Information for Current Students

If you are unable to find the information you need on this page or in the Graduate Program Manual, please reach out to Joanna.

  • The Department of Communication provides grants to all registered Communication graduate students who are invited to present papers or posters at professional conferences. Award amounts are based on geographic location and the maximum award is $700 once per fiscal year. You can submit the conference travel grant request up to 30 days after the start date of the conference and awards are posted on or about the 15th of every month. The government sees this as taxable income.
  • The Graduate School provides grants to all graduate students who are invited to present papers or posters at professional conferences. Award amounts are based on geographic location and the maximum award is $700 once per fiscal year. See the Graduate School Conference Grant form for full eligibility requirements. The government sees this as taxable income.
  • When student travel is entirely or partially supported on a faculty account, please contact Dustin Page. It is processed as a reimbursement and requires additional documentation.
  • The Outstanding CALS Graduate Teaching Assistant recognizes graduate TAs who have made an important contribution to the instructional program of the College.
  • The Anson E. Rowe Award recognizes one promising graduate student (pre-A-exam) and one advanced graduate student (post-A-exam), who have proven research productivity, teaching excellence, and have made a contribution to the communication community.
  • The Glass Family Fellowship, established in honor of Dr. Royal Colle, an esteemed emeritus professor in the Department of Communication, recognizes a graduate student who exemplifies leadership and service to the Department, Field, and Cornell University.
  • Attend the COMMColloquium Series
    All students at all points in their graduate careers should be attending as many of the seminars as possible. This is the place where the intellectual exchange takes place between different research groups, different research traditions, and different approaches to communication.
  • For reading courses and independent studies, take the initiative
    If there is a course you want to arrange with a faculty member, either to do some independent reading or some independent research, suggest it to the faculty member. Be explicit about your expectations for the course, such as how much time or credit you're looking for, or what product you hope to have at the end; at the same time, ask the faculty member to be explicit about his or her expectations.
  • Get involved in research
    The PhD is a research-oriented degree, and the essential assumption of the program is that students learn the most by engaging in research. PhD students seeking jobs will find that hiring committees (especially in academic positions) expect to see several conference papers and at least one published paper for which the student was the lead author.
  • Stay in touch with your committee chair
    Your committee chair is your mentor and advocate. They can only do this if they know what you are up to, what courses you are finding interesting, what research activities you have become involved in, and what readings you have found stimulating. If you don't find a chance to interact informally, make it a point to stop in every couple of weeks throughout your entire graduate career.
  • Convene your committee at least twice a year
    The rules say your committee should meet at least once a year, but you will want their collective advice more often. Take the initiative to schedule a meeting every six months. You may have to plan weeks in advance to find a time when everyone is available. Let your committee know what you're working on, and get their advice on how to proceed most efficiently and effectively. It's often useful to come to committee meetings with a complete list of courses, grades, and paper topics since you began the program.
  • Give your committee members time to read and evaluate.
    Usually, you need to provide papers two weeks before milestones (e.g. Second Year Projects, A exams, and dissertations), but that is rarely ever enough time. The first step is to work with your committee chair to get your document ready to submit to your committee.  For most students, your chair should have a full draft at least four to six weeks before you plan on your defense. That provides enough time for your chair to read the document and suggest revisions. After you make the revisions, you will still need to give your committee time to read the revised draft. Discuss this schedule in detail with your chair and your committee – find out what they want. Neither you nor your chair want to send your work to the committee before it is ready.

The goal of these suggestions is to help students navigate the sometimes murky waters of a graduate program.  If you have questions (or suggestions on how to make these comments more useful), please feel free to bring them up with your advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies.

Department Funds Policy and Forms

Grad students are eligible to teach courses for the department during summer session through the School of Continuing Education (SCE). A form will be circulated in January to determine grad student instructor course assignments. Grad student instructors who have taught a course once before during the summer have the option to teach it a second time before going back into the general pool of applicants and those who have previously TA’ed the class during the academic year will get priority over those who have not. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will consult the academic year instructor if there are questions regarding who should be assigned to teach the summer version of the course.

Any graduate student teaching a COMM course for summer session with at least 4 students enrolled at the start of their class' session will receive a top-off from the department. The department funds top-off will bring their stipend up to the standard 15-hour RA rate that is set by the Grad School. Grad student instructors will submit the SCE stipend top-off request form with their stipend letter from SCE and the funds will be paid through PeopleSoft/the bursar.

Grad student instructors who also need to work on a research grant during the summer may only add up to 5 hours per week after their teaching job has termed. Concurrent employment is prohibited. The 5-hour appointment can be processed either as an RAship in workday and will comply with the Grad School’s prorating stipend policy, or as an hourly appointment with rates set by CALS.

