How to Apply

Please check back in August for 2025-26 application deadlines. The application deadline for 2024-25 has already passed.


A) Undergrad Degree in Related Field: Preparation for doctoral study in communication normally includes an undergraduate degree in communication or a closely related social science. Applicants with a Master’s degree from another university are encouraged to apply to the doctoral program. 

B) Not a Terminal MA Program: The UCSB Department of Communication does NOT have a Master’s-only (terminal Master’s) program. 

C) A Commitment to Research: In addition, the applicant's record should reflect a commitment to research. The statement of purpose should include a description of research experience and research interests. Applicants are encouraged to gain familiarity with the research of our faculty (refer to Faculty and Selected Publications), and to indicate in their statement of purpose how their own personal interests match with those of certain faculty members. Strong letters of recommendation that include specific details about the applicant's educational and/or research background are preferred over letters that contain only abstract generalizations about the applicant.

D) Application Package:

1) Online Application

2) Transcripts

3) Statement of Purpose

4) Personal History and Diversity Statement

5) Curriculum Vitae

6) 3 Letters of Recommendation

7) If applicable, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

8) Writing Sample (Required)

Online Application

Complete the online e-Application. The e-Application for Fall 2024 will open September 1, 2023 through DECEMBER 15, 2023. The Department of Communication admits for Fall Quarter only. THE GRADUATE ADMISSIONS DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 15, 2023.

If you are a person with a disability and require an application in other than electronic form, please contact the Graduate Division by calling (805) 893-2277.

Further information on UCSB's graduate studies can also be found on the Graduate Division’s web site including links to financial aid, housing, campus visits, etc.

A non-refundable application fee must accompany the application. The application fee is:

  • One hundred thirty-five dollars ($135.00) for domestic applicants
  • One hundred fifty-five dollars ($155.00) for international applicants

Application fees can be paid online by using a Visa, Mastercard, check, or international money order. Credit cards may only be used online during the application process and cannot be used after your application has been submitted. If paying by check or money order, please ensure that your full name appears on the check or money order, that it is made payable to UC Regents, and that it is accompanied by the check/money order submission form found on the last page of the application or on the Application Status Page. International applicants paying by check or money order must send an International Money Order or a check drawn on a US bank in US funds. Do not send cash. An application fee paid to another University of California campus is not valid for an application to UCSB.

Application fees are not refundable under any circumstances.

For information on Fee Waivers, please visit the Graduate Division’s Web site: How to Apply.

Additional Required Application Materials

Applicants must submit all application materials directly through the e-application.  If a need arises to send hard copies, the Department of Communication's physical address is:

UCSB Department of Communication

4005 Social Science & Media Studies

Santa Barbara, CA  93106-4020

Attn: Staff Graduate Program Advisor


Prospective students must upload to the e-application their unofficial transcripts from each college-level institution they have attended. This includes junior college, lower-division, extension, and graduate transcripts. Your GPA for admission to UCSB graduate studies must be at least a 3.0 for your upper division coursework (from your undergraduate and/or graduate institution).

Statement of Purpose 

Give a brief statement outlining your reasons for undertaking a graduate program, your particular area of specialization within the major field, your past academic work, and your plans for future occupation or profession.  Include special interests with working with particular faculty, if applicable.  Also include any additional information that may assist the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UC Santa Barbara.

The length for the Statement of Purpose should be 2-3 pages (preferably 2), double-spaced, with 12-point font size. Please include your name in the header/footer of each page. 

Personal History and Diversity Statement  

UC Santa Barbara is interested in a diverse and inclusive graduate student population. Please describe any aspects of your personal background, accomplishments, or achievements that you feel are important in evaluating your application for graduate study. For example, please describe if you have experienced economic challenges in achieving higher education, such as being financially responsible for family members or dependents, having to work significant hours during undergraduate schooling or coming from a family background of limited income. Please describe if you have any unusual or varied life experiences that might contribute to the diversity of the graduate group, such as fluency in other languages, experience living in bicultural communities, academic research interests focusing on cultural, societal, or educational problems as they affect underserved segments of society, or evidence of an intention to use the graduate degree toward serving disadvantaged individuals or population.

The length for the Personal History and Diversity Statement should be 2-3 pages (preferably 2), double-spaced, with 12-point font size. Please include your name in the header/footer of each page. 

Curriculum Vitae

List your positions of employment or volunteer work/community service since high school, either full or part-time, including the hours per week worked and the nature and dates of employment or service.

Please include your name in the header/footer of each page. 

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required as part of your application. Letters of recommendation are submitted online through the Online Graduate Application. You will be asked to supply the name, email address, and current institution of each recommender. Once supplied, the online application will provide recommendation submission instructions to any of your recommenders via email. Recommenders may upload letters in PDF, DOC, or DOCX file formats.

Once you submit your online application, you can manage your letters of recommendation through your Application Status Page. Here, you can:

  • Add or replace a recommender
  • Send a follow-up notification to each of your recommenders
  • View the status of each letter

The faculty members who write the letters of recommendation should be aware of the applicant's scholarly abilities and capability to do graduate work. They should speak analytically of achievements and research abilities. Applicants can provide recommenders with background information to assist them in writing a strong letter, such as copies of papers written, copies of the Statement of Purpose, a Resume/CV, or a list of courses and grades received from the professor.

Nonacademic letters may be useful when they relate directly to the intended area of study, such as work experience, internships, teaching, etc.

Letters Submitted via Postal Mail

In instances where your recommender absolutely cannot submit a letter online, a letter of recommendation may be sent directly to our department. A Letter of Recommendation Coversheet (PDF) must accompany the letter. Please note: Online letter submission is highly recommended and preferred.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo English Test (DET)

UCSB does not admit students conditionally in order to learn English prior to beginning an academic program; an excellent command of written and spoken English is required prior to enrollment.

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take either the TOEFLIELTS, or DET. Exemptions or exceptions to this requirement will be considered for those students who have completed an undergraduate or graduate education at an institution whose primary language of instruction is English. Proof must be provided by sending the final/official transcripts associated with the degree. The transcripts must indicate that the coursework and degree program were completed at the previous institution. Please contact the department of interest at UCSB if there are any further questions.

Minimum scores: 

  • TOEFL: 550 when taking paper based test (PBT); 80 when taking internet based test (IBT)
  • IELTS: Overall Band Score of 7
  • DET: 120

For more information on UCSB's requirements for language testing and score reporting, please click here

Please note: For admissions purposes, UCSB reviews only the most recent and complete set of test scores reported. It is not possible to mix-and-match multiple score reports from separate test sittings. Applicants who want to improve TOEFL and IELTS scores will need to retake the entire test.

Writing Sample

Please submit a paper or thesis with a minimum length of 10 double-spaced typed pages prepared for a class or to satisfy a degree requirement. You should be the sole author and editor of the paper or thesis. The cover page should specify the course or degree requirement for which the paper or thesis was written, as well as the name and institutional affiliation of the faculty member who graded or reviewed the paper. If you have not attended college for some time and therefore do not have a course paper or thesis, you may submit a nonacademic writing sample of comparable length, so long as a specific person in a position of authority can verify that you were the sole author and editor of the paper. Please add the writing sample as an "Other Type of Document" -- that choice can be found by using the Document Type dropdown menu in the application.