Frequently Asked Questions
Graduate Program Admissions
Typically, between two and five.
Yes, the department offers full fellowships to all incoming PhD students regardless of financial need or nationality. The funding is for five years, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance. In return, students serve as teaching fellows in the department for six semesters, generally one course per semester starting in the spring of the first year.
Most of our master’s students receive generous scholarships in the form of merit- and need-based aid. Often awarded at the time of admission, these scholarships do not require a separate application. These awards are made to both international students and U.S. citizens. Scholarships usually provide partial tuition and may be supplemented by low-interest government loans for U.S. citizens and permanent residents via the FAFSA form. More information can be found at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Master's Student Aid page.
The funding consists of a full tuition waiver, a stipend and health insurance.
The Admissions Committee will not consider incomplete files. The writing sample, GRE scores, English proficiency scores (i.e. TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE for students whose first language is not English) and three letters of recommendations are required for all candidates. The admissions committee attaches roughly equal weight to these factors, to your recommendations — preferably from academics familiar with your scholarly work — and the writing sample.
The deadline for PhD applications is January 15. Applications for the MA program are accepted on a rolling basis through April 15.
Scores below the 60th percentile generally lessen a candidate's chances. Above that, there is great variation; please remember that applicants' files are considered holistically.
We do not offer opinions about admission before considering your full file.
No. The admissions committee considers all of the information in your file. If your GRE scores are low, the committee will look at other materials that are reliable indicators of academic potential.
We consider all scores, and note all trends.
Yes. Please describe your specific area of interest, and indicate whether you plan to concentrate on international relations, comparative politics, political theory, or American political development. You are not permanently committed to this choice, of course, and you may change your major field of study after beginning the program.
They generally reflect the faculty's research interests; see the faculty page. Please also check the page describing current graduate students.
A personal statement and a writing sample. Please follow the application instructions provided by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
We recommend limiting your personal statement to approximately 1,000 words, which should be sufficient to explain your academic background, current motivation and future research interests.
Your writing sample should be a 5,000 - 7,000-word scholarly essay that addresses your research interests.
The admissions committee strongly prefers to see letters from those who can assess your likelihood of academic success in graduate school. Letters from non-academic employers carry much less weight than letters from academics and scholars who are familiar with your work.
No, although given the number of applicants and potential visitors, is it encouraged.
No, though the department does expect that prospective students will have had sufficient exposure to the field for them to develop a clear statement of purpose.
Our students come from a variety of programs and countries. Some of our recent Ph.D. students joined us from the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland, Mount Holyoke College, Michigan State University, L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Strasbourg, France and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Our Master's students come from an even more diverse list of colleges and universities.
That would be premature. Let us have a look at your application first.
Generally, we contact admitted Master's students by email between March and the end of April. PhD students receive notification earlier than this, allowing them plenty of time to select their program before April 15.
Generally until April 15, although we will give you 4 weeks or so from the date of your receipt of the decision letter. We appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible, since your slot may then become available to another applicant.
Yes, we will be in touch with you and we will be happy to discuss the program in detail with you.
Under certain circumstances, yes.
In the early summer.
Between four-and-a-half and seven years. The following timeline may be helpful: it takes two years to complete coursework; a semester to prepare for and pass comprehensive and language exams; an average of one-and-a-half to two years to do research; and one to three years to write the dissertation.
Yes. However, at the beginning of your second full year of study you can request credit for graduate coursework completed elsewhere. Students generally can receive a maximum of two class credits for work elsewhere, but exceptions are possible.
We do not recommend entering the PhD program without funding. Students may choose to pursue the MA under these circumstances, since the department offers reduced tuition rates for MA students.
The program is designed to be completed in three semesters or less. Some students finish in two terms of coursework and then one summer semester of thesis writing; others finish their coursework and thesis writing in two terms.
This program takes teaching very seriously. PhD students take a pedagogy course in their second year. All PhD students receiving departmental fellowships begin serving as teaching assistants in their second semester and continue serving as teaching assistants for one course in each of six subsequent semesters. Some of our students also choose to teach part time at area colleges and universities.
Small grants are generally available for summer work. Also, faculty members may employ graduate students to do research. Students sometimes find employment teaching in other departments, or working in the library, for example.
Yes, summers and part of the fifth year of funding may be spent doing fieldwork. Other arrangements and funding sources are possible as well.
Within Brandeis, students attend seminars and lectures at the Center for German and European Studies, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, the Departments of Near Eastern and Judaic studies and history, among others. There are also countless other academic opportunities in the Boston-Cambridge area.
A lot! Many social gatherings, happy hours, movie evenings, the chair's sherry hour, and outings.
This is a relatively small department that prides itself on the quality and extent of interaction between faculty and students.
Most of our graduates pursue and land tenure-track appointments. Some of our graduates have been placed at the following schools: The University of British Columbia (Vancouver), Catholic University, the University of Michigan, New York University, The George Washington University and Rutgers University.
Some of our recent MAs and PhDs have decided to go into public service or work for NGOs. Placements include the Liberty Fund, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Yes. Fellowships go to the strongest applicants regardless of nation of origin.
No. The admissions committee bases its decisions solely on the application and the applicant's academic credentials. Most cohorts generally include international students.
Around the world. In the last three or four years we have had students from Egypt, Poland, France, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, the Czech Republic, Germany, and India.
For more information on our English proficiency policy, please visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences FAQ page for international students.