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PhD Admissions

SPP PhD Students

Explore emerging and overlooked issues as you define the future of policy research, education and practice.

We invite you to take the next steps toward joining our community. Our admissions team is here to help you learn more about the School and our programs, understand the application process and answer any questions you have along the way. 

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Admission to the Doctoral Program requires a formal application with supporting documents, a full curriculum vitae (or résumé), a statement of research interests, and evidence of research ability (although not necessarily research achievement). Many applicants to our program will already have earned a Master’s degree in some field, but a Master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission. Matriculants who have already earned a Master’s degree in a policy-relevant field can, though, expect to enjoy more latitude in course selection than matriculants entering without such a degree.  

All applications will be reviewed by the Doctoral Program's Director, and most applications will then go on to be reviewed by other members of the School’s Faculty. Applicants whose research interests are best matched to one or more potential faculty advisors and who show broad promise as Public Policy scholars and as citizens of the School and University will be considered for admission by the PhD Committee.

The number of students admitted to doctoral study is dependent on 1) the number of applicants who display a high level of performance and 2) the faculty’s capacity to provide high quality supervision in the students’ areas of interest. Completion of the doctoral degree generally takes a minimum of four to five years. Student progress toward the degree is reviewed each semester by the doctoral faculty as part of a broad program of student advising, networking, and mentoring between faculty and students and among doctoral student peers.

Deadlines and Process

Deadlines for Fall 2020:
  • Priority deadline - December 3, 2019
  • Final deadline - March 13, 2020
Application Requirements:

Applications must be submitted online through the Graduate School's ApplyYourself/Hobsons portal. When indicating which program you are applying to within the ApplyYourself/Hobsons application system, choose: POSI - Policy Studies.

You are required to include the following in your application (further information is contained in the application):

  • Personal Statement
  • Statement of Research Interests
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume
  • Writing sample
  • GRE scores (use ETS institution code 5814; a department code is not required)

International Applicants

We look forwarding to welcoming you to our vibrant international graduate student community, home to over 6,000 students from 130 countries. International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) is a valuable resource of information and assistance for prospective and current international students. International applicants are encouraged to explore the services ISSS offers and contact them with related questions.

The University of Maryland Graduate School offers admission to international students based on academic information. An application is not a guarantee of attendance. Admitted international students will then receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland, which will require submission of additional documents. Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for International applicants for more information.

On the Graduate School online application, you should note the type of visa you currently hold or will need to hold to study at the University of Maryland. In addition, you will need to submit copies of any visa or Permanent Resident Card you might possess. This information is required to be submitted prior to the School of Public Policy reviewing the application.

Visit International Student and Scholar Services to learn more about the student visa process

As part of the visa process, you must certify sufficient funds (exclusive of travel funds) to cover university fees, books, supplies, tuition and living expenses for yourself and your dependents (if applicable). Funds can be demonstrated in the form of personal funds, parental or sponsor funds, government support, an assistantship at the University or any other official sources of income. The School of Public Policy and The Graduate School will review your application and makes the admission decision based on academics. After admission, you will be contacted by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to complete the visa process.

Visit International Student and Scholar Services to learn more.

On the Graduate School online application, you are required to upload a scanned copy of the academic transcript for each institution you have attended. Unofficial transcripts in the original language must be accompanied with a literal English translation. Translations should not be interpretive and actual names of all degrees, diplomas, and certificates must appear in the translation. Upon being offered admission, you will need to have an official copy of each academic transcript sent to the Graduate School by the institution.

Visit the Graduate School to learn more about the requirement for transcripts.

Only applicants who have completed the full sequence of preparatory studies and examinations equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree from an approved institution, and who have met the University of Maryland, College Park admissions criteria, will be considered.

International students must demonstrate a proficiency in the English language by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at numerous locations throughout the world. Please use institution code 5814 when submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Visit the Graduate School to learn more about the English language proficiency requirements.


Contact us at or 301-405-6331.

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