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General Admissions FAQ

If I don’t have a MA, can I still be admitted to the doctoral program?

Individuals who wish to study for the doctorate, but do not have a MA should apply to the MA/PhD program. Students admitted to the MA/PhD program complete their MA in Communication Studies as part of their preparation for the doctorate.

What are the minimum GPA and GRE scores required for admission?

Neither a minimum GPA nor a minimum GRE score are required for admission to MTS.

Admission to our program is highly competitive. Admission decisions based upon the overall application. Scores on standardized tests are but one of the criteria we consider. While no strict rules exist for minimum admission standards, admitted students will generally have at least:

  • GPA: 3.0/4.0 (undergraduate) or 3.5/4.0 (master’s degree, if applicable)
  • GRE: 85th percentile in all three areas of General Test (no subject test required)

Average GPA and GRE scores of those admitted will vary slightly from year to year. Please see The Graduate School’s website for more on these scores:

What institution and department codes should I use for the GRE and TOEFL?

The institution code for Northwestern University is 1565 for both exams. No department code is needed for the GRE. For the TOEFL, use 99 (“department not listed”).

Can I attend part-time?

No. We only admit students who can attend full-time.

Can I take courses in the evening, on weekends or during the summer?

No. We only admit students who can attend full-time.

Can I start the program during the winter or spring terms rather than in the fall term?

No. Because we admit graduate students as a cohort, students can only begin their studies in the fall term.

Beyond scores, what do you look for in a graduate application?

The number one thing is fit between the student’s research interest and faculty knowledge/interests. The Media, Technology, and Society program, like many doctoral programs relies heavily on mentorship and apprenticeship pedagogy. As such, it is imperative that the student’s interest fit well with what the faculty teach, research, and know. Students should investigate faculty research and indicate why they believe they would be a good fit in the program in their personal statement.

When do you accept applications?

Our deadline for applications is December 1.

How do I apply?

The university uses an online application system. You may access that system through The Graduate School’s website: In that system, you will be required to enter a statement of purpose, a cluster statement (if applicable- see for more information), the names of faculty with which you would like to study, your GRE scores, your transcripts, your writing sample, your TOEFL scores, and identify 2 or 3 recommenders who will upload letters of recommendation. Please see the program website for detailed information on application requirements.

Must recommendation writers submit their recommendations online?


How many students do you admit per year?

This has varied from year to year. You can see the statistics on our admissions at:

Can I receive paper copies of information about the graduate program?

Because of duplicating and mailing costs, we no longer provide paper copy of information.

Can I receive a paper copy of an application form?

The Graduate School at Northwestern University only accepts online applications.

What do Communication graduate students do with their degrees?

Students who graduate from our program generally go onto academic jobs. About a quarter of our students go into professional research jobs in think tanks, research firms, and internet companies. For our placements, please see:

The application fee is expensive, and I don’t want to apply if my chances aren’t good. Can you look at my resume and tell me if you think I should apply?

We receive hundreds of requests, so regrettably we cannot individually assess an applicant’s chances. If you feel strongly about your qualifications, we encourage you to apply.

The application fee is expensive, can I request a waiver?

The Graduate School manages the application process and invites fee waiver requests. Some prospective students may also be eligible for the FreeApp program offered through the Big Ten Academic Alliance (see the link for details and deadlines).

What other graduate programs are affiliated with Communication Studies at Northwestern?

May I schedule a campus visit?

Selected domestic students who are being considered for admission to the MTS program are invited to visit campus in late February or early March. If you wish to visit before you apply, it is best to schedule your visit between early September and early November. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies to arrange a visit and allow us at least two weeks’ notice.

Whom should I contact with questions about the graduate program in Communication?

You can direct all questions about the graduate program to the Director of Graduate Studies Pablo Boczkowski ( or the department (

International Applicant FAQ

Are all international student applicants required to submit TOEFL scores?

Yes, if English is not the student’s native language, with the exception of students who have a BA or MA from an English-speaking institution. For more on this requirement, see The Graduate School’s website: We also accept IELTS scores in lieu of the TOEFL scores.

I’m an international student, but I don’t have a visa yet. What can I do?

You must first be accepted by the University before any visa processing work can begin. Please read details on the Northwestern University International Office page.

Are international students eligible to receive funding?

Regardless of whether applicants are domestic or international, all who are admitted to either our MA/PHD or PHD program receive funding. To receive funding, international students must demonstrate proficiency in English by providing official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English or scoring 100 or higher on the Internet Based TOEFL (IBT) and have ETS send your official scores to the institution code 1565 for The NU Graduate School.

Funding FAQ

How many of the graduate students in the department receive funding?

Every qualified graduate student is funded in our program. Students are funded for 5 years.

How do I apply for financial aid?

There is no separate financial aid application; you only have to indicate in the appropriate place on the admission application that you want to be considered for financial aid.