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When will the Fall 2024 application be available?

The online application portal will open on September 13, 2023.

What is the deadline for submission for Fall 2024?

The deadline for submitting an application is December 21, 2023 at 11:59 PM Central Time.  The online application system will shut down at this time.

When and how can I expect to hear of an admission decision?

Decisions will be complete in February 2024, and we do not send all decisions at the same time.  The decision on your application will be communicated to you through the online application portal.

  • Once a decision has been reached, you will receive an email directing you to CollegeNet where a new ‘View Decision’ link will appear.
  • If there is not yet a decision, there will be no link. 
  • You will only receive a letter if you are admitted.

Does Northwestern have a Master’s program for Political Science?

There is NO terminal Master’s program in Political Science at Northwestern. The graduate program in Political Science is for those students who are seeking to earn a Ph.D.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

We welcome applications from all over the world. Our 2017-2022 cohorts include students from Turkey, Korea, Japan, The Gambia, Peru, Canada, Mexico, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, China, Kazakhstan,  Pakistan, Namibia, the Netherlands, and the United States!

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to gain access to the financial assistance package?

All admitted students, irrespective of their nationality, are fully funded (stipend, tuition, and health insurance) for 20 quarters.

What should I submit for a writing sample?

Your writing sample should be something academic. This could be a term paper or chapter from a thesis, between 10 and 30 pages in length. Focus on content rather than page number, and remember that we get hundreds of applicants, so likely will not be able to read the entire sample.  Make your selection count! 

Be aware that some graphs or images may become distorted upon upload to CollegeNet.  This is no problem, our Committee understands that this happens.  If we need additional information we will contact you. 

Once submitted, your writing sample cannot be updated or edited, even for typos.

Is it possible to enter the graduate program in any quarter other than fall?

All new graduate students must enter in the Fall quarter. Only under extremely special circumstances will The Graduate School allow otherwise.

May I apply now for admission in two years' time?

Your application is only for admission in the following Fall quarter.

Can I apply now and defer once I have gained admission?

Decisions to defer will be decided on an individual basis. They require the permission of both The Graduate School and the Department. Deferral can only be for up to one year.


Does the Political Science Department require me to take the GRE for admission?

The submission of GRE scores is NOT REQUIRED.  Should you choose to submit GRE scores, please follow the instructions here.

Will submitting a GRE score this year give me an advantage?

Submitting a GRE score is NOT REQUIRED, therefore should you choose to submit a score (or scores), that part of your application will be reviewed as though you had submitted supplemental materials.  An application without these supplemental materials will not be reviewed any differently or deemed incomplete in any way.  If you do not feel that your GRE score best represents your abilities and potential, simply do not submit it. Submission of GRE scores is entirely voluntary, and NOT REQUIRED.

What is Northwestern's institution code?

If you are taking the test through ETS, please use 1565. There is no designated department code for the GRE -- if you re required to enter one, chose 'Undecided'.

I'm not happy with my score, can I take it again and will you still accept the scores?

Remember, submission of GRE scores is NOT REQUIRED.  If you feel that your GRE score does not accurately reflect your best abilities and potential, simply do not submit it.

Be aware that ETS takes 3-5 weeks to send an official score report to us. As long as your application and application fee have been received by December 9th, we are willing to hold processing for up to 2 weeks to receive the official score.  Please plan accordingly, we cannot make accommodations beyond this.  DO NOT schedule your GRE test after December 10th, 2023.

Certifying English Language Proficiency

Do I have to take the TOEFL if I have completed a degree, undergraduate or graduate, from an institution where the primary language of instruction was English?

No.  If your degree is from an accredited institution where the primary language of instruction is English, and your program was at least a year in length you are exempt from taking the TOEFL exam and are not required to submit a TOEFL score.

Please note that TOEFL waivers are updated manually in CollegeNet, so will not appear immediately after you submit your application.  It may take up to a week for the waiver to appear in your checklist.

What is the minimum acceptable TOEFL score?

If you take the paper test, you must score at least 600. For the computer test you must score at least 250 and for the Internet test, your score must be at least 100.

For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.

I took the TOEFL a few years ago. Can I use this score in my application?

You need to have taken the TOEFL within two years of the intended date of admission. If you are applying for admission in the Fall Quarter of 2024, then this means you need to have taken the TOEFL no earlier than September 2022.

Can I send a personal, ‘attested’ or notarized copy of my TOEFL score?

We must receive an official transcript provided electronically by your testing institution.

This said, it is to your advantage to include your scores in your application.  This helps the admissions committee to verify your scores quickly, should there be any delay in receiving the official report.

What is Northwestern's institutional code?

If you are taking the test through ETS, please use 1565. For the TOEFL you should use department code 1565 to ensure your results are sent to the Graduate School.

Where can I find out more about Northwestern's English language requirements?

Visit The Graduate School’s FAQ page.


For Fall 2024, we will accept unofficial transcripts via our online portal.  If you are admitted and enroll in our program, you will be required to have official copies sent to us.

Which transcripts should I send?

You should enclose unofficial transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended. They should list all courses taken, grades received and degrees earned. Transcripts from summer courses at other universities and study abroad programs also must be sent.

We understand that you may still be studying for an undergraduate or graduate degree so your transcript may be incomplete. Evidence will need to be provided before admission that your previous studies have been completed.

My transcripts are not in English. What should I do?

You should have an official translation made. You then need to send both the translation and the original transcript. We need both documents to properly evaluate your academic record.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letters do I need?

We require three (3) letters of recommendation.

Who can write my recommendation letters?

Anyone you think who can properly and fairly assess your academic and research abilities.

How should the letters be submitted?

Your letters of recommendation should be submitted online. Within the application portal there is an option to have your letter writers upload their letters directly from any word processing software.

You will need to provide your recommender's email address. A message will be sent to them containing a link for them to use to upload their letter.

Please note that once you submit your application you cannot make any changes to your recommender or their contact information.

When are my letters of recommendation due?

Your letters of recommendation should be submitted at the same time as your application, on or before December 21st, 2023.  Please give your recommenders plenty of time to prepare your letter; we advise contacting them at least two weeks before you plan to submit your application. 

We begin the review process immediately after the deadline; however we understand that some writers may need more time.  Letters are due by December 30th, 2023, at 11:59 pm. Letters that arrive later may not be considered.