Admissions PhD

The Department of Communication Studies is admitting new graduate students for the 2021-2022 academic year (i.e., for enrollment beginning in August 2021). However, due to financial constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we will have funding for only a limited number of students. 

In addition, the following faculty members will not be accepting any new graduate advisees in the next academic year: Angela Gist-Mackey, Jeff Hall, and Adrianne Kunkel. While this means they will not serve as the primary advisor for any new students, they will, of course, still be involved in teaching graduate classes and serving on committees of students advised by other members of our award-winning department faculty.

Admission Criteria and How To Apply

To be considered for regular admission to 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 who do not meet regular admission requirements may be considered for provisional admission. Applications should be submitted as early as possible. Application deadlines are as follows:

  • Fall semester admission: January 3 
  • Spring semester admission: November 15 
  • Summer admission: April 15

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).
  • Official GRE or TOEFL scores (KU code 6871). All domestic applicants must submit GRE scores. International applicants must submit TOEFL scores unless they have earned a degree within the United States. In this case, GRE scores must be submitted instead of TOEFL
  • 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. Individuals writing letters will be sent an e-mail from College Net with instructions to fill out an evaluation form.
  • 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 or submitted as a separate document. If included separately, please upload in "additional documents" or email to

Applicants may submit their application, application fee, statement of interest, and resume through the application link above. GRE scores and TOEFL 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:

University of Kansas, Graduate Admissions
1450 Jayhawk Boulevard
Strong Hall, 313
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 Academic Advisor. 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.

Waiver of Credits

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a completed Master's degree from another program may have 24 graduate credit hours waived. See the Graduate Handbook (PDF) for guidelines and restrictions. In each case, it is the responsibility of the student to demonstrate how the courses relate to KU's PhD requirements.

Students holding a Master's degree with a professional rather than scholarly orientation (i.e., a degree program not requiring the production of a thesis or other major scholarly research) will normally be required to demonstrate early in their doctoral program a research aptitude. This may be accomplished through enrollment in Investigation and Conference (Courses 898 and 998) or some equivalent procedure. Details should be worked out during consultation with the student's academic advisor.


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.