Graduate Admissions

We are now accepting admissions for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The online application will open by the end of the month of July.

Ph.D. Program in Political Science

Introductory Letter From The Political Science Chair, John Wilkerson


Department Web Site:

On-line Application Web site:

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program at the Department of Political Science of the University of Washington. 

We urge you to think carefully about the “fit” between your interests and our graduate program:

  • We seek applicants who intend to pursue that PhD and who will benefit from and contribute to our graduate program.
  • Our focus at the graduate level is on preparation for academic research and teaching. We do not offer a terminal MA degree. 
  • We encourage applications from prospective students who have a wide diversity of personal backgrounds and intellectual experiences.
  • As you can see from examining the materials on our website, graduate students have flexibility in constructing their degree emphases, have opportunities to gain teaching experience, and can be heavily involved in research and publishing with faculty mentors.
  • I encourage you to look closely at our disciplinary strengths, the activities of the various research centers, and our graduate placement record.

You will find important details about the application process within the graduate admission section of our website

  • Among other factors, our admissions committee places strong emphasis on Statements of Purpose that explain the “fit” of each applicant with our graduate program. I encourage you to use the required statement of purpose to provide us with information concerning your intellectual interests, prospective areas of specialized study, research experience, methodological skills, and initial plans for study in our graduate program.
  • The committee is also interested in students who communicate their individual histories through a Personal Statement. Such a narrative statement can include family background and influences on your intellectual development, including exceptional educational opportunities you benefitted from or disadvantages you may have overcome.
  • Our application process requires that you take responsibility for submission of all application materials. Applications must be completed on-line and required documents uploaded to the Graduate School admission website (URL above) no later than 5pm PST, December 15th
  • Scores for the GRE, TOEFL or other English proficiency exams (if required) must be sent directly by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or other testing agency to the University of Washington. It is your responsibility to confirm that we have received your scores. 
  • Due to the volume of applications received, incomplete or late applications will not be reviewed.

For further information or assistance with the completion of your application, contact the department’s Graduate Program Assistant, at (206) 543-1898 or via email at


John Wilkerson, Chair

Profile of Applicants Who Are Admitted

The Political Science Department at the University of Washington seeks graduate students who are both motivated and able to succeed in political science study and research. Students with substantial preparation in political science or another social science are most likely to meet this standard, although the department has admitted applicants from other disciplines who can demonstrate, through relevant interests and experience, the abilities necessary for advanced work in political science. The fit between applicants' interests and the research expertise of our faculty is also an important consideration during the admissions process. Although there are no specific course prerequisites for our graduate program, applicants must have completed at least a bachelor's degree.

Degree Offered

The department offers the Ph.D. degree. All entering students, with or without an MA/MS degree, will earn a UW MA as partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. degree requirements. We do not offer a separate terminal master's degree.

SNAPSHOT of the Political Science Department

● Average time to degree: 5.5-7.5 years

● Years of guaranteed funding: 5

● We do not offer a terminal master's program; all students admitted for PhD study only.

● UW runs on the quarter system, not semesters

Admission Procedures

Deadline is Monday, December 15th – We admit for autumn quarter only.

The Political Science Department’s on-line application for the Ph.D. degree program is accessed through the UW Graduate School application site:

  • Review the Graduate School information for applying on-line, submission of required test scores, and other Graduate School requirements. 
  • Review the detailed outline of Political Science Department requirements below. All materials are collected on-line through the Graduate School application. We are unable to accept paper copies. Input information, upload all documents and pay the application fee.

To determine academic qualifications, fit with our program, and overall competitiveness, the Political Science Department Admissions Committee reviews all required materials submitted for the application. When evaluating the required materials (listed below), the Committee looks for specific qualities.

Upload a Statement of Purpose: A 300-500 word essay (500KB size limit) that addresses:

    • Academic background, including any research experience and methodological skills.
    • Plans and goals for study, including intellectual interests and areas of specialization.
    • Why you are interested in studying at the University of Washington. How admission to this particular program will help you realize your goals. How the academic interests of our faculty coincide with your own.

