Degree Program Overview
The doctoral program teaches theories and methods that guide research into communication processes and effects and into institutions and technologies that both create and are created by human communication. Doctoral candidates acquire and integrate fundamental knowledge of humanistic and behavioral approaches to the study of communication while developing the sophisticated skills that are essential to conducting advanced scholarly research in the discipline. All enrolling PhD candidates receive five years of tuition remission, stipend, fees, health and dental coverage, and four years of summer support.
When is the application deadline?
The application deadline for the PhD Communication is December 1, 2016 and new students are admitted to fall term only. Late applications will not be accepted.
Should I submit a résumé or curriculum vitae?
Submit a current résumé. However, if you have presented at conferences and published papers and/or articles, a CV is expected.
What is the personal statement and what must be included?
The personal statement is an integrated expression of your current intellectual interests and desired future academic agenda. Articulate the theories, frameworks and intellectual arguments of the scholars that have most influenced your thinking and indicate how they have contributed to your current status as an academic. Also, you should discuss how you would like to explore and expand these and other ideas in your doctoral work.
Elucidate both the broad picture of scholarship you would like to pursue and one or two representative examples of research that you would like to conduct in this context. Statements that express either mainstream or groundbreaking agenda, or both, are welcome as are comments on the implications of your research agenda for policy and society. Your personal statement must not exceed five pages in length.
What type of writing sample is required?
Select a 10 page representative sample from an essay, article, or book chapter that you solely wrote that demonstrates a research area of interest that you wish to pursue in the doctoral program. This sample must be entirely your own writing and not co-authored. Please describe why you wrote the piece and where it was submitted.
What is the questionnaire?
This required questionnaire is designed to identify your interests in doctoral program faculty, research and courses.
How many letters of recommendation are needed and from whom?
Three faculty recommendations are required. However, if you have substantial work experience, you may provide one professional reference (a direct manager or supervisor only) in place of one faculty recommendation.
What admission test scores are required?
Valid GRE General Test scores are required from all applicants, even if you have earned a Master’s degree. To be most competitive in the application pool, at least one subscore (verbal or quantitative) must be at or above the 90th percentile.
In addition, international applicants must submit valid TOEFL (minimum recommended score of 114) or IELTS (minimum recommended score of 8.0).
Are there opportunities to meet faculty, current doctoral students and admissions officers?
A faculty-led information session and current student panel will be held at the USC Annenberg School Prospective Graduate Student Visit Day on Friday, October 14, 2016. Details and RSVP will be posted on the USC Annenberg Admissions website.
PhD faculty and current doctoral students will attend the Graduate School Open House at the National Communication Association (NCA) Convention in Philadelphia (November 10-13, 2016). You must be registered for the convention to attend the Open House.
Admissions officers will attend graduate fairs throughout the fall. Check the travel schedule on the USC Annenberg Admissions website to learn when a representative will be in your area.
Go to https://usc.liaisoncas.com to apply.
The online USC Graduate Admission Application opens August 1, 2016.
Upload official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (including USC) to the Academic History section of the application.
- Include the legend for domestic institutions and the grading scale for international institutions.
- International transcripts should include the original language and the English translation as one document.
- Do not upload transcripts from your student portal.
Upload the following documents before submitting your application:
- CV/ Résumé
- Personal Statement
- Writing Sample
- Copy of your official passport (International Applicants only)
- Proof of Financial Support (International Applicants Only)
After receiving your USC ID*, mail official transcripts (original language and English translation) from all colleges and universities attended and any study abroad programs to:
University of Southern California
Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower St., Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915
*USC Graduate Admission will send your USC ID via email 2-3 days after you submit your online graduate admission application.
All program materials must be submitted online with the application in English. Once the application has been submitted, you may not upload or change any program materials. Once submitted, all materials and documents become the property of USC and will not be returned.
Create online profiles in the Program Materials section of the application by providing names and email addresses of your recommenders. Your recommenders will be sent instructions on how to submit a recommendation. USC Annenberg only accepts online recommendations.
Valid test scores must be reported electronically from the testing agency to USC (code 4852 for GRE and TOEFL. For IELTS, select University of Southern California Graduate Programs).
- GRE scores are valid if taken August 2012 or later.
- International applicants must submit valid TOEFL or IELTS scores; scores are valid if taken August 2015 or later.
- International applicants who completed their entire undergraduate degree in the United States or another Anglophone country where English is both the language of instruction and the only official language of the country are exempt from submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores. Completing a graduate degree in an Anglophone county does not exempt you from submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores.
- Complete all admission testing as early as possible and no later than one month prior to the application deadline.
Pay the $90 non-refundable application fee with a credit card or request an application fee waiver prior to submitting an application. Fee waiver requirements may be found at USC Graduate Admission website: