Most Commonly Asked Questions
Q. Where can I get application materials?
A. Applications are available from the Graduate School website. You must apply online.
Q. Where can I get a copy of the Graduate School Announcement (catalog)?
A. The Graduate School no longer publishes a Graduate Announcement catalog since information can be obtained by each department's website. However, for a complete list of degree granting departments and programs, please see the Graduate School's list of Fields of Study.
Q. Can I get a fee waiver for the application?
A. The admission page of the Graduate School's Web site contains information about requesting a fee waiver for the application for graduate admissions.
Q. Where can I get information on financial assistance?
A. The admission page of the Graduate School's Web site contains information on financial assistance and other general information, instructions, and forms needed for the admission process.
Q. What financial support is available for graduate students in Politics?
A. Every admitted graduate student in Politics receives a university fellowship that provides five years of tuition, required fees, and a generous twelve-month living stipend. Students may supplement or substitute that support with paid research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or competitive fellowships.
Q. What is the application deadline?
A . The application deadline for all applicants is December 15. This deadline is for the receipt of applications and all supporting materials. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your materials arrive on time.
Q. Will the department consider incomplete applications?
A. This question is of particular importance for those who have missed the last opportunity to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Simply put: The GRE is required of all applicants. Applicants who do not submit GRE scores cannot be considered. Applicants missing other materials will still have their applications evaluated, though incomplete applications are at a severe disadvantage. All application materials must be received before a final offer of admission can be extended.
Q. Do I really have to take the TOEFL?
A. The admission page of the Graduate School's Web site contains the current policies regarding the TOEFL for prospective students for whom English is not their native language. Those policies are set and administered by the Graduate School, not the department.
Q. Do I really have to take the GRE?
A. Yes. Every applicant is required to submit GRE scores as part of the application. There are no exceptions. It does not matter if you are currently in a graduate program that did not require the GRE or if taking the GRE is inconvenient to you given your location and schedule. Applications will not be considered without a GRE score, and offers of admission will not be extended with GRE scores having been received.
Q. Do I need a minimum score to get in to Princeton? Are my grades good enough to get in?
A. The Ph.D. program in Politics at Princeton is highly competitive. We look to admit students who both hold exceptional promise for a future academic career and have a good fit with the current strengths and contours of our program. Every element in the application is relevant to making those admissions decisions, and it entirely possible for a weakness (or apparent weakness) in one part of the application to be overcome in another part of the application. We do not impose any artificial cut-offs on scores or grades as we look for students who seem capable and competitive of doing political science research at the highest levels.
In recent years, admitted students have typically had 160 or above on the quantitative and verbal sections of the GRE. For those students with numerical grade-point averages, admitted students have typically had an overall GPA of 3.8 or above.
Unfortunately, we cannot give an individual student an assessment of their prospects for admission before the committee reviews a completed admissions application.
Q. Is an interview required?
A. The Department does not interview Ph.D. applicants; admissions decisions are based on the materials provided with your application. After admissions decisions are announced, successful candidates are invited to visit Princeton – usually in March or April.
Q. Is an interview encouraged?
A. No. The department is happy to answer questions that you might have about the program, but we do not encourage or welcome efforts to lobby for admission. Admission decisions are based on the materials provided with your application. The best time to visit campus is after admission decisions have been announced.
Q. Do I need a M.A. to apply to the Ph.D. program in Politics at Princeton?
A. No. Many of our admitted students do have some sort of post-baccalaureate coursework or degree, but many are admitted to the program directly from their bachelor's degree.
Q. If I have graduate coursework already, will it transfer?
A. Maybe. Some comparable graduate courses taken elsewhere can be counted toward satisfying the departmental seminar requirement on a case-by-case basis.
Q. Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in political science to apply to the Ph.D. program in Politics at Princeton?
A. No. Competitive applicants understand what the discipline of political science is about and how to conduct political science research. Usually that understanding requires some exposure to political science through coursework, but it does not require a degree in political science. Successful students in the program have come from a wide range of undergraduate backgrounds.
Q. Should I identify my main area of interest within political science?
A. Yes, absolutely! Please select one of the following areas and write it at the top of your personal statement: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, formal and quantitative analysis, public law, or political economy.
Q. When are admission decisions announced?
A. Usually no later than March.
Q. How diverse is the program?
A. The program has a sizable community of students in each cohort and in residence working in each of the primary subfields represented at Princeton. Moreover, the department and its students are strikingly diverse in their methodological approaches and analytical perspectives. Students are exposed to great intellectual diversity and have opportunities to work with colleagues with shared interests.
The program also has a sizable community of international students and underrepresented students studying in a variety of fields.
Q. Is any particular course required in the Ph.D. program at Princeton?
A. No. The only common course requirement is that every enrolled student must participate in the field research seminar, where students present and discuss their own research, from seminar papers to dissertation chapters. Otherwise, we provide opportunities, resources, and advice, and expect each student to pursue the individual set of courses that will best prepare him or her.
Q. How long is the program?
A. The Ph.D. program is designed to be a five-year program. Guaranteed funding and required residency are for five years. The actual time to degree varies depending on individual progress, field of study, and particular demands of research.
Required coursework is typically completed in the first two years of the program. General exams are typically completed at the end of spring term of the second year. The remainder of the time in the program is focused on dissertation research and teaching.
Q. How many people apply? How many are accepted?
A. We have received well over 500 applications per year over the last five years. We admitted an average of 40. This reflects a growth in both the number of applications and the number of offers of admissions over the past few years. Over time, the department expects to enroll 20-23 new students per year.
Q. Do your students publish? Do faculty coauthor with your students?
A. Yes, and yes. Our students have been successful in publishing their research as solo authors, as coauthors with other students, and as coauthors with faculty. Faculty also frequently employ graduate students as research assistants on their research projects, which leads to valuable experience on the research process. For recent examples of student publications, see the publications page.
Q. Do your students get jobs?
A. Yes. The Department places graduate students in leading universities and colleges. To see where graduates have been appointed in recent years, visit the placement page.
Q. Do you have an M.A. program?
A. No, there is no distinct master's program. All applicants must apply directly to the Ph.D. program. However, admitted Ph.D. students can receive an M.A. on the path to their Ph.D.