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How to Apply to Our Program

SDSU will begin accepting applications for Fall 2022 on October 1, 2021. 

In order to apply to the program, prospective students complete two parts of the application: one part is for admission to SDSU graduate studies via the university’s Graduate Admissions (steps 1-3 below),  and the second part is for our departmental admissions committee through Interfolio (step 4 below). Both parts are necessary.

Deadlines for Fall 2022 (No Admission for Spring 2023):

  • February 15, 2022: Priority deadline. The Political Science Graduate Committee will begin reviewing completed files on this date, with a first round of admissions and scholarship decisions in early March. Applicants who wish to be nominated for campus fellowships or who would like to maximize their chances of Terhune scholarship support should have complete applications by this date, including all four steps listed below.

  • March 1, 2022: University Cal State Apply deadline. The university-wide Cal State Apply link for Political Science will close on March 1. Late applicants may be approved to apply on a case-by-case basis. Contact Professor Kristen Maher ([email protected]) if you would like to ask whether a late application would be possible.

  • April 1, 2022: University deadline for all official documents. International students will have earlier deadlines for transcripts and proof of English proficiency (see links in the steps to apply below). This is also the deadline for submission of Interfolio materials: all elements of the application should be complete by this date for consideration in our department’s second round of admission. However, late submission of materials to Interfolio may be possible past this date: contact [email protected] to inquire.

General Requirements:

  • Grade point average (GPA)
    • minimum of 3.0 for the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units of undergraduate work
    • 3.0 GPA for upper division political science courses
    • 3.0 GPA for all courses taken in political science
  • GRE General Test: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirement that applicants for graduate study at SDSU submit scores for the GRE is suspended for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle.  GRE scores will not be evaluated as part of the application process.

Steps to Apply

Fill out an application with Cal State Apply by March 1.

Create an SDSU WebPortal account with the RedID number emailed to you after you complete step 1.

Send official documents to SDSU Graduate Admissions by April 1.

  • See the above links for the specific list of documents required and how to submit them. You can expect to be asked for official copies of all educational transcripts, as well as proof of proficiency in English if you have not previously studied in an English-language institution.

Complete the Program application and upload your Statement of Purpose, Recommendation Letters, and Writing Sample (if any) to Interfolio by April 1. Our program’s Interfolio code is 91393.

This qualitative portion of the application is solely for the use of the Political Science department’s Graduate Admissions Committee. It is important that you use the link above to ensure that the documents you upload to Interfolio are linked to your SDSU application and accessible to the committee.

  • Statement of Purpose:  We look for statements of about 1000 words, or up to 2 pages double-spaced. These statements are a chance for you to tell us a bit of your story, what kinds of issues or questions you are most interested in, and why you would like to pursue an MA in Political Science. 

  • Two Letters of Recommendation:  Ideally, we like to see letters from professors or instructors who know your academic skills, such as your writing and analytic abilities, and who can evaluate these objectively in the letter. Professors from upper-division or other graduate courses are preferable to those who taught you in introductory or lower-division courses. If you cannot supply any academic references, you can request letters from others such as supervisors at work who can speak to the kinds of qualities that would be relevant to your success in graduate school.  You may submit more than two letters if you like. Directions: As you create your Interfolio account, there is a link for inviting letters of recommendation. After you enter the email addresses for your letter writers, Interfolio will email each of them with a link to upload a recommendation letter directly to your file.

  • Writing Sample (optional):  If you have a writing sample that demonstrates your written and analytic skills, you may choose to include it as a supporting document. 

The department will make our admissions decisions based on the entire package of materials. We review only complete files, so please make sure that you send everything early enough that your file is ready by the application deadline.

Again, our department will be holding two rounds of admission, one in March, and the second in April. If you would like to be considered for departmental or university-wide scholarships/fellowships, your entire application should be complete by February 15th. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For more information on applying to the MA program in Political Science, see our Admissions page and the SDSU Graduate Admissions.

