Application Deadline: November 30, 2023


The 2024-2025 application cycle is now closed.


Applications for 2025-2026 will open in September 2024


The GRE will be optional for the 2025 admissions cycle
All candidates for admission must submit the following documents in complete form to be given full consideration:

Online Application

The application fee is $90.00. Fee waivers may be available for eligible applicants under extreme extenuating circumstances. Please see the USC Graduate Admission website for more details.


Research Statement

In a 2-3 page statement (single- or double-spaced), please provide the committee with background information and, most importantly, the research agenda you wish to undertake in the program, spelling out the field specializations you would declare if admitted, and identifying 2-3 faculty with whom you are interested in working and why you would like to work with them.

Writing Sample

You should select the best representation of your writing and research capabilities. This should be a 15-30 page scholarly or critical paper that has been evaluated by a faculty or other authoritative group or body such as the editorial board of a journal or a selection committee. The paper should present a clearly articulated thesis, amply supported with creative and original ideas and evidence. The sample should be uploaded in the online application. DO NOT SEND HARD COPIES.


Applicants should plan to take the GRE General Exam no later than November 15, 2023 to ensure ETS can submit the score before the application deadline.  USC’s ETS test code is 4852. A department code is not necessary, but if asked, applicants may select any of the options for political science and international relations.
GRE scores must be no older than five years prior to the planned matriculation term (i.e. no older than August 2019 for August 2024 matriculation).
In addition to having ETS send official scores, applicants will upload a copy of their numeric scores (available on your ETS account) to the portal for submission.


International applicants must submit official test scores for the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Exceptions to this requirement are made in the following cases:

  1. You completed a baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degree entirely at a university in the United States or other Anglophone country (e.g. United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada except Quebec). Please note: your Master’s Degree must be conferred, not in progress, at the time of application submission to waive this requirement.
  2. Your native language is English.

Applicants will upload copies of their scores to the application for submission and request official scores to be sent to USC. For the TOEFL exam, please use USC’s university code 4852; for the IELTS exam, please select “University of Southern California.” No department code is required.
English proficiency exam scores must be no older than two years prior to the submission date for the application. For the current cycle, scores may be no older than November 2021.
Please see the Graduate Admissions Website for more information on Language Proficiency Exam requirements.


Applicants must submit official transcripts from all institutions attended, whether or not a degree was conferred from that school or credits were transferred elsewhere. This includes study abroad programs, community colleges, and all other institutions or academic programs attended after secondary school. These transcripts must be sent directly to the USC Office of Graduate Admission by the institution.
Applicants must upload a copy of all transcripts to the CAS Portal in order to submit the application. Applicants may upload either unofficial or official transcripts. Please note that if you upload unofficial transcripts, your application will be considered incomplete until the Office of Graduate Admissions receives official transcripts and POIR cannot offer admission. Therefore, we encourage applicants to upload official copies of their transcripts whenever possible to avoid delays in processing.

Letters of Recommendation

All applicants must submit at least three letters of recommendation. While academic letters are preferred, you may seek professional recommendation letters in the cases where academic letters are not available.

Application deadlines for Fall 2024 Admission


  • Writing Sample: November 30, 2023
  • Letters of Recommendation: December 15, 2023
  • Official Transcripts: December 15, 2023
  • TOEFFL: November 30, 2023 (scores must be submitted no later than January 1, 2024)
  • GRE: December 15, 2023

Applicants will be notified of decisions no later than April 2024. Due to the high volume of correspondence, we will not be able to respond to requests for updates on an applicant’s status.