Graduate Application FAQ

Application Process & Requirements

What documents are required to apply?

  • For US citizens – A writing sample, personal statement, three letters of recommendation, official GRE scores*, official transcripts*
  • For international applicants/non-US citizens – A writing sample, personal statement, three letters of recommendation, official GRE scores*, official transcripts*, and official TOEFL scores*

* These documents should be uploaded to application and mailed to department (all other items will only be accepted as uploaded documents to application)

What are your admission requirements?

We have no required minimum GPA or GRE for admission. These factors are important, and they will be taken into account. On the other hand, they will be considered in combination with all other aspects of your application materials. Other factors that will be seriously considered include personal statements that illustrate the applicant's understanding of what graduate work in political science entails and that make the case for why the applicant's interests and the strengths of the department at WashU are particularly compatible. Strong, detailed letters of recommendation that also illustrate these points are particularly useful to the admissions committee. We currently offer admission to approximately 10% of our applicant pool.

Can I receive an MA in Political Science from Washington University?

No. We do not offer terminal MAs in Political Science. However, you can receive your MA (without thesis) en route to your PhD, after being admitted to the program.


Is there a minimum GRE score?

No. Applicants’ files are reviewed as a whole.

What are the average GRE scores for admitted students?

For applicants admitted for the 2019-2020 academic year, the average GRE scores and GPA were as follows:

  • Verbal: 165
  • Quantitative: 164
  • Analytic Writing: 5.0
  • GPA: 3.77

What is the GRE test code for Washington University Political Science?

The school code is 6929 and the department code is 1902.

Is there a subject test for Political Science that I need to take?

No. The General GRE is the only GRE that is required for your application.


Is there a minimum TOEFL score? Do I have to take the TOEFL?

We take the ability to write and speak in English as a very important determinant of admission. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide us with materials to evaluate their language skills. A TOEFL score is a good and effective way to provide us with the necessary information. For international students with an undergraduate or graduate degree from a university in the United States, we generally have enough information about their language skills without a TOEFL. Other applicants can be disadvantaged without TOEFL scores. All international students, regardless of their country of origin, need to take an oral language test administered by the English Language Programs at Washington University if and when they are admitted to the program.


Do I need to submit my transcripts?

Yes. At the time of the application, you will need to upload a copy of your transcript to the application. You should also mail hard copies of your transcripts to the department. You cannot be admitted to the program without sending hard copies of your transcripts.

What is the address to which I should send my transcripts?

Washington University
Political Science Department
CB 1063
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
Attn: Colleen Skaggs

I studied abroad/got AP credit in high school/took a summer course at another institution. Do I need to submit that transcript?

If your coursework is reflected on the transcript from your home academic institution, sending additional transcripts from study abroad/AP credit/summer courses is not required. However, you can upload these to your application if you feel they are beneficial.

Writing Sample

Is there a minimum/maximum length for the writing sample?

No. Your writing sample should be a good example of your writing ability and academic work. There is no page count requirement.

I want to submit more than one writing sample. Is that okay?

Yes. Please note, however, that we receive a high volume of applications, and you should submit only your strongest work in order to ensure the application committee has a good sense of your abilities.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letter writers do I need?

Three letters of recommendation should be submitted with each application. The three recommenders should be able to answer a short survey on your academic and intellectual abilities, as well as write a letter of recommendation in support of your application.

How do my recommenders submit their letters?

You will enter all contact information for your recommenders, including their email addresses. Once you enter the information and save it, the application system will send an automated email with a link to upload a letter to the email address you provided. Please double-check that you have entered the correct email address for each recommender.

How do I know if my recommender completed his/her letter submission?

Like every part of the application, you can check the submission status by logging into your application and viewing the recommendation page. If a letter has been submitted, a date of submission will be listed.

My recommender would like to mail his/her letter. Where can they mail it?

We will not accept any mailed letters of recommendation. All letters should be uploaded via the link provided in the email.

I made a mistake on one of my recommenders’ email addresses. Help!

If you need any changes made to the recommenders page, including adding a fourth recommender or altering an email address, you should email Please note that you should only contact us if the change affects the submission of recommendations (i.e., not if you accidentally selected the wrong “relationship” or inverted the first and last names).

Application Timeline

When are applications opened?

Applications are usually opened in September for applications for the following fall semester.

When are applications due?

Applications for the political science program are always due on January 15th, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

When will admission decisions be made?

This varies based on the number of applications we receive, but our goal is to notify applicants of admission decisions by the first week in February.

How will I be notified of my admission decision?

We normally notify applicants by a letter mailed to the address you provide on your application.

Graduate Requirements 

Ready to learn more? View curriculum and teaching requirements for the graduate program. 

graduate requirements