Graduate FAQ

1) How do I apply to the School of Communication’s graduate programs? All information is available on our web site. Application to our program is open October 1 to January 15 each year. To apply online: https://go.sfu.ca/paprd/gradapplication.html

2) What is the deadline for application?

The deadline for application to the graduate programs in the School of Communication is JANUARY 15th for September admission.  .

3) What are the requirements for admissions at both MA and PhD levels?

For admission to the MA program, the applicant should normally have completed or be near completion of a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline at a recognized university or college, and hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Since Communication is an interdisciplinary programme, disciplinary considerations are generally considered as secondary to the proposed project, and to availability of adequate supervision.

For admission to the PhD program, the applicant is expected to have or be near the completion of a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline from a recognized university, hold a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and provide evidence of a capability of doing advanced graduate level research. As with the Masters students, the emphasis is less on the specific discipline one carries the degree in, and more on the relevance of the proposed work to the field of communication.

There is no language requirement for entry into either of the graduate programs in the School of Communication. Simon Fraser University is an English language university. Students for whom English is a second language must provide evidence (TOEFL-Scores) of proficiency in the language Note department code 083. If you have a degree from a recognized english speaking college or university you may apply to have this requirement waived by completing an English-requisite waiver.

Detailed information on program requirements is available from Jason Congdon, Graduate Program Coordinator (gradcmns@sfu.ca)

4) What is the adjudication process for admissions?

The adjudication committee for graduate applications consists of three faculty members, three graduate students, plus the Graduate Chair. The committee weighs applications on the basis of proposed course of work, proof of capability in working at the graduate level (writing samples), grades and the strength of letters of recommendation. A crucial qualification for admission is the prospective student’s “fit” with the faculty support available through the School. It is important that you take into consideration, when outlining your proposed program of study, the areas of general interest of our faculty. Because admission is contingent upon the School’s ability to provide adequate supervision for the proposed work, you are encouraged to contact members of the faculty whom you consider as potential supervisors to ensure their interest and availability should your application be successful. You can find the faculty contact list in the Menu, under the People section of the website.


5) What areas or fields of interest are covered by the School of Communication?

The School of Communication offers an array of areas of graduate study, including science and technology studies; technology policy; cultural studies; applied communication (video and sound production, publishing); political economy, semiotic and critical discourse approaches to culture and society; media analysis; popular culture; and the history and theory of communication. Courses are offered year round. In addition, special topics seminars and, directed studies courses are also offered.

6) What are the basic program requirements for MAs and PhDs?

The Masters program in Communication offers three different options, one thesis based, another project based, and the third based on the submission of two extended essays.

The thesis option requires students to take four graduate level courses, one of which must be in the general area of communication theory, and another of which must be a research methodology course. The two other courses can be taken at the students discretion, though at least one of these must be taken within the School. No more than one may be taken with the same instructor, except by permission of the Graduate Studies Committee. The thesis is to be written following the successful completion of the coursework, and is subject to oral examination.

The project and extended essay options bear the same course requirements as the thesis option. The project is to be an original work which, because of content or method does not conform to the usual definition of a thesis. This could be a project of an applied nature completed through one of the School of Communications studio or lab facilities. It is also subject to oral defense and is generally to be accompanied by a written component, of a moderate length (standard essay length for a graduate course).

The extended essays option requires the submission of two longer research papers, followed by an oral defense. Procedures used in the supervision and examination of extended essays are the same as those used for theses.

There are three phases of the program requirements for PhD students: coursework, comprehensive examinations, and dissertation.

The doctoral student is required to take 5 graduate level courses in completion of the coursework phase. The Graduate Studies Committee may require additional courses depending upon the student’s scholarly background and the nature of the dissertation project. These courses are taken before the entry into the comprehensive examination phase, and should include two courses on history and theory of communication, and one course on research design and methodology. Two other courses may be taken from other course areas, as well as in theoretical or methodological areas, should the student desire it. No more than one of the two remaining courses may be taken outside of the School.

Upon successful completion of the coursework, doctoral students will proceed to the comprehensive exam phase. The student is asked, in conjunction with three area supervisors (who do not have to constitute the final dissertation committee), to outline two broad areas of study, supply position papers delineating the areas, and attach bibliographies of 30-35 books, articles and chapters. These definitions should be submitted for the approval of the individual exam supervisors, and approved also by the student’s senior supervisor. The exams are to be written over the course of seven days, at a time to be scheduled by the student and their supervisors. The exams consist of a number of questions from each area, for which the student will be asked to supply answers for two in each of the areas under examination. The written portion of the exams is to be followed by an oral examination, upon completion of which, the student will pass on to the candidacy, and begin the dissertation phase of the program.

Dissertation projects are expected to be original contributions to the candidate’s area of research, and are open to oral examination upon completion. 


7) What is the tuition amount for full-time graduate study?

For Full-time tuition fee’s applicable to both domestic/international students please check http://www.reg.sfu.ca/fees/


8) What forms of funding are available through the School of Communication and Simon Fraser University?

The School of Communication offers graduate funding in several forms. For Masters and PhD students, these take the forms of Teaching Assistantships, Tutor Markerships, and Graduate Fellowships, all adjudicated at the departmental level. Tutor Marker positions are offered through communication courses offered through and administered by the Department of Distance Education. Several Private Scholarships are also available through the School as well as through the Faculty of Applied Science. Some funding in the form of Research Assistantships is also available.

All graduate students are eligible to apply for one  Graduate Fellowship during the course of their study. These awards are research grants usually tendered in the early thesis writing stage (for MA students) and during the first semester of the comprehensives (for PhDs), though their tenure is flexible.

Doctoral candidates are also eligible for sessional teaching appointments through the School of Communication.

Masters Students are generally allotted four out of six semesters of funding in the form of TAships and Tutor Marker positions. For PhDs, the allotment is eight semesters out of nine.

The University offers a number of graduate awards. More information on these can be found at the Faculty of Graduate Studies: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/awards.html

For more information on avenues of funding through the School of Communication, view our Funding page or contact Jason Congdon (gradcmns@sfu.ca).


9) Is there a body of student governance for the School of Communication?

The School of Communication Graduate Caucus is the representative graduate student body. It comprises the graduate students as a whole, and is represented on departmental committees by its three annually elected representatives. Caucus meetings are generally held once a month throughout the year, and serve as forums to raise graduate student issues, stay informed about what is going on within the School at various levels, and also as a venue for getting involved in school planning, policy and activity. Representatives from the Caucus sit on the Graduate Studies Committee, the Admissions Committee, the Faculty Committee, and others.

There are also numerous opportunities for graduate students to get involved in university committees at a number of different levels as well as at various levels of student governance and representation.

10) Is graduate student housing available?

Please see http://students.sfu.ca/residences/


11) Are there Child Care facilities on Campus?

Please see http://www.sfu.ca/childcare-society/


12) Are there resources for International Students?

Please see http://www.sfu.ca/international/

13) When I apply to the program how will I be informed of an offer?

When you apply on-line (see FAQ 1) you will receive an application no. which you can use to log on and review your status. Please note, all submissions become the property of the School of Communication. If you wish to have research papers, videos, etc. returned to you please make a separate request.