Department of Political Science

College of Letters & Science
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Do I need to mail hard copies of official transcripts in addition to the transcripts uploaded with my application?

You need not mail offical transcript for the application rewiew process. You should simply upload a scanned version of an official transcript that has been "Issued to Student." It is understood that once you open the envelope to scan the transcript it is no longer considered official. It may also be possible that the scanned copy may have the watermark COPY on it, which is fine. Do NOT mail transcripts to the Department nor the UW Graduate School unless asked by the Department to do so. 

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is December 15. This date is our departmental deadline to receive all materials requested in the Graduate School's online application and the Political Science Supplemental Application. Documents arriving past the deadline may cause your application not to be reviewed. We do not admit for the Spring term.

I do not have enough money for the application fee. Can it be waived for me?

The Board of Regents and the State Legislature does not permit the application fee to be waived. The Graduate School, however, may offer assistance to qualified targeted applicants.

What do I need to know about the application process?

No part of the application should be mailed; everything, including transcripts, should be submitted electronically. When you submit your application, you are simultaneously applying to the Graduate School and the Department; each having specific admission criteria. The Department's standards are typically more stringent. When completing the online application, you will notice two submission buttons:one for the Graduate School and one for the Political Science Supplemental Application. You will be uploading your statement of purpose, writing sample, and scanned copies of official transcripts. Following all steps ensures that both units receive what is needed to process your application.

Please refer to the following websites for instructions and information.

Graduate School Checklist

Graduate School Requirements

Graduate School Online Letters of Recommendation Process: Submit at least three letters of recommendation.

GRE scores: 1846 is the Institution Code for UW-Madison. After you take the GRE and/or TOEFL tests Educational Testing Service (ETS) will electronically submit your scores to the University of Wisconsin.

Is a resume or C.V. required?

Yes.  Either a resume or a curriculum vitae (C.V.) are required as part of your application to our Ph.D. program.

How long should the statement of purpose be?

The statement of purpose should be no longer than two pages, single-spaced.

What should go into my statement of purpose?

There is no required or standard content for this statement. An internet search for "graduate application statement or purpose" will return a number of links with tips for completing this crucial piece of your application. The statement should address why you wish to study Political Science. Why at Wisconsin? Do you see your research interests as well-defined or fairly open at this point. Based on your knowledge and thinking now, what research problem(s) would you hope to pursue while here? Ask a peer or professor to review your statement for you.

May I submit more than three letters of recommendation?

Yes, you may.

Can I use Interfolio or other dossier service to submit my letters of recommendation? of recommendation?

Yes, you may use a dossier service such as Interfolio to send your letters of recommendation.  The dossier service will provide instruction on how to use their service.

Are GRE scores required?

Yes, we require the GRE General Test (verbal, quantitative and writing) scores of all applicants. Please request that ETS send scores to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institution Code 1846. For testing information, see the GRE website We accept scores from the GRE Revised General Test and the GRE General Test.   If you have multiple test scores to report, we will accept the highest test scores from a single sitting.

May I substitute the GMAT or LSAT for the GRE?

No. Scores from the GMAT or the LSAT may not be substituted for the GRE.


How do I check to see if my GRE scores have arrived?

To verify that your scores have arrived, check your Graduate School electronic application through the My-UW portal. The Test Scores section is at the bottom of the page. Your application will not be considered by the admissions committee until your scores have been received.

Are all international students required to take the TOEFL exam?

Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score by taking the TOEFL exam. The department's minimum requirement is a score of 100 with 108 the average score for 2017. This is higher than that of the Graduate School. If the exam score is submitted more than two years prior to the start of your admission term, it is no longer valid and the exam must be retaken. You can learn more about Graduate School policy.

May I substitute the IELTS or the MELAB for the TOEFL exam?

No. Scores from the IELTS or the MELAB may not be substituted for the TOEFL.

As an international student, do I need to send financial documentation with my application?

No, do not send financial information documentation until you are asked to do so. If you are recommended for admission by the Department of Political Science, the Graduate School will contact you about submitting needed financial documentation. It is important to keep the original email sent from the Graduate School after you submit your application so you can access the My-UW portal to check for any updates or questions.

As an international student, how much will it cost me to attend UW-Madison?

Expenses at UW-Madison will vary among students. International Student Services provides a budget that will help you plan.

How do I apply for funding?

There are no additional materials needed to request funding. We consider all applicants for multi-year guaranteed funding packages.Decisions about funding are typically made by mid-March. These funding guarantees are most commonly in the form of teaching assistantships and are guaranteed at a level such that students are eligible for health insurance and tuition remission.

What should I know about the writing sample requirement?

Provide a sample that you believe represents your best work and demonstrates how you write and think, keeping in mind that it will be read by political scientists. We are flexible about what to submit, other than it needs to be in English. For application purposes, upload your writing sample to the Political Science Supplemental Application section of the Graduate School electronic application. We will not accept any writing samples submitted via email or on paper.

How do I check the status of my application?

After you have submitted the online application, you will receive an email containing a unique URL and campus ID number to track the progress of your application, receipt of fee and test scores.

The Department of Political Science as UW-Madison receives about 300 applications annually. Each application is manually reviewed to verify all materials properly made it through the electronic transmittal process. This can take some time. Please don't call the department on December 16th expecting to learn the status of your application. The best way to check your application status is through the online system described above.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D.?

Can I transfer credits that I've taken in another graduate program?

The Graduate School's minimum credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW-Madison.  Courses from a master's degree from another institution may, at the discretion of the associate chair, be used to satisfy the department's minor requirement.

If I already have a master's degree, do I have to complete another one?

Yes, you will earn an additional master's degree as you pursue your Ph.D.

Is there a separate program for those who want just a master's degree?

No, we only admit to the doctoral program.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in Political Science to be considered for admission?

No. While a bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. institution or a comparable degree from an international institution is one of the requirements to apply to our graduate program, we regularly admit students who have completed an undergraduate degree in other disciplines. For specific information on what is consider a comparable degree from an international institution please refer to the Graduate School Admission Requirements page.

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