EDP Admissions Requirements

Admission to the PhD program in the Graduate Field of Communication at Cornell University is highly competitive. The Graduate Admissions Committee considers several factors for admission to the graduate program, and all applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the Cornell University Graduate School. For additional information on the Employee Degree program, please see HR’s website

Application to the program is via the Graduate School's online application. The application for Fall 2025 will be live on September 1, 2024. 

Please note Communication applications are accepted only for the Fall term. The application deadline is December 1, 2024, by which all application materials must be submitted. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.  

Please visit the Graduate School's website for information about the application fee and waiver process

Employees, before you apply: 

  • You must be currently enrolled in or have completed COMM 6800 Studies in Communication with a final grade of B or higher by the time you submit your application 
  • You must secure a faculty member in the Department of Communication to act as the Chair of your Special Committee by the time you submit your application 
  • It is recommended that you reach out to the Graduate Field Administrator prior to applying!

Application Requirements 

(Please upload all requested materials into the application; hard copies of your materials will not be accepted) 

  • Academic statement of purpose 
    The academic statement of purpose is your chance to articulate the research you’d like to do and to explain how you see our program helping you achieve your intellectual goals. This statement should describe the substantive questions you are interested in. It should also indicate your intellectual interests and any training you have received that you believe has prepared you for our program. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the research interests of our faculty. Mentioning specific faculty members who match your research interests will strengthen your statement. If any of your research interests relate to important social issues including (but not limited to) diversity, inclusion, access, and equity, you should mention them in this statement. Academic statements of purpose should be no more than 1000 words. 
  • Personal statement 
    The personal statement should explain your reasons for seeking a PhD in communication. What motivates you? What are your long-term goals? What important experiences have shaped your perspective to this point? As relevant, your essay should include information on your ability to be both persistent and resilient, especially when navigating challenging circumstances. Additionally, provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect where scholars representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and innovate productively and positively together. This is not an academic statement of purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree. Personal statements should be no more than 1000 words.
  • Letters of recommendation 
    Three strong letters of recommendation incorporating details of the applicant's educational and research background are preferred over-generalizations about the applicant. Letters should be from people who are likely to comment on your academic aptitude and research abilities. Recommenders have until December 15 to upload their letter to your application. If your recommenders are having trouble submitting their letter, please reference the Graduate School's FAQ for troubleshooting tips.
  • Writing sample 
    Applicants are required to submit a form of scholarly writing such as a sample essay, article, or book chapter that they have written (solo or first-author only). The maximum length is 30 pages (including the bibliography). Complete theses or longer works are not acceptable forms of writing for this application.
  • Transcripts 
    Applicants are required to upload unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. If you are currently enrolled in a program, include an in-progress transcript and update it through the checklist after your fall grades are available. If transcripts are in a foreign language, please submit only the English-translated version. Please do not send this directly to the University; hardcopy official transcripts are required only upon matriculation. In addition to transcripts, applicants with international credentials must also provide a certified copy of the diploma and/or degree certificate for any conferred degree. All academic records must be official documents issued by the college or university and provided in the original language. A certified or notarized English translation must accompany the academic records if the original language is not English. A complete set of academic records should include the name of the degree program in which you were enrolled, your dates of attendance, a list of courses taken each year, grades received in each course, and the date your degree was conferred (if applicable). Combine multiple pages from the same set of academic records into one file; the file size for each upload cannot exceed 10MB. 
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae 
    The Graduate School has a useful reference page for what is best to include in this document.
  • TOEFL and/or IELTS scores (international students only) 
    In order to be successful in Cornell’s rigorous graduate and professional degree programs, students must be highly proficient or fluent in English. Students in doctoral degree programs who are appointed as teaching assistants (TAs) must demonstrate a higher level of English proficiency. These students are supported through Cornell’s Center for Teaching Innovation. Language proficiency policy is set by the Graduate School. Please their website for further specifications, including information on exemptions.

A note about the GRE 

In light of both recent concerns about the availability of the GRE for students across the globe related to COVID-19, and broader concerns about the inequities inherent in this standardized test, Cornell's Graduate Field of Communication will not accept GRE scores from applicants. We will review all applications blinded for GRE scores. Please do not make any reference to a GRE score in your personal statement or academic statement of purpose. We will review all applications for such references and will not accept statements that make reference to this test anywhere in the application. 

COVID-19 notice (spring 2020) 

Recognizing the serious challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic for student learning, faculty teaching, & academic performance assessment, the Graduate Field of Communication will adopt these principles for admissions review that consider COVID-19 disruptions as described by the Graduate School at Cornell University.

Check your application status!

Did you know that you can check the status of your application without having to play email tag? As Joanna reviews applications for completeness in December, she will note what is missing and when your application is complete. Check it out!