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Applications and Financial Support

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Thank you for your interest in applying to the PhD program in communication theory and research. The evaluation of all graduate applications is done at the department level. Please read the following information carefully. We have made a great effort to provide detailed and thorough information regarding the application process and hope that it will provide answers to your questions.

Application Deadline

The deadline to apply to the Ph.D. Program in Communication for matriculation in autumn 2023 will be December 3, 2024 at 11:59PM. The online application fee is $125 for all applicants, both domestic and international. If you are considering applying to Stanford graduate programs and need assistance with the application fees, consider applying for a fee waiver.

Recommenders have until January 5, 2025 to submit their online recommendation letters.

Applicants who do not have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university based in the U.S. should review the information for international students to determine their eligibility to apply to graduate school at Stanford.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Join dozens of Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences students who gain valuable leadership skills in a multidisciplinary, multicultural community as Knight-Hennessy Scholars(KHS).

KHS admits up to 100 select applicants each year from across Stanford’s seven graduate schools, and delivers engaging experiences that prepare them to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders ready to address complex global challenges. As a scholar, you join a distinguished cohort, participate in up to three years of leadership programming, and receive full funding for up to three years of your PhD studies at Stanford.

Candidates of any country may apply. KHS applicants must have earned their first undergraduate degree within the last seven years, and must apply to both a Stanford graduate program and to KHS. Stanford PhD students may also apply to KHS during their first year of PhD enrollment.

If you aspire to be a leader in your field, we invite you to apply. The KHS application deadline will be in October 2024. Learn more about KHS admission.

How to Apply

What do I need to submit?

Application form

The online application is expected to go live on September 15, 2024

Statement of purpose

Explain the nature of your interest in the PhD program and reasons for wanting to study at Stanford. Include details about your preparation for this field of study, your future career plans, and any other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. Please ensure that your full name is on each page of your statement of purpose. Note that updated statements of purpose or resumes may be uploaded until the application deadline. The maximum recommended length is 1000 words.


List every post-secondary institution where you were enrolled — or are currently enrolled — in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Your list must include the institution where you earned your bachelor’s degree or its international equivalent as defined in Stanford’s minimum education requirements for graduate study. *

For each institution you list in the application, upload the most recently available version of your transcript. The transcripts you upload here are considered unofficial and will suffice for the review process.

If you have participated in a study abroad program or transferred courses to your home institution, and the individual courses and grades are reflected on the transcript of the home institution, then you do not need to submit transcripts from the study abroad/transfer institution. Multiple page uploads are allowed for all transcripts. Do not send official copies of transcripts (print or e-transcripts) to the department during the application process. They are not required as part of the application and will not be uploaded to your application or acknowledged.

If you are offered admission to Stanford Communication and accept the offer, you will be required to submit official transcripts/degree conferral documents.


Upload a resume (1-3 pages) into the ‘resume’ section of the application.

Official TOEFL test scores – TOEFL

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. Applicants whose first language is not English must submit an official test score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT).

Please see the Graduate Admissions website for detailed information.

Letters of recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. Recommendations must be submitted online by January 3, 2024.  As part of the online application, applicants will be required to register the contact information of their recommenders. Recommenders will then receive an email with directions on how to proceed. At least one evaluation and letter should be from a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student (unless you have been out of school for more than five years). Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work. 

The recommendation process supports letters submitted via Interfolio. The applicant registers a recommender using an email address that contains “”. Please remember that letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes. Furthermore, the recommendation form displayed for a recommender using Interfolio will not include the evaluation questions displayed and required for other recommenders.

Supplemental questions

  1. Select up to three faculty members whose research interests best align with your own and who could serve as potential research advisors, in order of preference. Your selections are non-binding and will help us route your application to relevant faculty during the review process. For detailed information about our faculty, go to the department website:
  2. Applicants are asked to describe an encounter with a text/topic/event/person/experience in your scholarly or other pursuits that has informed and (re-)shaped your interests in research. Character limit: 1,500
  3. Please describe a specific challenge you faced in work/school, how you managed that hurdle, and how that experience has prepared you to pursue a PhD and contribute to the intellectual and social community at Stanford. Character limit: 1,500

Optional GRE scores

Submission of general GRE scores is optional. If you would like us to see your scores, feel free to submit them.  Information on how to report GRE scores is available on the Graduate Admissions website.  

Application Fee Waivers

The Department is not able to provide fee waivers. Please see the Graduate Admissions website for the available fee waivers and how to submit a request. Requests are due 2 weeks before the application deadline. 

Financial Support

All prospective students should review the estimated expenses associated with graduate study at Stanford.

The Department of Communication offers full funding through a combination of fellowship stipends and teaching/research assistantship salary as well as tuition throughout the first 5 years of study. This funding is provided for all 12 months so that PhD students do not have to worry about summer support.

Applicants are encouraged to apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.

Application Status and Questions

The selection of graduate students admitted to the Department of Communication is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including (but not limited to) the applicant’s academic record, the letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose, samples of journalistic work (applicants to the Graduate Program in Journalism only), personal qualities and characteristics, and past accomplishments.

Decisions are usually made by March 1. Please do not contact us prior to this date to check the status of your application.

For more information, please review our departmental website and the University’s Graduate Admissions web site. If you still have questions, please contact the Student Services Manager. In the subject heading of the email, please type ‘Admissions: LAST NAME, First Name’.

IMPORTANT: Please ensure that your email settings allow for the receipt of our emails so that they do not go into your junk mail.

The Department of Communication recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision.

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