Prospective Graduate Students

Why Should You Apply to UCSB's Graduate Program in Communication? 


We have a world-class faculty: In our MA/PhD program, you will find the most distinguished faculty in the field working closely with the best and brightest graduate students. We have award-winning distinguished faculty, including:

  • Five past presidents of the International Communication Association
  • Senior and Associate Editors of prestigious journals including Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Communication Monographs, Journal of Language and Social Psychology
  • Recipients of millions of dollars in external funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of State, Marsden Foundation, and Templeton Foundation
  • Recipients of numerous NCA and ICA research and teaching awards
  • Five ICA Fellows and four NCA Distinguished Scholars
  • Three winners of ICA’s Steven H. Chaffee Career Achievement Award—the most of any program
  • Multiple University-wide teaching and mentorship award winners

We emphasize theory development, cutting-edge methodology, and practical application: We provide research, teaching, and service in communication science that is socially relevant, theoretically motivated, methodologically rigorous, and eclectic. Faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students are highly active in conducting theory-driven research with methodological rigor and findings that have the potential to benefit various communities and organizations. Students are encouraged to work across and integrate research areas. 

We are strongly committed to mentorship and individualized advising: Our graduate program has approximately 35 students and 19 professors. This enables us to provide small seminars and individualized academic attention from faculty. Graduate students also are encouraged to work with multiple faculty members within and across areas. Many of our graduate students co-author publications with their advisors and other faculty members, as well as other graduate students who may or may not share the same advisor. Some of our faculty also hold weekly or biweekly research team meetings. Students do not need to be the faculty member's advisee to participate in the research team meetings; they merely have to share overlapping research interests. In addition, all incoming graduate students are also paired with a more senior graduate student who can help them transition to grad school and the community. 

We offer competitive funding opportunities: Our graduate students receive teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships during their time here, which means no student is admitted to our program without funding. Graduate students' tuition fees, health insurance, and campus-based fees are all covered, and our graduate students receive a monthly stipend over a 9-month period. Although not guaranteed each year, our graduate students have received a financial bonus each summer for the past several years, and they will likely continue to receive such a bonus.

During their first year in the graduate program, students usually hold teaching assistantship positions where they lead several discussion sections of the introductory communication courses for pre-majors. Afterward, they may act as teaching assistants for upper division courses, where they attend faculty lectures, hold office hours, and grade assignments. Our graduate students have a light work load, so that they can focus on their graduate coursework and research. When faculty have grant funding, graduate students may work as paid research assistants.  

Our graduate students have access to interdisciplinary training and collaboration with renowned scholars: UCSB is home to numerous centers that offer training and fellowships to our graduate students. For example, graduate students often receive training at the Center for Information Technology and Society (CITS), taking courses and attending colloquia focusing on human behavior and information technologies. In addition, students can earn an interdisciplinary emphasis from the Cognitive Science Program or the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences Program that can be added to their Ph.D. in Communication. Some of our graduate students also have participated in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Research and Training (IGERT) Program that trains students in network science and big data. After taking a series of statistics courses in the Department of Communication, our graduate students also have the opportunity to make interdisciplinary connections with leading statisticians in Education and Psychology by taking their graduate seminars. Our graduate students learn how to conduct social network analyses, structural equation modeling, latent class analysis, latent transition analysis, and multilevel modeling. 

We value inclusion: Faculty and students conduct research on a wide variety of topics related to inclusion. For examples, Drs. Jennifer Kam, Tammy Afifi, and Walid Afifi are interested in privacy management and coping strategies for immigrant families who experience discrimination, fear of deportation, or separation from a family member because of migration. Drs. Dana Mastro and Dan Linz study racial, gender, and LGBTQ stereotyping in the media. Drs. Giles, Mastro, and Reid are interested in attitudes toward ingroup and outgroup members based on linguistic features such as accents. Lastly, Drs. Michael Stohl, Cynthia Stohl, and Jennifer Gibbs study globalization and the use of technology to tie people together across national boundaries. In addition to studying topics related to diversity, the Graduate Committee applies for diversity fellowships each year to fund graduate students from underserved backgrounds. At the University-level, UCSB was officially designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institute in 2015, and it received 4.5/5 stars on Gender Identity/Expression and LGBTQ Policy Inclusion from Campus Pride Index.

Our graduate students go on to become leaders in the field: During their time in the program, our graduate students regularly present their research at national and international conferences and publish in some of the field’s top journals. Upon graduation, many of our students take positions at top-ranked research institutions, including Michigan State University, University of Arizona, University of Texas at Austin, Boston College, University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign, Cornell University, University of California at Davis, The Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Washington, University of Kentucky, and University of Georgia. In short, the skills learned in our graduate program enable students to become complete scholars of communication and leaders in the field.