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PhD Admissions

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

Admission is highly competitive, both for applicants intending to enroll as full-time School-funded students and for applicants intending to enroll as part-time self-funded students. Whatever their intention and whatever their pace, doctoral students are expected, during the classroom years, to conduct research collaboratively with faculty direction and, then, during the dissertation years, to conduct research independently with faculty advice.

Almost all our applicants have already earned a graduate degree, usually a Master’s degree, although the field in which prior degrees have been earned is not always Public Policy. The range of fields is actually quite wide, extending well into the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences and engineering. While almost all of our successful applicants have them, we do consider and see exceptional candidates who do not have prior graduate degrees.

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Deadlines and Process

  • Fall 2025 Preferred Deadline:  December 5, 2024*
  • Fall 2025 Final Deadline:  January 31, 2025

*For best consideration of funding, please apply by the preferred deadline.   

Application Requirements:

Applications must be submitted online through the Graduate application portal. When indicating which program you are applying to within the UMD Graduate School Application Portal application system, choose: POSI - Policy Studies.

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

  • Graduate school statement of purpose - instructions can be found within the UMD Graduate School Application Portal
  • Statement of Research Interests
    Describe the research areas you are interested in, the research problem(s) on which you would like to work, and their relevance/significance. You may highlight any related research or professional experiences.
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
    • Applicants are asked to upload a scanned version of their transcript(s) issued by each institution attended (in the original language, with literal English translation). Upon enrollment, you will need to have an official copy sent to the Graduate School by the institution. For a full description of the transcript requirements, please go to the FAQ section that describes Transcripts and Diplomas.
  • Resume
  • Writing sample
    The writing sample should be relatively recent, and should preferably demonstrate the applicant’s ability to structure and analyze a problem, or critique/develop a viewpoint.
  • GRE scores are optional. If you choose to submit them, use institution code 5814. Choosing to not submit GRE scores will not adversely impact your application.
  • English Language Proficiency Requirements where applicable
  • Supplementary application

International Applicants

We look forward 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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