Frequently Asked Questions

APPLICANT BACKGROUND/TRANSFER QUESTIONS

Do I need a master's degree to apply?
Do I need to have an undergraduate or graduate degree in communication to apply?
May I transfer from another doctoral program or master’s program to Annenberg?
How many credits are students allowed to transfer if you have a master’s degree in communication?
What kind of financial aid do you offer and how can I apply?

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

What admission criteria do you use?
What is the Personal Statement? Isn’t that like an essay?
May I apply past the December 1 deadline?
When will I be notified about a decision?
Who should write my three letters of recommendation?
Does Annenberg have Spring admission?
Do international students have to submit financial reports with admission materials?
What is the process if you applied the year before and would like to re-apply?
When may I come to see the school and meet the faculty?

GRE/LANGUAGE EXAM QUESTIONS

How much does my GRE matter in the admission decision?
What are the GRE and GPA requirements for acceptance into the doctoral program?
Can I get a waiver for GRE?
How old can GRE scores can be?
Do you accept unofficial GRE scores?
Do you have to take the GRE, do you accept any other tests (GMAT, LSAT, etc.)?
Should I take GRE General test or Subject Test?
Could I take a computer-based GRE test, or paper-based test?
Can the TOEFL of IELTS exam be waived if I have a B.A. or M.A. from an American institution?
What are the TOEFL/IELTS score requirements for acceptance into the doctoral program?

PROGRAM QUESTIONS

May students complete the program on a part-time basis?
How many courses do I need to take and what is expected time for finishing the Ph.D?
Can I take courses outside the Annenberg School?
How many students are currently enrolled in the program?
Is there a terminal Master's option in the Communication program, or is the program only open to those planning to obtain a Ph.D?
How competitive are TAships? RAships?
What are the research interests of your faculty?
What international research opportunities are available within the Annenberg School?

APPLICANT BACKGROUND/TRANSFER QUESTIONS

I need a master's degree to apply?
No. You do not need to have a master’s degree to apply
Do I need to have an undergraduate or graduate degree in communication to apply?
No. Doctoral study at the Annenberg School for Communication is research-intensive and interdisciplinary in nature. Our students come from diverse backgrounds, with undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas such as African-American and American Studies, Cultural Studies, English, History, Film/Media Studies, Journalism, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology, among others.
May I transfer from another doctoral program or master’s program to Annenberg?
Yes.
How many credits are students allowed to transfer if you have a master’s degree in communication?
Students with a master's degree may request transfer of up to 5 courses. All transfer requests are considered on a case-by-case basis by the student's advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee. Students who receive credit for 5 transfer courses must complete the remaining 15 courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Transfer credit requests may not be submitted until the student has completed a full academic year (2 semesters) at the school.
What kind of financial aid do you offer and how can I apply?
All students admitted to the Annenberg School receive financial support that includes a stipend, health insurance and a waiver of University tuition up to four years. Funding is contingent upon full-time enrollment, satisfying academic progress and satisfactory performance as a Teaching or Research Fellow. Dissertation fellowships of 12-month duration, to support the writing of a dissertation are also available. There is no separate financial aid form for Annenberg applicants.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

What admission criteria do you use?
We use a wide variety of criteria for admission. The criteria include GREs, GPA, TOEFL scores for international candidates, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. The statement of purpose is very important in the application process because it signals students' research interests and their fit with program in the school. No one criterion will allow or disallow admission, as faculty and staff conduct a thorough evaluation of all applications.
What is the Personal Statement? Isn’t that like an essay?
Not exactly. A personal statement is a narrative that outlines the student’s research interests and provides the student with an opportunity to demonstrate how they would fit in at the Annenberg School for Communication.
May I apply past the December 1 deadline?
Unfortunately, no. Because we fully fund all of our students we need to make our admissions decisions and admit our next class as a group. Once we begin the evaluation process, we cannot accept additional applications. Therefore, applications received after December 1 cannot be reviewed.
When will I be notified about a decision?
We review all applications in February. You will be notified as soon as possible, but no later than April 1.
Who should write my three letters of recommendation?
Your recommendation letters should come from should be 3 persons familiar with your abilities and scholarly work, including if possible at least two academics.
Does Annenberg have Spring admission?
No.
Do international students have to submit financial reports with admission materials?
No.
What is the process if you applied the year before and would like to re-apply?
You will need to resubmit your application, the application fee, and update any portion of your original application that may have changed since the year before.
When may I come to see the school and meet the faculty?
Every admitted candidate to the Annenberg School for Communication is invited to attend our Prospective Student’s Day in March as a guest of the school. The school provides hotel accommodations and covers travel expenses. The program for Prospective Student’s Day is designed to answer all of your questions about the school, the students, faculty and staff. Students meet individually with faculty in their research area, have multiple opportunities to meet with current students in formal and informal surroundings and tour the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

