Prospective Graduate Students

Welcome Prospective Students!

We are accepting applications for our Ph.D. program (for students with or without an MA) with the deadline of December 15, 2022. Here, we hope to provide you with information about requirements of our top-rated program, how to apply, and information about the department and its members.

For information and procedures on how to apply to the Graduate Program, click here on How to Apply, Admissions, Available Funding, and Frequently Asked Questions, or under the Prospective Graduate Students tab on the left navigation bar.

For questions about the application process and general program questions, please contact Dr. Jennifer Gibbs at Dr. Gibbs is also available for Zoom appointments.

Jennifer Gibbs, Professor, Graduate Director



Staff Graduate Advisor 

Want to know more about our Department’s research areas and resources, and what our faculty and graduate students are researching right now? Find current and up-to-date faculty research projects here: Current Faculty Projects. For current graduate student research interests, click here: Current Graduate Student Research. You can also check out our research tab above and our faculty and graduate student profiles.

To get a flavor for the department and our newest members, check out the most recent newsletter on the Current Graduate Students page!

Click here to download a one-page invitation to our November 28 Zoom Open House.

Click here to download an informative 12-page overview of the Communication Graduate Program.

Click here to download a 2-page overview of and application information for the Communication Graduate Program.

View this 5-minute video:

And please view this 2-minute video describing the Department’s setting, staff, students, faculty, research, teaching, social impact, mentorship & collaboration, and graduate community:

Graduate Student Connections 2022-2023

The following graduate students have volunteered to connect with you.

Hi! My name is America Edwards and I am a third-year graduate student (finishing up my coursework!) My main areas of interest are interpersonal communication and computer-mediated communication, especially when it comes to impression development online. My advisor is Dr. Joe Walther. I'm Southern born, Midwest raised, and loving the West Coast. I completed my B.A. from Western Michigan University and M.A. at the University of Central Florida. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the department or living in Santa Barbara.

Hi! My name is Jesse King, and I'm a third-year doctoral student. My background is in journalism and mass communications, but now my interests lie in mental health communication and media technology. My goal is to figure out how to combine the two to help improve immigrant well-being. My background is mostly in qualitative research, but I also love stats, and I'll be completing the quantitative methods in social science (QMSS) emphasis here at UCSB. Feel free to reach out to me at

Hello hello! My name is Cynthia McLeod, and I’m a third-year PhD student who enjoys thinking at intersections (of disciplines, experiences, and ideologies) while reading about all things digital culture. During my MSc in Digital Anthropology at University College London, I centered the online community Black Twitter, and its production of space, place, and time. At UCSB, I continue to study online communities with a keen interest in what makes them “tick”--especially communities that form without intention (organic gatherings of people online). At UCSB, I am advised by Dr. Amy Gonzales who I was drawn to because of her expertise in studying digital communication and minority populations, and I also work with Dr. Dan Lane in the Digital Political Inequality Lab. Feel free to reach me at with any questions.

Hi there! My name is Jade Salmon (they/them) and I am a second-year MA/PhD student from Tucson, Arizona. I recently graduated from the University of Arizona with degrees in Communication and French, as well as a minor in Psychology. My research interests are in interpersonal communication, particularly in the context of close friendship. Additionally, I like to incorporate various identities--particularly sex and gender--into my research to explore how they influence the development, maintenance, and effects of platonic relationships. I am currently a part of Dr Tammy Afifi's research team, working on a study investigating how technology can be used to promote quality of life and positive family relationships. If you'd ever like to talk about interpersonal communication, UCSB, or even board games, feel free to contact me at

Hello! My name is Laurent Wang, and I am a second-year MA/Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication, where I received my Bachelor degree. I am generally interested in the social and cognitive uses of digital technology and their implications for larger societal issues, such as digital inequality. My most recent research investigated credibility perceptions of different fact-checking sources (working with Dr. Miriam Metzger), and effects of human-AI synergy on users' algorithmic bias detection (working with Dr. Kristy Hamilton). Please feel free to email me with questions at

Why Should You Apply to UCSB's Graduate Program in Communication? 

