Frequently Asked Questions
- How are your programs structured?
- What are your core courses?
- What concentrations do you offer?
- Can I do a master's and doctoral degree in the UIC Communication Department?
- If I transfer from another graduate program, which courses will apply to the program at UIC?
- How long does it take to complete the UIC programs?
- Can I complete the program part time?
- When are your courses offered?
- How do I register for classes?
- How long can I take to finish my degree?
- Can I take courses as a non-degree seeking student?
- Do you have any exchange or study abroad programs?
- Is there a minimum GPA I have to maintain while I am in the program?
Q. How are your programs structured?
A. The UIC M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Communication are flexible. Of the 32 hours (8 courses) beyond your B.A., the M.A. program has only 12 hours in (3) required courses. The remaining 20 hours can be in your preferred area. The Ph.D. program is similar, requiring an M.A. degree (and including the 3 required UIC M.A. courses), and then 16 hours in (4) required Ph.D. courses. The remaining 48 hours are in a self-designed speciality and related research methods courses. For details see Communication in the UIC Graduate Catalog.
Q. What are your core courses?
A. The M.A. core includes courses in the philosophy of communication, quantitative reasoning, and an additional seminar in either media or cultural studies research. The Ph.D. core includes courses in the philosophy of technology, new media, and qualitative research methods (in addition to the M.A. core courses). For details see the Course Descriptions as well as Communication program descriptions in the Graduate Catalog.
Q. What concentrations do you offer?
A. The M.A. program centers on either media or cultural studies, and the Ph.D. program centers on new technologies. Both programs offer three interdisciplinary concentrations: gender and women's studies, latino and Latin American studies, or survey research methods. For details see the Communication program descriptions in the Graduate Catalog.
Q. Can I do a master's and doctoral degree in the UIC Communication Department?
A. Graduate students don't do both degrees in the department. Our master's graduates go on to prestigious doctoral programs around the country, and we attract top master's degree holders from programs elsewhere when admitting doctoral students.
Q. If I transfer from another graduate program, which courses will apply to the program at UIC?
A. The Department assesses the record of each transfer student and handles transfers case by case after you arrive for your first semester of classes. See the Transfer Credit page of the Graduate College site. There is no automatic transfer of credits for a prior degree.
Q. How long does it take to complete the UIC programs?
A. The M.A. program normally takes 4 semesters including either the thesis or the comprehensive exam. See the M.A. Sample Courses of Study. The Ph.D. program normally takes 8 semesters for coursework, preliminary examinations, and the dissertation. See the Ph.D. Sample Courses of Study. But both programs may run longer or shorter, depending on the student’s individualized coursework.
Q. Can I complete the program part time?
A. The Department does not accept part-time students (see the Graduate College Course Loads definitions). Building collaborative relationships, an important element in doctoral education, is challenging even for full-time students, and the Ph.D. program focuses on building an intellectual community among cohorts of students as well as with faculty. Each graduate seminar in the Department is 4 credits and requires class time plus eight more hours of outside preparation weekly (usually more). Graduate students typically take at least two department courses each semester in the first year. The minimum credits for full-time status (needed for most forms of Financial Assistance) is 9 credit hours.
Q. When are your courses offered?
A. Most graduate courses meet once a week (Monday through Thursday) for 15 weeks plus finals week, each class running for roughly 3 hours in the late afternoon or early evening. There are no required courses in the morning or on weekends, but elective courses may be on weekday mornings. To see an sample schedule, look at the Class Schedule, select a term (current or upcoming), and a list of departments will appear. Select COMM - Communication, tick the All option button, and click on the Search Sections button. Scroll down to the courses open to grad students (numbered 400 or above for electives and 500 or above for requirements). Spring and Fall Semesters tend to follow a similar pattern each year, especially for required courses.
Q. How do I register for classes?
A. You register for classes only after admission to the university. You can register by phone (312) 433-8429 or at my.UIC.
Q. How long can I take to finish my degree?
A. 5 years for M.A., 7 for Ph.D. (with M.A. in hand). See the Degree program deadlines details on the Policies page (scroll down quite a bit) of the Graduate College site.
Q. Can I take courses as a non-degree seeking student?
A. You can take elective courses numbered 505 and up as a non-degree seeking student after securing instructor and department approval. Documentation such as a resume, transcripts, writing sample, and GRE scores should accompany a rationale requesting to register for other seminars. The Department itself does not normally accept non-degree seeking students, but the Graduate College does. See the Grad College details for Non-degree Admission. Only students admitted with full standing in the Department of Communication may register for required seminars (Comm 490, 491, 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 508, or 580). Only 12 hours of non-degree credit can apply toward the COMM degree. Other restrictions apply: see the Graduate Catalog program descriptions.
Q. Do you have any exchange or study abroad programs?
A. The Department has exchange accords with universities in Spain and Denmark and encourages students to include study or field-work abroad if appropriate to their individual program plans. The UIC Study Abroad Office has program information, and the Graduate College Fellowships Office can help students apply for funding.