GRE/LANGUAGE EXAM QUESTIONS

How much does my GRE matter in the admission decision?
No single test score or other individual source of information is weighed more heavily than others. While GRE scores are important, they do not alone determine admission. GRE scores are taken into consideration in combination with GPA, TOEFL scores for international candidates, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
What are the GRE and GPA requirements for acceptance into the doctoral program?
We do not set a specific minimum score, but the selection process is highly competitive, so you should do your best to get as high a score as possible. We do not have GRE and GPA requirements because we evaluate each application on its individual strengths.
Can I get a waiver for GRE?
The GRE test is a University of Pennsylvania requirement so it cannot be waived.
How old can GRE scores can be?
Scores older than 5 years will not be accepted.
Do you accept unofficial GRE scores?
No. Only official scores sent to us by the ETS are accepted.
Do you have to take the GRE, do you accept any other tests (GMAT, LSAT, etc.)?
The GRE test is a University of Pennsylvania requirement so it cannot be waived and we cannot accept other graduate level exams in its place.
Should I take GRE General test or Subject Test?
We require the General Test.
Could I take a computer-based GRE test, or paper-based test?
Either is acceptable to us as long as the test date is not more than five years old and is sent to us by the Educational Testing Service.
Can the TOEFL of IELTS exam be waived if I have a B.A. or M.A. from an American institution?
Applicants for whom English is a secondary language are required to take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Testing System (IELTS).The receipt of a bachelors or master's degree from a U.S. college or university does not exempt an applicant from submitting official test scores.
The TOEFL is administered by the Educational testing Service (ETS). Official score reports need to be provided directly from ETS to The Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania. Please use the ETS Code for the Annenberg School at Penn (2023) on the request form. It is important to note that scores are only valid for two years from the date you took the test. You must request that an official report of your scores be sent For TOEFL test dates, locations and other registration information, please contact: TOEFL, P. O. Box 6151, Princeton, NJ 08541- 6151.ADD or visit http://www.toefl.org/TOEFL
The IELTS is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia. For information about testing sites in your area please visit the official website at: http://www.ielts.org
What are the TOEFL/IELTS score requirements for acceptance into the doctoral program?
As with the GRE, we do not have set requirements for acceptance, but the selection process is highly competitive, so you should do your best to get as high a score as possible.

PROGRAM QUESTIONS

May students complete the program on a part-time basis?
No, because we fully fund all of our students, we can not allow students to attend part-time.
How many courses do I need to take and what is expected time for finishing the Ph.D?
The minimum course requirement for the Ph.D. is 20 courses. All Ph.D. students must take at least one separate course with each of at least five different ASC standing faculty members. The intent of this is to foster students’ knowledge of a diverse range of approaches to communication. Students with a master’s Degree may request transfer of up to 5 courses. All transfer requests are considered on a case-by-case basis by the student's advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee. Students who receive credit for five transfer courses must complete the remaining 15 courses at the University of Pennsylvania. Transfer credit requests may not be submitted until the student has completed a full academic year at the school. The normal course load is three courses per term, so students entering with a bachelor's degree will need 3 ½ years (or 7 semesters) to finish their coursework. Students transferring courses can shorten their time in coursework by 1 or 2 semesters.
Can I take courses outside the Annenberg School?
Yes. You may easily take 3-4 courses in other departments. It's possible to take more with the approval of your advisor.
How many students are currently enrolled in the program?
We have currently about 40 students enrolled in classes and an additional 30 working on their dissertations.
Is there a terminal Master's option in the Communication program, or is the program only open to those planning to obtain a Ph.D?
The graduate program at Annenberg is designed to prepare students to obtain the PhD. While our students do receive a masters of arts, it is a research masters intended to function as a foundation for the doctorate. We educate our students in the theories, substance and methods of communication research and position them to become leading academic and professional positions in the field.
How competitive are TAships? RAships?
Because we fully fund all of our students, all students are given the opportunity to work with faculty during their years at ASC through research and teaching fellowships.
What are the research interests of your faculty?
Our faculty’s cutting-edge research emphasizes the following areas: Culture, Society and Communication
Global Communication
Health Communication
Media Institutions
New Media and Information Technologies
Political Communication
Visual Communication
Prospective students are urged to examine the website for faculty and student work that reflects the continually changing intellectual vibrancy of the School.
What international research opportunities are available within the Annenberg School?
In order to provide a greater emphasis for graduate students and faculty on comparative and international communications, the Annenberg School for Communication initiated the Project for Global Communications Studies (CGCS) in 2004. Working with the faculty at the School and the University, CGCS:
  • Sparks research opportunities for graduate students
  • Organizes conferences
  • Provides consulting and advisory assistance to academic centers, governments, and NGOs
CGCS draws on various disciplines (law, political science, and international relations among others) to explore public policy issues and the way media and globalization intersect with the changing nature of states. CGCS offers faculty and students, through its network and affiliations around the world, academic and internship opportunities in locations such as Beijing, Budapest, London, Oxford, and Moscow. Annenberg is currently working with the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford, Center for Media and Communication Studies at the Central European University, and Communication University of China and is developing projects in Russia, China, and India.