Frequently Asked Questions
Will I receive funding?
In recent years, most students admitted have received financial support in the form of nine-month Teaching Assistantships ($20,000 per year for teaching two courses or its equivalent) provided both academic eligibility and steady academic progress toward degree are maintained. There is also the possibility of a waiver of the out-of-state portion of tuition, allowing a non-resident to pay resident rates. This is, however, dependent on yearly allocations to the department and is not guaranteed to all students. Assuming this is granted by the Graduate School, you will not be responsible for paying your student fees. You can find additional information about funding through the Office of Scholarships & Student Aid. In addition, the department will fund student health insurance for teaching assistants. The Office of Scholarship and Student Aid also has information about financial aid and loans. That office should be consulted as early as possible by those seeking such financial assistance.
How much are fees?
Fees are typically around $950 per semester, but rates fluctuate each year. Eligible students are not responsible for paying their student fees.
Does UNC provide health insurance?
All students attending the University must be covered by health insurance. The Department of Communication Studies will fund health insurance for any student on a Teaching Assistantship through Student Blue RA/TA Insurance.
Should I be a resident of North Carolina?
In order to be considered for in-state residency status for tuition purposes any student, admitted to and enrolled in a graduate degree program administered by The Graduate School, with an undetermined or nonresident status is required to submit a residency application in order to be considered for reclassification for in-state tuition benefits. You may find more information at the Grad School’s website on residency or reviewing the North Carolina State Residency Manual.
How long can I expect funding?
Except under exceptional circumstances, graduate students should not expect funding from the Department beyond five years. Funding beyond the fifth year will be available if and only if the Department: (1) has need for a course that a graduate student is able to teach, (2) has no graduate student within his/her normal five years of service available to teach it, and (3) has the resources to pay the graduate student stipend.
What should applicants be aware of when applying to the program?
Applicants should know that our graduate program is centered on theoretically rich, critically oriented, problem-based inquiry, and that we are especially excited about students who are asking questions of social and political significance. Our program emphasizes cultural and critical approaches to communication, centering questions of power, equity, transformation, and emancipation.
We are invested in students who can elaborate a multi-perspectival approach to the questions they are asking, and who can articulate potential connections to different areas of faculty research interests and expertise. Applicants who are primarily interested in pursuing a more specific, narrow focus tied to one subarea/subdiscipline (e.g., performance studies, media and technology studies, organizational communication, rhetoric) may not be the best fit. Whereas our undergraduate program is organized around sub disciplinary units, at the graduate level we are intentional about blurring those lines, with the assumption that interdisciplinary approaches provide a richer set of conceptual resources.
Can I apply if I only have a B.A.?
Although most of our incoming students come in with a M.A., we do have students start with a B.A. Students starting with a B.A. take an M.A. exam during the third semester, working with a committee of three graduate faculty who will develop questions in consultation with you and your advisor. Written answers are reviewed by the committee before an oral defense. It is a similar, although shorter version of the PhD comprehensive exams.
What faculty support will I have when I enter the program?
Each incoming student is assigned a temporary advisor who is a students’ designated mentor until that student picks a dissertation advisor. The dissertation advisor is usually in place by the end of the second year or sometimes earlier.
What help, if any, is given to help students find employment after graduation?
The primary support for helping with employment after graduation happens during the program, particularly in the fourth year, where students participate in a seminar aimed at preparing you for the job seeking process that typically happens in the fifth year. Here, students work with a committee of faculty and their advisor through a series of workshops that are designed to prepare you for the job market. Each workshop covers specific topics including, for example, developing the teaching portfolio, writing cover letters, preparing a successful job talk.
As the program is predominately theory and research-based, are most of the graduates focusing on entering academia in some form? Where else do graduates find employment?
While most of our graduates have secured employment in higher education as faculty, our graduates have also found industry positions such as working for a technology company on ethics issues, contributing to nonprofit work, engaging in community organizing, pursuing creative work in community theatre and arts organizations, and working in higher education in other roles, including university diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.