Application Process

Applications for Fall 2024 will be accepted starting October 2023 and will be due March 1, 2024.

How to Apply:

  1. Create an application in Cal State Apply (this is the common application for all CSUs.)
  2. Secure two people to write letters of recommendation.
  3. Submit official transcripts from all your previous institutions to SJSU's GAPE (Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations.)

NOTE: Make sure you are applying to the right program! Communication Studies is not a journalism or speech pathology program. Journalism is housed in Mass Communications; Speech Pathology is in Communication Disorders and Sciences.

Further Instructions:

1. Application

Your Cal State Apply application will require:

  • A personal statement (approximately 1000 words)
  • A writing sample (2500-5000 words)
  • Two letters of recommendation (uploaded by your recommenders to Cal State Apply)

Below are suggestions for strengthening your application materials and showing yourself to your best advantage.

Personal Statement

Do not be misled by the word “personal.” A personal statement does not necessarily require the author to reveal private thoughts or history, nor should it recount your life story. Rather, it is a well-crafted, individualized narrative that explains how an MA in Communication Studies fits into the trajectory of your life. Your statement may include reference to past experience; it should also include your qualifications, goals, and expectations for graduate study. What has prepared you for this step and what do you anticipate might come next? The more clearly you can articulate what you want from an MA and why, the better we will be able to determine if this is the right program for you.

It is important that you explain why Communication Studies is your chosen field, and what about this program in particular appeals to you. We suggest avoiding platitudes about the importance of communication or your love of communication. Also, note that being a good communicator is not necessarily the same thing as being a good communication scholar. Focus on why you are passionate about Communication Studies and what specific areas you hope to research.

Writing sample

Your writing sample can be an assignment you submitted for an undergraduate course; in fact, we recommend submitting an undergraduate paper, if it was highly regarded by your instructor. If your instructor offered feedback, we recommend revising the paper before submitting.

Writing samples will be evaluated based on a) the author’s ability to offer original arguments and/or analysis; b) the author’s ability to synthesize other research; and c) writing mechanics.

While word count is important to indicate an applicant’s readiness to compose papers of a certain length, critical thinking and writing skills are more important. In other words, we want your best writing sample, which is not necessarily your longest sample.

2. Submitting Letters of Recommendation

Letter of recommendation are submitted directly to Cal State Apply by your recommenders. Once you create your application, you will be able to enter contact information for up to three references. Once the information is entered, the individual will receive an email from Cal State Apply with instructions about how to upload their letter.

We suggest that you enter your recommenders' information into Cal State Apply as early as possible. You do not need to complete the entire application in order to do this.

When you enter your recommenders' information, you will have the option to waive your right to review their letter. Typically, schools prefer letters where the candidate has waived their right to review because they assume that confidential evaluations will be more candid. As a result, these letters may carry more weight. However, this decision is up to you, and you should make the decision that makes you feel most comfortable. Whatever you decide, it is recommended that you remain consistent-- either maintain your right to read all your letters or waive your right to read all of the letters.

The strongest recommendation letters will be those that come from college instructors who can attest to your academic abilities. This is because we know that they know what is required of graduate students, and they are attesting to the fact that you will not just survive, but thrive in the academic environment. If you do not have faculty in Communication Studies who can write you a positive letter, related fields are fine. Encourage any faculty recommenders to focus on your skills as an independent researcher, writer, and thinker. Letters from tenured faculty and lecturers will be more highly regarded than those of teaching assistants.

If you have been out of school or do not have faculty who can write you a strong letter, you may use a letter from an employer. Encourage your recommenders to speculate about your success with graduate study, focusing on their evaluation of your reading, writing, oral communication, and critical thinking skills as well as your work ethic.

Personal references (i.e., from a friend or family member) are not recommended.

3. Transcript/GPA

Transcripts from ALL institutions you have attended are required, except SJSU. If you are a transfer from a community college, you will need your community college transcripts. If you are a graduate (or current student) of SJSU, you do not need to request SJSU transcripts.

Transcripts must be official.

Most schools will deliver electronic transcripts. These should be sent directly from the institution and should be emailed to Transcripts that must be sent by mail should be sent to:

Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0017

All mailed transcripts should be sealed and unopened.

The minimum GPA is 2.5. If your GPA is below 3.5, this is something you may want to address in your personal statement. While a lower GPA does not disqualify you, it puts you at a disadvantage over applicants with higher scores.

International Schoolwork & Degrees

GAPE requires that all applicants with international coursework provide a WES (World Education Services) evaluation for any educational work taken outside of the U.S., U.S. Territories & Canada. Mark sheets/transcripts/degree certificates must be sent directly to WES for evaluation. SJSU must receive the academic record and the evaluation directly from WES.

GAPE requires an English Language Proficiency Exam (TOEFL, Academic IELTS, IELTS IndicatorAcademic PTE, Duolingo English Test) for all graduate and post-baccalaureate applicants:

  • Who come from a country where English is not the primary language, and
  • Who do not possess a baccalaureate degree from a post-secondary institution where English is the principal language of instruction.
  • For more information on test scores and submission, visit GAPE's Test Requirements website

Acceptance into the Program

Review of applications begins after the submission deadline. We work to have applications reviewed within six weeks. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application by email.

Fall 2024 admitted students must accept their admission by (1) saying ‘yes’ through Intent to Enroll and (2) paying a $200 non refundable (and non transferable) enrollment deposit by May 1st, 2024 in order to register for Fall 2024 classes. The $200 enrollment deposit will be applied towards your tuition and fees once you enroll in Fall 2024 classes. For more information visit the Mandatory Intent to Enroll webpage on the Graduate Admissions website. 

Questions about the Graduate Program? Please contact the Communication Studies Graduate Program Director, Dr. Marie Haverfield, at


For more information about general university admission guidelines as well as information for international applications, please visit SJSU's Graduate and Admissions Program Evaluations.

For any questions not answered here, please contact Graduate Program Director Marie Haverfield at