Ph.D. Program: Admissions

Admissions decisions are based on several criteria. One of the most important parts of the application is the statement of purpose and research interests. We encourage you to be as specific as possible in outlining your scholarly interests and career goals and their fit with our program and faculty. We also consider standard criteria like GRE scores, grade-point averages and letters of recommendation.

Minimum criteria for admission include:

  • A recognized undergraduate degree and a master’s degree or J.D. degree
  • An undergraduate grade-point average of “B” or better (3.0 GPA on 4.0 scale)
  • For international applicants, a minimum score of 105 on the internet-based TOEFL exam or 7.5 on the IELTS exam
  • Minimum GRE scores in the 55th percentile on the verbal portion, in the 50th percentile on the quantitative portion and 4.5 on the analytical writing portion (Applicants to the J.D./M.A. dual-degree program in media and communication law may submit LSAT scores instead of GRE scores.)
Graduate School minimum MJ-school minimum Admitted-student average, 2016
# % # % # %
Verbal reasoning 151 50 152 55 157 74
Quantitative reasoning 153 50 153 50 154 54
Analytical writing 3.5 - 4.5 - 4.3 72

The following materials are required with your application:

  • Unofficial undergraduate and master's or J.D. transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation, submitted by recommenders
  • Resume/CV
  • Writing sample(s)
  • Standardized-test scores, self-reported in application and sent by testing organization

    *ETS institution code: 5816

Throughout the entire admissions process, we balance the need to admit promising individuals who are able to state their research interests, career goals and learning objectives with the goal of enrolling a diverse and multidisciplinary student cohort. To this end, GRE and GPA minimums are treated solely as guides, and meeting these criteria is not a guarantee of admission.

After Admission

Incoming graduate students attend orientation one week before classes begin. We’ll provide information about orientation and other onboarding during mid-summer. At orientation, students are assigned a temporary faculty adviser, who helps with course selection and registration, among other tasks.

The Application Process

The school admits students once annually, to begin the program in the fall semester. Visit the UNC Graduate School website to apply online.

  • Application opens

    🕐  Early August

  • Application deadline

    🕐  Early December

  • Faculty review of applications (two reviewers within each academic specialization)

    🕐  December and January

  • Finalists selected and invited to interview on campus (U.S. residents*)

    🕐  End of January

    *International student finalists will be interviewed via video conference.
  • On-campus* interviews conducted (travel and accommodations subsidized)

    🕐  Mid-February

    *International student finalists will be interviewed via video conference.
  • Admission and funding decisions made shortly after campus visits

    🕐  Mid-February

  • Deadline to accept offer of admission and submit a $250 non-refundable deposit. Failure to respond within stated timeframe may result in the withdrawal of the offer of admission.

    🕐  Mid-April (or at least three weeks after the offer of admission)