General Admissions Questions

Q.  When is the application deadline?

  1. December 7, 2022

Q: What are the requirements for admission to the PhD program?

  1. Applicants must show high academic ability and long-term commitment to research in political science as evidenced by previous study, test results, letters of recommendation, and writing samples. All applicants must submit:
  1. Statement of intent
  2. Writing sample
  3. Curriculum Vitae or Résumé
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. Unofficial transcript
  6. English Proficiency scores (if required) 
  7. Application fee ($75)

Q: How long is the statement of intent?

  1. The statement of intent should not exceed 2 pages, single-spaced. Typically the statement describes the applicant’s research interests, reasons for applying to Notre Dame, preparation for the subfield of study, future career plans, and other aspects of the applicant’s background that may aid the admissions committee in evaluating the applicant’s aptitude for graduate study.

Q: How long is the writing sample?

  1. There is no required length for the writing sample, but most range from 10-25 pages, double-spaced. The writing sample should represent academic or scholarly writing. Applicants in the past have included portions of master’s thesis, honor’s thesis, research and seminar papers, or academic articles. Bibliographic references are not counted toward the 25 pages.

Q. Can I apply to start in the program during the spring semester instead of fall?

  1. No, our program is set up for admitted students to begin the fall semester. 

Q. Is a faculty mentor required for admission to the program?

  1. No, applicants are not required to have an agreed faculty advisor for the dissertation before being admitted. However, applicants should make sure there is sufficient overlap between their own interests and those of the faculty to support their research and eventually form a dissertation committee.

Q. Is Political Science a required major to apply to your program?

  1. No, the department does not require prospective students to be political science majors. However, the department does expect that prospective students have sufficient exposure to the field.

Q. Is a master’s degree required for admission?

  1. No, a master’s degree is not required for admission, but roughly one-third of our applicants have completed a graduate degree prior to application to the PhD program.

Q. Can I request a fee waiver?

  1. The Notre Dame Graduate School may provide a fee waiver:
  • on the basis of need or financial hardship;
  • to U.S. citizens and permanent residents from underrepresented minority groups;
  • through your participation in a variety of programs (including but not limited to the following examples);
  • to United States Armed Forces veterans and active duty service members;
  • or based on your application to a national fellowship (see the list).

More information is available here or by emailing gradapp@nd.edu.

Test Scores & GPA

Q: Is the GRE required for the PhD Application?

  1. No. The GRE is not accepted for Fall 2023 admissions.

Q: Does the department have a minimum GPA required for admission?

  1. No. However, admission is highly competitive and admitted students typically have an average GPA of 3.71+ in their previous studies.

Q. What are the institution and department codes for the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame?

  1. The institution code for both the TOEFL exams is 1841

Q: What are the English Proficiency requirements?

  1. Applicants whose native language or language of college instruction is not English must submit official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test (on the 160-point scale with subscores) to demonstrate English language proficiency. The scores reported must result from a test taken within the last two years. To expedite the review process, applicants may also upload preliminary (unofficial) scores, if available. 

More information about approved language tests and minimum scores is available here.

Q: English is not my native language, but it was the primary language of instruction at my previous academic institution. Do I need to take an English proficiency test?

  1. The Graduate School will waive the English proficiency test requirement for non-native English speakers who spent a minimum of two academic years at an academic institution whose primary language of instruction was English. If that is not obvious from the transcripts, a letter from the Registrar’s Office (or the office responsible for academic records) confirming English as the language of instruction is required. If applicants are unsure whether they will need a letter or not, please contact gradapp@nd.edu.

Admissions Decisions

Q. Are applications reviewed and admitted on a rolling basis?

  1. No, the admissions committee begins reviewing the applications after the deadline and offers of admission are made in late February. 

Q. When are admissions decisions announced?

  1. Offers of admission will be made in late February. Finalists will be invited to attend our Virtual PhD Visit Weekend in early February.

Q. What are my chances of being admitted?

  1. We typically receive more the 250 applications to our PhD program but can only matriculate 10-12 students a year. No one factor determines whether an applicant is admitted or not, and our admissions committee reviews all of the information in the application before reaching a final decision. 

