Graduate Program FAQ

We hope you find the answers to your questions here or at this site maintained by the University of Maine Graduate School. If not, please reach out to our Graduate Coordinator (  

Admissions Process


Program information

Admissions Process

How do I start an application?

You can create an application by following this link:

Do I need permission from a faculty member, and/or to identify an advisor, prior to applying to the MA or Ph.D. programs? 

No, you do not need permission to apply to our graduate programs, nor do you need to identify an advisor with whom you will work.

We do, however, strongly encourage our Ph.D. applicants to reach out to a particular faculty member whom they think would be a good fit with their research interests. It’s very helpful for us as a faculty to understand what prospective students’ interests are (in terms of research, career aspirations, or both), as we consider how they might fit into our program.

Can I apply now? What is the application deadline?

Review of applications begins on January 15, with priority for funding given to complete applications received before January 15. Applications received after May 15 are unlikely to be considered for Fall admission.

Since the program is usually full by May, if you are applying after January 15, please contact the Graduate Coordinator ( to see if any space is available. We do not consider new applications received over the summer months (June-August), as faculty are not on contract.

Can I start in the Spring semester? Or over the summer?

Admissions are for Fall start dates for students receiving departmental funding, except in unusual circumstances. Self-funded and/or part-time students may begin their program with a spring start date with permission from the graduate faculty.

Can I apply to the Ph.D. program straight from my undergrad degree?

No, we do not accept applications for the Ph.D. program from students without a master’s degree, or who will not have completed their master’s degree by the time they start the Ph.D. program.

Do I need to take the GRE?

The GRE is not required for admission. However, for those who wish to be considered for university-level scholarships or fellowships, the GRE is recommended.

Can my application fee be waived?

The Graduate School waives application fees for the following populations: (1) IRT scholars, (2) McNair scholars, (3) current and former U.S. Armed Forces members/dependents, and (4) alumni and current students from a University of Maine System institution. The Graduate School does not waive the application fee on an individual basis and, unfortunately, the Department of Communication and Journalism cannot waive this fee either.

Is the TOEFL or IELTS required?

See here for Graduate School guidance. Our department follows the Graduate School’s proficiency requirements for both admission and for awarding Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs); we do not have our own requirements. Official English proficiency examination scores are required from international applicants unless the applicant has received a degree from an English-speaking institution. Either TOEFL or IELTS is acceptable. You can find the minimum scores for these tests on the Graduate School’s website here. Applicants with iBT TOEFL scores below the graduate school’s requirements will be required to take English language training. 

Do I need an undergraduate and/or master’s degree in Communication to apply to this program?

No, we do not require that students have an undergraduate degree in Communication (or Journalism or Media Studies) to apply to our MA program. We do expect that students have had at least some exposure to social science and/or humanities approaches to conducting research in their undergraduate career. We also encourage applicants without a background in Communication to indicate clearly in their application why they are interested in a graduate degree in Communication.

Having a master’s degree in Communication (or Journalism or Media Studies) is also not required to apply to our Ph.D. program. Students coming from a non-Communication background are encouraged to think about how their previous coursework might translate into our Ph.D. curriculum, as we will accept up to 30 credits from a student’s master’s degree. Students with questions can contact the Graduate Coordinator ( for more information.

What is the minimum GPA for admission?

The department does not set a minimum GPA for admission; however, GPA is considered alongside other factors (e.g., personal statement, writing sample, letters of recommendation) when making admissions decisions.

Are official transcripts required as part of my application?

No, we accept unofficial transcripts and/or test scores. Official copies will be required upon admission.

What is an appropriate writing sample to use for my application?

The writing sample is intended to give us an idea of how you interpret, apply, and analyze academic texts, and/or how you have performed research. Acceptable writing samples include paper assignments from undergraduate or graduate courses, published or submitted papers, or a chapter of an undergraduate or master’s level thesis project. We are looking for evidence of your ability to draw upon published, scholarly work, and/or present your own original research. In general, page length should not exceed 15-20 pages. If you’re using a thesis, please consider submitting a chapter and, if necessary, providing a brief explanation to provide any background information needed to understand the excerpt.

