When is the application deadline for fall admission to the graduate program?

The deadline for both U.S. and international applicants is December 1st.


Can graduate students start in the spring semester (e.g., spring 2019)?

Yes, the department accepts such applications, especially prospective master’s students who have an educational background in related disciplines (e.g., rhetoric, as studied in English departments). However, students without a communication background may experience a serious learning curve with regard to understanding and working with communication concepts and theories, conducting communication research and teaching communication courses (which all graduate students do). Hence, students applying from other disciplines need to think seriously about whether a communication graduate degree is appropriate for them, and realize that they are competing for admission against students with extensive backgrounds in the discipline. Students without a previous communication background should articulate in the personal statement accompanying the application why they are pursuing a graduate degree in communication and demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the discipline.

Do applicants have to specify their interest in one of the three areas of the graduate programs (Community & Social Interaction, Organizational Communication or Rhetoric & Culture)?

Yes, students must identify a primary area to which they are applying. However, because the total number of graduate students is relatively small (approximately 50), students take courses in other areas and the department seeks graduate students who are interested in other areas. The applicant’s personal statement should identify a primary area of specialization but indicate interest in any other area(s).

Do applicants’ research interests need to align with specific faculty members’ research interests?

Yes, to some degree. The applicant’s personal statement should identify how their research interests match those of faculty members in the area of specialization to which they are applying (Discourse & Society, Organizational Communication, or Rhetoric) and with research interests of other faculty members.

Master’s students should be able to identify at least three faculty members with whom their research interests align, as the MA thesis and comprehensive examination committees are comprised of three faculty members. PhD students should be able to identify at least four or five faculty members with whom their research interests align, as PhD comprehensive examination committees (with one being a reader) and PhD dissertation committees (with one being from another department) are comprised of five faculty members.

Can prospective students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree apply directly to the PhD program?

No, the PhD program requires that applicants have a master’s degree. Students with a bachelor’s degree, therefore, should apply to the master’s program.

Does admission to the master’s program guarantee admission to the PhD program once the master’s degree is completed?

No. Students who complete the department’s master’s degree and wish to obtain a doctorate must apply to the PhD program. Some preference, however, is given to admitting PhD students who have completed, in a highly competent manner, the department’s master’s degree.

Do master’s courses taken at another university without degree completion at that institution count towards a CU master’s degree? Do any MA courses completed at another university with the degree completed count towards the PhD degree at CU-Boulder?

A maximum of 9 hours of MA courses completed at another university (without earning the MA degree) can be applied (as transfer courses) to the master’s degree at CU-Boulder with appropriate approval (e.g., by the associate chair of graduate studies).

A maximum of 12 hours of MA courses completed at another university (with the master’s degree earned) can be applied to the PhD program at CU-Boulder with appropriate approval (e.g., by PhD students’ advisors and committee members and the associate chair of graduate studies).

Are the MA communication programs at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs affiliated with the MA communication program at CU-Boulder?

No, the programs at these universities are separate. However, a maximum of 9 hours of courses completed in the master’s programs at CU-Denver and/or CU-Colorado Springs can be applied (as transfer courses) to the master’s program at CU-Boulder.

For the PhD program, there may be opportunities to complete courses at CU-Denver and CU-Colorado Springs via independent studies, with appropriate approval (e.g., by PhD students’ advisors and committee members, and by the associate chair of graduate studies).

Can graduate students enroll in the master’s and/or PhD programs part-time?

The master’s and PhD programs are designed for full-time students. Graduate students with special circumstances (e.g., military personnel), may enroll part-time.

Can non-degree seeking students take graduate communication courses?

Yes, non-degree seeking students, potentially, can enroll in courses (assuming that they are open) through CU-Boulder’s Continuing Education program.

How long do the master’s and/or PhD programs take to complete?

The master’s is a two-year program; students who start in the fall semester finish at the end of the spring semester two years later. The PhD is designed to be a four-year program, although some students take longer. In the case of students who complete both the master’s and PhD in the Department of Communication at CU-Boulder will find the program is designed to be completed in five years.

To what extent are the master’s and/or PhD programs able to be structured by graduate students?

Both programs are designed so that students, working with their advisor and committee members, put together a unique plan of study that meets their needs. Because the number of required courses is relatively low, students select courses that make the best sense for them.

Are summer graduate courses offered?

No, the department does not offer summer graduate courses. However, it may be possible for graduate students to take an independent study or engage in an internship during the summer.

Are online graduate courses offered?

No, the department does not offer online graduate courses at this time.

Can communication graduate students take courses in the other departments in the College of Media, Communication and Information? Can communication graduate students take courses in the other colleges at CU-Boulder (e.g., College of Arts and Sciences)?

Yes, communication graduate students can and do take courses in the other departments in the college and in other colleges at the university, with faculty members from those departments serving on communication students’ MA and PhD committees. (The PhD dissertation committee is required to include at least one faculty member from another department.)

What funding opportunities exist for graduate students?

All entering MA and PhD students currently are funded. The primary source of funding is teaching assistantships, which provide full tuition remission and a stipend (salary) during the academic year. There are two types of teaching assistantships: (a) Teaching Assistants (TAs), who assist courses taught by faculty members (typically teaching the recitation sections); and (b) Graduate Part-Time Instructors (GPTIs), who teach standalone courses. The 2014–2015 pay rate was $17,387 for a full-time TA (although the department supplements that pay rate whenever possible) and $20,983 for a full-time GPTI.

