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FAQs

Regarding Admission
Is there an application deadline?  
Applicants for the fall semester should submit their application by February 15. The Department of Political Science occasionally admits students in the spring semester, particularly candidates who have started or completed some graduate studies at other institutions. The application deadline for spring admission is October 15.

Is there a departmental application fee?  
Yes, the department requires a non-refundable $65 application fee. However, international students must pay a non-refundable fee of $140 to apply to the University of Houston. Please note that this fee cannot be waived by the department.

Does the University of Houston Law School and the Department of Political Science offer a combined degree program?  
No, there is no such program offered at the University of Houston.

I work, could I pursue a graduate degree part-time?
Yes, the Political Science Department offers a number of graduate classes in the evening. Please keep in mind that the fewer courses a person can take each semester, the longer it will take to complete the degree. The University of Houston and the College of Social Sciences requires that all master's degree requirements be completed within 5 years of first enrollment in a master's program, and for the doctoral degree, all requirements must be satisfied within 10 years of first enrollment in a doctoral program.

I've been out of school for a long time and can't find any of my professors to write my letters of recommendation. Can I ask my boss for a letter?  
While letters of recommendation from those who are familiar with your academic performance are preferable, letters from other referees can be accepted. The purpose of the letters of recommendation, as is the case with all required application materials, is to make the best case you possibly can for your admission to graduate studies in Political Science. Academic referees obviously will help that cause more than other types because they will address your scholastic abilities.

Is a writing sample necessary?
The statement of purpose, required of all applicants to the Ph.D. program, serves the same purpose of the writing sample. It should demonstrate your ability to create and communicate in a concise format.

How is the grade point average (GPA) computed?
The undergraduate GPA is based on the last 60 hours of coursework in a person's undergraduate degree program. A 4.00 scale (A-4.00) is used. The cumulative GPA is used for all graduate coursework.

I haven't yet taken the GRE, how can I get information? 
Please contact Educational Testing Service (ETS) online at www.ets.org .

I took the GRE but didn't have the scores sent to the University of Houston.
Please contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the company which administers the GRE, online at www.ets.org and ask to have scores sent to the University of Houston, Central Campus. It is not necessary to specify a department because official scores are posted to the central administration mainframe and can be accessed by any department on campus.

I took the GRE over 5 years ago. Do I have to retake the GRE?
Yes

I took the GRE twice and did much better the second time. Which scores will be used by the department?
Generally, the Graduate Committee will have access to all scores sent to the University of Houston. Usually, though, the Committee will emphasize the most recent set of scores.

What is the minimum GRE score for admission?
There is no minimum GRE score required for admission. The admissions committee considers the whole admission materials including scores, academic grades, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and experience in making admission decision.
 
I already have a Master of Arts degree, how many hours can I transfer to the doctoral program at the University of Houston?
A minimum of 48 hours of coursework and 12 hours of dissertation credit are required for the doctoral degree in Political Science at the University of Houston. While a minimum of 27 hours must be completed in residence, only nine hours will be transferred from a prior graduate degree program. Keep in mind that comprehensive exams are the culmination of the program and it will be the graduate faculty in the Political Science Department at the University of Houston which comprises the pool for the comprehensive exam committees. Practically speaking, it would be nearly impossible to do well on these exams if one had not taken the preparatory coursework while in residence.
 
Is a master's degree required for Ph.D. admission?
A master's degree is not required for admission into the Ph.D. program. Students are admitted into the Ph.D. program with or without a master’s degree.

Is an undergraduate degree in political science a requirement for admission into the Ph.D. program?
No, applicants need not have an undergraduate degree in Political Science to be admitted into the PhD program.  However, the applicant should have some knowledge of a related field to make the case that s/he is prepared to begin a PhD program in Political Science.

What parts of the application requirements are more important in admission decision making?
Every part of the application process is important and the admissions committee reviews the entire application requirements in making a decision
 
When will I receive a decision about my application?
Admissions decisions are generally made within 2-3 weeks of the application deadline.
 
