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FAQs

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General

When will the Fall 2019 application be available?

The online application portal will open on September 1, 2018.

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

The deadline for submitting an application is December 14, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.. (Central U.S. time). The online application system will shut down at this time.

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

Usually by early-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, you will receive an email directing you to CollegeNet where a new ‘View Decision’ link will appear.
  • If there is not yet a decision, there will be no link. 
  • 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 and 2018 cohorts includes students from Turkey, Korea, Japan, The Gambia, Peru, Canada, Mexico, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Namibia, 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!

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 one year.

GRE

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 160/148 (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 14th, 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 14th, 2018.

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.  If your degree is from an accredited institution where the primary language of instruction is English, and your program was at least a year in length you are exempt from taking the TOEFL exam.

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 2019, then this means you need to have taken the TOEFL no earlier than September 2017.

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.

Transcripts

For Fall 2019, we will accept unofficial 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 unofficial transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended. They should list all courses taken, grades received and degrees earned. Transcripts from summer courses at other universities and study abroad programs also must 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.

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.

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 recommender's email address. A message will be sent to them containing a link for them to use to upload their letter.

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