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How to Apply

How to Apply

Congratulations on making the wise decision to learn more about becoming a graduate student in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State! Our program offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, with an emphasis on preparing Ph.D. students for successful careers both inside and outside the academy. Our graduate alumni include scholars who have shaped the discipline of communication studies, and many of our more recent graduates hold faculty positions at outstanding universities and colleges.

All applications to graduate programs at Penn State are submitted through Penn State’s Graduate School and admission decisions are made by faculty in the department. The specific application deadline varies from year to year, and is typically late December or early January. For Fall 2023 enrollment, the application deadline is January 10, 2023. There is not a separate application for funding. We do not admit students in the spring or summer semester.

If you have additional questions on the application process, you are welcome to review the application FAQ.

To be successful in graduate study in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, students require skills in writing and research methods suitable to their field of study. Accordingly, the Graduate Committee requests evidence for those skills as part of the application process. The Graduate Committee desires to be as inclusive as possible when considering materials for admission, while also upholding the standards of the department. If you have questions about what materials are suitable to include in your application please contact Dr. Andrew High, the Director of Graduate Studies, at ach208@psu.edu.

Writing Ability: Admission to the study of rhetoric or communication science requires evidence of an ability to write in a manner that is appropriate for graduate-level research in communication studies. Every applicant is required to provide a writing sample. If desired, applicants can further demonstrate their writing ability by including the completion of relevant Advanced Placement writing scores, supplemental research papers that demonstrate strong writing skills, GRE scores, and/or professional work that demonstrates the applicant’s writing ability. The admissions committee and faculty will evaluate this evidence alongside the other materials of the application.

Quantitative Research and Reasoning Ability – Communication Science: Admission to study communication science requires evidence of an ability to engage in the quantitative research and reasoning. Applicants can demonstrate this ability in several ways, including grades in math and/or statistics classes, completion of relevant Advanced Placement scores in mathematics or statistics, GRE scores, research papers that demonstrate strong numerical analytical skills, and/or professional work requiring strong quantitative research ability. Applicants are required to submit at least one piece of evidence of their ability in quantitative research and reasoning, and the admissions committee and faculty will evaluate this evidence alongside the other materials of the application.

Critical Research and Methods Ability – Rhetorical Studies: Admission to study rhetoric requires evidence of an ability to engage in the humanistic research practices of interpretation, criticism, and critical inquiry. Applicants can demonstrate this ability in several ways, including the theory and criticism that appears in the required writing sample, GRE scores, and grades in classes that involve historical and interpretive analysis or classical and critical theories of language, rhetoric, and public discourse. Applicants are required to submit at least one piece of evidence of their ability in critical research and methods, and the admissions committee and faculty will evaluate this evidence alongside the other materials of the application.

STEP 1: Complete the Online Application

If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please review those now.

If you have read both the Graduate School and Communication Arts and Sciences program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application.

NOTE: Please make sure that you are interested in Communication Arts and Sciences before proceeding. If your interests are in the academic study of such media as Journalism, Broadcasting, Film, Advertising, or Public Relations, you should visit the College of Communications website.

Required Materials

Both M.A. and Ph.D. applicants should submit the following items with their online application:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing Sample
  • Official GRE scores taken within the last five years (Penn State code: 2660)
  • Copies of transcripts/degrees/diplomas in the language of instruction from all institutions attended.
    • If English is not the language of instruction, copies of all transcripts/documents in the English translation also must be uploaded.
    • If the applicant is recommended for admission, they will need to supply official versions of these documents to the Graduate School to finalize admission.

Additional Materials

Additional materials from applicants (e.g., term papers, research reports, recommendations, or evidence of other scholarly and professional development) may be requested at the discretion of the graduate officer for the purpose of reasonably evaluating an applicant’s suitability to the graduate program. Applicants lacking certain academic experience may be required by the graduate officer to complete academic work specific to relieving deficiencies.

STEP 2: Submit 3 Letters of Reference

Each recommender that the applicant lists on the electronic application will receive an email that details the reference submission portal on the Graduate School’s application website. To avoid delays, please be sure you have entered a correct email address for each reference you supply. No special form is necessary.

STEP 3: For International Students

Official scores from a recent Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination (Penn State code: 2660). Official scores are sent directly from ETS.