Optional – Upload an additional statement: Personal history, family background and influences on your intellectual development including opportunities or disadvantages that you may have overcome (see Diversity information below). Two page limit (500KB size limit).

Upload a Writing Sample: A relatively short paper (not to exceed 40 pages) or excerpts from a larger work (e.g., honors thesis) demonstrating your ability to write critically and analytically. Writing samples that are merely descriptive will not stand out. Note that writing samples must be written in English (do not upload manuscripts written in another language with abstracts in English). 500KB size limit.

Upload a Resume or CV: A brief description of your professional experience, including accomplishments and awards. 500KB size limit.

Letters of Recommendation: The most effective letters of recommendation will come from faculty who can comment in detail on your intellectual ability and potential for success as a graduate student and scholar. We require three letters, and you may if you wish, include a fourth letter for consideration by the committee.

Designate recommenders in the on-line program. Those you designate are notified by the Graduate School application system and they then submit their letters directly, and on-line, to the Department of Political Science. Full directions are available through the Graduate School on-line application process,

Note – We cannot accept emailed recommendations or hard-copy letters that are not processed through the Graduate School Application site for Political Science.

Transcripts: GPA and academic preparation are reviewed based on uploaded unofficial transcripts. Please submit an unofficial transcript for each degree earned (AA, Undergraduate or Graduate degree) and upload a transcript showing any graduate level work though no degree was awarded. We evaluate course performance within the context of the curriculum, school, and time period in which it was taken. We will take into account improvement over one's academic career and performance in graduate course work. 1 MB size limit.

Note: If the Admissions Committee wishes to review official transcripts, we reserve the right to request official copies from each applicant accepting an offer of admission.

Test Scores:
GRE: The GRE General Test scores provide the Committee with an additional gauge of competitiveness for the specific abilities that are measured by the test. While having the highest GRE scores you are capable of achieving is always desirable, submitting other application materials that are deemed to be of exceptional quality will help counterbalance lower scores. Complete the exam in time for the scores to reach the university by our deadline (December 15th) or very soon after this date.

Note – that GRE scores are sent directly to the university by the Educational Testing Service (ETS)  – Photocopied score reports are unacceptable. Our Institution code is 4854, and our Department code is 1902. The committee will not review scores that are more than five (5) years old. The Political Science test is not required.

English Proficiency Scores are required for applicants whose native language is not English. To receive an offer of admission and an offer of funding from the Political Science Department, the applicant must present one of these minimum scores:

A score of 7.0 the IELTS.

A score of 92 on the TOEFL iBT.

In addition the applicant must present one of these minimum scores in the Speaking portion of these exams:

A score of 7.0 on the speaking portion of the IELTS.

A score of 26 on the speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT.

The Political Science Department requirements surpass those of the Graduate School. Note: If you are not a native speaker we require the minimum speak scores listed in Memo #15 even if you have earned a BA degree in the U.S. 

International students – Please review additional information on the Graduate School website regarding Graduate School requirements for admission:

UW Graduate School International Applicant Information

There is no separate application for Teaching Assistant positions. All applications are considered for funding.

Though we require these minimum scores for consideration for admission, most international applicants who are admitted to our graduate program have significantly higher scores.

Note that TOEFL scores and other English proficiency test scores must be sent directly to the university by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or other agencies. Photocopied score reports are unacceptable. For TOEFL, our Institution code is 4854, and our Department code is 89.

Official scores should be sent to the university by the deadline (December 15th) or very soon after. Only completed applications will be reviewed.

International students – Please review additional information on the Graduate School website regarding Graduate School requirements for admission.


The Political Science Department seeks to provide funding to as many enrolled students as possible with funds provided through fellowships, and teaching and research assistantships. There is no application for departmental funding. All applicants who are admitted to the Political Science graduate program are considered for financial aid awards.

We also encourage applicants to pursue outside funding. Contact the Financial Aid Office at (206) 543-6101 or on-line for information about applying for federal financial aid. Note that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has strict Winter deadlines. Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) forms are available from the Jackson School of International Studies, via their website

For more information on funding for new students and funding beyond the first year, please see: Graduate Funding. 