The department also offers (typically to PhD students) some full-time research assistantships (RAs), with graduate students working closely with faculty members on faculty members’ research projects. Resident assistantships provide full tuition remission and a stipend (salary, equivalent to a TA) during the academic year.

Additionally, the department regularly offers teaching opportunities during the summer and there are two other attractive summer funding possibilities: (a) summer research assistantships and (b) summer dissertation fellowships that allow students embarking on their dissertation project to focus exclusively on their research.

Travel funds are available to graduate students who present their research at conventions (approximately $600 per student per year). Those funds can be supplemented with funds from the graduate school and from the United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS). Research funds are available to support graduate students’ research (approximately $1.200 total funds per year, with graduate students applying for a portion of them, with a maximum amount of $400).

Can prospective students visit the department prior to applying to MA or PhD Program?

Yes, the department encourages prospective students to visit prior to completing their application, meeting with faculty members and graduate students, and getting a feel for the university and the city. Those visits are valuable both for prospective students and for faculty members (especially those serving on the Graduate Program Admissions Committee).

Prospective applicants interested in visiting the department should contact David Boromisza-Habashi, associate chair of graduate studies, who will arrange meetings with individual faculty members, with one or both of the co-presidents of the Communication Graduate Student Association, and with other graduate students.

If prospective students cannot visit the department, can they talk with individual faculty members about the graduate programs prior to applying?

Yes, all department faculty members are willing to talk with prospective graduate students. Prospective students might start by contacting Dr. Ted Striphas, associate chair of graduate studies, but they should feel free to contact individual faculty members of interest (best done, initially, via email) and to start a conversation about the graduate program in which they are interested.

Are there other opportunities to meet and talk with department faculty members?

Yes, the department has a booth at the Graduate Student Open House and hosts a reception at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association (NCA) every November.

Individual faculty members also go to many other conferences (e.g., the annual meetings of the International Communication Association, the Western States Communication Association, the Central States Communication Association, and the Rhetoric Society of America) and often are available there for conversations with prospective graduate students.

Do faculty publish and present research with graduate students?

Yes, faculty members routinely publish research with graduate students (see the many publications and convention presentations co-authored by graduate students and faculty members that are listed on this website under “Recent Graduate Student Accomplishments”).

Faculty members often publish research with graduate students who work with them as research assistants, offer independent studies to graduate students that result in co-authored publications and presentations, and work with graduate students to publish and present thesis and dissertation studies that graduate students conduct. Many times, however, faculty members mentor graduate students in how to conduct and report research but they do not take co-authorship, preferring, instead, to have the credit go to graduate students.

What teaching opportunities are there for graduate students?

Because the department has a very large number of undergraduate students (more than 1,000), graduate students have the opportunity to teach a variety of communication courses, gaining both breadth and depth to their teaching, in contrast to some other graduate programs, where students teach continually the same introductory course (e.g., public speaking).

Typically, upon entering the department’s graduate programs, most graduate students serve as teaching assistants in one of the department’s 1000-level courses (Perspectives on Human Communication, Public Speaking, or Group Interaction). Two of those courses are taught in a lecture-recitation structure, with a faculty member offering a weekly lecture and TAs running the recitation sections; public speaking is taught as a standalone course that is overseen by a supervisor. Graduate students typically then teach one of the department’s four 2000-level courses (Campaigns and Revolutions; Discourse, Culture, and Identities; Interpersonal; Communication, and Organizational Communication), as standalone sections that are supervised by a faculty member. Graduate students, especially PhD students, then teach (as Graduate Part-time Instructors [GPTIs], with a slightly higher pay) 3000- and 4000-level standalone courses, with faculty members available for consultation. Special 3000- and 4000-level courses also often are proposed by PhD students working on their dissertations and focus on those students’ research interests (e.g., a course on Communication and Community for a graduate student studying that dissertation topic). There also are opportunities to teach during the summer sessions.

By the time students graduate, especially PhD students, they may have taught as many as five or six different courses (with multiple sections of some of those courses), creating the breadth and depth to their teaching profile that is very attractive to universities and colleges that are hiring new faculty members.

What service opportunities are there in the department for graduate students?

Graduate students have lots of opportunities to engage in service to the department. They are represented at the department’s monthly faculty meetings and on all of the department’s standing committees (with the exception of the Personnel Committee), and on most, if not all, ad hoc committees.

There is a vibrant Graduate Student Communication Association directed by two elected co-presidents (an MA and a PhD student), with many other service positions available in that organization.

Graduate students also can engage in other department service, such as directing the department’s chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national undergraduate communication honors society. Additionally, there are many opportunities to offer service to the college and to the university. The extensive service opportunities that are available to graduate students prepare them, in particular, for service activities in academic positions at college and universities.

What are graduate student tuition fees per semester?

Consult the University of Colorado Boulder’s Bursar’s Office website for current tuition fees and other relevant information.

Why is there a $200 deposit with the application? Can/do graduate students qualify/petition for in-state tuition?

Consult the University of Colorado Boulder’s Registrar’s Office website regarding answers to these and other relevant questions.