Application Information FAQs

Q. Can I apply for a Master’s (M.A.) degree program or for part-time study?

No, we do not offer a Master’s (M.A.) degree program or part-time study.

Q. Can I apply as a transfer student?

No, we do not accept transfer students. If you are currently enrolled in an M.A. or Ph.D. program, we will still review your application. If accepted, however, you will have to complete the entire Ph.D. program at Yale. Subject to Department rules, you may be able to obtain credit for up to three graduate-level courses taken outside of Yale.

Q. How many students are accepted into the program?

Our target size for the entering class is 18-20.

Q. Where do students come from?

On average, about one-half to two-thirds of our students are U.S. residents, with the remainder coming from abroad.

Q. What is the gender breakdown of the entering class?

We target an entering Ph.D. class divided evenly between men and women. On average, about half of entering Ph.D. students are female.

Q. How long does the Ph.D. program take? Do I have to stay in New Haven?

The Ph.D. program can be completed in as little as 4 years, although in practice students take between 5 and 8 years. Students are required to be in residence for at least six semesters (3 years). While being in residence does not require living in New Haven, it is harder to regularly attend classes and workshops, as well as informal Department events, without living nearby. In later years, students often go to the field to conduct research or leave New Haven to work at other universities or non-profit groups.

Q. Can I continue to work while in the Ph.D. program?

No. The Ph.D. program is considered a full-time position, and students are generously supported. As such, while students are encouraged to work as research assistants with faculty to gain experience, any employment that takes beyond 10 hours a week requires approval both from the DGS and the Graduate School.

Q. If I get a PhD in political science, will I get a tenure track academic job?

Maybe not. In general, the academic job market is very tight, and some fields have very few jobs relative to the number of students receiving the Ph.D.

Q. Did you receive my test score/transcript/recommendation letter? Can I send it directly to you?

The department does not manage the online application system. To find out the status of your application, please contact the Graduate School’s Admissions Office. You must also submit all material to them.

Q. I would like to visit the department, can you help set up meetings?

Unfortunately, given the volume of requests we receive, we cannot schedule meetings or visits apart from our regular visiting weekend for admitted Ph.D. students. If you are planning to visit, please take the time to examine our list of faculty and individually contact those you would like to meet with.

Q. If I am admitted, will I be funded?

All admitted Ph.D. students receive full funding for 5 years (with the possibility of a sixth), including tuition, health insurance, and a generous stipend. Students are generally required to participate in teaching in years 3 and 4. International/foreign students are also funded.

Q. How does the admissions process work?

Each year, the department composes an admissions committee with faculty from across the subfields. Each application is read by multiple readers. We then try to admit a final class with representation across the subfields. We do not regularly interview candidates for admission.

Q. What are my chances of being admitted?

We target an entering class of approximately 18 students. We usually extend about twice that many offers of admission. So in an average year where we receive about 600 applications, we will admit about 6% of those who apply.

Q. What are you looking for in a candidate?

The department aims to produce the next generation of leading scholars in political science. As such, we are interested in admitting students who show promise in mastering the discipline of political science, and who will go on to be leading researchers and teachers in the field. Experiencing conducting research, real knowledge of both political science research and politics, and strong academic performance are all indicators we take into consideration. It is also very helpful if your recommendation letter writers are able to provide evaluations of your potential to succeed in graduate school.

Q. My background is in [INSERT] and my grades and test scores are [INSERT], will I get in?

Given the number of requests we receive to evaluate potential files, we can’t offer individual feedback. Many students we admit do have a background in political science, but not all do. Additionally, students have different grades, often because they go to schools with different grading standards or major in fields with higher (or lower) average grades. There is no minimum GRE score required. GRE scores of previously admitted students have ranged between 150-170 for the verbal section and 150-170 for the quantitative section. Please keep in mind that GRE scores are but one of many criteria used to evaluate an applicant.

Q. My application was rejected, can you provide feedback on why it was rejected?

Unfortunately, given the volume of applications we receive (more than 700 in some years), we cannot offer individual feedback. Many strong students will not be admitted, often because we simply lack space or because of a lack of fit with our faculty.

Q. How long can my writing sample be? Does it have to be a political science paper?

There is no page limit for the writing sample, so please feel free to submit a writing sample that you feel best supports your application. It doesn’t have to be a political science project.

Q. Do you offer any visiting student or non-degree programs?

If you are interested in applying as a non-degree student in our program you must first find a suitable Yale political science faculty member who is willing to serve as your Yale advisor if you were to be admitted to the non-degree program. Once you have a faculty member willing to do this you can submit an application. Information on the non-degree programs offered, as well as the application, can be found here.  Please note that the faculty member must provide a letter of support that should be included with your application.