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Applying to the Graduate Program

The Vanderbilt PhD program in Political Science ranks among the top programs of its kind. We welcome applicants from all institutions, backgrounds, and experiences. We endeavor to have a diverse student body: we encourage applications for our program from all prospective students and employ a holistic approach in the admission decisions to our program. 

Applications for admission open in the fall through the Graduate School  online application portal and are accepted until the deadline of January 15th

The Department of Political Science does not offer a terminal Master's degree. Students seeking a master's degree in Political Science should not apply for our program.

Application to the PhD program in Political Science requires:

  1. a completed online application to the Vanderbilt Graduate School;
  2. an official OR unofficial transcript from each college or university attended;
  3. recent GRE scores, for the verbal, mathematical, and written portions of the exam;
  4. three letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with the applicant's academic record;
  5. a statement of purpose indicating the student's interests and career goals;
  6. a writing sample of 15-25 double-spaced pages (preferably one that illustrates the candidate's ability to write and to conduct research); and
  7. students from non-English-speaking countries should also submit a recent TOEFL score.  Students who have received degrees from English-speaking institutions are exempt from this requirement.

Applicants should go to the Graduate School website for more information on admission. Click here to access the online application for Political Science. 

Transcripts can be sent either via the postal service or via secure electronic delivery. In order to be considered official, transcripts and other documents must come directly from the institution attended. Some institutions provide secure electronic delivery of transcripts. These submissions may be made to

Transcripts sent via the postal service should be addressed as follows:

Center for Data Management
PMB 407833
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-7833 USA