Applying to the Ph.D. Program

Special COVID-19 Notice: All applicants should upload unofficial transcripts from all academic institutions into the Application for Graduate Admission.  Department of Political Science is currently not accepting hard copies as staff are working remotely.  Graduate Students who are admitted into the program will be asked to submit official hard copy transcripts after admissions decisions are released.

The application fee is $135 for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and $155 for all other applicants. The application and all supporting documents must be submitted by December 1st, 2022. No extensions will be granted. Please read the instructions prior to contacting the graduate office.
Application Instructions

To apply for admission to the UCLA Political Science Department’s Ph.D. program, you must use the form on the Graduate Division website ( That online form will guide you through the process. Be sure to select “Political Science” as your academic program in the “Plans for Graduate Study” section in the online admissions form. Note that the department does not have a separate master’s degree program, so if you’re interested in doing graduate work in our department you must apply for admission to the Ph.D. program.

As part of the application process, we are going to need three letters of recommendation. You should not ask your recommenders to send their letters directly to the department. Instead, you will provide names and contact information online for three people who have agreed to write letters for you. The letter writers will be contacted directly via email, and will also submit their letters electronically. This procedure is described in more detail on the application form website. For this purpose, you will not use the application form but will instead click into the link for “Recommendations” on the lower left-hand side of the online application form.

You must submit a statement of purpose and a writing sample. The section on “Statement of Purpose” in the application form will give you a good sense for what the Statement should be. It should be about three to five pages, double-spaced, in length.

Your writing sample is another requirement that will be taken into account when your application is assessed. We are not interested simply in seeing how well you write English, although that of course is important. We are also interested in getting some sense for your analytical abilities. Normally, the writing sample would be a paper you did in college or in a master’s program that you are particularly proud of, but one that is not purely descriptive in nature. An applicant will sometimes send in a copy of his or her senior thesis or master’s thesis. The sample should be at least five pages and at most 25 pages long (double-spaced).

You are also required to send in your official transcripts from previous academic work you have done. Upload transcripts onto the application form and mail official hard copy transcripts to the department. The one exception has to do with applicants who have gotten their undergraduate degree from UCLA. Those applicants do not have to provide an official transcript, but they will still need to submit an unofficial copy of their final transcript after they graduate, which they can get from the registrar’s office, to prove they have actually gotten their degree.
If your undergraduate transcript does not show explicitly that you have been awarded a bachelor’s degree, at some point before you actually enroll you will need to send us a copy of your diploma, as officially issued by your university registrar. If that diploma is in a foreign language, you should also submit, in hard copy, an official English language translation of the diploma which you would get from the registrar (or equivalent office) at the institution that awarded it.

Finally, an international student who has been admitted and has decided to enroll in our program will have to send us a copy of his or her passport by April 11, so that the visa-issuance process will have enough time to run its course.
All hard-copy material should be sent to:

Special COVID-19 Notice: Graduate Students who are admitted into the program will be asked to submit official hard copy transcripts after admissions decisions are released.  Please send them to this address below.

ATTN: Graduate Advisor, UCLA
UCLA Political Science Department
BOX 951472, 4289 Bunche
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1472

You will also have to take the General Graduate Record Examination and have the results sent directly to the department. You should take the GRE’s no later than November 1 so that we receive the test results before your application is processed. UCLA’s institution code for this exam in 4837 and the department code is 1902. The Educational Testing Service, which administers the exam, should be provided with this information so it knows where to send the results of the test.

Applicants from abroad whose native language is not English must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam and have the results reported directly to the department. UCLA’s institution code is 4837 and the department code is 89. More details can be found at The minimum scores you would need to get are described on that webpage. We recommend that you take your TOEFL or IELTS exam by November 1st so that we can receive the results by the time applications are reviewed. Since it is very important that we know that your English is good enough to do graduate work in our department, we may at some point arrange for a Skype interview. Please note that in order to work as a teaching assistant, non-native speakers will also need to get a passing score on the University’s Test of Oral Proficiency examination.