The department will provide one-time research funding to all students who have successfully completed their A exam, up to $1,000 each. Grad students will submit the research funds request form any time after their A exam results form is complete. 

The department will provide research funds to all SCE grad student instructors, up to $1,000 per instructor per year. The grad student instructors will submit the research funds request form by May 20th following the summer of their instruction. SCE grad student instructors are eligible to apply for research funds each summer they teach for the department and are also eligible to receive their one-time research funds once they are post-A.

All research funds will be processed on or about the 15th of every month through PeopleSoft/the bursar.

Common items that students get research funding for:

  • Compensation for research participants
  • Travel to collect data
  • Travel to attend an academic conference or workshop
  • Software (including a year of subscription): Data analysis software (like MAXQDA or STATA) and special data collection software, transcription software (like Prolific, STATA, LIWC)
  • Academic books

The department will not fund computers, external monitors, keyboards, mice, and other tech accessories. If you are unsure whether an item you are requesting funds for is allowable, please ask for clarification from the GFA.

(aka “freebie summer”)

The department will commit to funding one summer for each graduate student in the summer before their final year of guaranteed funding in order to allow the students sufficient time to write and dissertate. The funds cannot be banked or used earlier than the summer before their final year of guaranteed funding unless the student intends to graduate in four years and agrees to forfeit the fifth year of funding.

Advisors will indicate their advisees’ intent to use their one-time summer support in the summer funding information form circulated in February. Students will be appointed on a 15-hour RAship through workday but should not be asked to work or teach while they are on their freebie summer. Should additional work become a need, the faculty should hire and compensate the student separately on an hourly appointment.

  • The field is committed to funding all PhD students who are making satisfactory degree progress for five years, including summer stipends.
  • Grad students must abide by Policy 1.3’s 20-hour/week limit even in the summer semester. Any students receiving money from the university during the summer must enroll in the GRAD course to avoid FICA tax.
  • Faculty are encouraged to discuss summer funding plans early in order to identify funding gaps.
  • The department will continue to provide matching funds for faculty who use their discretionary funds to support grad students on summer RAships.
  • Students who choose to do an internship with a stipend that is lower than the standard 15-hour RA rate are not eligible for the stipend top-off that SCE grad instructors can receive. However, they can supplement their internship stipend by picking up an hourly appointment on a faculty grant or applying to TA for SCE, provided that their combined appointments do not exceed 20 hours/week.
  • Students who are on fellowship with summer funding are eligible for a department top-off only if the stipend falls below the Grad School's fellowship summer stipend rate. They also can be appointed on an additional appointment that doesn't exceed 8 hours/week.

Department Graduate Student Reps

Graduate student representatives act as a liaison between faculty and graduate students. They are elected by the current graduate students and hold their positions for two academic years. They are important contributors to discussions about departmental priorities and climate. They attend and take minutes at faculty meetings, and circulate the minutes through the commgrad listserv. For those faculty meetings in which confidential personnel matters will be discussed (for example, tenure and promotion decisions and faculty search discussions), the graduate student representatives are excused.

Ellie Homant
Ellie Homant

Graduate Student, Grad Rep

Department of Communication

Ellie Homant
  • ejh238 [at]
social media and online communities; digital labor; influencer culture; queer and feminist media studies; identity, marginality, and inequality; qualitative research methods
Roxana Muenster
Roxana Muenster

Graduate Student, Grad Rep

Department of Communication

Roxana Muenster
  • rm858 [at]
Digital and political communication, social movements, lifestyle politics, radicalization, collective identity

Communication Graduate Student Association (CGSA)

The CGSA president is responsible for overseeing the overall operation of the CGSA and acts as a liaison to the faculty and staff. They are responsible for the recording and maintenance of CGSA records and files, including minutes of meetings and committee reports. The CGSA vice president is responsible for serving as a liaison to the Graduate and Professional Student Association and for taking CGSA meeting minutes. This officer assumes the duties of the president if they are absent from a meeting. The CGSA treasurer is responsible for the financial records and bookkeeping of the CGSA, the preparation of the budget, and attendance at any budget hearings. The term for these positions is one academic year.

Andrew Restieri
Andrew Restieri

Graduate Student, CGSA President

Department of Communication

Andrew Restieri
  • ar2349 [at]
LGBTQ studies, health equity, political communication
Rosie Nguyen
Rosie Nguyen

Graduate Student, CGSA Vice President


Rosie Nguyen
  • nhn8 [at]
Digital culture, social media, social movements, online identity, media and gender, mixed methods
Kevin Martinez
Kevin Martinez

Graduate Student, CGSA Treasurer


Kevin Martinez
  • ktm62 [at]
Social networks and virtual spaces; human-computer interaction; computer-supported cooperative work; computer-supported collaborative learning

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