We have a world-class faculty: In our MA/PhD program, you will find the most distinguished faculty in the field working closely with the best and brightest graduate students. We have award-winning distinguished faculty, including:

  • Five past presidents of the International Communication Association
  • Senior and Associate Editors of prestigious journals including Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Communication Monographs, Journal of Language and Social Psychology
  • Recipients of millions of dollars in external funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of State, Marsden Foundation, and Templeton Foundation
  • Recipients of numerous NCA and ICA research and teaching awards
  • Five ICA Fellows and four NCA Distinguished Scholars
  • Three winners of ICA’s Steven H. Chaffee Career Achievement Award—the most of any program
  • Multiple University-wide teaching and mentorship award winners

We emphasize theory development, cutting-edge methodology, and practical application: We provide research, teaching, and service in communication science that is socially relevant, theoretically motivated, methodologically rigorous, and eclectic. Faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students are highly active in conducting theory-driven research with methodological rigor and findings that have the potential to benefit various communities and organizations. Students are encouraged to work across and integrate research areas. 

We are strongly committed to mentorship and individualized advising: Our graduate program has approximately 35 students and 19 professors. This enables us to provide small seminars and individualized academic attention from faculty. Graduate students also are encouraged to work with multiple faculty members within and across areas. Many of our graduate students co-author publications with their advisors and other faculty members, as well as other graduate students who may or may not share the same advisor. Some of our faculty also hold weekly or biweekly research team meetings. Students do not need to be the faculty member's advisee to participate in the research team meetings; they merely have to share overlapping research interests. In addition, all incoming graduate students are also paired with a more senior graduate student who can help them transition to grad school and the community. 

We offer competitive funding opportunities: Our graduate students receive teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships during their time here, which means no student is admitted to our program without funding. Graduate students' tuition fees, health insurance, and campus-based fees are all covered, and our graduate students receive a monthly stipend over a 9-month period. Although not guaranteed each year, our graduate students have received a financial bonus each summer for the past several years, and they will likely continue to receive such a bonus.

During their first year in the graduate program, students usually hold teaching assistantship positions where they lead several discussion sections of the introductory communication courses for pre-majors. Afterward, they may act as teaching assistants for upper division courses, where they attend faculty lectures, hold office hours, and grade assignments. Our graduate students have a light work load, so that they can focus on their graduate coursework and research. When faculty have grant funding, graduate students may work as paid research assistants.  

Our graduate students have access to interdisciplinary training and collaboration with renowned scholars: UCSB is home to numerous centers that offer training and fellowships to our graduate students. For example, graduate students often receive training at the Center for Information Technology and Society (CITS), taking courses and attending colloquia focusing on human behavior and information technologies. In addition, students can earn an interdisciplinary emphasis from the Cognitive Science Program or the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences Program that can be added to their Ph.D. in Communication. Some of our graduate students also have participated in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Research and Training (IGERT) Program that trains students in network science and big data. After taking a series of statistics courses in the Department of Communication, our graduate students also have the opportunity to make interdisciplinary connections with leading statisticians in Education and Psychology by taking their graduate seminars. Our graduate students learn how to conduct social network analyses, structural equation modeling, latent class analysis, latent transition analysis, and multilevel modeling. 

We value inclusion: Faculty and students conduct research on a wide variety of topics related to inclusion. For examples, Drs. Jennifer Kam, Tammy Afifi, and Walid Afifi are interested in privacy management and coping strategies for immigrant families who experience discrimination, fear of deportation, or separation from a family member because of migration. Drs. Dana Mastro and Dan Linz study racial, gender, and LGBTQ stereotyping in the media. Drs. Giles, Mastro, and Reid are interested in attitudes toward ingroup and outgroup members based on linguistic features such as accents. Lastly, Drs. Michael Stohl, Cynthia Stohl, and Jennifer Gibbs study globalization and the use of technology to tie people together across national boundaries. In addition to studying topics related to diversity, the Graduate Committee applies for diversity fellowships each year to fund graduate students from underserved backgrounds. At the University-level, UCSB was officially designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institute in 2015, and it received 4.5/5 stars on Gender Identity/Expression and LGBTQ Policy Inclusion from Campus Pride Index.

Our graduate students go on to become leaders in the field: During their time in the program, our graduate students regularly present their research at national and international conferences and publish in some of the field’s top journals. Upon graduation, many of our students take positions at top-ranked research institutions, including  Boston College, Cornell University, Howard University, Michigan State University, Rutgers University, The Ohio State University, University of Arizona, University of California at Davis, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Georgia, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Kentucky, University of Tennessee, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington, and University of Wisconsin.  In short, the skills learned in our graduate program enable students to become complete scholars of communication and leaders in the field.  Many of our graduates choose to work in industry and nonprofits, including: Blizzard Entertainment, Hewlett Packard, IBM, LinkedIn Learning, Parrot Analytics, and more. For profiles of our Graduate Alumni, click here.