Political Science

The Department of Political Science offers instruction and trains graduate students to conduct original research in six areas of political science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Public Policy and Empirical Theory and Methodology.

Degrees Offered


Degree Details

The Department offers a Master of Arts in political science for students enrolled in the PhD program. Students in the PhD program earn a MA in political science at the end of the second year in the program. This degree will be awarded following the completion of 30 hours of course work, of which are partial course requirements for the PhD, and a successful qualifying paper and defense. The Department does not accept applications for a terminal MA in political science.

Requirements for the PhD in political science fall into five major categories: course work, qualifying paper defense, comprehensive examination, prospectus defense and doctoral dissertation. The satisfactory completion of a total of 42 semester hours of course work and 30 hours of dissertation research is required. First year courses include, Scope and Methods, Introduction to Political Science Data Analysis and Teaching Political Science. These courses are followed by seminars aligned with a major and minor field of study. Along the way, students are also required to complete a research competency or demonstrate proficiency in a second language, and complete electives outside their major and minor field. Students complete a written and oral comprehensive exam in the third year. Most students begin dissertation research in the second semester of the third year. A successful dissertation prospectus, conducting dissertation research, and completing and defending the dissertation are the final steps for completion of the degree. For further details, please refer to the PhD Requirements section of the graduate webpage for the Department of Political Science. 

Admissions Requirements

Carefully review information contained on the Prospective Student section of the graduate webpage for the Department of Political Science.

Applicants must:

  1. Have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.00 (out of 4.00) from an accredited university in the United States, or equivalent credentials from a non-U.S. institution, or a graduate cumulative grade point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. Have a cumulative score on the Graduate Record Examination of at least 300 (verbal + quantitative), with a score of at least 153 on the verbal examination. (This equates to 1100 and 500, respectively, under the old scoring system.) Students not meeting the GRE requirements are advised to resubmit their application after retaking the examinations and obtaining satisfactory scores.
  3. All international applicants are required to meet a minimum standard of English proficiency. International students must provide TOEFL or IELTS exam scores or show proof of English. The department requires minimum scores of 90 for TOEFL and 7.00 for IELTS. If you have completed at least one year of full-time study at a U.S. institution (or at an institution in a country where English is the native language) at the time you apply and within two years from your desired admission term, you may be exempt from the English language proficiency exam. This can be confirmed by your transcripts. 
  4. Submit one unofficial copy of your transcript(s) from each college or university you have attended. 
  5. Submit three letters of recommendation from members of the profession who can judge your ability to participate in a graduate program. You will be asked to supply the names of your recommenders and their email addresses within the application. Electronic requests for letters will be sent out after you submit your application.
  6. Provide a statement of professional and academic goals and intent. Prepare your statement as a .doc or .pdf file, and upload it with your application.

Applicant Instructions

Any materials (test scores, letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts, etc.) that need to be included with your application after the submission deadline for a complete application should be directly emailed to the Office of Admissions as follows:

Domestic applicants: gradprocessing@colorado.edu  

International applicants: intlgrad@colorado.edu

Fall Domestic Application Deadline

December 19, 2016

Fall International Application Deadline

December 19, 2016

Contact Information

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Political Science
Graduate Program Assistant
Ketchum Building, Room 115
333 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
Phone: (303) 492-7871
Fax: (303) 492-0978

Department of Political Science website

Email: pscigrad@colorado.edu