Graduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

All applications for the SM and PhD programs must be submitted online through GradApply by December 15, 2020 for Fall 2021 admission. Students are admitted as degree candidates only for September. The Political Science GradApply website is at  

The admissions committee will not review late or incomplete applications.

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is optional for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle due to Covid-19. For those taking the exam, the institution code is 3514, and the department code is 1902.

If your language of instruction from primary school through college/university was not English, you must take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. We require a minimum TOEFL score of 600 on the paper-based test, or 100 on the internet-based test. On the IELTS you must score a minimum of 7. MIT only accepts official score reports; a photocopy will not be considered an official test score. Degrees from US or English-speaking ­universities are not accepted in lieu of TOEFL or IELTS. In limited cases the department will consider a waiver. Applicants must request the waiver form from the department. The institution code for the TOEFL is 3514 and the department code is 92.

It is advised that these tests be taken as early as possible as offiical scores from ETS should be received by the deadline.

Special Instructions

In your Statement of Objectives, please be sure to discuss the research questions you would like to pursue in your graduate studies. Please submit two other documents, both in .pdf format: a copy of your resume and a writing sample. The writing sample should be no more than 50 pages in length and is used to assess an applicant’s conceptual thinking and analytical skills. Therefore, please submit a writing sample that best represents your potential to conduct PhD-level research, such as a research paper or a portion of an undergraduate or master’s thesis. Writing samples are welcome from any discipline and do not need to be from a political science course.

Academic Transcripts

All applicants are required to scan and upload official transcripts with their applications. Accepted applicants will be required to provide a sealed official transcript from each school attended. Any discrepancy between the scanned and official transcript may result in a withdrawal of our offer of admission.

If you participated in a study abroad program and your coursework/credits are reflected on your home institution's official transcript, you do not need to list this or send an official transcript from that program.

If you attended a community college or university from which you did not receive a degree and transferred those credits to an institution from which you received a degree (for which you are submitting an official transcript) you do not need to list the community college/university or provide an official transcript.

Letters of Recommendation

We advise you to request letters of recommendation as soon as possible from individuals who can best evaluate your scholarly potential as a graduate student in political science. We ask that all recommendations be submitted electronically, using the online system. Use Letters of Recommendation and then Letter Status to ask for electronic recommendations and to check whether recommendations have arrived. You must e-mail your recommenders the instructions shown in Letter Status.

You may address additional questions about Political Science graduate programs and the application process to  or .

Application Mentorship Program

The Political Science Application Mentorship Program (PS AMP) is a volunteer initiative started by graduate students in the department, and is specifically intended for PhD applicants from communities that have historically been underrepresented in higher education. This includes, but is not limited to: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), non-cisgender individuals, members of the LGBTQIA+/queer community, individuals with disabilities, first-generation college students, and individuals from low-income backgrounds. If you think you fall into one of these groups but aren’t sure, we still encourage you to sign up. Applicants will be paired with graduate student mentors who can answer questions about MIT PoliSci and provide application assistance. Participating in PS AMP is completely voluntary and will not affect your graduate admissions decision. Sign up here if you are interested, and please check out the FAQ page or email

UPDATE (Oct. 27, 2020): PS AMP is nearing capacity — since we want to accommodate as many applicants as possible, we will implement a waitlist system. Applicants can still apply through the sign-up form through to Dec 1, and will be put on a waitlist if the system is at capacity at the time of application. These applicants will be paired with mentors as new mentoring slots become available on a first-come-first-served basis. You will be notified about being on the waitlist.

Privacy Policy

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