Admissions PhD

The Department of Communication Studies admits a number of students to the MA and PhD programs each Fall. Please review this page for information on how to apply. Admitted students are considered for Graduate Teaching Assistant and Graduate Research Assistant positions to enhance and support their studies. 

Admission Criteria and How To Apply

To be considered for any graduate program at KU, applicants must have a bachelor's degree or bachelor's degree equivalent from an accredited institution with undergraduate degree requirements similar to those of the University of Kansas. Applicants to the COMS PhD program are considered for Fall admission. We do not offer Spring or Summer admission. The application deadline for Fall 2025 is January 6, 2025. Please reach out to our Director of Graduate Studies or Graduate Program Coordinator with any questions concerning the program or application process.

Application Materials

All application materials must be received prior to evaluation. A complete application consists of the following:  

  • Complete online application submitted to Graduate Studies along with KU's graduate application fee ($65 for domestic applicants and $85 for international applicants).
  • One copy of official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate institutions. Transcripts may be submitted online or mailed to the address below. If accepted, official transcripts must be sent to Graduate Admissions. 
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals in a position to comment meaningfully on the applicant's potential for graduate work. The application will prompt you to submit names and contact information for these 3 references. The admissions system will then send an email directly to each reference with instructions on how to submit their letter of recommendation.
  • Statement of purpose (2-3 pages) indicating the importance of your goals and academic interests and how they relate to the sub-fields of Communication Studies upon which currently faculty focus. If there are faculty members whose research/teaching you find particularly interesting, please list them at the conclusion of your statement.
  • Current resume or curriculum vita
  • Research writing sample (sample of your academic work, e.g., senior thesis, seminar paper, Master’s thesis)
  • English Proficiency: If an applicant is not a native speaker of English, they must verify their English proficiency. Please see Graduate Admissions' English Proficiency Requirements
  • Optional: Applicants seeking a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) should include an additional statement regarding interest in financial assistance, directed to the COMS Graduate Admissions Committee. This can be included in the statement of purpose.

Applicants may submit their application, application fee, statement of interest, and resume through the application link above. Please note that the GRE requirement has been waived for Fall 2025 applicants. Test scores should be sent directly to KU using institution code 6871. Digital copies of transcripts may be emailed directly from the degree-granting institution to Official transcripts can also be mailed to the address below:

Graduate Admissions
University of Kansas
KU Visitor Center
1502 Iowa St.
Lawrence, KS 66045

Evaluation Processes and Contact Information

Applicants are evaluated on the overall strength of their materials. This includes the degree to which the statement of purpose represents a sophisticated interest in studying a sub-field emphasized by faculty in the department; the strength of recommendation letters; and the strength of the research sample submitted by the student. 

If you have questions about admissions or would like to learn more about the Communication Studies Graduate program, please contact our Graduate Program Coordinator. KU’s Graduate Studies page on How to Apply is a resource for application-related logistical questions.

Application for Admission to the Doctoral Program from MA

Students currently enrolled as MA students in the Department of Communication studies must submit the following materials for possible admissions to the PhD program: (1) cover letter expressing their interest in advancing to the PhD program and (2) have two current departmental faculty members submit letters of support to the Director of Graduate Studies.

It is expected that students will have successfully defended their Master’s thesis before beginning the doctoral program. In the event this does not occur, students have until the end of their first semester in the PhD program to complete and defend their Master’s thesis. Failure to do so will result in students being put on academic probation and restricted from enrolling in any courses other than COMS 899.


Students are expected to begin their graduate program in Communication Studies with 12-15 hours of coursework dealing with human communication and social interaction. Each application will be reviewed individually to determine sufficiency. Under circumstances where an applicant's coursework background is deemed insufficient, additional hours may required for completion of the graduate degree.

Notification of Admission

After the due date for which application materials must be received, the graduate committee will review applications and make recommendations. When recommendations are made, applicants will be notified by e-mail regarding the department's final decision. Applicants who are approved for admission and indicate their intention attend KU will receive further information concerning procedures for acceptance and enrollment.