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Frequently Asked Questions about the Graduate Program

Do you offer a Master's degree in Political Science?

Generally, no. We are primarily a doctoral program.
For Vanderbilt University undergraduates, we participate in the "4+1" program which allows Vanderbilt undergraduates to earn a BA+MA in political science in five years.
Doctoral students can earn a "Master's in passing" after advancing to candidacy.
Doctoral students who are leaving the program can earn a Terminal Master's degree.

What is the admissions process?

We receive over 175 applications per year and can admit less than 15% of applicants. Each year, about 10 students matriculate into the program.
Admission to the graduate programs is through online application. Applicants must submit:
1.  an official transcript from each college or university attended
2.  recent GRE scores, for the verbal, mathematical, and written portions of the exam
3.  three letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with the applicant's academic record
3.  a statement of purpose indicating the student's interests and career goals
4.  a writing sample of approximately 15-25 pages (preferably a paper from a course that illustrates the candidate's ability to write and to conduct research)
5.  Students from non-English-speaking countries should also submit a recent TOEFL score
Applicants should go to the Graduate School website for more information on admission. Click here to access the online application for Political Science. There is no charge for online applications.
The Graduate Committee reviews several aspects of an applicant's file: the personal statement, academic record, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and writing sample. Successful applicants must be able to use the personal statement to articulate clearly their interest in pursuing a doctorate in political science. Successful applicants general have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.3, and a GPA of 3.5 in their major field. There is no minimum score for the GRE, but the average quantitative GRE score of admitted applicants was 700 and the average verbal GRE score for admitted applicants was 600. Strong letters of recommendation (generally from faculty members) are essential. Finally, we make sure that there is a fit between the student's intellectual interests and our faculty's scholarly expertise.

What is the funding package for admitted students?

All admitted students receive 5 years of funding, which includes stipend, tuition, and health insurance. Students work as RA/TA for four of the years and receive one year service-free. Our students are competitive for university top-up awards, which can add up to $10,000/year to the standard package.
In addition, students receive University and Departmental support  for dissertation research, for travel to conferences, and for additional training.