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

Historically, the size of the entering class has ranged between 8-12 students per year. In our admissions process, the department considers the entire application: the letters of recommendation, academic background, writing sample, any work experience, and the fit of the candidate with the strengths of the program. The average undergraduate GPA is 3.8 (on a 4.0 point scale). Applicants must also submit a writing sample, perhaps a seminar paper, senior thesis or MA thesis. International applicants for admission to the University of Chicago must meet the English language requirements outlined here

Q: Due to circumstances outside of my control, I might not be able to complete a required section of the application. Can I still apply?

The GRE is optional for the 2023 admission cycle. Applicants for whom a recent natural disaster, global pandemic, or other major, widespread disruption makes it impossible for you to submit your application, or one or more required components – such as transcripts – by the deadline, or for a recommender to submit their recommendation on time, please complete the Hardship Request.

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

Application fee waivers are available for a variety of reasons. Please view the full list and process on the Social Sciences Division website.

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 the department 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, with additional tours at 2:30 pm on Mondays and Fridays. Tours, organized by the UChicagoGRAD, leave from the Campus Bookstore (970 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 UChicagoGRAD at gradadmissions@uchicago.edu

Q: How long should my candidate statement be?

There is a 2,500 word limit for the candidate statement. 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?

GRE scores are optional for application. However, if you chose to submit them, 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 ssd-admissions@uchicago.edu.

Q: Is it possible to get a dual degree with the the Law School?

Yes. Applicants to Political Science will be considered for six years of fellowship funding; that fellowship funding will cover only the years in which the student registers through the Division of the Social Sciences and not in the years in which the student registers in the Law School. The University of Chicago Law School has established a fellowship program to support students pursuing a joint JD/PhD at the University of Chicago, which may grant fellowship aid during the Law School years. Students complete all requirements for both degrees. The Division of the Social Sciences does not grant credit for work done toward the Law Degree. Students should consult with Law regarding their policies of granting course credit. Website: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/joint-degrees. Students may begin with either the first year of Law School or Political Science, with an agreement between both units.

Q: Does the Department of Political Science have an MA Program?

If you are interested in working toward an MA 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 MA degree along the way toward the PhD.

Q: May I pursue the PhD 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?

Students who have prior graduate work may use as many as five graduate courses completed at other universities to count towards fulfillment of the department’s course requirement. If you have written a Master's paper elsewhere, it is possible to revise it to meet the requirements of our MA 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 or Spring quarters?

No. We have only one admissions selection, and this is for fall quarter. If admitted, some students may begin in the Summer quarter for language training.

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. However, we do allow you to reapply for admission in the following year. The procedure is as follows: you should decline our offer of admission, while indicating by email to the Admissions Office your intention to reapply. The Admissions Office will provide you with specific instructions for reapplying. 

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. Admitted PhD students are invited to campus for Political Science Day in the spring. In 2023, Political Science Day will be held in late March.

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.