Financial Support & Assistantships

Q: What financial support do admitted students receive?

  1. Political Science offers generous financial aid to its PhD students. All admitted students are offered five years of a graduate stipend and tuition fellowship so long as they make satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students also have opportunities to secure generous funding for annual conference travel, field research, specialized training, and professional development as well as support from various research institutes on campus. In addition, each year a number of our admitted students are awarded one of the Graduate School’s Select Fellowships, which recognize outstanding academic performance and exceptional promise in graduate studies.

Q. Where can I find information about financial aid? 

  1. You can find information about financial aid at the Graduate School and Office of Financial Aid websites.

Q: Are there service requirements?

  1. Yes, students receiving a stipend from the university are required to perform six semesters of service, usually as a teaching assistant. The department offers other service opportunities, including serving as research assistants, editorial assistants for academic journals, methodological consultants, and instructors of record.

Q: Will I have opportunities to teach my own class?

  1. Yes, graduate students may apply to teach their own course after they have defended their dissertation proposal.

General Program Questions

Q. How long does it take to complete the PhD?

  1. The PhD program is designed to be completed in five years of full-time study. Actual time depends on the students’ progress, research, fieldwork, and field of study.

Q. Can I complete the PhD program via distance learning, online courses or on a part-time basis?

  1. No

Q: Do you allow transfer credits from other graduate programs?

  1. Yes, students may transfer credits from another graduate program. Transfer credit is subject to approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and there is no guarantee that transfer credit will be awarded. Students cannot apply for transfer credit until they have completed at least one semester of study at Notre Dame.

Q. Where can I find more information about graduate student life at Notre Dame or housing?

  1. You can find out more information about life at Notre Dame and housing at the Office of Graduate Student Life website.

Q. Where can I find more information about being an international student at Notre Dame?

  1. You can find more information about international students at the Graduate School and International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) websites. 

Faculty, Research, & Training

 Q. How can I find out if your faculty does research in my area of interest?

  1. You can find more information about our faculty by going to the faculty page.

Q.  What are the research areas and strengths of the PhD program?

  1. The department offers research and teaching opportunities in six major subfields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, Constitutional Studies, International Relations, Methodology, and Political Theory. Faculty research interests and methodological approaches are diverse with areas of exceptional strength in the politics of religion; international security; democracy and democratization; law and constitutional interpretation; the intersection of race, ethnicity and politics; and ancient to contemporary political thought. 

Q. What is the methodological training like? Do I need to have a background in advanced mathematics of statistics to apply?

  1. The department offers rigorous methodological training in both quantitative and qualitative forms of inquiry. The quantitative methods sequence begins with foundational courses in statistics, research design, and econometrics and progresses to maximum likelihood estimation and generalized linear models. We also offer advanced courses on a range of topics, including causal inference, Bayesian statistics, experiments, and survey research. The qualitative sequence surveys key issues in qualitative methods and research design, such as causal complexity and inference, case selection and case study, QCA methodology, and practical field research training. 

The methods sequence does not assume that students have had prior exposure to advanced mathematics or statistics.

Q. What other resources and funding opportunities are available for graduate students at Notre Dame?

  1. Notre Dame is home to a number of research institutes and interdisciplinary centers that serve as anchors for our intellectual community and provide additional funding and support for graduate research. Including:

Center for Social Concerns

Center for Social Science Research (CSSR)

Constitutional Studies Program

de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture

Gender Studies Program

Graduate School: Office of Grants and Fellowships

Graduate Student Union

Institute for Latino Studies

Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA)

Kellogg Institute for International Studies 

Keough School of Global Affairs

Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies

Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies

Nanovic Institute for European Studies  

Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC)

Notre Dame Learning | Kaneb Center

Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy

For additional information about the PhD in Political Science, please visit our department’s website, email psdgs@nd.edu, or call 574-631-9017. For detailed information about the on-line application process, please visit Graduate School website or email gradapp@nd.edu.