Graduate Program FAQs

I. General Application Questions




II.  Financial Aid




III.  Retention and Placement




IV.  Other






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I.  General Questions


What are the average GPA and GRE scores of your incoming students?

The department has no official cutoff in terms of scores or grades.  Numbers lower than the averages listed below will not automatically end your chances of being admitted.  The admissions committee tries to look at all aspects of a students record -- not just grades and scores but also your research goals, experience, and a whole host of considerations.  Your statement of purpose and letter of recommendation are thus very important. 


Last year, for all students we admitted to the program,  the average Verbal GRE score was 649, and the average Quantitative score was 697, for an average Total GRE score of 1345. 


Our incoming class of 14 averaged 1329 on their GREs (655 Verbal and 679 Quantitative).


In recent years our incoming students have had undergraduate GPAs well above 3.5.  Last year, the average GPA for those we admitted was 3.78 and for those who enrolled the average GPA was 3.66. 

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What are the chances of being admitted to the program? 

Last year we gave offers of admission to 40 applicants out of a total pool of 176 applicants (23 percent).  15 students accepted our offer of admission, or 38 percent of those we admitted.



Do I need an undergraduate degree in political science or international relations in order to be admitted to the Ph.D. program?

No, a good proportion of the students we admit each year did their undergraduate work in other fields.  For example, of the students we admitted for 2007, a little under 20 percent had degrees from other fields, including Anthropology, History, Mathematics, Psychology, and Women’s Studies.



Do you require an M.A. degree for admission to the Ph.D. program?  Do most of your students have further education beyond the B.A.?  

We do not require that students have an M.A. degree before entering the Ph.D. program. 


Many of our new students come right out of undergraduate programs, but perhaps a third to one-half will have already earned master's degrees at other universities.  For the current group of incoming students, 6 out of 14 have already earned a Masters degree. 


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Is an interview required for admission?

No, but you are welcome to visit the campus on your own.  You should contact Professor Uriu and the faculty with whom you would like to meet.


Also, if you are given an offer of admission, you will be invited to a “Visiting Day” before you will need to make your decision on whether to enroll.  Since this will be held after you are already admitted, it is really more of a chance for YOU to interview US.


Do you require students to have any work experience?

Many of our incoming students do have some level of work experience outside of academics, but this is not a prerequisite.



Do you offer an M.A. in political science?

Students may earn an M.A. degree on the way to earning the Ph.D., but we do not admit students who intend to complete their studies with an M.A..


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Can I enroll part time in the Ph.D. program?  Can I take classes during the evening to fulfill your degree requirements?

No, the Ph.D. program requires a full-time commitment to classes prior to advancement to Ph.D. candidacy (generally at the end of the student’s third year in the Ph.D. program).  Most of our graduate classes are offered during the work day. 



I have an M.A. degree already.  Can I transfer some of these credits to your program?

The department allows students who have an M.A. degree to transfer up to six courses for credit.  No more than three of these courses can be in political science.  Final decisions on transfer credit will be made only after you have been admitted to the program.


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II.  Financial Aid


What is the basic financial support package that you offer to the students you admit?

In the recent past, we have offered all of our incoming students a full five years of guaranteed financial support.  The School’s basic package consists of 15 quarters of a half-time Teaching Assistantship, which will pay all registration and educational fees, covers health insurance costs, and provides a stipend to cover living expenses (for 2007-08 this stipend was $15,600 per year). 


The school will also pay your Non-Resident Tuition (NRT) costs in your first year, if applicable, while you establish your California residency.  This is a simple process and is optional but highly recommended:  if you do not become a state resident by the end of your first year, you will be responsible for paying your own NRT until you do so.

UCI also guarantees access to on-campus housing.  Last year the guarantee was for at least the student’s first four years of study. 


The School’s support package is of course contingent on the student making satisfactory progress in the program, including satisfactory performance as a T.A..  (Note also that students who receive  full support from external fellowships or grants do not normally receive additional support from campus resources.)


