Skip to main content

Fill out the online application and upload all documents (see requirements below) from the Graduate School: Click here to Apply Now and to pay the application fee.

Please note that while the ‘complete’ section below are the priorities for departmental evaluations, the ‘compile’ items must all be submitted in order for the graduate school to process your application and forward it to the department for consideration. We are only able to consider applications that are considered complete by the Graduate School at UNC. 


  • A formal statement of purpose that describes your educational and professional objectives, including the broader research areas you are interested in studying, and potential focuses or questions that animate your scholarship at this point.
  • A sample of scholarly writing (e.g., research paper, thesis excerpt, or other research-based writing, under 30 pages).
  • An abstract of 500 words less for your scholarly writing sample.
  • A list of five key terms that describe your research interests.
  • A resume/CV.
  • Three letters of recommendation (please make sure that these uploaded to the graduate school website)


  • Transcripts from prior undergraduate (with an average grade of B or better) and graduate work.
  • Standardized test scores (GRE* – no more than 5 years old. TOEFL or IELTS – no more than 2 years old)

*While the Department of Communication does not prioritize GRE scores in our own selection process, and are in the process of eliminating it as a requirement, for the 2021-2022 acceptance cycle, you must include your score in order for the UNC Graduate School to process your application. 

The department recognizes that standardized testing reproducers systemic and structural inequalities. Given the focus on social justice and transformation that underscores our collective research and teaching, we are fully committed to removing these barriers.

Admission Offers

In recent years Communication Studies has sought to enroll 8-12 incoming graduate students in each fall semester. The number of students admitted to the Ph.D. program varies annually based on budgetary factors external to the department.

The application deadline is December 1st, 2020 for the fall 2021 semester enrollment. The application process must, therefore, begin early. It can take weeks for official scores or letters of recommendation to arrive. We begin reviewing all completed applications in early December.  Only completed applications can be considered for admissions to the Ph.D. program and for competitive grants and fellowships offered by UNC’s Graduate School to incoming Ph.D. students.

Application Fee

An applicant’s file is incomplete until the application fee is paid, and no deferred fee payment is allowed. (A fee waiver is possible in rare cases for US citizens.) Applications that are incomplete because of unpaid or unwaived fees are not evaluated by the Department. Our Graduate School accepts no departmental recommendation for applicant admission until the fee is paid.

Standardized Test Scores

We invite students to send us early ‘unofficial’ copies of their GRE and TOEFL test scores. These can be used for internal departmental evaluation for admission. However, our Graduate School requires that ‘official’ results reach us from the testing agency before any admission offer can be extended. The department will have to justify admission of a candidate to the Graduate School if GRE scores fall below the 50th percentile. The Graduate School requires that all applicants take the verbal and quantitative GRE exams.

TOEFL Waivers

The Graduate School does allow applicants to apply for a waiver, but the Communication Studies Department does not grant these waivers.


We usually begin to send offers of admission in January, and continue to admit students until we believe sufficient offers have been made to fill our class for the coming year. Most of our offers for fall admission with financial aid are made by early March. Later offers may be made if space is available.

Deadline for Accept/Deny

The deadline for acceptance of our offer of fall semester admission is April 15. We greatly appreciate earlier notification if at all possible. Since the number of places in our program is very limited, and since we keep a file of applicants who are deemed worthy of admission if space becomes available, we would like to know as quickly as possible whether admitted students will be able to accept our offer. Declined offers open spaces for others. Included in your official offer letter from the Graduate School will be instructions regarding the formal acceptance of admission as well as the required enrollment deposit and Student Health Forms.

Fall Enrollment

We accept students only for the Fall semester. If you are not accepted in the Fall, you may try again the next year. If you are interested in public relations, advertising, journalism and related mass communication fields, please contact the graduate program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.