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When will the Fall 2018 application be available?

The online application portal will open on September 1, 2017.

What is the deadline for submission for the Fall Quarter of 2018?

The deadline for submitting an application is December 15, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (Central U.S. time). The online application system will shut down at this time.

All items sent by post or courier to Northwestern should be post marked on or prior to this date, to the best of your ability.

When and how can I expect to hear of an admission decision?

Usually by mid-February, and we do not send all decisions at the same time.  The decision on your application will be communicated to you through the online application portal. Once a decision has been reached a new ‘View Decision’ link will appear. If there is not yet a decision, there will be no link.  You must log into the online application portal to view your decision, you will not receive a message.  You will only receive a letter if you are admitted.

Does Northwestern have a Master’s program for Political Science?

There is NO terminal Master’s program in Political Science at Northwestern. The graduate program for Political Science is for those students who are seeking to earn a Ph.D.

Do I have to be a US citizen to apply?

We welcome applications from all over the world. Our 2017 cohort includes students from Turkey, Korea, Japan, The Gambia, Peru, Canada, Mexico, France, Indonesia, and the United States!

Do I have to be a US citizen to gain access to the financial assistance package?

All admitted students, irrespective of their nationality, have access to our funding packages.

What do I send for a writing sample?

It should be something academic. Ideally this would be a term paper or honors thesis, between 10 and 30 pages in length.  You may need to select a relevant chapter or section as appropriate.  Focus on content rather than page number, and remember that we get hundreds of applicants, so likely will not be able to read the entire sample.  Make your selection count!

How do I apply for transfer credit? What do you need to make this decision?

Applications for transfer credit will be considered following admission. Such decisions are made in consultation with faculty on the basis of work completed.  Consult the Guide to Graduate Study for rules about transfer credits.

Is it possible to enter the graduate program in any quarter other than fall?

All new graduate students must enter in the fall quarter. Only under extremely special circumstances will The Graduate School allow otherwise.

May I apply now for admission in two years' time?

Your application is only for admission in the following fall quarter.

Can I apply now and defer once I have gained admission?

Decisions to defer will be decided on an individual basis. They require the permission of both The Graduate School and the Department. Deferral can only be for up to a year.


Does the Political Science Department require me to take the GRE for admission?

Yes. Every applicant is required to take the GRE, even if you already have a Master’s degree.  No exceptions will be made.

What is Northwestern's institution code?

If you are taking the test through ETS, please use 1565. There is no designated department code for the GRE -- if you re required to enter one, chose 'Undecided'.

What is the minimum acceptable GRE score?

There is no set requirement. However, anything below 600 (old version) or 160/148 (new version - Verbal/Quantitative) means the likelihood of admission is low. GRE scores will not make or break an application.

I'm not happy with my score, can I take it again and will you still accept the scores?

Be aware that ETS takes 3-5 weeks to send an official score report to us. As long as your application and application fee have been received by December 15th, we are willing to hold processing for up to 2 weeks to receive the official score.  Please plan accordingly, we cannot make accommodations beyond this.  DO NOT schedule your GRE test after December 15th, 2017.

Certifying English Language Proficiency

Do I have to take the TOEFL if I have completed a degree, undergraduate or graduate, from an institution where the primary language of instruction was English?

No - so long as your degree is from an accredited institution, and your program was at least a year in length.

What is the minimum acceptable TOEFL score?

If you take the paper test, you must score at least 600. For the computer test you must score at least 250 and for the Internet test, your score must be at least 100.

For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.

I took the TOEFL a few years ago. Can I use this score in my application?

You need to have taken the TOEFL within two years of the intended date of admission. If you are applying for admission in the Fall Quarter of 2018, then this means you need to have taken the TOEFL no earlier than September 2016.

Can I send a personal, ‘attested’ or notarized copy of my TOEFL score?

We must receive an official transcript provided electronically by your testing institution.

This said, it is to your advantage to include your scores in your application.  This helps the admissions committee to verify your scores quickly, should there be any delay in receiving the official report.

What is Northwestern's institutional code?

If you are taking the test through ETS, please use 1565. For the TOEFL you should use department code 01 to ensure your results are sent to the Graduate School and not the undergraduate college.

Where can I find out more about Northwestern's English language requirements?

Visit The Graduate School’s FAQ page.


For Fall 2018, we will accept transcripts via our online portal.  If you are admitted and enroll in our program, you will be required to have official copies sent to us.

Which transcripts should I send?

You should enclose official transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended. Official transcripts will carry the signature of the Registrar and/or the official seal of the awarding institution. They should list all courses taken, grades received and degrees earned. Transcripts from summer courses at other universities and study abroad programs also need to be sent.

We understand that you may still be studying for an undergraduate or graduate degree so your transcript may be incomplete. Evidence will need to be provided before admission that your previous studies have been completed.

May I send copies?

Your transcripts may only be copies if they are marked as “Certified True Copies” by the institution involved.

My former university will not give me transcripts in sealed envelopes to enclose with the rest of my application materials. What should I do?

Most universities will issue documents in sealed envelopes directly to the student. If your school will not, please have your transcript sent directly to the Department of Political Science. If your name has changed, be sure to note your former name in your application so your transcripts can be matched to your file.

My transcripts are not in English. What should I do?

You should have an official translation made. You then need to send both the translation and the original transcript. We need both documents to properly evaluate your academic record.

May I send my transcripts to Northwestern before I submit my online application?

Yes. They will be held in a pending file until your online application has been completed and the application fee has been paid. Please ensure that your name and date of birth are included.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters do I need?

We require three (3) letters of recommendation.

Who can write my recommendation letters?

Anyone you think who can properly and fairly assess your academic and research abilities.

How should the letters be submitted?

Online. Within the applications portal there is an option to have your letter writers upload their letters directly from any word processing software. You will need to provide your nominated writers’ email addresses. A message will be then sent to them containing a link, login and password for them to use.

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