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Graduate Admissions FAQ

May I apply if my degree is not in political science?

The graduate admissions committee only considers applications from those who already have an undergraduate academic degree in political science or a closely related field (e.g., international studies, sociology, philosophy for prospective political theorists, etc.). Those without this required background occasionally enroll as special students in the undergraduate program and take upper-level undergraduate courses in order to build the academic record necessary to apply to the graduate program. If you are interested in pursuing that route, please contact the undergraduate admissions office to inquire about registering as a special student.


May I start the graduate program in winter semester?

No, the department only offers fall admissions.  Very important: Do not apply to start the program in winter or summer – applications for winter or summer will be cancelled and the application fee will NOT be refunded.

May I take graduate courses as a special (non-degree) student?

You may only take graduate courses in the department if you are a currently registered McGill student or if you are a registered student in another graduate program with which McGill has a student exchange agreement. Exchanges among Quebec universities take place through the Quebec Inter-university Transfer Agreement. Please refer to http://www.mcgill.ca/student-records/iut/.

Do you offer a part-time program?

Both our MA and PhD programs are full time only.

How competitive is the admissions process?

The department typically receives between 350-450 total applications for an entering MA class of 25-35 and an entering PhD class of 5-8 students. Successful applicants typically have CGPAs of 3.5 or above.

Do I need to contact a prospective supervisor ahead of time?

No, you do not need to contact a prospective supervisor ahead of time. The department’s Graduate Committee makes all admissions decisions.

May I apply to the PhD program if I only have a BA degree?

Yes, especially outstanding students with BAs in political science may apply directly to the PhD program. However, the majority of successful applicants to the PhD program are currently in MA programs or have completed their MA degrees.

May I start the graduate program in winter semester?

No, the department only offers fall admissions.

Do you offer funding for graduate students?

For incoming PhD students, the department guarantees each student a financial package of at least $18,000 per year for four years, subject to satisfactory progress in the program. The precise composition of this package varies each year, and is a combination of internal and/or external fellowships, research assistantships, and/or teaching assistantships. Once ABD, PhD students may apply to teach summer courses as well.

While the department cannot guarantee funding for MA students, most MA students in the department take up teaching and/or research assistantships. As of September 2011, full TAships (180 hours per semester) pay $4,498 per semester. Admitted students apply directly to the department for TAships after the department’s Administrative Officer circulates the call for applications. RAships are arranged individually with professors.

In addition, graduate students may apply for department and faculty funding for conference travel, advanced methods training, and fieldwork.

How long is the MA program?

Students typically complete the MA program in either three or four semesters, not including summers. Please see the MA Program Guide at www.mcgill.ca/politicalscience/grad/gradformsdocs/ for sample completion timelines.

How long is the PhD program?

Completion times vary by subfield and specialty, but students typically complete the program in five to six years. Please see the PhD program guide at www.mcgill.ca/politicalscience/grad/gradformsdocs/ for a sample completion timeline.

Where can I find more information about MA and PhD program requirements?

The MA and PhD Program Guides have detailed information about program requirements and opportunities, including coursework, theses, funding, options programs, and much more. You may download them at www.mcgill.ca/politicalscience/grad/gradformsdocs/

When should I expect to hear from McGill?

The department aims to contact PhD applicants no later than mid-March and MA applicants no later than mid-April. Applicants may always check the status of their applications on Minerva.