Applications are accepted only for full-time study in the Ph.D. program beginning in the Fall semester. Applications for a terminal M.A. degree or part-time study are not considered. Students interested in part-time study or a terminal Master's Degree (in particular, the Master of Liberal Arts) should contact the University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal and Professional Studies.


Instructions, forms, and a link to the online application are located here

Admissions Requirements

Candidates for admission to the Ph.D. program should have an excellent undergraduate record, strong letters of recommendation, and demonstrated skill in academic writing.


  • A personal statement (2-3 pages in length) 

In the personal statement, all Ph.D. applications within the Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences should address the following:

Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity, and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

Your personal statement is an important part of your application to the Political Science Department. The admissions committee looks not only at the general background and qualifications of the applicants, but also at the fit between your goals and interests, and the kind of research conducted by our faculty. While it is natural for specific goals and interests to evolve over the course of one’s doctoral studies, applicants should at least have some idea of the area(s) they want to do research on and which specific faculty members’ interests might be a good match.


  • A writing sample (15-20 pages in length) - A writing sample, such as a substantial term paper or thesis from previous undergraduate or graduate work, preferably on some aspect of political science, is necessary for the faculty to assess your preparation to conduct research as a doctoral student. The document should be converted to .pdf format and submitted electronically with your application. In the event that your writing sample exceeds the application platform's file size limit, you may e-mail the document to the Graduate Coordinator.


  • Three letters of recommendation - These should be written by professors who know your work and can attest to your promise as a student in a doctoral program. Personal and other non-academic recommendation letters are strongly discouraged. Applicants should use the ApplyWeb system to submit letters. Applicants will submit the names, titles, and contact information of their recommenders, who will receive an email invitation to submit a letter on the applicant's behalf. If you or your recommenders have issues with this system, please email Nathalie Lacarrière ( for troubleshooting. Please do not submit more than four recommendation letters. 


  • Copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts - Your application must include a transcript from all institution(s) where you previously completed academic work at the undergraduate (and graduate level, if applicable). The transcripts should be scanned and submitted electronically with your application. These may be unofficial transcripts, but if admitted, you will be required to submit an official copy of the transcript before matriculating.


  • The GRE General Test - The Institution Code for the University of Pennsylvania is (2926) and our Department Code is (1999). The GRE is required for the 2024 admissions cycle. No waivers can be granted at this time.


  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores - This applies to all international students who are not native speakers of English, unless they have received a post-secondary degree at a college or university where the primary language of instruction for the majority of coursework was in English. Please arrange to take the TOEFL test (if applicable) by a date that will guarantee that your scores will be forwarded to the University of Pennsylvania by the December 15th deadline.  For testing dates and locations, refer to TOEFL. The Institution Code for the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences is 2926. Our department code is 89. IELTS scores are also accepted. They should either be sent by mail to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences or electronically using the Institution code listed above, 2926.


Admitted students typically receive fellowship funding for a period of five years. The funding includes tuition remission, health insurance, and a 12-month stipend. For two of these five years, students are expected to serve as teaching assistants (usually the second and third years in the program). Continuation in the program is contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and progress.


For instructions, forms, and a link to the online application, please see here

Questions? Visit our FAQ page!

Fees and Waivers

The application fee is $90.00. Payments must be made by credit card, check, or international postal money order written in U.S. currency and made payable to the "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania."

NOTE: Application fee waivers are managed entirely by the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences, and individual departments do not have the power to grant them. To apply for a fee waiver, applicants should send a brief letter, demonstrating a clear and compelling case of financial hardship. This letter should be sent to Patricia Rea, Associate Director for Admissions, at no later than December 1st.

If you are granted a waiver, you will receive a code to enter into the application at time of submission. Please do not submit your application while your request is pending unless you have chosen to forego the waiver.

Application Deadline

The required components of the application, listed below, should be submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences via the online application portal by December 15th at 11:59 pm PST. The portal will open on October 1st.

Letters of recommendation and official test scores may be accepted up until January 5 at 11:59 pm. However, letter-writers should be given a December 15 deadline, and all tests must be taken before that date.

Please do not telephone the Graduate Division or the Political Science Department to confirm receipt of materials; we will contact you if anything is missing. The deadline for applications is December 15th at 11:59 PM PST.

Review of applications is done by the Political Science Department’s Graduate Executive Committee, which reviews all completed applications and makes all final decisions about admissions. Applicants are required to remember their user ID and password so that they may receive decision information online. The review process begins in early January and continues through the middle of February. Accepted students are typically notified towards the end of February and have an opportunity to visit the campus in late March before having to decide whether to accept the offer by the standard deadline of April 15.


The University of Pennsylvania values equality and seeks talented students, faculty, and staff from various backgrounds.  The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or status as a Vietnam Era Veteran or disabled veteran in the administration of education policies, programs, or activities, admissions policies, scholarship and loan awards, athletic or other University administered programs or employment.  Questions or complaints regarding this policy should be directed to Executive Director, Office of Affirmative Action, 1133 Blockley Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021 or (215)898-6993 (Voice) or (215) 898-7803 (TDD).

For Further Information

Please visit our Admission FAQ page

or contact:

Nathalie Lacarrière
Graduate Coordinator

University of Pennsylvania
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
133 S 36th Street
Room 131
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Telephone: (215) 898-5625