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What other support do you offer the students that you admit?

Our most competitive students will receive Merit Fellowships from the School of Social Sciences.  These fellowships allow the student to choose 3 quarters in which they will not have to serve as a T.A., but will still have all of their fees and health insurance costs covered, plus receive a living stipend.  Merit winners also includes a one-time summer stipend to be used after the students’ first year (for this year the summer stipend totaled $2,500).


Students with exceptional records may also be awarded additional fellowship support directly from the School of Social Science or the Department of Political Science.  Those with specialized interests may also receive support from other academic units in the school, most notably the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Center for Asian Studies.


You can find more information on the financial support that UCI offers its incoming graduate students at


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What other financial support is available to students after they enroll in UCI? 

During the course of the academic year the Department of Political Science and/or the School of Social Sciences regularly hold competitions for fellowship quarters, which allow students to receive a stipend without needing to serve as a T.A..  In the past, separate competitions have been held for students who have not yet advanced to candidacy and for those working on their dissertations.


The department also makes funds available for summer stipends, on a competitive basis.  The School of Social Sciences and the department provide funding support for travel to conferences.


In addition, many of our students have received grants and awards from other units in the school or on campus.  In the past academic year, our students have received grants from the Center for the Study of Democracy, The Center for Global Peace and Security, The Center for Asian Studies, the Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality, the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, and others.


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Do you offer Research Assistant (RA) positions?

RA appointments are made directly by faculty with research grants.  Generally, faculty make these to students who they advise or who they have worked with in the past.  As a result, relatively few RA appointments are made to first year students.



How do students typically support themselves over the summer? 

The Department holds a competition each spring to support summer research projects.  In addition, for students remaining on campus, summer classes provide some opportunities to serve as teaching assistants or graders.  Once students advance to Ph.D. candidacy, graduate students are eligible to teach summer session courses as instructors, on a competitive basis.



What duties will I perform as a Teaching Assistant?  What is a “half-time” T.A.?

Your T.A. duties entail working with the professor in charge of the class to which are assigned, including holding discussion sections and/or office hours, grading papers, and other duties assigned by the professor.  T.A.s are expected to work approximately 20 hours per week.


In the past, some students have been able to serve as a T.A. into their sixth years, but this is not something that we can guarantee. 

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III.  Retention and Placement


What percent of your students end up getting the Ph.D. degree?

From 1990 to 1999 about half of our total incoming students ended up earning the Ph.D. degree (the figure is actually 48.4%).  The department is a relatively young one, having been officially created only in 1986.  We expect this number to rise in the future.



What is your average time to degree?

For those who have completed the Ph.D. program, the average time to degree is currently 7.3 years.



Where do those who get the Ph.D. degree end up?  Are most still in the academic field?

For the past decade (1996 through 2006) the department granted 47 Ph.D. degrees.  Of these, 39 are still engaged in academic careers. 


Our recent Ph.D.s are evenly split between research universities and teaching-oriented institutions.  We expect the proportion of our students taking jobs in Research Universities to rise in the future, but many of our future Ph.D.s will continue to prefer jobs in teaching-oriented colleges.
Five of our graduates have taken positions at prestigious universities abroad.

Of the eight who have left academics, four have taken positions based on the Ph.D. work.

For more details on our placement history, go to:

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IV.  Other


What is the code for UCI’s Department of Political Science?

UC Irvine’s Institution Code is 4859. 


The department code for Political Science is 1902 for the GRE and 89 for the TOEFL.



Where do I go for more information?

Other links on this page contain more information on the Political Science program.  If you have specific questions about the program, contact the department’s graduate director, Professor Marek Kaminski, at


If you have further questions about admissions or financial aid, contact the Graduate Office Manager of the School of Social Sciences, John Sommerhauser ( or (949) 824-4074.


More information about the University, the admissions process, financial aid, and more, can be found on the “Prospective Student” page on the Office of Graduate Studies website, at



How can I apply on-line?

The application is available at (Click on the “Apply Now” link)




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