Students are admitted for the fall semester only. February 15th is the priority deadline for our first round of admission and consideration for scholarships. International students, students seeking the best possible chance for admission and students that wish to be considered for departmental scholarships should apply by this date. Applicants wishing to be included in our final round of admission in April must begin the CalState Apply online process by March 1st and complete all steps of their applications by April. For either round of admission, students should ensure that all required documents reach the Graduate Division several weeks ahead of that date so that that department has sufficient time to process these documents and forward it to the Political Science department.

Normally, yes. For the 2021 and 2022 Admission cycle, SDSU is waiving the GRE requirement for all graduate applicants, given limitations on GRE access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other years, all applicants must submit official scores from the Verbal and Quantitative portions of the GRE exam, with the sole exception of those who have already received a postgraduate degree from an institution that meets the Graduate Division’s requirements. While you can begin the application process before taking the GRE, we cannot review your application until we have official scores. 

Although the GRE is just one component of the overall applicant's record, we prefer minimum scores of 153 for both the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE.
Letters of recommendation should be submitted through the department’s Interfolio program. Once applicants begin an Interfolio profile by clicking on “Apply Now” on this page, they can send invitations to those who have agreed to write letters on their behalf through the Interfolio system. Letter-writers will be sent a link that would permit them to upload their letters directly to the applicant’s Interfolio profile. 

The graduate committee in Political Science highly values academic letters of recommendation as a means to evaluate whether students possess the academic skills necessary to succeed in the program. We thus have a strong preference for letters from former professors that can speak specifically to your academic skills and potential. Even if you are not in contact with former professors, it might be worth your time to try to contact or meet with them to remind them who you are and get some kind of support from them. 

Alternatively, you may want to take a graduate course from a local university and get a new letter for your file. If you live in the San Diego area, you can do this through Open University. If neither of these options is available to you, and nonacademic letters are necessary, try to give us other indicators of your academic abilities in other parts of your application.

Yes. In fact, SDSU has a parallel enrollment system through its Open University program that permits anyone with at least a B.S. or B.A. to enroll in graduate courses here, with the instructor’s permission. If you were to be admitted into the program later, these courses would be treated as transfer units, of which you may have nine total. Since SDSU grad courses are 3 units each, this means that you could feasibly take up to three courses prior to admission in the program and have them count toward your program of study.

Yes. In fact, many of our students work at least 20 hours per week in addition to taking courses. To accommodate these work schedules nearly all of our courses occur in the evening between 4:00 pm and 9:40 pm. Students who work can decide how many courses they can handle at once. Full-time study would be three courses, or 9 units. Part-time study can be either one or two courses per semester. The only restriction upon taking the program at your own pace is that all degree requirements must be completed within seven years.

The length of time it takes to finish the program depends in large part on how much time you have to give to your studies, and how well you are already prepared to select topics for your thesis or exams. Students who take three courses per semester can complete the program within two years (or sometimes two years plus a summer), while part-time students take longer.

You may. SDSU accepts up to 9 units of transfer coursework, if it has not already been used toward a different degree and if the Graduate Advisor finds the content to be comparable to that in our own graduate program. Generally, such determinations would be made after you are admitted and you have supplied the Grad Advisor with syllabi and written materials from these courses.

Yes. Departmental fellowship awards are offered to outstanding applicants. Each complete application received by the February 15th deadline is automatically considered for these fellowships, which typically range from $1000-$4000. The exact amount and number of the awards, however, varies each year depending upon the pool of applicants and funds available. The department also offers some Terhune scholarship funds on a limited and competitive basis to help support students already admitted to the program who want to present their research at professional conferences or who need financial help for fieldwork costs.

Many of our graduate students work part-time as Graduate Assistants or Teaching Assistants during their degree program, and this is another form of financial support.

There are a few highly competitive campus-wide fellowships that highly qualified students may receive, if they are selected by the department admissions committee for nomination, and then selected by the campus-wide committee thereafter. Department nominations must be submitted by the end of February, and students are generally notified by April if they have been awarded a campuswide fellowship.  

For more information on scholarships and non-resident tuition waivers, see the Financial Aid and Scholarships page.

