Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions

The requirements depend on whether you are coming in with a BA or an MA. See the Program of Study section for a list of required classes, as well as sample class schedules for each year of your time in the program. The Graduate Handbook (PDF) provides more detail on all the requirements listed. For course options outside of the department, please contact the Student Affairs Manager.

For purposes of reporting graduate enrollment to UC Systemwide, 12 units is considered full time status in the Department of Communication. These units do not need to all be content classes; they may include (or exclusively be) units for directed reading, directed research, master's thesis work or dissertation work. If for any reason you need to take less than 12 units, please discuss with the Student Affairs Manager. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 8 units to receive funding. 

Colloquium is a series of lectures held in the department each quarter.  Generally, speakers from outside the department come and give talks on current issues and research in or relevant to the field of communication, with a question-and-answer session following.  These typically occur four to six times per quarter, on Fridays, from 3:30-5pm, in SSMS 1009 unless otherwise indicated.

As a graduate student, you enroll in colloquium as a one-unit "class", COMM 505. You should enroll in COMM 505 every quarter that you are enrolled as a full time student.

There are no limits for the number of times you can enroll in any of these classes. When signing up for them in GOLD, simply indicate that you are taking the course again for additional credit.  While you may take these courses any number of times (with any number of faculty members), only 4 units of Comm 596 (Directed Research) count towards the department's PhD requirements, and there are limits on the number of Comm 593 (Directed Reading) units that may be substituted for other content course units. For details on these, see the Graduate Handbook.

Qualifying exams are taken once you have completed your coursework requirements. Qualifying exams span two quarters: one quarter of preparation called the reading quarter and one quarter of actual exam writing called the writing quarter.  The "exam" consists of three questions: one specific (theory) question, one broad (theory) question, and one methods question. Each member of your qualifying exams committee writes one of these questions. You receive all of the questions at the beginning of the first week of your writing quarter, and you turn in your answers nine weeks later (i.e., the beginning of the tenth week of the quarter).  During finals week of your writing quarter, you have an oral defense of your answers with your committee. For more information on this process, see the Graduate Handbook.

The Graduate Division's Financial Support page is a good resource for information about funding and financial support at UCSB.  This page has FAQs about financial issues; information about the FAFSA, student loans and other financial aid; information on internal and external fellowships;  information about taxation of fellowships and assistantships; information about academic appointments and other employment opportunities on campus; and an estimated graduate student budget.

Graduate students who are beyond the Department of Communication's normative time-to-degree (TTD) requirements (MA/PhD - 5 years; PhD - 4 years) are considered out of academic good standing within the Department. Consequently, they are not guaranteed funding. If students are past TTD, they may have to look for funding outside of the department (fellowships or campus-based employment with fee remission) or consider covering tuition costs themselves. The Department will do everything it can to support students who are beyond TTD, but the priority will always be to fulfill the funding commitments to students who are within TTD. If you have any questions, please contact the Student Affairs Manager for more information.
Exceptions: Four-Year PhD students who stay a 5th year AND who have a Fellowship in their 5th year.