Admissions FAQ

Graduate Program Admissions Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How competitive is admission and what are the admission criteria?

Historically, the size of the entering class has ranged between 15-20 students per year. In our admissions process, the department considers the entire application: the letters of recommendation, academic background, GRE scores, writing sample, any work experience, and the fit of the candidate with the strengths of the program. In addition to the University of Chicago's standard application form, all applicants (including international students) must submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). LSAT or GMAT scores are not acceptable. The GRE score is only one of a number of criteria that the department considers when evaluating applicants; we do not use strict score cutoffs in our evaluation. The average GRE scores for those admitted last year were 164 Verbal, 157 Quantitative, and 4.8 Analytic. Applicants must also submit a writing sample, perhaps a seminar paper, senior thesis or M.A. thesis. International applicants for admission to the University of Chicago must meet the English language requirements outlined at: https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/students/prospective/toefl.shtml. Our students also generally have an undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.6 (on a 4.0-point scale) and above.

Q: How much does it cost to apply?

The application fee is $90.00.

Q: Is it possible to obtain an application fee waiver?

Applicants who would like to request a waiver of the application fee will need to submit the Fee Waiver Request Form, with appropriate documentation by email to admissions@ssd.uchicago.edu (with the subject line "Fee Waiver") or by fax to (773) 834-3509. Fee waiver requests must be received before the admissions deadline for any application to be considered. For information, see here.

Q: What is the deadline for applying to the program?

December 15.

Q: Is an interview required?

No. However, if you are in Chicago (or plan to be) and wish to visit the department, please contact Kathy Anderson to arrange an appointment. You may also contact pertinent faculty members directly.

Q: How do I arrange for a tour of the campus?

If you are a prospective or admitted graduate student and would like to join a tour of campus, current graduate students from across the University lead tours Monday through Friday at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm. Tours, organized by the Office of Enrollment and Student Advancement, leave from Rosenwald Hall (1101 E. 58th St) and last approximately one hour. Walk-ins are welcome, but their office asks that you please register in advance using the Campus Tour form. Registrants will receive a confirmation email of their tour date and time. If you have additional questions or requests, please feel free to write to a tour coordinator at gradadmissions@uchicago.edu.

Q: How long should my personal statement be?

There is a 2,500 word limit for the statement of purpose. A candidate's statement of academic purpose should discuss your academic and career objectives in a concise, sharply focused, and well-crafted essay.

Q: What is the code number I should use in order to send my GRE or TOEFL scores to the University?

Please have your scores sent to institution code 1832 (University of Chicago).

Q: I am an international applicant. Does my undergraduate degree satisfy the minimum requirements for admission to the program?

There are university-wide policies which govern the minimum entry requirements for international applicants. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility, on the basis of your undergraduate degree, please contact the Admissions Office in the Social Sciences Dean of Students Office (773-702-8415) or by e-mail at admissions@ssd.uchicago.edu.

Q: Is it possible to get a joint degree with the Graduate School of Business, or the Law School, for example?

No. However, some students do go to Law School at some point during their time in the department. Some choose to go to Law School after the first two years in the department. Some choose to do the Law degree after the Ph.D.

Q: Does the Department of Political Science have an M.A. Program?

If you are interested in working toward an M.A. degree only, you need to apply to the Committee on International Relations or the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences. Students in the Department can and do receive the M.A. degree along the way toward the Ph.D.

Q: May I pursue the Ph.D. degree part-time?

No, the program requires a full-time commitment.

Q: Does Political Science offer a distance-learning degree?

No. The program is only available as a full-time, on-campus degree program.

Q: Does Political Science accept transfer credits from another university?

No. However, if you have written a Master's paper elsewhere, it is possible to revise it to meet the requirements of our M.A. paper. It is also possible to move through the program at a much quicker pace if your prior work has prepared you to take the exams earlier than a student coming in without prior graduate work.

Q: Is it possible to begin the program in Winter, Spring, or Summer quarters?

No. We have only one admissions selection, and this is for fall quarter.

Q: If for whatever reason it is impossible for me to matriculate in Political Science next fall, may I defer my admission?

We do not "defer" admissions to Political Science, thus there is no 100 percent guarantee that you will be admitted again the following year (or that an aid offer would remain the same). However, we do allow you to request that your file be "reactivated" the following year. The procedure is as follows: you should decline our offer of admissions for next autumn, while indicating by letter to the Dean of Students Office your intention to "reactivate" (our trigger-word) your application for the following year. This will keep your file available and current, allowing you to supplement it for the next admissions cycle with a new statement of purpose and any other new supporting materials you care to supply.

Q: How do I apply for financial aid and how are financial decisions made?

Check the "yes" box where the application asks if you wish to apply for aid. All graduate student aid is merit-based. The department makes financial aid and admission decisions at the same time.

Q: Are international students eligible for financial aid?

All graduate student aid is merit-based and international students are eligible.

Q: When will I be notified of the decision about my application?

The Office of the Dean of Students emails all official admission decisions in the first two weeks in March. In some cases, the department may informally notify applicants of decisions earlier.

Q: If I am not admitted to Political Science, will I have the chance to apply to an MA Program?

The application deadline for some of our MA programs is in early January, so it may not be possible to apply after learning the decision for your PhD application. You are welcome to apply to an MA program at the same time that you apply for a PhD program, but you will need to submit two complete applications and pay the application fee twice. In some cases, applicants who do not already hold master’s degrees in related disciplines, whom our faculty feel would be very strong students, and whom we cannot fund in our doctoral programs, will be offered the opportunity to enroll in one of our intensive master’s degree programs without a separate application process.