Frequently Asked Questions


Can I apply online or should I use a paper application?

The Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin – Madison requires an online application. Please make note of the list of the supporting documents required to complement the standard application form.

How will I know if you got my application and it is complete?

When the Graduate School acknowledges receipt of your application, their email message will give you a secure URL to an application status page. Check this page periodically to see what documents have been received by the department.

What is the deadline to apply?

An applicant’s file must be complete by December 15 in order to be included in the initial review.

What supporting documents do you require?

See the list of required supporting documents. Your application cannot be reviewed until all of the items are uploaded in your online application.

Can I upload published articles, my senior honors thesis, or a video/DVD for my writing sample?

No to all. The best writing sample is an academic paper you wrote for a class related to the area in which you apply. It should have citations and footnotes. Videotapes, DVDs, newspaper articles and film reviews, as well as any bound works will not be used for your application file and will be discarded. You may send a portion of a longer thesis if you wish, but please select a representative sample no longer than 20 pages. Include a cover page identifying it as a chapter or section of a longer work.

Where can I find a form to use for my letters of recommendation?

All letters of recommendation are submitted electronically through the admission application. The applicant has control of when each recommender receives the request. When you list the names of your recommenders, be sure to add their email address and check the box at the bottom of the page that says “Send email request now.” They will then receive a message directly from our Graduate School with instructions for submitting the recommendation. There is a standard form included from the Graduate School for the online recommendation.

Do I send the application fee to the Department of Communication Arts or the UW-Madison Graduate School?

The application fee is paid by credit card or debit card, and is processed during the submission of your application.

Do you require a resume as part of the application?

We do not require one at this time but if you wish, there is a place to upload one in the online application.

What is your minimum GPA score for admission?

The Graduate School minimum GPA is 3.0 but we like to see at least a 3.25 in courses relevant to the area in which you apply.

Do you require the GRE?

Submission of GRE scores has been optional since 2020. You may submit them if you would like to. Whether they are submitted or not, all applications will be held in equal regard.

What is the most important part of the application?

Each student’s file is considered as a whole. There is no single thing that will either get you into our program or keep you out. Be most careful, however, when crafting your “Statement of Purpose” so we know what you want to study and why you think you can do it here. Although it cannot be said to be the most important part of your application, the “Statement of Purpose” is certainly our introduction to you as a student and as such, you will want it to be as professional and persuasive as possible to put your application in the best light.

Is a visit to the Madison campus recommended prior to application?

It is neither recommended nor discouraged, but you are welcome to visit UW-Madison any time. Some faculty may be available for a personal visit. Please email or call the Graduate Program Coordinator prior to your anticipated visit. We will do our best to ensure that your experience is informative.

Financial Aid & “Good Standing”

I will need financial assistance to continue my education. Do you have financial aid, and what form does it take?

Yes. Our principal means of financial assistance is in the form of teaching assistantships. Some students may get a fellowship or project assistantship for part of their graduate career, but the balance of the support guarantee would then be a teaching assistantship. Be sure to complete the “Funding Form” that is part of the online application and get all supporting documents to the Graduate Program office by December 15.

How do I stay “In Good Standing” if admitted?

Please see the Graduate Student Handbook.

International Students

I am an international student who requires financial assistance. Am I eligible for a teaching assistantship?

Yes, if your English is good enough by our standards. Eligibility is contingent on faculty evaluation of your English speaking skills. If you are admissible by all other criteria, a faculty member will make phone contact for an initial evaluation of your ability. Before you assume your teaching duties, we will also require that you take the UW-administered SPEAK test once you arrive on campus. You may also be subject to further interview by appropriate course faculty.

Your first semester of teaching will be probationary. If you perform your teaching responsibilities in a satisfactory manner and maintain at least a 3.50 GPA in your coursework here, support will be guaranteed at the level specified in your offer of admission.

I am an international student. Do you require the TOEFL exam? Is there a minimum score? Do you waive the TOEFL requirement if I have an advanced degree from an English-speaking institution?

An official TOEFL or IELTS result is required for all non-native English speaking applicants and our minimum score is:

  • 580 on a paper based examination
  • 237 on a computer-based exam
  • 92 on an internet-based exam
  • IELTS minimum of 7

We will waive the TOEFL requirement if you have a BA or MA from an English-speaking institution. In order to hold a teaching assistantship, you will still be subject to the terms and conditions of all non-native English speaking graduate students.