Q. Is there a minimum GPA I have to maintain while I am in the program?
A. All students should receive at least a B in most required and elective graduate courses and clear any incomplete grades within a set period. For details about each program, see Communication in the UIC Graduate Catalog.
- When can I begin the program?
- Can I apply for spring or summer admission?
- Can I take courses before I have been accepted into the program?
- What are your application deadlines?
- What are your application requirements?
- Do I need a degree in communication to get into the program?
- Does the program have prerequisite courses?
- Do you have a minimum GPA requirement?
- How long does my personal statement need to be?
- Is an interview required?
- For my application, am I a domestic or an international student?
- What special requirements do international students meet for admission?
- How can I find out about the status of my application?
- My application is complete except for my scores (GRE or TOEFL). Can I still get in this year?
- When do you make admission decisions?
Q. When can I begin the program?
A. All students begin study in the fall semester. The first course for virtually every student is COMM 500, a fall-only seminar. See Admissions Deadlines. The course (and in some cases, COMM 501) can make the difference for success in elective courses with higher numbers.
Q. Can I apply for spring or summer admission?
A. The Department does not admit students to begin study in the spring or summer terms. See Admissions Deadlines. We offer graduate classes in fall and spring terms only, and students entering together in the fall develop strong bonds as a cohort.
Q. Can I take required courses before I have been accepted into the program?
A: No. All students must be fully admitted into the program before taking any of the required courses.
Q. What are your application deadlines?
A. All applications are due December 1 for the following fall term. The admissions committee does not consider late applications for the current year. See Admissions Deadlines.
Q. What are your application requirements?
A. All items go directly to the Office of Admissions (see Apply to UIC):
- A completed on-line application form.
- A nonrefundable application fee submitted online (credit card) or by mail (see the Payment Page).
- Official transcripts directly from all your post-secondary institution registrars (see the Minimum GPA after selecting a program).
- GRE General official scores.
- TOEFL scores (if required, see Required Exams).
- Three letters of recommendation with accompanying rating form, preferably from former professors or others qualified to know your intellectual abilities.
- Personal statement. The essay allows you, within a limited length, to explain your goals and reasons for seeking to pursue a degree in communication. Clear writing, concrete illustrations, and deep knowledge of the program and department faculty can distinguish your statement from others.
- Writing sample (optional for M.A. applicants). The admissions committee reads the sample to consider your writing ability as well as your academic training. Please submit a PDF of your best prose. Good choices for the sample might be a published article or accepted paper from a refereed scholarly conference or journal, an essay or term paper an instructor rated superior, a defended M.A. or senior thesis or chapter, or any other example of your outstanding writing and thinking on any topic. There is no length requirement, but 15-25 pages is a good range (including references). When reviewing the writing sample, we consider the originality and depth of your sustained thinking about research and theory, as well as the quality of writing (whether it is clear, direct, and concrete). Because our programs focus on research, please do not send media production samples.
- Application for Graduate Appointment (optional but strongly recommended).
- Current résumé. The admissions committee appreciates receiving a brief résumé listing your education, work experience, publications, academic and community service, and scholarships, grants, and awards.
See the Application Requirements page for rules and submission details):
Q. Do I need a degree in communication to get into the program?
A. The Department welcomes students from a wide range of programs, including the sciences and arts as well as the humanities and social sciences. Students with training in other fields usually require additional communication coursework, especially if the prior training focused on practice rather than research. Doctoral applicants should consult the PhD Roadmap.
Q. Does the program have prerequisite courses?
A. There are no prerequisite courses. Ph.D. students can complete the UIC master's core after enrolling. Those with master's degrees outside communication should expect to take additional courses, as advised after entering the program.
Q. Do you have a minimum GPA requirement?
A. Yes. The rules differ for M.A. and Ph.D. students. See the program requirements by navigating from the Graduate College application Requirements page.
Q. How long does my personal statement need to be?
A. Pleae write about 600 words.
Q. Is an interview required?
A. An interview is not essential but helps make you better known to the Department. Video-chat, email, or telephone interactions can do the same. Start by choosing the one professor whose work interests you most. Correspond by email and, if possible, set up a time to visit virtually or in person. If you do arrange an on campus appointment with faculty, be sure to alert the Department so that additional arrangements can be made for you to possibly meet a member of the admissions committee and/or one of the current graduate students. The Department usually hosts an open house in the fall semester. Watch the website for news.
Q. For my application, am I a domestic or an international student?
A. To determine your status, please refer to Step 3 of the Admissions office Application Steps and Tips.
Q. What special requirements do international students meet for admission?
A. Foreign students meet the same requirements as domestic students. You must also take the TOEFL examination (see the Required Exams) and complete a Declaration and Certification of Finances form (see How to Apply). For full information see the Graduate College page on International Admission Requirements.
Q. How can I find out about the status of my application?
A. For the Admissions Office materials, you can Check Application Status on the online system and track the progress of your application. For the Department materials, send an email message or call (312) 996-3187.
