Application Requirements

Application Process

Begin the application process early. To insure that scores are available when admission decisions are normally made, you should take the GRE and TOEFL (if required) no later than the December before the fall for which you are applying. Requests for transcripts and letters of recommendation should also be made no later than December in order to give the senders time to get the documents to Rice before the deadline.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications for the fall semester is January 5.

Late applications may be considered until April 1. However, candidates who miss the deadline place themselves in a less competitive position.

Application Form

Use our online application process to submit your application.

Application Fee

The normal application fee of $85.00 is currently waived for all applicants.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required. They should be written by individuals, usually professors or instructors, familiar with your work, and thus best qualified to testify to your capacity for graduate study. These letters must be sent directly to us by the person writing the recommendation, preferably electronically through our application website. You will have the opportunity to enter the email addresses of your references, and they will receive a prompt to upload a letter. If one of your references can not submit a letter through the online system, he or she may email the letter to or mail it directly to the department of political science.


We require one copy of the official, confidential transcript from each institution (undergraduate and graduate) that you have attended. These transcripts are essential parts of your application. Send transcripts from any institution where you earned (or will earn) a degree, studied for one year or more, or took classes that relate to your current application for graduate study.

The transcripts should provide a listing, year-by-year, of all courses taken and the grade or marks received for each one. It is helpful to have the grading scale of the institution and the student's rank in class included when such information is available. Do not submit secondary school records.

While official transcripts sent directly from the issuing institution to Rice are preferred, digital copies submitted by applicants themselves will be acceptable for the application process. However, all offers of admission extended to applicants without official transcripts on file will be conditional upon the receipt of official transcripts within 30 days of the offer being made.

Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose should tell us about your plans and goals. We find the following information particularly useful in a statement of purpose: (1) What experiences prepare you to succeed in our Ph.D. program? (2) What are your research interests, substantively and methodologically? (3) Why is the Rice Ph.D. program in political science a good fit for you? (4) What are your goals when you finish your Ph.D.? There is no minimum or maximum required length for the Statement of Purpose.

GRE Scores

The Department of Political Science normally requires all applicants to provide GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test scores. This test should be taken not earlier than three years prior to the date of application and no later than the December prior to the desired fall entry. An official copy must be sent to the Department of Political Science directly from the Educational Testing Service. Photocopies are not acceptable. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that access to testing is more limited. As a result, for admission in fall 2023, recent GRE scores are recommended but not required. Because we find GRE scores helpful as part of our overall evaluation of candidates for admission, we strongly recommend that you submit scores if you are able. For further information on the GRE, contact the Educational Testing Service, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541 USA. ETS can be reached by telephone at(609) 921-9000, by email at or on the web at

GRE Codes:

  • School Code - 6609
  • Department Code - 1902

TOEFL Requirements

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of any student whose native language is not English. The TOEFL is administered through the Educational Testing Service, Box 6151, Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6151 USA. They can be reached by telephone at (609) 771-7100), by email at TOEFL@ETS.ORG or on the web at Be sure to take this test in time for the scores to reach us by the January 5 deadline. An official copy of your scores must be sent to the Department of Political Science directly from ETS. A photocopy is not acceptable. For 2023 admission, we also accept the IELTS or Duolingo English Test.

Applicants must score at least 90 on the internet-based TOEFL, at least 600 on the paper-based TOEFL, or at least 250 on the computer-based TOEFL. For students who choose to take the IELTS in lieu of TOEFL, the minimum score is 7, and for the Duolingo English Test, the minimum score is 115.

If an applicant meets one of the following conditions, the TOEFL and IELTS score requirement may be waived:

  • Proof of degree from an accredited U.S. high school, college, or university.
  • Proof of completion of the equivalent of a high school education or the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree in a country with English instruction. These countries are identified to be: Anguilla, Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada (English-speaking provinces), Cayman Islands, Dominica, Fiji Islands, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Liberia, Montserrat, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, The Bahamas, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, U.S. Virgin Islands, West Indies, or Zimbabwe.