The University of Michigan Political Science department is one of the premier political science programs in the country and welcomes applicants from all institutions and backgrounds. We strive for a diverse student body, value applications from various groups of prospective students and employ a holistic approach when reviewing applications.
Each fall, the Department of Political Science accepts applications for admission to our doctoral program. Applications become available in September and are accepted until December 15 for admission the following fall. The required method for submission of applications is via the Rackham Graduate School online application.
The Department does not offer a terminal master's program; students seeking a master's degree in Political Science will not be able to apply to our program.
Listed below are all of the required materials for a complete application to the Department of Political Science.
For additional information, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions.
Applications to the graduate program in Political Science at the University of Michigan are submitted online through the Rackham Graduate School. Access to the online application will end at 11:59 pm EST on December 15.
Academic Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose should be a concise statement about the applicant's academic and research background, career goals, and how the University of Michigan's Department of Political Science will help him/her to meet their career and educational objectives. Applicants should speak specifically to how their research interests align with those of the faculty in the Department.
We encourage applicants to write about their specific area of research and discuss how this research fits into the larger department as a whole. Although you are welcome to reference faculty members with whom you share research interests, we strongly discourage you from giving superficial reviews of their work. “Fit” is an important criterion when reviewing applications so we encourage you to focus on your own personal academic “fit” and strengths.
There is no specific limit to the statement; most are 2-4 pages (500-1,000 words) in length.
Applicants should use the personal statement to address how their background and life experiences (including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges) motivated their decision to pursue a graduate degree in Political Science. This should be a discussion of the journey that has led to the decision to seek a graduate degree.
The personal statement is not the same as the academic statement of purpose. Please do not repeat your academic statement of purpose.
Upload an electronic version of your transcript(s) for each Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional, or Doctoral degree earned or in progress through your ApplyWeb application account. If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcript(s). Recommended applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcript(s) are required for submission. More information about uploading and sending transcripts is HERE.
If an applicant is not able to scan a transcript and upload it with their application, then an official transcript should be sent to:
Rackham Graduate School
Attn: Transcripts/UMID# (if known) or Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy)
915 E. Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Note: The Rackham Graduate School requires the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor's degree. Information about required academic credentials from non-U.S. institutions can be found HERE.
All applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency, unless they meet one of the criteria for an exemption. Our department follows requirements set by the Rackham Graduate School. Information about language test scores and language exemptions can be found HERE.
To ensure that test scores reach the Department before the December 15 deadline, it is recommended that applicants take the exam no later than mid-November.
GRE general test scores are no longer included in the admissions process for Rackham’s doctoral programs as of the 2022–2023 admissions cycle. (More information available)
The writing sample should be a good representation of original research/work by the applicant. The writing sample should reflect the same area of interest expressed in your Statement of Purpose or, if not available, strongly reflect your academic skills as a whole. The writing sample should not exceed 20 pages in length.
Letters of Recommendation
All applicants are required to submit three (3) letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation should be submitted through the online application system. Instructions for submission can be found HERE. At this time we are not able to accept letters from letter services such as Interfolio.
Letters of recommendation should be from a person who is familiar with an applicant's research ability, writing ability, work ethic, and ability to be successful in a doctoral program. We strongly encourage applicants to have letters of recommendation submitted by political scientists, academics in related fields, or other academics who would be able to able to effectively gauge your success in a rigorous political science PhD program.
Social Work and Political Science
The Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Political Science is a PhD program for students interested in pursuing research at the intersection of social problems and political phenomena. Founded in 1957, the Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Social Science is the only doctoral program in the nation that allows students to gain social work research training and experience that is rooted in multiple social science disciplines.
Within the Joint Program in Social Work and Political Science, students may major in any subfield of Political Science, including: American Government and Politics, Comparative Government and Politics, World Politics and International Relations, Methods of Political Analysis or Political Theory. As such, the Joint Doctoral Program admits students who are equally committed to Social Work research and to disciplinary expertise in Political Science.
The Joint Program is individualized and students take varied paths in completing their requirements. Each joint student will work with mentors/advisors in both Social Work and Political Science in determining their academic trajectory. Students complete coursework and prelim examinations in both areas along with a research internship, teaching experience, and a dissertation that combines the two areas.
If students do not have an M.S.W. at admission, they fulfill additional coursework and field placement credits for this degree.
Joint PhD Program in Social Work and Social Science
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
3704 School of Social Work Building
1080 South University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106
Public Policy and Political Science
The Joint Doctoral Program in Public Policy and Political Science is a PhD program for students who want to pursue research careers in a traditional social science discipline but who see themselves as deeply committed to the study of public policy. Our goal is for joint PhD students to bring the most rigorous tools of social science to bear on fundamental public policy questions.
The Joint PhD Program follows a discipline plus structure. The "discipline" means that all students complete a PhD in a Political Science, and the "plus" means that they apply political science theory and knowledge to public policy problems. Joint PhD students will be awarded doctoral degrees in Political Science and Public Policy. This title reflects a fundamental characteristic of the program: students are simultaneously full members of the Political Science department and participants in an inter-disciplinary Public Policy community.
Within the Joint Program in Public Policy and Political Science, students may major in any subfield of Political Science, including: American Government and Politics, Comparative Government and Politics, World Politics and International Relations, Methods of Political Analysis or Political Theory.
The Joint Program is individualized and students take varied paths in completing their requirements. Each joint student will work with advisors in both Public Policy and Political Science in determining their academic trajectory. Students complete coursework in both departments, along with a research internship, teaching experience, and a dissertation that combines the two areas.
Joint PhD Program in Public Policy and Social Science
University of Michigan
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
735 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109