Q. My application is complete except for my scores (GRE or TOEFL). Can I still get in this year?
A. Without the exam scores, your application is incomplete. You may still apply, but the Department may not be able to consider you for financial assistance. Even so, the admissions committee may review your application while awaiting the exam scores and let you know if you are still under consideration pending receipt of your scores. Once the application is complete, you will receive an admission decision.
Q. When do you make admission decisions?
A. The admissions committee makes decisions in mid-March for complete applications. The committee does not make any decision to admit a student until your application is complete. A funding decision may take longer, by no later than late April.
- What is your program code to make sure my GRE and TOEFL scores reach you?
- What is your minimum GRE score requirement?
- Is there any way to waive the GRE?
- Where can I find out more information about the GRE?
- How long are my GRE scores valid?
- Do you recommend taking a GRE preparation course?
- Who has to take the TOEFL?
- Can I get a waiver for the English proficiency exam?
- Where can I learn more about the TOEFL?
- What is the minimum score I need on the TOEFL?
- How long are my TOEFL scores valid?
Q. What is your program code to make sure my GRE and TOEFL scores reach you?
A. The school code for UIC is 1851.
Q. What is your minimum GRE score requirement?
A: We do not have a minimum score requirement. GRE scores are a small part of the whole application, and other parts, including the personal statement, writing sample, recommendation letters, or GPA, can outweigh GRE scores.
Q. Is there any way to waive the GRE?
A. GRE scores are a good predictor of success in the first year of graduate studies at UIC. The Department requires virtually all students to have taken the GRE. Exceptions may be for an external fellowship (such as a Fulbright) or an exchange student entering under a department accord with a foreign university. The GRE requirement also applies to Ph.D. applicants whose master's program did not require the GRE.
Q. Where can I find out more information about the GRE?
A. Most college counseling offices have information, and the Educational Testing Service provides full information on its GRE site.
Q. How long are my GRE scores valid?
A.The Department requires students to have taken the GRE within 5 years of the date when you plan start the program at UIC.
Q. Do you recommend taking a GRE preparation course?
A. Students who take a preparation course are more confident and may score higher. But be smart and weigh your options with care. Commercial GRE courses may be expensive, and online GRE courses may offer little more than an electronic version of a GRE prep book (available at bookstores). If you decide to take a prep course, look for low-cost GRE courses at community and undergraduate colleges, which provide textbooks, a live instructor, online options, practice exams, and feedback for a reasonable price.
Q. Who has to take the TOEFL?
A: All international applicants must submit official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language, unless they qualify for a TOEFL exemption.
Q. Can I get a waiver for the English proficiency exam?
A. Some applicants are exempt from taking the TOEFL. See the International Admission Requirements page and the Admissions office FAQs page for details.
Q. Where can I learn more about the TOEFL?
A. More information about the TOEFL is available at www.toefl.org.
Q. What is the minimum score I need on the TOEFL?
A. The minimum scores on the TOEFL are 600 (paper-based) or 250 (computer-based) and appear on the Graduate College application site. From the Requirements page, navigate to the Communication M.A. or Ph.D. program.
Q. How long are my TOEFL scores valid?
A. You must take the TOEFL within two years of the start date for the term you expect to begin your graduate work at UIC.
- How much is tuition?
- What financial assistance is available from the UIC Communication program?
- How do I apply for financial aid?
- What is the amount of the current assistantship?
- Where can I find information on scholarships and student loans?
- Where do I find help to get an internship or a part- or full-time job?
- What if I need housing?
Q. How much is tuition?
A. The Communication programs follow the standard tuition for graduate programs at UIC. Please check the Office of Admissions and Records Graduate Tuition and Fees page for updated rates and costs information.
Q. What financial assistance is available from the UIC Communication program?
A. Read about the types of financial aid for graduate students at the Assistantships, Fellowships or Tuition Waivers link.
Q. How do I apply for financial aid?
A. Complete the Application for Graduate Appointment form, and submit all your application documents early (by email) so that they arrive by December 1.
Q. What is the amount of the current assistantship?
A. Assistantships normally include a tuition and partial fee waiver plus a stipend. The full-time equivalent rate for academic-year stipends changes each year but is around $30,000, and typical assistantships are for either a 25% or a 50% appointment. Add the percentage stipend to the current tuition to estimate your total support.
Q. Where can I find information on scholarships and student loans?
A. The UIC Financial Aid Office is the best source for information about how to finance your studies. Drop in or make an appointment by email. FastWEB is a free way to find scholarships. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply for federal loans by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The priority deadline for fall term is March 1. Part-time students taking six credit hours can also apply. The financial aid office has information for veterans eligible for education and training benefits.
Q. Where do I find help to get an internship or a part- or full-time job?
A. UIC Career Services provides a wide range of services to graduate students, whether you seek professional growth with a current employer or want to change careers. Please review the Career Services pages for details.
Q. What if I need housing?
A. Get in touch with the University Housing Office at (312) 355-6300, or see the Campus Housing site. The Chicago Reader, a weekly, as well as the daily newspapers and Craigslist, offer extensive listings of apartment rentals, as do several commercial rental sites online.
Please refer to the University of Illinois Residency page for in-state and out-of-state information to answer your Illinois residency questions.