Back to top

Admissions Requirements

Admission to the Ph.D. program in the Graduate Field of Communication at Cornell University is highly competitive. The Graduate Admissions Committee considers several factors for admission to the graduate program, and all applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the Cornell University Graduate School. Once admitted, all students are fully funded by the Department for five years through assistantships and/or fellowships, provided suitable progress is being made toward completing the degree.

Please review the left sidebar for important information, including the Admissions FAQ, current Ph.D. Program Manual, and our recent Ph.D. placements.

Application to the program is via the Graduate School's online application.
The application for Fall 2020 will be live in August 2019.

Please note Communication applications are accepted only for the Fall term. The application deadline is December 1, 2019, by which all application materials must be submitted (including GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores). Letters of recommendation are due by December 15, 2019. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Please visit the Graduate School's website for information about the application fee and waiver process.

If you are currently employed at Cornell University and would like to complete the degree through the Employee Degree Program (EDP), please see the EDP admissions instructions here.

Application Requirements

(Please upload all requested materials into the application; hard copies of your materials will not be accepted)

  • Statement of purpose
    The statement of purpose should indicate your intellectual interests and any prior research training that you believe has prepared you for our program. Applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the research interests of our faculty. Mentioning specific faculty members that match your research interests will strengthen your statement. Typically 1 to 3 pages with no specific formatting guidelines.

  • GPA and GRE scores
    While our Field does not specify a minimum GRE score, most students admitted to the Field of Communication have combined verbal and quantitative scores above 300, with an average writing score above 4.0. GRE waivers are not available. Note that a Master's degree is not required for admission to our program, but those with a relevant Master's degree may plan to complete the degree at an accelerated pace.

  • TOEFL and/or IELTS scores (international students only)
    International students are required to take the TOEFL exam, and must score a minimum of 100 (Internet-based), or 250 (computer-based). The test date must be within two years of the application submission date for consideration. The Graduate School requires an overall band score of a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS. Please see the Graduate School’s page for further specifications, including information on exemptions.

  • Letters of recommendation
    Three strong letters of recommendation incorporating details of the applicant's educational and research background are preferred over generalizations about the applicant. Letters should be from people who are likely to comment on your academic aptitude and research abilities. Recommenders have until December 15th to upload their letter to your application. If the letter writer has any issues uploading their letter to the application, please have them contact Joanna directly.

  • Writing sample
    Applicants are required to submit a form of scholarly writing such as a sample essay, article, or book chapter that you have written (solo author only). The maximum length is 20 pages (including bibliography). Complete theses or longer works are not acceptable forms of writing for this application.

  • Transcripts
    Applicants are required to upload unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. If transcripts are in a foreign language, please submit only English translated version. Please do not send this directly to the University; hardcopy official transcripts are required only upon matriculation.

  • Résumé or curriculum vitae

Check your application status here. Joanna will update the checklist as she reviews applications in December.