Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the application process to the graduate program in Political Science. Click on a question to see the answer. If your question is not answered here, please contact Kathryn Cardenas, graduate program coordinator, at kmcard@umich.edu.

Q: When will graduate program admission decisions be made? +

A: Applications are accepted beginning in September. The last day that we will accept an application is December 15. The Admissions Committee reviews applications in January with the goal of having decisions made by the first week of February. Everyone is notified via e-mail.

Q: What are the minimum GPA and GRE scores allowed to be admitted? +

A: The University of Michigan has made a commitment to create a diverse intellectual community. As a result, the Department of Political Science has no strict cutoffs for either GPA or GRE scores. We are looking for intelligent and motivated scholars. We tend to admit students with good grades in challenging courses, who have solid test scores and the ability to do both qualitative and quantitative research.

Q: How competitive is admission to your program? +

A: The Department usually received between 320-375 applications for the graduate program each year. We generally admit between 5-10% of those who apply.

Q: Do you accept students for the winter term? +

A: No. The Department accepts students to start in the fall term only.

Q: Can I apply for a master's degree in Political Science at Michigan? +

A: No. The Department only admits students for doctoral study. Students who are admitted to the doctoral program may receive a master's degree from us as part of their doctoral study.

Q: Does the program offer any financial aid? +

A: Yes! All applicants who are admitted to the graduate program will receive a 5-year funding package. This package will include a mix of fellowship and teaching. The minimum package will include a fellowship in year one and graduate student assistantships (teaching assistant, research assistant, etc.) in the following years. This should be regarded as the minimum package; many of our students are successful in securing fellowships in the later years of the program.

Both fellowships and graduate student assistantships include a stipend (or salary), a full tuition waiver, and health insurance.

Q: What are the main criteria for selection? +

First and foremost, our department places a strong emphasis on overall ‘fit’ with our program.  We are interested in how an applicant’s specific area of research would connect with the department as a whole.  In addition, we look at the overall strength of an application. We consider all aspects of a prospective student’s application and do not give priority to one criterion over another. Our program employs a holistic approach to application review so an applicant’s essays, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts and application are all important to the admissions committee.

Q: If my undergraduate institution is not as prestigious as U-M, should I apply? +

Absolutely! Our department has a historic commitment to all types of diversity, including diversity of institutions. We encourage any applicant that feels as though his or her complete application is competitive to consider applying to our program.

Q: If my GPA is not the strongest, should I still apply? +

Yes. Our department reviews all aspects of an applicant’s file and no piece of the application is weighed more heavily than another. We view an applicant’s transcript more as an intellectual biography rather than a measurement for the likelihood of success in our program.