for you. Students in our master's program typically earn their M.A. on their way to earning a Ph.D., even if they are interested only in an M.A. at UC Davis. We encourage you to consider applying for the doctoral program even if your current highest degree is a baccalaureate.

How much time is required to obtain an M.A.?

The normative time is 2 years.

How much time is required to obtain a Ph.D. through the program

The normative time is 4–5 years.

What is a typical cohort size per year?

Ordinarily 6–8.

Do all students receive funding?

Although funding is not guaranteed, nearly all of our graduate students have received financial support. All graduate students, regardless of funding, have the opportunity to apply for departmental grants in support of research and conference travel. While many funding opportunities exist, funding always is competitive, and decisions about funding are made based on reviews of applicants' qualifications and the availability of funding.

If I do not receive funding as part of my offer, are other sources of funding available?

Many courses on our large, academically diverse campus employ teaching assistants (TAs) from other departments, thereby giving our students multiple opportunities to earn income. The pay rate for teaching courses in other units is the same as in the Department of Communication.


The Application Process

I am an international applicant; do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam is required if English is not your native language, unless you have received or will be receiving a degree from a university at which the primary language of instruction (through the entire school) is English. The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 100 out of a possible 120, counting all four sections of the iBT TOEFL (Internet-based TOEFL). TOEFL scores expire after two years.

What are the Institution and Departmental Codes for GRE and the TOEFL?

The Institution Code for both GRE and TOEFL is 4834. The Departmental code for TOEFL is 83 and 4599 for GRE.

What is the deadline for applying for admission?

The application deadline for students seeking financial support has been extended to January 15. We will consider applications until April 15. However, these late applicants are not eligible for consideration for financial support.  

I cannot obtain my transcripts before the January 15 deadline; can the deadline be extended?

The Department of Communication will consider applications until April 15. However, to be eligible for consideration for financial support, you must submit all your application materials, including transcripts, reference letters, writing sample and test scores, by the January 15 deadline.

Where should I send my transcripts?

UC Davis requires official transcripts from each college-level institution you have attended. You should upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application. The UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies offers more details about transcript submission.

What should I write in the Statement of Purpose and in the Personal History Statement?

The Statement of Purpose should explain why you want to earn a Ph.D. in communication and should describe the educational experiences that have prepared you for graduate study in communication. You can describe the kind of work you hope to do professionally after earning your Ph.D.

The Personal History Statement should discuss your life experiences that led to your interest in studying communication. Be sure to include both of these statements in your online application.

What type of writing sample should I submit?

The online application requires you to upload one writing sample. Your composition does not have to be about a communication-related subject, but should be representative of your scholarly writing skills. You may submit a copy of your completed M.A. thesis or one or two of the initial chapters from the thesis you are writing. All writing samples must be in English.

From whom should I seek the letters of recommendation?

The letters of recommendation should be from persons who can evaluate your scholarly potential. We suggest obtaining at least two letters from faculty members with whom you have studied or worked. You must submit the letters electronically through the online application system. Paper copies will not be accepted. Please ensure that all three letters, along with other required materials, are submitted by January 5. After you have submitted your online application, you can check the status of your application by periodically logging back in to the online application system and seeing which materials have been received. The department will not contact applicants if materials are missing.

Do I need to take any additional English tests if I want to work as a TA?

In order to qualify to work as a teaching assistant (TA) or associate instructor (AI), you as an international graduate student must have a minimum score of 26 on the Speaking Subset of the TOEFL iBT test or a minimum score of 50 on the SPEAK test, which you can take after your arrival at UC Davis.

Can I transfer credits from a previous institution?

Usually, all work for the graduate degree is done in residence on the UC Davis campus. However, with the consent of the graduate adviser and the dean of Graduate Studies, some coursework taken elsewhere may be credited toward a student's degree, provided that the units were not used to satisfy requirements for another degree. You might be asked to send the syllabus of the requested course(s) so that the graduate adviser can compare your earlier course(s) with the corresponding course(s) here.


Admissions Standards and Criteria

How many applications do you typically receive each year?

We receive anywhere from 90 to 150 applications each year.

How competitive is the admission process?

Our program is highly selective; we usually make 15 to 20 admission offers (10–20 percent), Ph.D. and M.A. students combined. We are not able to re-offer admission to a student who declines an offer; if you decline an offer of admission, you may re-apply in a subsequent year.

What GPA is required for admission?

Graduate Studies requires a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4-point scale.

What scores do I need on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for admission?

We require a minimum of 50 percentile on both the Verbal and Quantitative portions of GRE, and a minimum of 3.5 on analytical writing. However, the GRE scores are not required for applications for the 2022-2023 school year.

Do you require the subject test for the GRE?

No, only the general test is required.

Can the requirement for GRE scores be waived?

No, the GRE is required for all applicants. However, GRE scores are not required for applications for the 2022-2023 school year.

How long do GRE scores remain valid?

If your GRE scores are less than five years old, they are still acceptable. If your GRE scores are five years old, or older, you must retake the GRE.

Is an M.A. degree a prerequisite for application to the Ph.D. program?

No, applicants can apply to the Ph.D. program if they have only a bachelor's degree, as long as they meet the other admission requirements.

Are applicants who already have an M.A. degree favored for admission over applicants who don’t?

No. What matters is how well the prospective student's application materials meet the admission requirements, and how well the applicant's research interests and goals match the strengths and goals of the department.

What are my chances of being accepted and receiving financial offer?

Chances for admission and financial aid depend on how your records compare with those of each of the other applicants. Unfortunately, we cannot estimate an individual's chances until all applications have been received and examined. Thank you for your understanding.