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Application Materials

For your application to be given full consideration, you must submit all materials by December 15, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. (Central U.S. time).


Required materials:

1) Application Form

The Graduate School, accepts online applications through CollegeNet.

Admission decisions will be conveyed via CollegeNet. You may access the online application as many times as you wish to check if a decision has been rendered on your file. If a decision is available, a "view decision" link will appear. If a decision has not yet been rendered, no link will be present.

2) Application Fee

The online application will prompt you to pay the application fee after all required questions have been answered. The application fee is $95 and must be paid via credit card at the time of application submission. Your application can not be processed without payment of the fee. 

To review the criteria for a fee waiver, click here.  If you are eligible for a fee waiver, a message will appear at the end of your application, in lieu of a payment entry page. 

3) Transcripts

An unofficial transcript from each post secondary institution attended, including records from courses in any university-level institution attended abroad, must be uploaded to your application.  Official transcripts are only required for applicants that have been admitted and have chosen to enroll at Northwestern. Official transcripts received before an offer of admission has been made will be discarded.


The academic records we refer to as transcripts should provide a listing, year-by-year, of all courses taken and the grade or marks received for each one. It is helpful to have the grading scale of the institution and the student's rank in class included when such information is available.

If your college or university will not mail original official academic documents to you, you may send exact copies that have been verified as "Certified True Copies" by the appropriate institutional official of each institution you have attended. Uncertified photocopies are not acceptable. To be considered, all documents not in English must be accompanied by official English translations which adhere to the following guidelines:

The Graduate School will accept applications from international students earning three-year bachelor's degrees.

4) Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are very important so choose your writers carefully. The Admissions Committee is most interested in recommendation letters from those who are able to assess your academic and research abilities in areas related to your field of study.

5) Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose is an important part of your application. The Admissions Committee will consider it carefully. Be as specific as possible about your research interests and qualifications. If you have particular reasons for choosing Northwestern, be sure to indicate them.

6) Writing Sample

There are no firm guidelines on the writing sample. It should be academic, best demonstrating your abilities and potential. 

7) Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

For admission to the Ph.D. program in Political Science at Northwestern, every applicant must take the GRE. Official scores must be taken no more than five years before the intended quarter of entry and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Personal copies are not considered official, nor are "attested" or notarized copies.

ETS will offer you the opton to send us scores from every test you've ever taken, or to select the scores you want to send.  We recommend that you send us ALL scores; we will look for your highest score in each section. 

8) Certifying English Proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS)

Much of your success in graduate study will rely on your ability to understand, read, write and speak English. If your native language is not English, you must certify your proficiency in the English language by one of the following:

The Graduate School's school code for TOEFL is 1565. Students taking the TOEFL should also reference department code 01. This will ensure that the TOEFL scores are sent to The Graduate School and not the undergraduate college.

More information regarding the TOEFL

More information regarding IELTS

All materials should be submitted by December 15, 2017, at 5 p.m. (Central U.S. time), via CollegeNet.


If you have any questions please consult our FAQs page.

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