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Graduate Application Information

Application Deadlines

The School of Communication operates on a rolling admissions basis for our masters programs. For best consideration, however, we recommend that you complete your application (including submission of all supplemental documents) by the priority deadlines. Admissions decisions will be sent via e-mail within two weeks of completion of your admissions file.

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Please contact if you were previously enrolled in a graduate degree program at SOC but did not graduate and would like to apply for readmission.

If you are an international applicant who will be seeking an F-1 or J-1 visa, your application must be completed by the priority deadline.

October 15
Priority admission and merit award consideration for spring semester. (available for Political Communication and Game Design only).
December 15
PhD in Communication does not operate on rolling admissions. All applications must be completed by December 15.
February 1
Priority admission and merit award consideration for summer and fall.
June 1
Final admission deadline for summer and fall.

Meet with an Advisor

Meet with one of our admissions advisors in person to discuss your academic goals.

Advisors' Office Hours
Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Graduate Academic Services Office Hours
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Schedule an Appointment

Admission Requirements

Your application demonstrates your dedication toward a career in your chosen field. All of its component parts should reflect your serious commitment to graduate study.

Once you upload ALL required documents, your application will be complete and sent to the faculty for review. Do not upload a document that is not your final version. Once the file is complete and sent to faculty for review, we cannot replace any updated materials.


  1. Application form and $55.00 non-refundable application fee
  2. Official transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions are required. You must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university prior to the start of your graduate study.
  3. Resume
  4. Admissions essay. In about 1,000 words, we ask that you describe your motivation for seeking graduate study in your chosen program at the School of Communication. Please address the following questions:

    What specific personal, academic and/or professional experiences will contribute to your success in the program?

    How do you envision your degree will further enhance your academic and/or professional goals?
  5. Two letters of recommendation. Letters should be from academic or professional persons who can attest to your ability to successfully perform in a graduate program or qualify for the work you have performed. Instructions on how to request letters of recommendation will appear in the online application after you submit your application form online.
  6. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional, not required, except for applicants to the PhD in Communication.
  7. Portfolio (optional). If you do have previous academic or professional experience in a communication or media field, submitting samples of your work will make your application stronger. The best way to submit your portfolio will be to provide a link to an external website or to create a document with links to your work online and upload it as a supplemental item in the online application system. Make sure to submit your portfolio BEFORE the application is complete and all other supporting documents have been received by the Admissions office. The Admissions Committee is unable to review portfolios after the application is complete.
  8. Interview. An interview is not required, but may be may be requested by the Admissions Committee.
  9. English-language proficiency.


In addition to the admissions requirements, the following additional documents/tests are required:

Doctoral applicants:

  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for PhD in Communication. Scores should be sent to our CEEB code number: 5007. Test scores may not be more than five years old. For further information on the GRE or to request a registration form, please contact the Educational Testing Service.
  • Copy of your master's thesis (or another example of substantial research).

American University Undergraduate Students

Students in any undergraduate major at AU are eligible for consideration; an undergraduate degree in communication is not required.

Current American University undergraduate students are eligible to apply for admission to a combined Bachelor's/Master's program in SOC during the second semester of their junior year (after completing 75 credits, but before they have completed 90 credits),

Students are admitted formally to the Master's program only after all undergraduate requirements have been met. If admitted, candidates may use up to (6) six approved credit hours at the 500 level or above to satisfy both undergraduate and graduate degree program requirements. The Bachelor's/Master's program requires continuous enrollment. Students admitted to the program may not defer enrollment.

To apply:

1. Decide which master's program you are interested in pursuing. Ask your faculty member(s) for recommendations and suggestions. Meet with an SOC graduate admissions advisor to learn about the graduate programs at SOC and find out which faculty member you should meet. Then make an appointment with your SOC undergraduate academic advisor to learn about the courses appropriate for the Bachelor's/Master's program.

2. Apply to your chosen master's program.

  • When selecting your Academic Program of Interest, select the "Bachelor's/Master's" program option.
  • For "Anticipated Entry Term," select the semester immediately after you complete your bachelor's degree. For instance, if you are graduating in May 2020, select the next available term. Some programs start in Summer, others in Fall.

3. Submit all of the required supplemental items listed above, in addition to the Bachelor's/Master's Course Planning Sheet

If you are admitted into the Bachelor's/Master's program, you will work with your SOC undergraduate academic advisor and the Graduate Program Director to determine which two classes will count toward both your bachelor's degree and master's degree.

For more information on approved graduate coursework and pre-admissions advising, please contact the SOC Graduate Office at 202-885-2040.

Requirements for international applicants

  1. F1 or J1 Visa Status. When you are completing your application form, you will be asked if you wish to apply for a F1 or J1 visa. More information is on the ISSS website.
  2. Official Transcripts. If you attended a college or university outside the U.S., you will need to submit a course-by-course evaluation of transcripts by World Education Services or Educational Credential Evaluators. You do not need to compute your GPA on your application.
  3. English Language Requirement. Proof of English Proficiency is required from international applicants whose native language is not English and who do not hold a bachelor's or master's degree from a U.S. accredited college/institution.

