An undergraduate major in Political Science is preferred but not required. Applicants must demonstrate both past performance of exceptional quality in their academic work and promise of sustained excellence in the future.

At the time of application, we ask that application forms, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, Graduate Record Examination General Test results, a statement of purpose, and a sample of scholarly work (a term paper) be submitted. International students must show evidence of English proficiency by submitting their official TOEFL iBT scores or their IELTS scores. For further explanation on TOEFL or IELTS scores, please go to the GSAS International Applicants webpage. The application deadline for the Ph.D. Program is January 2. The application deadline for the M.A. program is February 1. 


Learn more about the application process.

We are usually able to provide financial support to our doctoral candidates for a period of four or five years, although the department's initial commitment typically is only for two years, with additional years of funding contingent on the student's performance. Our regular grants carry a stipend and full tuition remission. In return, we require 12 to 20 hours per week of research assistance to members of the faculty or teaching assistance in undergraduate courses.

Each year the department also awards the Thomas P. O'Neill Fellowship to a student in American Politics. This fellowship carries a stipend in addition to full tuition remission. The grant entails some assistance to the O'Neill Professor or other activity related to the O'Neill program. This endowed chair was established in 1981 to honor the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. '36.

The O'Neill Professor teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, and occupants have come from both the academy and government service. O'Neill chairholders have included Professor Samuel H. Beer, Department of Government Emeritus at Harvard University; Jody Powell, White House Press Secretary in the Carter Administration; Eleanor Holmes Norton, former Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and William Schneider, one of the nation's most widely respected election analysts, who taught courses on voting, public opinion, and the American party system. R. Shep Melnick is the current Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics.

Masters candidates are not normally funded through the department, but can apply for graduate financial aid through the University.