Everyone is required to take the Seminar in Research Design (Pol S 615), and it is recommended to take it as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you are encouraged to enroll in seminars that will fulfill core requirements, especially 675, 655, 605, and 603.

Beyond these courses, you can select other 600-level seminars or 500-level electives of interest to you, keeping in mind that you may have a total of only three electives count toward the degree.

If you plan to complete an Advanced Certificate in Public Policy and/or the Advanced Certificate in Comparative and Global Politics, you might prioritize courses that will fulfill these requirements, as well. You may count these courses toward both the certificate and the general M.A .degree. 

Admission to the graduate program on a conditional basis means that you are eligible to enroll ingraduate level coursework but that your enrollment in the program will be reevaluated at the end of your first semester. Moreover, as a student you will lack “Classified Student Standing,” and thus you are not eligible to apply for Graduate Assistant teaching positions in the department. For more specific information about the conditions of your enrollment, refer to your admission RDR (Request for Departmental Recommendation). Most conditional admits are required to maintain a certain GPA. Be sure that you understand what you need to do to meet the conditions. Once you have met the conditions, you need to complete a Change in Status Form and attain the Graduate Advisor’s signature and routing to the Graduate Division in order to register for your second semester. 

International Students

We are committed to making our program welcoming to students from different parts of the world. Our recent cohorts have included students from Mexico, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Somalia, Colombia, Sweden, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and France.

We are aware of the challenges faced by international students as they transition to a graduate program in the United States and strive to smooth their path as much as possible. In addition to helping international students negotiate various bureaucratic hurdles as they apply and register to the program, we also strive to provide them financial support in various forms.

For further information on the application process, financial aid and international student services, please see the following links.

AndreaAndrea Arango, Colombia

Studying a masters program in a foreign language is challenging and for the first month it was overwhelming. Yet, it is amazing to see how fast my reading, writing and speaking skills have improved. I found a warm environment with faculty members and my classmates, who never saw my language limitations as signs of inferiority or as a lack of knowledge. The support I have found for my ideas and my academic projects has been unique, and I think is related to the human quality of the faculty members, and to the diverse and flexible nature of the program, that allow you to explore the discipline in its variety and also to focus on your field of interest.

Dong JoonDong Joon Yoon, South Korea

As a foreign graduate student in political science department, I have enjoyed several advantages in the last two years. First, I had the opportunity to participate in intellectual discussions on current socio-political issues in U.S., such as inequality and constitutional rights. Second, the dedicated faculty was impressive in terms of their own research, and also their willingness to offer advice on all kinds matters ranging from bureaucratic to academic. Third, my class mates were open-minded without an exception. Sometimes we organized study groups to study abstruse subjects together like statistics, and the scores in the subjects were amazing.

Jil PiaJil Pia Rudolf, Germany

My experience at SDSU introduced me to wonderful people, provided me with enormous knowledge, changed my understanding of the world and let me believe in a better future. I think there exists no other program with such amazing, committed and helpful professors, truly unique classes and work opportunities. Besides the great program, there is no better place to live than San Diego. I love being active and San Diego gives you the possibility to be at the beach and in the mountains at almost the same timeThe fact that it’s a border city also gives you the chance to go to another country just for a day, twenty minutes from campus. Because of that proximity and its weather appeal, the city has a great mix of cultures. Also, people are very friendly and as you know it never rains in Southern California. Well it rains a little bit. But not very much!

Need Help?

You are welcome to address any questions about the application process or program to the faculty graduate advisor ([email protected]).

Regarding university admission processes (steps 1-3 above), applicants may also contact staff members at In-State Admissions, Out-of-State Admissions , or International Admissions.


Graduate Advisor

Professor Kristen Maher
Office: Nasatir Hall (NH) 121
Email: [email protected]

Advising Hours

  • In-person advising, Fall 2021:
    TH 1:30-3:30 pm or by appointment, NH 121
  • Virtual advising, Fall 2021:
    T/W 3:00-4:00 pm or by appointment
    Zoom link

Important Links