Who should write a letter of recommendation for me, and what should this letter contain?

Ideally, the letters should be provided by people familiar with your competencies in and promise for academic work (e.g., professors or job supervisors who know about your academic background and interests). The letters should comment on your preparation for and performance in higher education contexts, as well as your research skills and experiences. Strong recommendation letters offer specific examples and an assessment for your fit for a graduate program in Communication at the University of Maine.

*Please note that applicants cannot upload reference letters; these need to be uploaded by the reference person (a link will be provided to them by the UMaine Graduate School).

Do I need to submit a separate cover letter and personal statement?

You need only submit one file. There is no separate cover letter required on top of the personal statement requested in the online application.

What is your usual acceptance rate?

We do not provide this information, as the number of students we accept in a given year is dependent on a variety of changing factors, including: the number of applicants, the amount of funding (e.g., GTA spots) in the department, as well as our faculty availability to advise new students.

When is my application reviewed by the department?

The department reviews complete applications only. Your application is considered complete when the Graduate School has received the following: application fee, three letters of recommendation, personal statement, an academic writing sample, and undergraduate transcripts (and graduate transcripts if applicable). If the application fee is not paid, the Graduate School won’t forward the application to the Department to review. Application review begins January 15.

When can I expect a decision regarding my application?

All admissions decisions are made jointly by the graduate faculty in the Department of Communication and Journalism. The faculty begin reviewing applications on January 15th, and meet throughout January and February to make decisions. While most admissions decisions are made by early March, funding decisions may take more time. We thank you in advance for your patience!     


Does the department offer research assistantships (RAs) or graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs)?

We fund all of our Ph.D. students through graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) for our introductory undergraduate courses in CMJ (e.g., public speaking, storytelling, etc.). Students are eligible to apply for a GTA position by indicating their interest on the Graduate School online application form. Students need not have prior teaching experience to be considered for a GTA. Funding is offered on a one-year basis that is renewable for up to three years (and sometimes longer) if adequate progress is made toward the degree. 

Occasionally, Ph.D. students may also be funded as RAs on research grants, but this is something that is coordinated between the student and a faculty member, and usually happens either (a) through a specific recruitment process; or (b) later in the student’s time at UMaine. 

While we are often able to fund our MA students with GTAs, we give priority to our PhD students. Funding is offered on a one-year basis that is renewable for up to two years (and sometimes longer) if adequate progress is made toward the degree. 

The GTA includes a 9-month stipend, tuition remission for full-time status, and half the cost of the university health insurance premium. Students funded on RAs may have slightly different stipends and benefits. 

International students are eligible for GTA positions. RA position eligibility may depend upon the rules associated with the particular grant-funding agency.

Is summer funding available for graduate students?

Yes, for Ph.D. students, there are competitive summer research fellowships offered by the Graduate School. Ph.D. and MA students may also apply to teach an undergraduate course in the Department of Communication and Journalism during the summer.

How much does it cost to attend UMaine?

You can find the latest cost estimate here.

Program information

How long does it take to complete the program full time?

Typically, it takes two years to complete our MA program. It is more difficult to estimate the time required for our Ph.D. program because it depends on the research context and progress, as well as the coursework needed by the student prior to beginning their dissertation research. Typically, our students obtain their Ph.D. degree within 4 years.

How big is the program?

We enroll approximately 25-30 graduate students at a given time, including about 20 full-time students and several part-time students.  Our teacher-student ratio is about 1:2. Our small size is one of the features past grads commend most about the program.

Do you admit many international students?

Yes, we regularly admit international students, and many of them work as GTAs in the department. Our current cohort has students from Brazil, Ghana, Russia, China, and Sri Lanka, for example.

Is there housing on campus?

Yes, graduate student housing on campus is available with more information here. However, we recommend off-campus housing with a roommate as the most economical and productive living arrangement for graduate students.


Contact our Graduate Coordinator if you have more questions about our graduate program:

Dr. Laura Rickard
Department of Communication and Journalism
5724 Dunn Hall, Room 430
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469


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