Graduate Program FAQs

  1. Is a graduate degree in Communication Studies the same as a degree in Mass Communication or Public Relations?
    No. If you are interested in mass communication or PR, please visit the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (408-924-3240).
  2. Who handles the admission? How do I find out if I'm admitted to the program?
    The graduate coordinator processes your admission when your materials arrive from Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations. Please be vigilant about reviewing your application status in CSUMentor and contact the graduate coordinator immediately with any questions. If admitted to the M.A. program, you will receive notification via CSUMentor as well as by letter. Usually this occurs in early/mid April.
  3. What if my undergraduate degree is not in communication? Do I need to take additional undergraduate courses?
    The graduate coordinator decides if you need to take additional courses, based on your undergraduate degree and previous coursework.  In general, if your degree was in the social sciences, or the arts or humanities, you will not be asked to take additional coursework. 
    Ultimately, though, this determination is made on a case by case basis.
  4. Do you require a minimum GRE score? Will a low score on the GRE automatically disqualify my application?
    No.  We evaluate the GRE score in combination with other application materials. We read each application as a whole and look for signs that an applicant will succeed in a graduate-level program of study. Your GRE score is one indicator of future academic success. 
  5. What exactly is the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)? How is it scored?
    The best source of accurate and up-to-date information on the GRE can be found at the official GRE website.
    The GRE is designed to measure verbal, quantitative, and writing and argumentation skills. The GRE general test does not test specific knowledge in any subject. The Verbal and Quantitative sections of the exam consist of multiple-choice questions. In its current form, the Verbal section tests reading comprehension and analogical reasoning skills. In its current form, the Quantitative section tests basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis. In its current form, the Analytic section consists of two short essay questions. Sample questions for all three areas are available at the GRE website
  6. What is the best way to prepare for the GRE? Should I take a class?
    We do not recommend that you take a GRE prep-class. To prepare for the exam, we recommend that you purchase a practice book. Taking practice exams will give you a feel for the unique structure of the GRE and prepare you to think under the time constraints imposed by the exam. Browse through reviews on any bookseller’s website to find a good test-prep book. 
  7. Do you offer any teaching assistantships? How can I apply?
    Yes. We have a teaching associate program and teaching associates are selected competitively. Contact Dr. Fassett,, for more information. The application deadline is in March.
  8. Do you require TOEFL scores? SJSU requires an English-language proficiency exam of all applicants who graduated from a higher education institution in a country in which the primary language is not English. For more information about that requirement, visit the GAPE website and direct any questions about TOEFL scores to that office.