Application Deadline

Applications must be complete and uploaded by 5:00pm Pacific time Monday, December 15th to meet the application deadline for autumn admission (autumn quarter begins in late September of the following year). We do not admit new students for any other quarters.

Due to the volume of applications received, incomplete or late applications will not be considered. Admission reviews are conducted from January to mid-February. You will be notified when a final decision has been reached on your application which is usually by the beginning of March. You will be notified by email so include an accurate email address in your application and update as necessary. If you have questions please contact the Graduate Program Assistant, at

Commitment to Diversity

The populations of Seattle in particular, and the State of Washington in general, are growing both in number and in ethnic diversity. The University of Washington is committed to serving these communities by increasing the enrollment of students from ethnic minority groups that have been historically underrepresented in graduate programs. In support of this goal, the Political Science Department strongly believes that a diverse graduate student community strengthens our program, benefiting both faculty and students in myriad ways and allowing for the articulation and exploration of multiple and often marginalized perspectives on local, national, and global politics.

Over the past 15 years, we have undertaken major hiring and graduate recruitment initiatives aimed at improving diversity. In 2004, we made a collective decision to build faculty in the field of Race and Ethnicity Politics (REP). This commitment recognized the importance of the field, but we also hoped that it would lead to more faculty from underrepresented groups. Within a few years, we developed one of the strongest REP groups in the United States. This in turn led to the establishment of WISER, a research center dedicated to the exploration of political inequality:

WISER – Washington Institute for the study of Inequality and Race:

Optional statement for admissions: As varied cultural experiences and education or economic backgrounds contribute to the intellectual and social enrichment of the program, you are invited to write an additional statement about your personal history. As noted above in the list of required documents, this optional statement might include family background and influences on your intellectual development. These could include exceptional or lacking cultural and educational opportunities, social and economic disadvantages that you may have had to overcome, and the ways in which these experiences affected you (See comments above regarding submission of uploaded documents for instructions about this optional statement).


In 2015, the graduate students established the Equality Initiative. The group developed into the Equality Initiative in Political Science (EIPS) and is committed to supporting graduate students of all backgrounds and identities while also foregrounding the voices of marginalized students. They seek to work with the department to be more inclusive.

Recent EIPS Initiatives:

● EIPS held an event centered on teaching during election times, where experienced TAs shared tips, resources, and ideas for teaching during contentious political times.

● EIPS conducted a mental health survey to gauge how the pandemic was affecting graduate students and to gather information on how the department and EIPS could provide support.

● Because of an inability to gather in person, EIPS held several virtual socials during the pandemic to bring students together and promote solidarity.

● EIPS holds brown bag lunch events for graduate students to discuss issues like classism and racism in academia.

● EIPS has held events in the past to discuss how to navigate aspects of the profession that first-generation students may not be familiar with, including the job market, conferences, and developing a professional network.


Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP ), a division of The University of Washington Graduate School, is committed to serving the needs of students of color and those from other under-represented groups, while simultaneously providing opportunities for all students to learn and develop through experiences rich in cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity. Please visit their website: http://www.grad.wa

Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP), a division of The University of Washington Graduate School, is committed to serving the needs of students of color and those from other underrepresented groups, while simultaneously providing opportunities for all students to learn and develop through experiences rich in cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity. Please visit their website:

Admission Information

Minimum Scores and GPA:
We do not set minimum scores but most applicants who are admitted to the program have combined verbal and quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) substantially higher than 315 and a cumulative college grade point average greater than 3.4 (B+). As noted above, the Admissions Committee examines the complete set of materials for each applicant in order to identify promising individuals whose scores or grades might not fully represent their potential.
The Admissions Committee admits the applicants who it believes, on balance, reflect the best or strongest credentials across these criteria. No formulas are applied.

Tuition and Fees

The tuition information for the academic year (autumn, winter, and spring quarters), can be found at this website: . For both resident and non-resident students our program is in Graduate Tier 1 category.  It is subject to change without notice.