Admissions FAQ

We know prospective students may have many questions. Below you'll find answers to the most common ones.

Historically, the size of the entering class has ranged between 8-12 students per year. We receive between 400-500 applications each year, and aim to admit a cohort of students across all of the subfields in the department.

In our admissions process, the department considers the entire application: the letters of recommendation, academic background, writing sample, any work experience, and the fit of the candidate with the strengths of the program. Additionally, all applicants to the University of Chicago must meet the English language requirements outlined here

If you wish to work across multiple subfields, you must think deliberately about your strongest interests. We encourage you to select your secondary subfields on your application, for both our information and to read your application in the correct context, but the faculty in the main subfield of your interest will be reviewing your application, and the first few rounds of evaluation will be within that main subfield.

No. We do recommend that students submit GRE scores if applying to the International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Methods subfields. While consideration is given to applicants who do not submit GRE scores in those fields, GRE scores are an important indicator of quantitative skills. If GRE scores are not included with your application, you should demonstrate (through coursework, research experience, or other ways) your ability to develop these essential quantitative skills. (If you are applying in American Politics or Political Theory, but are proposing to work quantitatively, we would also expect you to demonstrate your quantitative skills in some way, whether that is prior experience or a GRE score.)

You must submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores to apply for admission. You are welcome to apply for our graduate program with scores that do not yet meet our minimum requirements. However, if you are admitted, you may not be able to matriculate or begin the visa process until you have submitted official TOEFL or IELTS scores that meet our minimum requirements. And while it is possible that you will be admitted with scores that do not meet our requirements, our admissions committee looks at the TOEFL or IELTS scores, and scores that are too low may put you at a disadvantage. If your current scores are not high enough, we suggest that you immediately register to take the test again, as you might not have enough time after you learn you are admitted to schedule the test, take the test, have the score report sent, and go through visa processing.

December 5 at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Central Time. This is the deadline to press submit in the online application; recommendation letters and test scores can come in after the deadline. However, please note that exceptionally late materials may place your application at a disadvantage.


A candidate's statement of academic purpose should discuss your academic and career objectives in a concise, sharply focused, and well-crafted essay. We recommend 2-4 pages. 

Applicants must submit a writing sample, perhaps a seminar paper, senior thesis or MA thesis. (There is no length requirement, but if your sample is over 20 pages, please mark the 20 pages that you would like for the committee to read.)

Application fee waivers are available for a variety of reasons. Please view the full list and process on the Social Sciences Division website.

There are university-wide policies which govern the minimum entry requirements for international applicants. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility, on the basis of your undergraduate degree, please contact the Admissions Office in the Social Sciences Dean of Students Office at ssd-admissions@uchicago.edu.

Applicants for whom a recent natural disaster or other major, widespread disruption makes it impossible for you to submit your application, or one or more required components – such as transcripts – by the deadline, or for a recommender to submit their recommendation on time, please complete the Hardship Request. The GRE is optional for all applicants.

If you are interested in working toward an MA degree only, you need to apply to the Committee on International Relations or the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences. Students in the Department can and do receive the MA degree along the way toward the PhD.

Yes. Applicants consider this option should apply plan to apply as early in the Law School admissions cycle as possible. Students may begin their program either with the first year of the Law School or with Political Science, with an agreement between both units.

More information regarding joint degrees with the Law School can be found on their website. Please note that the Division of the Social Sciences does not grant credit for work done toward the JD degree; interested students should consult with the Law School regarding their joint degree policies.

JD/PhD students receive standard PhD funding during the years they are registered through the Division of the Social Sciences. They do not receive this funding during the years they register through the Law School. The University of Chicago Law School has established a fellowship program to support students pursuing a joint JD/PhD at the University of Chicago, which may grant fellowship aid during the Law School years.

Students who have prior graduate work may use as many as five graduate courses completed at other universities to count towards fulfillment of the department’s course requirement.

The department encourages applications from students who hold advanced degrees who wish to pursue a doctorate at Chicago. Students who have prior graduate work may use as many as five graduate courses completed at other universities to count towards fulfillment of the department’s course requirement. Graduate courses previously completed within our department will count on a one-to-one basis towards the fulfilment of the department’s course requirement.

No. We have only one admissions selection, and this is for fall quarter. If admitted, some students may begin in the Summer quarter for language training.

No. The program is only available as a full-time, on-campus degree program.

We do not "defer" admissions to Political Science, thus there is no 100 percent guarantee that you will be admitted again the following year. However, we do allow you to reapply for admission in the following year. The procedure is as follows: you should decline our offer of admission, while indicating by email to the Admissions Office your intention to reapply. The Admissions Office will provide you with specific instructions for reapplying. 

The Office of the Dean of Students emails all official admission decisions in the first two weeks in March. In some cases, the department may informally notify applicants of decisions earlier. Admitted PhD students are invited to campus for Political Science Day in the spring.

All applicants who are not admitted to our PhD program are automatically forwarded for consideration by our MA programs, unless the applicant specifically opts out of this process on their application. That said, as referred applications are considered later than most other MA applications, scholarship assistance for admitted students may be limited. If you are interested in our MA programs and would need scholarship assistance to attend, we would encourage you to apply directly to the MA as well as our program (note that this would require a separate application and application fee). MA applications are accepted multiple times per year with decisions typically issued within 6 to 8 weeks. Questions about applying to an MA program should be direct to ssd-admissions@uchicago.edu