Applications and Financial Aid

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Thank you for your interest in applying to the 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

Knight-Hennessy Scholars
The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including the Communication Theory and Research Ph.D. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars in early September, 2019 (TBD), and separately apply to the Communication department by November 14, 2019.
The deadline for all graduate application forms to be submitted online for the Department of Communication for matriculation in autumn 2020 is Tuesday, December 3, 2019. 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. Note: Please ensure that your email settings allow for the receipt of our emails so that they do not go into your junk mail.

Hard copies and electronic copies of official transcripts must also be received by Tuesday, December 3, 2019. Self-reported (unofficial) test scores that could not be included with the online application should be faxed or emailed and must be received by the above deadline. Recommenders have until January 6, 2020 to submit their online recommendation letters.

Applicants who do not have a bachelor’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.

How to Apply

What do I need to submit?

Application form

The online application will go live in September. Any problems that you encounter while completing or submitting the application must be addressed by contacting the support desk as indicated on the application web site. Since the Stanford application software is not Stanford-based, we cannot help with technical issues. Note that no changes can be made to your application once it has been submitted.

Statement of Purpose

Explain the nature of your interest in one specific program in the department and reasons for wanting to study at Stanford. In the first sentence of your statement of purpose, indicate the name of the specific program to which you are applying. 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 once your application has been submitted, we cannot accept any revised statements of purpose or resumes. The statement of purpose should not exceed two pages.

Do not upload academic papers, theses, or dissertations as part of your statement of purpose. These items are not required. If you wish to submit them, please do so separately by uploading them in the ‘additional information’ section of the application. We do not accept materials submitted via email.


As part of the online application, applicants are required to upload scanned copies of transcripts (either official or unofficial) from all postsecondary institutions attended as a full-time student for one academic year or longer. Multiple page uploads are allowed for all transcripts.

In addition, please arrange for your official transcripts to be sent by the institution(s) directly to our department. An official transcript must be an original document bearing the institutional seal and official signature of the Registrar or copies verified by a school administrative officer and is one that is sent to Stanford in one of four ways:

  • Electronic Delivery: The use of secure electronically-delivered transcripts that are passcode protected is necessary. The document’s certified digital signature embedded in the document PDF assures us that it has been prepared by the college/university and that the document is original and unaltered. Please check with the registrar’s office of your college/university to see if they provide secure electronic certified transcript service. NOTE: Transcripts sent as email attachments are not accepted. 
  • CollegeNet Document Service: Applicants from international institutions are encouraged to use authenticated transcripts(s) and other academic documents. This service provides certified documents to the department to which you are applying. 
  • eTranscript Service: Stanford students and alumni who have active SUNet IDs can use the eTranscript Service within the graduation application. See instructions in the application. 
  • Postal service: Two sets of paper transcripts are required. They may be mailed either directly from the school or by the applicant, providing that the envelope containing the transcript is sealed and signed/stamped across the sealed area. Transcripts that are received opened are considered unofficial and void, and will not be used in the review process. 

All electronically delivered transcripts should be sent to

All official paper transcripts should be mailed to:

Student Services Manager
Department of Communication
Building 120, Room 110A
450 Serra Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2050

For more details, see


Upload a 1-3 page resume into the ‘resume’ section of the application.

Official GRE test scores– GRE (

See Applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).  The Communication Department does not require any GRE subject tests. Both the old and new formats of the general GRE are considered equally acceptable by our department. All score reports must be sent electronically by ETS to Stanford University. Our institution code number for ETS reporting is 4704, no department number is required. Test scores may be no older than 5 years, dating back from December 1, 2019. The GMAT is not accepted as a substitute for the GRE.

Applications will be processed using the self-reported (unofficial) test scores. If you submit your online application before you have taken the test, please email or fax your verbal and quantitative scores to us as soon as you have them. The analytical writing section takes longer to be processed and is not necessary in order for us to deem your application complete, although offers of admission are contingent on receipt of the official scores from all three sections.

Offers of admission can only be made if the official test scores have been received. When official test scores are sent to Stanford by ETS, it will take about two weeks to match them with an applicant’s online file. Should the applicant’s name entered in the application be different than the name associated with the test score, applicants must notify

While we have not established any particular GRE score or undergraduate GPA standard necessary for admission, our experience has been that consideration as a finalist for admission to the Ph.D. program typically requires minimum GRE scores of 155 for the verbal and quantitative sections and GPAs of at least 3.5.

Official TOEFL test scores- TOEFL (

See . 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 (TOEFL). Stanford accepts only ETS (Educational Testing Service) scores. Our institution code number for ETS reporting is 4704. No department number is required. Test scores may be no older than 18 months, dating back from December 1, 2019.

Exemptions are granted to applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the international equivalent degree from a university of recognized standing in a country in which all instruction is provided in English. Therefore, applicants with degrees from the U.S., Australia, Canada (except Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland, and the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales) are exempt from taking the TOEFL and do not need to submit the TOEFL Waiver Request form.

Applicants with degrees from institutions in countries other than those listed above and in which English was the only language of instruction must submit the TOEFL Waiver Request Form in order to be evaluated for a waiver to the TOEFL requirement.

A minimum TOEFL score of 100 on the Internet based iBT is highly recommended. A score of 115 is suggested. Evidence of adequate English proficiency must be submitted before enrollment is approved by Graduate Admissions.

Applications will be processed using the self-reported (unofficial) test scores. If you submit your online application before you have taken the test, please email or fax your score to us as soon as you have it. iBT test-takers will be able to access their scores online approximately 10 days after the test date. Therefore, we recommend that you take the test no later than early November 2019 in order to meet the December 3th deadline. Offers of admission are contingent on receipt of the official scores.

Letters of recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. Recommendations must be submitted online by January 6, 2020. 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. We cannot accept letters of recommendation sent through Interfolio or similar services.

Other optional papers

You may upload additional papers such as samples of your academic or published works in the ‘additional information’ section of the application. They will be included in your application file, though there is no guarantee that they will be reviewed by the admissions committee. With the exception of the required official transcripts, do not send any duplicates of materials that you have submitted online. They will not be added to your file.

Financial aid

Please note that requesting financial aid on the application form will not affect your chances of being admitted to one of our graduate programs. All prospective students should review the estimated expenses associated with graduate study at Stanford by visiting

For Ph.D. students matriculating in autumn 2019, fellowships will be awarded covering three quarters of tuition, four quarters of health insurance, and a living stipend of approximately $32,868. Equivalent funding is expected for students matriculating in autumn 2020. Various forms of support are available for four subsequent years, guaranteed for students who are making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Forms of support include both teaching and research assistantships.  Those eligible should also apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, which awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including the Communication Theory and Research Ph.D.

To be considered, you must apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars around mid-September, 2019, and separately apply to the Communication department in November, 2019 (TBD). 

Application Status and Questions

We will update your application status in the Check List section of your online application account between December 4, 2019, and January 14, 2020, to inform you whether or not your application is complete. If the application is not complete, the missing items will be categorized as ‘not received’, or specifically listed. You will be given one extra week to submit the missing items. There is no need to contact us to check on this. Doing so significantly delays the application process and our ability to confirm your application status.

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 web site 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’. 

Good luck! We look forward to receiving your application.

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