Admission Requirements

The ICR has one of the most renowned communications Ph.D. programs in the world. Students in the program study such topics as media economics, organization and structure; media policy; political economy of the media; new technologies and new media; telecommunications; advertising and consumer research; journalism studies; media ethics; media and communications history; social and cultural studies of science and medicine; popular culture and film; race, ethnicity and gender; democracy and the media; and global/international communications. Recent Ph.D. dissertations have addressed a wide range of topics, from intellectual property and cultural production in Africa, to the history of sound technology, Chilean television infrastructure and policy, and advertising regulation and post-Mao journalism in China.

The ICR attracts many international students from such countries as Austria, Argentina, Barbados, Canada, China, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia and Turkey. Our graduate student body has been extremely successful in terms of research grants and fellowships both on campus and nationally, and recent graduates are employed internationally in institutions such as McGill University, UC-San Diego, Rutgers, the University of New Hampshire, CUNY Queens, the University of Chicago and Texas A & M.

Today, nearly everyone recognizes the importance of knowing everything possible about communication. Information technologies, media mergers and computer marvels are daily convention. Intellectually significant research on communication is not commonplace, however. Work of enduring quality develops from comprehending the gravity and stature of the subject, and communication is among the most challenging and fascinating areas that humankind has been inspired to address.

Its proper study crosses the boundaries of established academic disciplines and draws upon a holistic intellectual heritage grounded in the liberal arts, in the traditions of social scientific research and cultural interpretation, and in a thoroughgoing spirit of critical inquiry. This conceptual pursuit of the highest order requires preeminent standards of imagination, academic rigor and historical awareness.

These are qualities the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois has nurtured in establishing its distinctive reputation. The Institute has encouraged innovative doctoral work, while striving to appreciate more deeply why the study of communication has endured through human history. These Web pages provide a glimpse into the Institute's intellectual environment, and they should be viewed only as a starting point. You can gain a richer understanding by discussing with faculty members and doctoral students how their special interests may relate to your own. We encourage you to do that, either through a phone call or a personal visit to the Illinois campus.

Contact us

Office location: 119 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana, IL
Phone: 217-333-1549

How to Apply

Any student with a bachelor's or master's degree and with a substantial background in the humanities, social sciences, or physical sciences is eligible to apply to the doctoral program. All candidates for admission must submit an application for admission along with a credentials fee, transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate courses taken and grades earned, a CV or resume, an academic statement of purpose, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation and Graduate Record Examination scores.

Our application process is now conducted through the University of Illinois Graduate College website. The Graduate College administers all applications to all doctoral programs on our campus. It also sets campus rules and protocols for admitting doctoral students. Therefore, applying students should carefully review policies set by the Graduate College for admission. (See the links below.)

International students from non-English-speaking countries are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before they come to the University. Depending on the results, they may be required to take further instruction in English after their arrival.

Students are only admitted to start the program during the fall term. All application materials for the academic year beginning Fall 2023 should be submitted by the deadline, December 9, 2022.

Important information for applicants

The admissions process in the Institute of Communications Research is competitive; that is, all applications are considered at the same time for fall admission (the Institute does not ordinarily admit students at the Spring term). The Admissions Committee members typically begin individually reviewing application by mid-December. Several University of Illinois fellowship deadlines occur in January. Therefore, applications should be received by the deadline for consideration with regard to these scholarships. The Committee strives to notify applicants by March 1 of their decisions. Since we do not have a rolling admissions process, it is very important that applicants adhere to the December application deadline.

Applications submitted electronically at the aforementioned Graduate College website are accessible by ICR as soon as the application fee has been paid. Applications for which the fee has not been paid, whether paper or electronic, are not released to ICR by the Office of Admissions and Records.

Please feel free to contact us to check the status of your application file: email or call 217-333-1549.

Financial aid

Financial aid is available in the form of assistantships, fellowships and tuition and fee waivers. Students of color underrepresented in communications research are eligible for University fellowships. Most Institute students eventually receive some kind of financial support. The application for admission includes a section to be completed if you wish to be considered for financial aid. Insofar as possible, the Institute makes financial aid and admission decisions simultaneously.

Teaching assignments are also periodically available in other University departments or programs (for example, Advertising, Journalism, Communication, English, Business and Technical Writing, the Unit for Cinema Studies, and Agricultural Communications) and in the communications program at Parkland College. Students with editing, writing, computer programming, keypunching, tutoring or other skills often can find support in other units of the University. Usually these positions must be obtained once you are on campus and can arrange interviews. A few students also find part-time employment with the local media.

Residency requirement

The doctoral degree requires a minimum of 64 hours of credit for students entering with a master’s degree, all of which must be earned as a graduate student in courses or thesis hours offered at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The credit hour requirement for students entering with a bachelor’s degree is 96.


The two campus residence halls for unmarried graduate students are Sherman and Daniels. In addition, there are University-approved residences as well as private apartments and houses in Champaign-Urbana. For married students, with or without children, the University has a number of apartments available.

Health care and insurance

For students at the University of Illinois, two fees paid at registration cover services that should meet many health care needs:

The Health Service Fee is pre-payment for services provided by McKinley Health Center and the Counseling Center. This fee is mandatory for most students and optional for several categories of part-time students.

The Student Health Insurance Fee pays for the University sickness and accident insurance program for health care received outside of McKinley Health Center. Students are required either to pay this fee or to document that they have other health insurance coverage equivalent to the University plan.

Tuition and service fee waivers that accompany teaching and research assistant appointments do not cover the Health Service Fee or the Student Health Insurance Fee.