Before you apply

If you’re considering applying to any MA program, we recommend that you start with this excellent 30-page guide (created by another university) about choosing and applying to graduate schools.

Before you apply to our program, please review these pages with more information about our program:

We highly recommend that all applicants set up a brief conversation with Amy Hasinoff, the Communication department's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), by phone or Zoom to ask questions about the program before applying.

Apply to the COMM MA program

Help with applying

The application process involves a number of different offices and departments. Which one you should contact depends on what your question is:

  • To get general information about being a graduate student at CU Denver, including living in Denver, academic programs, and student resources, fill out this form to request information from the Graduate School.
  • The Graduate School handles all the bureaucratic and technical aspects of the admissions process, including the application system, and transfer credits.
  • Student finances, including billing, financial aid, and scholarships is in a separate office.
  • International admissions handles visas.

Application Deadlines

Fall admission
  • February 15: Priority deadline for Fall semester start and full consideration for scholarships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships. 
  • If space in the program is still available, late applications will also be considered until May 1; this is the non-priority deadline for a Fall semester start and excludes scholarship and assistantship consideration. 
Spring admission
  • October 1: No Graduate Teaching Assistantships are offered for spring semester start.

Is it past the deadline or are you missing admission requirements?

Some students who can't fulfill all the admission requirements or who have missed the application deadlines start out in "non-degree" status. Those students typically take the Introduction course (COMM 6013) if they start in the Fall or the Methods course (COMM 5221) if they start in the Spring. This option allows prospective students to preview the program before applying to the MA. Up to 9 credits completed in non-degree status would be applied to your MA if you are admitted to the program. Admission in "non-degree" status does not guarantee admission to the MA program. See below for more information, and please contact the DGS to discuss this option before you pursue it.

Also, some students choose to earn a certificate in non-degree status and never apply to the MA -- if you want to go that route, please contact the person who supervises the certificate you're interested in.

Application process

Students are notified by e-mail of the graduate admission committee's decision concerning their admission. If 6 weeks have passed since one of the deadlines above and you still have not heard anything from the communication department or the graduate school, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.


Application and Admission Requirements

All applications are submitted online and are evaluated by the admissions committee as a complete package.

  • Completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Statement of purpose (aka "letter of application" or "cover letter"). The statement should be 2-3 double spaced typed pages (around 500-800 words) and should highlight your past experience and your specific interest in the program. You can view a sample letter from a successful applicant -- note that the specific details in this letter demonstrate that this applicant has thoroughly researched the program and has clearly explained how it will help them achieve specific interests and goals. Your letter should include the following:
    • (a) Describe your academic experience and specific interests in the field of Communication. Consider discussing what you enjoyed learning about in your favorite course in Communication, what you loved about working on a particular project, or what you are most excited to learn more about, and why. If applicable, also describe your professional experience in Communication.
    • (b) Explain your career plans and how an MA in Communication would help you achieve those goals.
    • (c) Explain why you are particularly interested in the CU Denver Department of Communication.
      • To answer this effectively, thoroughly research the department by reading through this website, talking to current and former students, and talking to the Director of Graduate Studies and other faculty. Review the MA program requirements and all the other information on the MA page, including the MA handbook. Look into the research interests for all the Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors, as well as any other full-time staff with PhDs. Read a few articles or books from the faculty members that interest you -- you can ask any scholar for a PDF of an article they've written for free if you don't have access through a library.
      • Consider these questions and provide specific answers: What does the program offer that attracts you? How could faculty members' areas of expertise support your research interests? Which faculty expertise areas do you have experience studying and which do you want to learn more about? Who might you ask to be your advisor?
  • Three letters of recommendation, preferably from university faculty
  • An official transcript from every college or university attended
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • An academic writing sample; ideally showing the ability to make and defend an argument (minimum 8 pages double-spaced). Most students choose their strongest paper from a Communication course and edit it again before submitting.
  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.25 or above is preferred but not required; applications are evaluated as a whole.
    • If your undergraduate GPA is below 3.25 but you believe you are prepared for graduate study in Communication, please contact Amy Hasinoff, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), by email or set up a 15-minute phone or Zoom meeting before applying. Students with undergraduate GPAs under 3.25 will be considered if the applicant can demonstrate preparedness for graduate study in Communication though other means.
      • For example, As and A-s in Communication courses, even if the student's grades in other disciplines are lower, would be good evidence.
      • Some students with low undergraduate GPAs choose to take one of our courses as a non-degree student (see below) to find out if an MA in Communication is the right fit for them; a good choice would be COMM 6013, the required introductory course for all MA students. Doing well in this course would provide good evidence that a student is prepared for graduate study, though it is not a guarantee of admission to the program. 
    • The graduate school requires that students with GPAs under 3.0 are admitted provisionally.
  • $50 application fee for U.S. citizens, $75 application fee for international students (non-refundable). You may qualify for an application fee waiver.
  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required. However, students may submit GRE scores to support their application. In general, this would require a score of 153 or above on the verbal component of the GRE, or at least 500 for students who took the GRE prior to August 1, 2011, or a score of 150 or above on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
  • International students: International students need English Language Proficiency test scores at or above the following levels: a TOEFL score of 80 with particular subscore minimums (18 in Reading, 17 in Listening, 20 in Speaking, and 20 in Writing) or IELTS scores of 6.5 with 6.0 or higher in each subsection or Duolingo scores of 85 in each section and 105 overall. To be considered for Teaching Assistant positions, international graduate students must meet the score requirements above, and have a Speaking subscore of 26 (TOEFL) or 7.0 (IELTS).​
  • Some students may be contacted for a phone interview about their interests in and preparation for graduate study in Communication.

All application materials not uploaded through the online application process should be sent to:

Graduate School
University of Colorado Denver
Campus Box 163
1380 Lawrence Street, Suite 1250
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Apply to the COMM MA program


Cost of attendance and funding

Learn more about the cost of attendance from the Graduate School.

Students who maintain residency in particular Western states may qualify for Colorado in-state tuition through the Western Regional Graduate Program.

The department offers a limited number of assistantships and small scholarships.

Transfer credits and Advanced Standing

The Department provides "advanced standing” (a waiver for 3 of the 33 credits required for the MA degree) to applicants who have earned Accreditation in Publication Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) before starting the MA or during their time in the program. 

You may be able to transfer in up to 12 credits at the MA level earned at institutions outside the CU system, as long as they were not applied to a degree, subject to Grad School policies and approval from the Communication program.

Non-Degree Coursework

Learn more about becoming a non-degree graduate student. Non-degree students are typically not eligible for financial aid, student loans, most scholarships, or tuition assistance while taking coursework as a non-degree student.

Earning credits before degree admission

Students can register as "non-degree" and then later apply to the MA. If admitted, we will accept up to 9 credit hours of eligible courses taken in non-degree status for credit towards the MA.

Earning a graduate certificate as a non-degree student

Students may complete graduate certificate programs (eg. the Strategic Communication certificate) as non-degree students; those who decide to enroll in the MA program following completion of a certificate may transfer up to 12 hours of those credits to their master's degree. Additional non-degree graduate credits earned beyond those explicitly required for a graduate certificate may not be counted toward the MA degree. For students already enrolled in the master's program, the certificates can be completed as part of, or in addition to, the coursework required for the degree. Use the Application for Non-Degree Admission to become eligible to enroll in courses for a certificate program.

Readmission of Former Students

Students who were previously admitted to the Communication MA Program but who did not complete their degree can be readmitted to the program at the discretion of the department. Students who have not been registered for more than one (1) year [i.e., three (3) terms] at CU Denver should contact the Director of Graduate Studies to be considered for readmission.