What kind of financial aid is available?
The Department of Political Science offers aid in the form of teaching and/or research assistantships. These awards are extremely competitive. As a stipulation of the award, students must be enrolled full-time and be available to work 20 hours per week for the department. Those receiving departmental assistantships will be evaluated every semester to determine whether departmental aid will continue. No departmental aid can be given to those beyond their 5th year of doctoral studies, regardless of how long a person has received departmental aid. Information regarding other forms of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, fellowships, employment, etc.) can be obtained from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at (713) 743-1010.

Where should I send my application materials?
For U.S. applicants, all application materials, except for the online application and official GRE test scores, should be mailed to the Department of Political Science/Attn: Graduate Advisor/Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall (PGH) Room 447/Houston, Texas 77204-3011.

For international applicants, all application materials, except for the online application and official GRE test scores, should be mailed to directly to the Office of International Admissions:

University of Houston 
122 E. Cullen Building 
Office of Admissions
Houston, TX 77204-2023 
 


General

What steps do I need to take in order to graduate?
Students should fill out a degree plan with the Graduate Director upon completing 18 hours of coursework. An application for graduation should be filed either the semester prior to or the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Students who requested that public information not be released must specify that their information be included in the commencement programs when applying for graduation. Otherwise, the university will not publish their graduation information. Students must complete ALL requirements toward their degree in the semester they intend to graduate. To be considered a candidate for a degree, the student must apply for graduation in PeopleSoft. Deadlines for filing the application for graduation are listed in the academic calendar. These deadlines usually fall within the first two weeks of the semester the student wishes to graduate. Candidates for graduation who have been previously disapproved must reapply for graduation. Students' diplomas will be mailed six to eight weeks after graduation.

Note: Students must clear all financial stops and meet any exit interview obligations before applying for graduation.

How long do I have to complete my degree? 
Students in the Political Science Master's Degree Program have five years in which to complete their degree. Students enrolled in the Political Science PhD Program have ten years in which to complete the required courses, comprehensive examinations, and their dissertation. In both graduate programs students are required to be continually enrolled in classes. (both long semesters, i.e., fall and spring) at all times.

I'm going through a tough time right now and don't think I can give my coursework 100% of my attention, what should I do?
College and University rules require that graduate students be continuously enrolled. If a temporary situation prevents you from enrolling in a particular semester you may petition the Department of Political Science for a one semester leave of absence from the graduate program.
 
Can I defer my admission after I have been accepted?
Deferrals are generally not encouraged. However, in some exceptional circumstances, deferment may be allowed with the approval of the department.
 
I've been in the graduate program for over a year now, can I change my non-residency status to resident? 
Generally, if you enroll in an educational institution before having resided in Texas for a 12-month period you will, for tuition purposes, continue to be considered a nonresident. For more information about residency contact the Office of Admissions at (713) 743-1010.

What is the difference between the Plan I and Plan II masters' degrees?
The Plan I master's degree requires 30 hours of coursework and 6 hours for the master's thesis for a total of 36 hours. Under the Plan II master's degree a total of 36 hours are required: 33 coursework hours and 3 hours for the bibliographic essay. Generally, the Plan I master's degree is recommended for those who may wish to pursue a more advanced degree in the future. The Plan II master's degree is a terminal degree for those who do not want to continue to the doctoral degree.

What is the difference between a master's thesis and a bibliographic essay? 
A bibliographic essay is a summary of the writings in a particular field. A master's thesis can be a summary plus analysis and criticism of the writings in a particular field, or it can be some form of original research. Students writing a thesis are required to have a three member committee. One member of the committee should come from outside of the Department. The Political Science Office of Graduate Studies has guidelines and examples of both types of thesis and dissertation projects.

How many people must serve on my comprehensive exam committee?
Generally, a total of 4 people, including your committee chair, are required to form your exam committee. Two members are required for your major area of study, and 2 are required in your minor. Committee organization is ultimately dependent on the approval of your committee chair and the Director of Graduate Studies. A completed and approved application to take the comprehensive examination must be on file with the Office of Graduate Studies.

How many people must serve on my dissertation committee? 
A total of 4 people, including the dissertation director, are required on a dissertation committee. At least one of the members of the committee must be from outside the Department of Political Science. A committee appointment must be initialed by each member of the committee in order to acknowledge their agreement to participate in the dissertation process, and the completed form must be filed with the College of Social Sciences.