When your application is complete you will be automatically prompted to pay the application fee, currently $135 for U.S. citizens and permanent residents and $155 for everyone else. The fee is to be paid via credit card. If you think you’ve completed the form but are not prompted to pay the fee, click the link for “Check Your Application” on the lower left-hand side of the online application form to see what is missing. As you’ll see on the “Fee Waiver” section of the application form, certain applicants are eligible to have that fee waived. More information on fee waivers is available on the Graduate Division website at

The application for students planning to enter in the fall of a given year will be available by mid September of the previous year. (Our department accepts applications only for students planning to enter the Ph.D. program in the fall). The application is due on December 1st, 2022. Note that the application has to be complete in order to be submitted, so please plan accordingly. The applications will be reviewed by the faculty in December and January, and for those students who are admitted, acceptance letters will generally go out in early February. Those letters will also include information about the financial package an applicant is being offered. Students who are offered admission will normally have until early April to let us know whether or not they are going to come.

If you have additional questions about our program, please first read the section on the graduate program on the department website here and also the department’s graduate handbook, which is available here (new hyperlink should be: If after reading this material you still have questions about the program or about the application process, please feel free to contact the graduate advisors in the department’s graduate office

Financial Aid Information
The department tries to provide whatever financial support is needed to enable a student who is accepted into the program to make satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. But this is just a goal, and, if you are offered admission, what we will actually be able to promise you will be outlined in the offer letter.

You will need, of course, to find some way—generally with the department’s help—of covering both your living costs and tuition and fees, if those costs exceed what you were promised in the offer letter. Here are some basic facts that relate to this problem. What you would have to pay, in theory, for tuition and fees depends on whether you have California residency. California residents pay only in-state tuition (formerly called the “Educational Fee”). U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not California residents must in addition pay “Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition” (NRST) in the first year in the program. They can, however, be reclassified as California residents for tuition purposes after the first year, and, if approved, will no longer be charged for NRST. For more information about this, go to

International students cannot become California residents for tuition purposes and must continue to pay non-resident tuition until they advance to Ph.D. candidacy (i.e., until they have completed all course and program requirements except the dissertation). Thereafter, there will be a 100% reduction of NRST (but not of basic Tuition) for a total of three years after they advance to candidacy.

Thus for the academic year 2022-2023, California residents paid a total of about $18,143 in tuition and fees. The corresponding figure for non-residents (both from out-of-state and abroad) was about $33,245. Students, however—and this applies to both California residents and non-residents, including international students—who work as teaching assistants, research assistants, and in many cases as readers (i.e., graders) receive substantial fee remissions. For more information, including current figures, see the “Graduate Student Fees and Fee Remissions” page on the Graduate Division website (

Living costs will be covered by a stipend you receive from the department, by the salary you receive by being a teaching assistant, or in other ways (e.g., by various fellowships or mentorships you are awarded after you are enrolled).

Note that you do not have to apply separately to be considered for financial aid. If you are accepted into the program, you will automatically be considered for a fellowship and the offer you receive will include provisions relating to financial support. If, however, for one reason or another you might not need any, or much, financial support from the department, you should let the graduate advisors ( in our graduate office know about this as soon as you apply. If, for example, you are getting funding, or have a good chance of getting funding, from some source outside of UCLA (like a foundation or a government agency), we would need to know about this so we can take it into account in the admission process. This also applies to students who are prepared to pay for their own education. If you are an international student with external funding that will cover NSRT, you should make this clear in your application.

If you’re interested in being considered from one of the special Graduate Division fellowships listed on the application form, you will simply need to fill out the corresponding section on that form. But please don’t check the box for any of the fellowships listed there that you don’t really feel you’re qualified for.

The most important of the Graduate Division fellowships is the Cota-Robles fellowship, which “is intended to help ensure access to graduate study for students who have experienced significant socioeconomic disadvantages or overcome other major educational or physical disadvantages in their pursuit of higher education.” More information about this program is available on the Graduate Division website at As noted above, you apply for it directly on the application form.