How to Apply

The Department of Political Science accepts applications for our Ph.D. program and the M.A./J.D. joint program, conducted in association with the School of Law. We do not offer a stand-alone M.A. program. If you are considering applying, we encourage you to visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

The Application Process

The admission application (required) and fellowship application (encouraged, but not required) must be completed through the online application system. The admission application and fellowship application, along with instructions, are available through the Office of Graduate Studies website beginning in early September. Applications are accepted for fall quarter only.

For full consideration and review your application must be completed by December 1, and any transcripts must be postmarked by December 1.

For the combined M.A./J.D. program, applicants who are not already law students must also apply directly to the UC Davis School of Law. Separate applications must be submitted to each department because the evaluation and decision processes are performed independently. If admitted to both programs, the applicant must enroll at the School of Law for the first year.

The following information is required and must be submitted online as part of your online admission application:

  • Initial application (online)
  • Application fee, paid by credit card or e-check — The fee must be paid before the application will be considered as complete, and the fee must be paid for each application submitted. Consult the Graduate Studies website for fee information.
  • Three "Letters of Recommendation" — Your letter writers must upload their statements through the online application system; no paper letters will be accepted. Your recommenders will receive instructions for submitting their recommendations online.
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores — Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required, and the Graduate Admissions Committee will not be able to view an applicant’s file if the GRE scores are missing. Note that while the Admissions Committee takes GRE scores seriously, the GRE is only one part of our holistic review process that takes into account many factors, including letters of recommendation, the applicant’s statement of purpose and writing sample, and evidence of skill in research.
  • The UC Davis Graduate Studies Office requires a Statement of Purpose as well as a Personal History Statement from all applicants. To learn more about those statements, please see information here.
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores - if you have not studied at an institution and received a degree where the language of instruction is English. These scores must be current (taken with the past two years). For more information about scores and how to submit them, please see the Graduate Studies page on English Language Examination Requirements.
  • Writing sample — A document that demonstrates your ability to conduct political science research. No more than 10,000 words. Must be submitted electronically as part of the online application.
  • Transcripts — All applicants must upload PDF versions of their transcripts or academic records directly to our system. Paper transcripts are not acceptable. Consult the Graduate Studies website for instructions about uploading transcripts.


We Value Diversity

The University of California Davis, a public institution, is committed to supporting the diversity of the graduate student body and promoting equal opportunity in higher education. This commitment furthers the University of California’s mission to pursue academic excellence and to serve the increasingly diverse population and educational needs of California and the nation, thus contributing to the global pool of future scholars and academic leaders. The Department of Political Science affirms that diversity is critical to promoting lively intellectual exchange and the ideas and perspectives essential to advancing the highest quality of education and research, and we welcome all applications, including from applicants who are first-generation college students, who come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, or who, through life experiences or educational background, demonstrate an ability to contribute to a diverse educational environment. We invite you to include in your Personal History and Diversity Statement how you may contribute to the diversification of graduate education and the UC Davis community.



The Department of Political Science at UC Davis offers a very limited number of application fee waivers for students who wish to apply for the Department’s Ph.D. program and who meet certain eligibility criteria, described in detail below. The UC Davis Graduate Studies office also offers a separate fee waiver program; please click here for more information. Any applicant may apply for both fee waiver programs, but an applicant may only receive one fee waiver.

Both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens may apply for a Department fee waiver if they meet the eligibility criteria. If you meet the eligibility requirements for a Department fee waiver, please follow the application instructions listed below. Applications must be received by 8:00 am Pacific time on November 27th in order to receive consideration. The Department has a limited number of fee waivers and will prioritize financial need if it receives more applications than available fee waivers. If there are any remaining fee waivers after considering applicants' financial need, the Department will allocate them to eligible applicants by a random lottery.



In order to be eligible to receive a fee waiver from the Department, you must be a U.S. citizen, current permanent resident, an AB540 student or a DACA student. You must also demonstrate either: (1) financial need, (2) US military service, or (3) that you have participated in one of the pre-approved programs listed below. 


Criterion #1: Financial Need

You can demonstrate financial need in one of the following ways:

  1. You are currently receiving need-based financial aid from your undergraduate or graduate institution. This includes (but is not limited to) being eligible for a federal Pell grant or a Cal Grant A or B as an undergraduate.
  2. You have completed the FAFSA form and your Student Aid Report (SAR) has an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $3,069 or below. 
  3. Your personal situation makes it financially difficult to pay the graduate application fee. This could include heavy child or elder care responsibilities, current unemployment or a recent emergency that depleted your financial resources.
  4. Your family’s 2020 tax return lists an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) less than or equal to an amount from the table below:

Total Family Size












For each additional family member

Add $8,399 to the highest amount listed above.


Criterion #2: Service in the U.S. Military

If you have served in the U.S. military, you can apply for a Department fee waiver.


Criterion #3: Participation in a Pre-Approved Program 

If you have participated in one of the pre-approved programs on this list, you can apply for a Department fee waiver. 

If you have participated in a graduate prep program that is not on the UC Davis Graduate Studies list of approved programs nor on the Department list of approved programs, please email Sarah Mayorga ( The Department may grant fee waivers on a discretionary basis to students who have participated in relevant graduate prep programs that are not on the Department’s list of pre-approved programs.