Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid

The Politics Department offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in two fields: Foreign Affairs, which covers the political science fields of Comparative Politics and International Relations, and Government, which covers the fields of American Politics and Political Theory.

Admissions to both M.A. and Ph.D. programs is handled through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences admissions website. In addition to the materials listed on the Graduate School's Requirements page, the Politics Department requires that you submit a writing sample (more information on the writing sample below).

The application deadline for the Politics Department is December 15. For more general deadlines,see the Graduate School's Deadlines page.

A single application is used to determine both admissions and Departmental financial aid decisions. For more information on funding see the Graduate School's Funding page.

Please note that international students face strict immigration and visa requirements and slow processing of visas. Please consult the International Student and Scholars Program for visa requirements and other information. Do not delay in seeking the appropriate visa.

We have an entering class of approximately 10 funded Ph.D. students per year. The standard funding package is as follows:

  • Annual living support of $24,000, renewable for 5 years
  • Waivers for tuition and enrollment fees
  • Health insurance provided
  • Opportunities for 6th year funding (but not guaranteed)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship during 2nd-4th years of graduate study, and one semester of the 5th year (with some opportunities for Research Assistantships instead)

Limited merit-based financial aid is available for students whose intended terminal degree is the M.A.

Please be aware of four additional Departmental policies as you prepare your application:

  • In evaluating applications, we do not utilize a strict formula; we seek to understand each applicant holistically. Nonetheless, it may be helpful to know that most successful applicants to our program have a GPA of 3.3 or above.  Foreign applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received their undergraduate degree from a college or university where the primary language of instruction is not English must take the TOEFL and attain a score of 100 or above.  We weigh the GRE less heavily than other factors, though very high scores will help your application. Scores below the 60th percentile in Verbal and Math and below the 80th percentile in Analytic will reduce your chances of acceptance.

On the application form it is essential that you enter the appropriate degree program in which you wish to enroll.

  • If you do not plan to continue on toward a Ph.D. in our Department, please choose M.A. Foreign Affairs or M.A. Government. If you do plan to go on for the Ph.D., please select Ph.D. Foreign Affairs or Ph.D. Governmentregardless of whether or not you already have a Ph.D. If you do not already have an M.A. in political science, you will obtain one in the course of working toward the Ph.D.
  • Students who already have a Master’s degree in political science are typically admitted directly into the Ph.D. program; however in some cases these students will be asked to fulfill part of the UVA M.A. requirements. If you wrote an M.A. thesis for your prior M.A. please include a copy with your application.
  • Your writing sample is the most important part of your application. Please upload what you think is your best piece of analytic writing over 20 pages long. If you have written a senior thesis, honors project, or MA thesis, please submit that.
  • Your personal statement should focus on what you are interested in studying in graduate school. Try to draw your reader into what you see as interesting and important questions. You might also explain aspects of your preparation that are not apparent in other aspects of your application, and tell us who on our faculty you would like to work with. The origins of your interest in studying politics are only relevant insofar as they help to explain the substance of your current research interests. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to study—figuring out what you want to study is part of the point of going to graduate school.

If after reviewing the above information and exploring our website you have additional questions, please feel free to email the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Phil Potter, or the Graduate Assistant, Sharon Marsh.

Where can I find the official academic requirements for the University?

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

Graduate Teaching Assistants Nicholas Jacobs, Alex Pennington, Chelsea Goforth, with visiting speaker Dahlia Lithwick, and professor, Paul Freedman