The University of Michigan Political Science department is one of the premier political science programs in the country and welcomes applicants from all institutions and backgrounds. We strive for a diverse student body, value applications from various groups of prospective students and employ a holistic approach when reviewing applications.

Each fall, the Department of Political Science accepts applications for admission to our doctoral program. Applications become available in September and are accepted until December 15 for admission the following fall. The required method for submission of applications is via the Rackham Graduate School online application.

The Department does not offer a terminal master's program; students seeking a master's degree in Political Science will not be able to apply to our program.

Listed below are all of the required materials for a complete application to the Department of Political Science.

For additional information, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions.


Applications to the graduate program in Political Science at the University of Michigan are submitted online through the Rackham Graduate School. Access to the online application will end at 11:59 pm EST on December 15.

Academic Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should be a concise statement about the applicant's academic and research background, career goals, and how the University of Michigan's Department of Political Science will help him/her to meet their career and educational objectives. Applicants should speak specifically to how their research interests align with those of the faculty in the Department.

We encourage applicants to write about their specific area of research and discuss how this research fits into the larger department as a whole. Although you are welcome to reference faculty members with whom you share research interests, we strongly discourage you from giving superficial reviews of their work. “Fit” is an important criterion when reviewing applications so we encourage you to focus on your own personal academic “fit” and strengths.

There is no specific limit to the statement; most are 2-4 pages (500-1,000 words) in length.

Personal Statement

Applicants should use the personal statement to address how their background and life experiences (including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges) motivated their decision to pursue a graduate degree in Political Science.

The personal statement is not the same as the academic statement of purpose.


The Department will only accept scans of official transcripts, which should be uploaded you’re your application. In addition, hard copies of official transcripts for all institutions the applicant has attended must be mailed to the Rackham Graduate School. More information about uploading and sending transcripts is HERE.

If an applicant is not able to scan a transcript and upload it with their application, then an official transcript will be required. Transcripts can be sent to:

Graduate Program Admissions
Department of Political Science
5700 Haven Hall
505 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045

Official transcripts must also be submitted to the Rackham Graduate School. Information on submitting transcripts to Rackham can be found on their website.

Standardized Tests

All applicants must take and submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If an applicant's GRE scores are more than 5 years old, they will be required to retake the exam. Scores should be submitted through ETS using institution code 1839.

All applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received an undergraduate degree from an institution where English is the exclusive medium of instruction are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Scores should be submitted through ETS using institution code 1839.

To ensure that GRE and TOEFL scores reach the Department before the December 15 deadline, it is recommended that applicants take the exam no later than mid-November.

Writing Sample

The writing sample should be a good representation of original research/work by the applicant. The writing sample should reflect the same area of interest expressed in your Statement of Purpose or, if not available, strongly reflect your academic skills as a whole. The writing sample should not exceed 20 pages in length.

Letters of Recommendation

All applicants are required to submit three (3) letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation should be submitted through the online application system.

Letters of recommendation should be from a person who is familiar with an applicant's research ability, writing ability, work ethic, and ability to be successful in a doctoral program. We strongly encourage applicants to have letters of recommendation submitted by political scientists, academics in related fields, or other academics who would be able to able to effectively gauge your success in a rigorous political science PhD program.

Joint Programs

Rackham Graduate School offers a joint program in Social Work and Social Science that may be of interest to Political Science graduate students.  Click here for information.  

The Ford School offers a joint program in Public Policy and Political Science.  Click here for information.