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.

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 15, and any transcripts must be postmarked by December 15.

Applicants who are not already law students must also apply directly to the UC Davis School of Law for the combined M.A./J.D. program. 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 will NOT be required for Fall 2022 Admissions. The executive decision to temporarily waive the GRE requirement will be for the Fall 2022 admission cycle only.
  • 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.

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 educational mission to serve the increasingly diverse population and educational needs of California and the nation. Joining the Vice Provost of Graduate Education/Dean of Graduate Studies and the University of California, both the Department of Political Science Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Graduate Department in Political Science affirm that diversity is critical to promoting lively intellectual exchange and the ideas and perspectives essential to advancing the highest quality of education and research. Our graduate students contribute to the global pool of future scholars and academic leaders, thus we highly value a diverse graduate student body to support the University of California’s mission of academic excellence. 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.


Political science is a diverse and ever-changing field. A lot of contemporary research in the discipline uses advanced statistical techniques and mathematical modeling tools to study various political phenomena. To prepare our students to be both careful readers and active creators of this research, the program is structured to give all students high level training in quantitative methodologies. The Department's coursework in methodology is designed to be accessible for any graduate student in the program, regardless of whether they took any undergraduate-level math or statistics courses. However, since these methodologies require some rudimentary background knowledge of mathematics, the Department also offers an online "math camp" to incoming first-year students every summer in order to ease the transition into these courses. The math camp covers several topics that will help students succeed in our program, including calculus, linear algebra, and the basics of computer programming.

Students whose subfield focus is political theory are required to take introductory quantitative methodology courses, in order to allow them to be literate in a key language of the discipline. However, their training largely focuses on the methodological approaches appropriate to political theory, such as the practice of close reading of texts in light of historical context, including the history of ideas, and the creation of vocabularies and analytic frames to illuminate political questions, problems, and practices.