PhD Admission Requirements

Entrance Requirements

PhD admissions are conducted by the faculty who advise students in each field of study. To be considered for admission as a candidate for the PhD program, you must have a bachelor's degree awarded by a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or equivalent degree from a recognized non-U.S. institution and must have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five years.

Normally, a minimum of a B average in undergraduate coursework is required for admission to graduate study in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Trachtenberg School. However, most applicants have higher GPAs than the minimum. The evaluation process considers a wide range of factors that indicate your ability to succeed in the curriculum.

Most applicants have completed a Master's degree in public administration, public policy, or related fields; however, we also consider applications from recipients of master's degrees in a wide range of fields, as well as applicants without master's degrees who have strong undergraduate records as well as relevant work-related experience.

Applicants must specify within the statement of purpose to which one field of concentration they are applying:

  • Education Policy
  • Health Policy
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Administration and Management
  • Public Budgeting and Finance
  • Science and Technology Policy
  • Social Policy with areas of specialization in Gender and Social Policy; Poverty and Inequality; Race, Ethnicity and Public Policy; and Urban Policy

This statement should also describe your areas of research interest within that field. We particularly want to learn what you hope to do by attaining this degree.

We look for evidence of your ability to succeed in the doctoral curriculum, which includes quantitative courses in economics and statistics. That evidence may come from success in similar undergraduate or graduate courses, from quantitative scores on the GRE, or from success in quantitative courses outside of the social sciences. We also assess the match between your area of interest and our core faculty's strengths.

PhD Student Profile, Fall 2015 Incoming Class

Most common undergraduate majors:

Political Science




Social Sciences (other)


Math, Science, Eng.



Most common master's degrees:



International Studies






Degrees total to more than 100 due to multiple graduate degrees (~9% of students)


Current Student Background:

Student Status

67% full time

33% part time



72% female

28% male



Mean: 30








Our international students come from a variety of countries; some funded by grants including the prestigious Fulbright program.

Apply Now Button Applications for Summer or Fall entry are due on January 15 for those seeking fellowships, and February 1 otherwise. Applications for Spring entry are due on October 1. Applications for Certificate programs are due November 1 for spring entry and July 1 for fall entry.