Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency). International applicants whose first language is not English will be admitted only if they have Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 100 or more (Internet-based).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applicants to the Political Science Ph.D. program must apply online by December 15 for admission the following fall. The online application requires you to complete the Graduate School application, Political Science supplemental application, and provide the names and email addresses of three references who can attest to your success as a graduate student.  In addition, you must also upload a statement of reasons for graduate study that is two pages in length, a resume or C.V.,  scanned official transcripts, and one research paper with an abstract.

Applicants from outside the United States may also need to submit TOEFL scores. International applicants whose first language is not English will be admitted only if they have Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 100 or more (Internet-based).

It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that all materials are delivered on time.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

The department guarantees funding for all Ph.D. students making satisfactory progress for at least their first five years. Support may be in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, or as an assistant for a faculty research project.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students must complete written exams in two subfields before the end of the sixth semester. A dissertation proposal must be defended prior to the start of the seventh semester in the program.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Students are expected to consult with their advisors concerning minor/breadth requirements. At the time the student requests the preliminary exam warrant, a summary should be prepared of the effort in interdisciplinary coursework and training.

All Option B minors require the approval of the student’s advisor and the associate chair.

With program approval, students may be allowed to count 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions toward fulfillment of the minor requirement.

Required COURSES

General Structure of the Program
POLI SCI 800 Political Science as a Discipline and Profession (Must be done in the first semester)1
POLI SCI 817 Empirical Methods of Political Inquiry3
Statistical Methodology Coursework-Graduate Level3
Meet with your advisor to discuss the faculty’s First Year Assessment of your progress in the program by the start of your third semester.
Take and pass two general prelims from the specified list (International Relations, American Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, Political Methodology) in June following your fourth semester.
Present one or more possible dissertation ideas to a committee with a minimum of two faculty members no later than September 15th of the 5th semester.
POLI SCI 801 Research and Writing Seminar3
Submit a conference level research paper for review by January 15 before start of 6th semester.
Complete the minor requirement.9
Meet the minimum graduate credit requirement.32
Fulfill any requirements specified by the student’s primary subfield, such as presenting at a workshop.
Maintain minimum of B average in coursework.
Remove all Incompletes before defending the dissertation proposal.
Produce an approved dissertation proposal before the start of the seventh semester.
Write, defend and deposit a thesis of an acceptable standard that makes an original contribution to knowledge.
Total Credits51

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students may be allowed to count 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions toward fulfillment of the minor requirement. While satisfying the minor requirement, these credits will not count toward meeting the minimum credit requirement. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

No credits from a UW–Madison University Special student career may count toward the degree.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).


All students are required to meet with their advisor to discuss the first year review.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


The Department currently guarantees at least five years of financial support to all students admitted to the doctoral program, assuming they are making satisfactory progress toward their degrees. This funding may be in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, or project assistantships. All appointments receive valuable fringe benefits such as excellent health insurance and tuition remission.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Master the state of existing research in two or more subfields of political science.
  2. Acquire expert knowledge of methods of political inquiry.
  3. Design, conduct, and complete original research of substantive value to the field of political science that makes and original contribution to knowledge.
  4. Master the communication of complex concepts to a range of audiences.
  5. Demonstrate and foster ethical and professional conduct in research, teaching, and service.

Faculty: Professors: Avramenko, Burden, Canon (Chair fall 2020), Cramer, Copelovitch, Kapust, Hendley, Herrera, Kydd, Marquez, Martin, Mayer, Owens, Pevehouse, Ringe, Schweber, Shelef, Straus (Chair starting spring 2021), Tripp, Weimer, Yackee, Weeks, Zumbrunnen; Associate Professors: Bhavnani, Powell, Renshon, Simmons, Tahk, Johnson; Assistant Professors: Brooke, Lei, Lo, Lindsay, Schwarze, Shalaby

More information can be found here: https://polisci.wisc.edu/faculty-2/