    Waiver of the English Language Requirement:

    An applicant has earned a bachelor's degree or a graduate degree in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada (except Quebec), Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland.

    If you do not meet these conditions, you must submit scores from one of the following two tests:

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)/ You must achieve a required score of at least 100 on the Internet-based test (IBT). Combined scores will not be accepted. The TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and the ETS code for the School of Communication is 5007. The test cannot be more than two years old. 
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS). You must achieve a minimum score of a 7.0 or higher; combined scores will not be accepted. The test cannot be more than two years old. 

    For more information, visit the International Student and Scholar Services website.

    Applicants who are not able to meet the English language proficiency are encouraged to consider the Master's Accelerator Program (MAP) at American University. Currently, the MA in Game Design is the only program that transitions from the MAP program. While in MAP, students may earn up to 9 credits towards their graduate degree.

  4. Interview via Skype. After your file is complete (application form has been submitted along with all supporting documents and the $55 application fee paid), you will be invited to complete an interview with the School of Communication Graduate Admissions office via Skype.
  5. Financial Requirements: If requesting a Visa, refer to ISSS. Review the Cost Guide prepared by ISSS.

What to Expect after you are Admitted:

  • Immigration Process: Once the applicant is admitted and paid the $250 enrollment deposit, individuals seeking a student visa (F-1 or J-1) are required to submit specific documents to receive your I-20 form. Enrollment deposits must be submitted by November 15 for Spring semester and June 1 for Summer/Fall. Detailed instructions are available on the ISSS website.
  • International Graduate Student Orientation: Orientation covers important immigration, employment, and cross-cultural topics, as well as providing academic information targeted to all international students entering American University.

Frequently Asked Questions

The School of Communication offers application fee waivers for the following groups through the application system: American University students, alumni, or staff; AmeriCorps participants, City Year participants; Teach for America participants; McNair Scholars; Peace Corps participants; and first-generation college students. Other applicants who wish to request an application fee waiver are encouraged to send a request to the School of Communication Graduate Admissions office at with relevant information and reasons for your request.

The preferred method to submit your supplemental items is online through the application system. All documents must be in PDF format. If you are not able to upload supplemental items through the application system, you may submit items using the following methods:


US Postal Mail:
School of Communication Graduate Admissions
Office of Enrollment
American University
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016-8001

SOC Graduate Admissions
Office of Enrollment
4801 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016-8001

You may defer your admission for up to one year for all programs except the PhD in Communication. To defer your application, you are required to pay the $250 seat deposit. After you have paid your deposit, contact SOC’s Graduate Academic Services Office at to request your deferment. Please note that merit awards will not be deferred. You will be reviewed again for the new year/term but we can not guarantee that you will receive the same amount of funding.

Students are required to pay a $250 seat deposit to secure their seat in the program. The seat deposit is a non-refundable payment that is credited towards your tuition.

You must wait one year to reapply to the same program. 

Students who have stopped attending classes or who have been dismissed from AU and wish to return and complete their degree, must reapply. Applications for re-admission are subject to current admissions standards; even if you were previously offered admission, subsequent offers of admission are not guaranteed.

Below are the steps to complete this process:

  1. Email to request to have your previous coursework evaluated to determine if any courses are eligible to count towards your degree. Regulations regarding readmission, evaluation of coursework and time to degree limits are provided online via the Provost office: 2.8 Readmissions of Students with Previous AU Graduate Records, 3.0 Evaluation of Academic Performance, and 5.8 Time Limits to Degree.
  2. If you choose to re-apply, you must complete a new application.
  3. When completing your application, in the Academic Information tab, under the “Previous Enrollment” section, mark “yes” to the following questions:
    1. Have you previously applied for admission to American University?
    2. Have you previously enrolled at American University?
  4. After you pay the $55 non-refundable application fee and submit your application, you must upload the following supplemental items:
    1. Admissions Essay (required)
      1.  In about 1,000 words, please describe why you wish to return to AU to complete your degree. Also, please address how your circumstances have changed which will allow you to successfully complete your program.
    2. Updated Resume (required)
    3. Letters of Recommendation
      1. If you have not been enrolled in your program for more than 2 years, you are required to submit two (2) new letters of recommendations. Please refer to the Admissions requirements #5 for more details.
    4. Transcripts
      1. Submit unofficial AU transcripts (required)
      2.  SOC will transfer your transcripts from other institutions from your previous application.

Once all supplemental items have been received, we will mark your application complete and send it to the Admissions Committee for review. In addition to SOC’s Admissions Committee, the Office of Graduate Research and Services may review your application for re-admission.