How To Apply

PhD in Political Science

The political science program trains researchers to tackle important societal questions. Our students develop skills across the main fields of political science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Methods, and Political Behavior.  For questions related to applying to the program, please contact the Graduate Administrator, Lauren Murn, at

How to Apply

All application materials must be submitted electronically through the University of Pittsburgh online application portal:  Please note that the application portal is now open.  All applications and accompanying materials are due:  January 5, 2024 for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle.  

The complete application materials include the following:

  • A brief career statement (approximately 500 words) that outlines your intellectual and professional interests in political science. We want to know why you want to do a PhD, what your research interests are, and what kind of skills you have or plan to acquire. In other words, we want to know why you would be a good fit for our department and why our department would be a good environment for you. If you are presently enrolled in a PhD program at another institution, explain your reasons for wanting to change programs.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation intended to provide independent evaluation of each applicant's potential; reference writers will submit these forms and letters independently from the application using a link embedded in an e-mail they receive from the "apply online" process. (Letters must be uploaded directly by reference writers. Any letters uploaded by applicants will not be considered.)
  • Unofficial copy of transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended. All transcripts must be in English. If an unofficial transcript in English is not directly available from a non-US institution, provide an English translation. (Official transcripts and notarized English translations, when applicable, must be submitted if admitted to the program.)
  • A writing sample that showcases your research skills.
  • $75 application fee, paid through the application portal
    • In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted.  All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST. To be considered for a fee waiver, Please complete the following fee waiver survey for review on the Tuition Rates & Fees webpage. Those interested will be asked to submit supporting documents as part of the application.  For those claiming financial hardship, examples of appropriate documents may include bank statements, monthly pay statements, proof of the current foreign exchange rates, or any other documents that you believe will effectively show that the application fee is an obstacle to completing your application to our program.
  • Optional: an official report of your performance on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) sent directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

If you are having issues with any part of your on-line application for the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences please reach out to the GradCas Applicant Help center:  If you cannot find the answer to your question you can also contact them by phone 857-304-2086 or via email:  For the quickest response it is best to contact them via chat on the Applicant Help center page.

International Applicants

Please visit this page for pertinent information from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Studies Admissions page.  The University of Pittsburgh uses the official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and the Duolingo English Test as a measure of English language proficiency.  

Questions about the graduate program may be addressed to Graduate Administrator Lauren Murn at

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