Admission Requirements

How to Apply

Any student with a bachelor's or master's degree and with a substantial background in the humanities, social sciences, or physical sciences is eligible to apply to the doctoral program. 

Our application process is conducted through the University of Illinois Graduate College website. The Graduate College administers all applications to all doctoral programs on our campus. It also sets campus rules and protocols for admitting doctoral students. Therefore, applying students should carefully review policies set by the Graduate College for admission.

Students are only admitted to start the program during the fall term. All application materials for the academic year beginning Fall 2024 should be submitted by the deadline, December 15, 2023.

A complete application file (for admission and financial aid) must include the following: 

  • A completed online application form. Please note: the PhD program name is Communications & Media. 
  • Transcripts from all previous college- and university-level work. Only after an offer of admission has been extended and accepted do applicants need to mail official transcripts; for the application process, only the transcripts that the applicant uploads are necessary.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume.
  • Three recommendation letters. When you start your application, you will be asked to list the names of three recommenders.  The system will then automatically e-mail them to submit their letters. All letters must be uploaded by recommenders to the online application system. 
  • Academic Statement of Purpose. Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe (within 1,000 words) your academic background, interests, and goals. How has your academic background, including any training, research, or other educational experiences, prepared you for graduate study? What are your intellectual interests, and what scholarly questions are you interested in exploring in graduate study? Are there any specific faculty members whose research interests align with your own with whom you would like to work? How will our program help you achieve your academic and professional goals? 
  • Personal Statements. Please describe any experiences and/or challenges that may have shaped your intellectual and personal development (within 250 words).  Provide insight into your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively (within 250 words).
  • Writing Sample. Please submit a writing sample of 7-30 pages (double-spaced 12-point font, including synopsis, title, and references) that is representative of your scholarly interests and approaches. Please include a short (under 250-word) synopsis of the paper, including the context in which it was produced (for a course, presented at a conference, etc.). Your sample should demonstrate your ability to write, interpret evidence, and make scholarly arguments related to communications and media. The writing should be your work without significant human or technological assistance.
  • English Proficiency Score.  All international applicants are required to submit the results of an accepted test of evidence of English proficiency unless they qualify for an exemption.  
  • Application fee.

Important information for applicants 

The admissions process in the Institute of Communications Research is competitive; that is, all applications are considered at the same time for fall admission. Applications should be received by the deadline for consideration for both admissions and aid. The Committee strives to notify applicants by March 1 of their decisions. Since we do not have a rolling admissions process, it is very important that applicants adhere to the December application deadline.

Applications submitted electronically at the aforementioned Graduate College website are accessible by ICR as soon as the application fee has been paid. Applications for which the fee has not been paid, whether paper or electronic, are not released to ICR by the Office of Admissions and Records.

Financial aid and benefits 

Financial aid is available in the form of teaching and research assistantships, fellowships and tuition and fee waivers. Most Institute of Communications Research students are funded through teaching and research assistantships.

Information about the benefits for graduate students and graduate assistants can be found on the Graduate College website and that of the union that represents graduate assistants.

International applicants 

All international applicants are required to submit the results of an accepted test of evidence of English proficiency unless they qualify for an exemption. International applicants must meet minimum requirements based on their country of origin.  Information on proof of funding, visa, and SEVIS requirements can be found here on the Graduate College website. 

Residency requirement 

The doctoral degree requires a minimum of 64 hours of credit for students entering with a master’s degree, all of which must be earned as a graduate student in courses or thesis hours offered at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The credit hour requirement for students entering with a bachelor’s degree is 96. 


You can email or contact the ICR Director of Graduate Studies: Amanda Ciafone
119 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana, IL