Princeton political science application

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Princeton admits students to the program once each year for enrollment in September. Applications for admission and financial aid, including all supporting materials, are due by December 15th. Decisions are typically announced in February, and each admitted student has until April 15th to respond. The Politics Department does not have an M.A. program and makes no provision for part-time students.

The online application form is submitted to the Graduate School, not the department, and is typically available in September. 

More details about the admissions process can be found on the Graduate School website.

For questions regarding uploading materials, please call the Graduate Admissions Office at (609) 258-3034 or email [email protected].

grad student cohort 2019-20

New graduate student cohort: 2019-20

Along with your application, you must submit a writing sample (25 page maximum) and a personal statement (1,000 word maximum). The writing sample should be a seminar paper or a couple of chapters of a senior thesis (along with a thesis summary). Ideally, the sample would move beyond a literature review to display research abilities and capacity for original thought. The personal statement should describe your academic and career plans. In addition, it must indicate your intended major field of research:

American politics
Comparative politics
Formal and quantitative analysis
International relations
Political economy (first read the requirements of the Political Economy program)
Political theory
Public law

Before choosing one of these fields, please read the department’s field descriptions and familiarize yourself with the relevant faculty interests. Please indicate your field at the top of your essay’s first page, in capital letters.

Students may also apply to the Joint Degree Program in Politics and Social Policy, which is run by the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Politics.  Students who complete the program will be awarded a doctoral degree in Politics and Social Policy.  Students interested in the program will apply first to the Politics PhD.  In order to participate in the Joint Degree Program, students will submit a separate application to the interdisciplinary social policy faculty after their first year or second year of study in the program.


The application for fall 2021 admission is now closed. The application for fall 2022 admission will open in September.

Before applying for admission, please read the Applying to Princeton page. Prior to beginning an application, please also review the helpful tips below:

  • Application materials should only be uploaded online in the appropriate spaces provided and under the additional information section of the application. Princeton does not accept paper application materials, with the exception of architecture portfolios. Please refer to the upload requirements webpage for specific instructions on uploading materials. Also, please be sure to review any additional department requirements that may be required.
  • All test scores must be sent directly from the test center to Princeton University (Institution Code 2672). Department codes are not used at Princeton and are not required by Educational Testing Services(link is external) (ETS). Please refer to the Prerequisite Tests webpage for specific information on the tests. Please allow extra time for test scores to be received and reflected on the application checklist.
  • Do not wait for recommenders to submit their recommendations. See the Recommendation Letters webpage for more information.
  • Before submitting an application, double-check it as no revised documents will be accepted after the deadline.
  • If an application has not been submitted, the applicant can log in and manage the account.
  • After submitting an application, the applicant can log back into the application and view the checklist. Please note that duplicate materials and items that are not required as part of the application, will not appear on the checklist. Checklists are only updated after the application is submitted.

Unexpected and emergent events such as natural disasters, political unrest or armed conflict, and widespread internet or power outages may make it impossible for applicants from an entire region or country to meet an application deadline. Due to the highly decentralized, department-based nature of graduate admissions, the Graduate School cannot make blanket changes to application deadlines, nor can we guarantee that any accommodations are possible. Such blanket changes would prevent the University from meeting its own deadlines for making admission decisions and informing all applicants of outcomes. However, prospective applicants from affected regions or countries are encouraged to reach out to Graduate Admission. When possible, the Graduate School and departments will work with prospective applicants on a case-by-case basis.

The ApplyWeb Help Desk is available from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. For any difficulties in applying, please email [email protected](link sends e-mail) for assistance and allow 24 hours for a response. When contacting the Help Desk, please include the user name or order ID number, full name, email address, and phone number.

Applicants who require additional accessibility assistance may also contact [email protected](link sends e-mail

Princeton has one of the largest and most intellectually diverse faculties in political science in the United States, while maintaining a graduate program of relatively modest size. Our department boasts top-ranked programs in the four major subfields of political science (American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory), as well as first-rate training in some smaller fields including public law and formal and quantitative methods. 

The Department encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary work, and it has established formal programs in political economy (the application of microeconomic theory to political phenomena), political philosophy (the study of the core concepts and principles of political life), and social policy (the study of economic insecurity and inequality). Many students pursue interdisciplinary training and research on a range of other topics as well. Our program is designed to be flexible and support students in their particular research agenda.

The Department offers a Ph.D. program in Politics (we do not have a distinct M.A. program). We seek to train students to assume faculty positions at a range of institutions of higher education, and we have a strong history of successfully placing our students in academic positions. We support students pursuing a range of substantive research in the discipline, and offer extensive training in formal theory, statistics, and qualitative methods. On average, our incoming class consists of about twenty students, pursuing work across the discipline.  

Although we do not have a single formula for making admissions decisions, admission to the program is highly competitive.  Every student admitted to the program receives a fellowship offer that provides full funding for the graduate program, including five years of tuition, healthcare, and a living stipend that covers both the academic year and the summer (see financial support for more information). We separately require students to teach some discussion sections of undergraduate courses as part of their training (typically between the third and fifth years in the program), and encourage all students to work as research assistants to members of the faculty to gain practical experience with the research process.

The Department does not interview prospective students and does not encourage prospective students to visit campus prior to their admission to the program. Students who are admitted to the program will have an opportunity to visit campus and meet current faculty and students in the spring. Applications for admission are due in December and decisions are typically announced in February.

If you are a prospective student, please visit our plan of study page for an overview of the program. You should also review the range of faculty research interests to help decide whether Princeton is the right place to continue your studies.

Details about the admission process can be found on our admission information page and on the Graduate School website, and many questions about the admissions process and the program are answered on our frequently asked questions page.

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