I. General Questions
How important are GPA and GRE scores?
Lower than average scores do not necessarily decrease 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 letters of recommendation are thus very important.
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, such as 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.
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. Final decisions on transfer credit will be made only after you have been admitted to the program.
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.
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.
Is an interview required for admission?
However, 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. This visit gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the campus and program.
Why do you request two transcripts and allow electronic transcripts when the UCI Graduate
Division website says only one transcript is required and it must be in a sealed envelope?
You need to provide two official paper copies of a transcript because the Graduate Division needs one copy and the School of Social Sciences needs a copy. If you submit an electronic copy, one is enough and the School will generate the copy for the Graduate Division. Note that an unofficial electronic copy, such as a printout you generate yourself, will not be sufficient. Also note that the transcripts must be received before your application can be considered.
If I apply to more than one UCI graduate program, can I use the same documents?
Unfortunately, for each application you must submit a complete set of documents, even if the two programs are both in Social Sciences.
If I am interested in Public Choice, should I apply to "Political Science" or "Political Science- Public Choice"?
It makes no difference to which of these programs you apply, but please apply only to one. The Political Science and Political Science – Public Choice applications are considered together. Moreover, any admitted student under either program can complete a Public Choice concentration. The two listings are in the process of merging.
What should go into the academic statement of purpose? The personal history statement?
The academic statement of purpose should explain why you are applying to the political
science graduate program at UCI and what you hope to accomplish as part of your graduate
program. Often about 1000 words is sufficient for a thorough but concise statement.
Some topics you may address include your academic background and interests (including
prior research you have done), the research topic(s) (or broader areas) which interest
you, how these interests fit with the faculty and research at UCI, other particular
reason(s) for applying to this program, your long and short-term academic or professional
career goals, and why earning a doctoral degree advances these goals. You might also
address your academic and personal strengths and successes, as well as any barriers
you may have had to overcome. And you may include anything else from your personal,
family, or academic history that assists the admissions committee in understanding
your plans and interests or that explains something in your record.
The personal history statement is optional (required for those applying for a fee waiver) and provides an opportunity to expand upon the applicant's personal and family history as it relates to doctoral study. If you prefer, you may submit a statement which combines both the academic statement of purpose and the personal history statement, an especially useful option if you have already written such a statement.
II. Financial Aid
What additional 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 occasionally 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. Recently, 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.
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.
The six year funding packages mention teaching assistant, research assistant, and
fellowship support, but what is guaranteed?
The particular mix will vary for different students and by year, but in most cases the basic funding package guarantees teaching assistant support for each quarter for six years. This support includes stipend, health insurance, and tuition and most fees.
Are there other UCI funding sources for incoming students?The Graduate Division offers recruitment fellowships for incoming students. See HERE for a description. The Department nominates students for these awards, based upon
the information students include in their applications. These are highly competitive
across the entire campus.
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.
Why does the campus state a different language policy for international students than the Department and the School?
UCI Graduate Division has set minimum language requirements for admission which apply to all units on campus. These requirements are sufficient for the Graduate Division to approve an offer of admission. However the School and the Department require a higher level of English facility before an individual can serve as a teaching assistant, and we generally require that a student be capable of serving as a teaching assistant before being offered admission. (The requirement can be relaxed somewhat for students who can demonstrate they have guaranteed external funding and thus will not be working as a teaching assistant.) Moreover, we think a higher level of English proficiency than the campus requires is necessary in order to do well in the political science program.
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
Admissions Director, Professor Mary McThomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 824-5726.
If you have further questions about admissions or financial aid, contact the Director of Graduate Affairs in the School of Social Sciences, John Sommerhauser at email@example.com 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 UCI Graduate Division
How will I get information from UCI, including the outcome of my application?UCI will communicate with you electronically via email or via the new online information
system, Slate. Please be sure to keep UCI updated if you change your email or other
contact information. And please check the Slate information portal.
How can I apply on-line?
The application is available at Online Application