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:  The application portal is now open and the application deadline is January 5, 2023.

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:  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

International graduate applicants must possess proficiency in English at a level that enables them to succeed in graduate-level studies. English language proficiency may be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • Citizen of a country whose official languages include English; graduate of a regionally accredited institution in the U.S.; graduate of an institution whose language of instruction is English and located in a country whose official languages include English.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences requires a minimum TOEFL score of 90, with a minimum score of 22 in each section
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Minimum score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each section 
  • Duolingo English Test: Minimum score of 110

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which measures verbal, quantitative, and analytical skills, is widely used by U.S. universities as an index of an applicant's potential for graduate study. The GRE is offered several times each year at sites in the United States and abroad. Annual schedules and other test information can be obtained online or by mail from:

Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Graduate Record Examination, Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000, USA
(609) 921-9000 (NJ)
(510) 654-1200 (CA)

More information about the GRE is available from Princeton Review.

GRE Institutional Code: 2927

GRE Department of Political Science code: 1902


All non-U.S. citizens applying to the graduate program - except for those who have received degrees from a U.S. institution or from other English-speaking countries - must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as part of their application packet to demonstrate a sufficient command of English to meet the requirements of their field. The minimum scores are 90 for TOEFL (with at least a score of 22 in all of the four sections of speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and 7.0 for IELTS (with at least 6.5 in each of its four sections).

The TOEFL is offered several times each year at sites in the United States and abroad. If not available locally, the annual schedules and other information about the TOEFL can be obtained online or by mail from:
Educational Testing Service (ETS)
TOEFL, Box 6151
Princeton, NJ 08541-6151 USA
(609) 771-7100

NOTE: GRE and TOEFL application booklets generally are available at U.S. colleges and universities and at U.S. consulates and U.S. Information Service offices abroad. Foreign students should check with these sources before writing to Princeton.

TOEFL Institutional Code: 2927

TOEFL Department Code: 89

IELTS official scores should be mailed to:
Graduate Administrator
University of Pittsburgh
4600 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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

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