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The Graduate School Track

There are several kinds of graduate schools at which you might continue your education. Master’s programs (2 years) may serve as preparation for Ph.D. programs, or they may have a professional focus that will lead to employment (e.g., Public Administration, Public Policy, International Affairs, Education, or Campaign Management programs). Typically, these two-year programs are less competitive to enter, but offer less in the way of financial aid. Five-year Ph.D. programs are much more competitive and require high grades, high Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and strong letters of recommendation. The latter are quite important and mean that you will need to have positively impressed several of your professors. If you are a strong candidate, you will generally receive financial support (tuition and a modest living stipend) from Ph.D. programs. In terms of extra-curricular activities, they will be most useful if they are academic-related. Take courses that will develop your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.


First and Second Years

  • Meet with the department chair (Erik Trump) in the fall semester and again in the winter to plan your course of study. It is especially important that you take as many courses as possible from full-time faculty members ( not adjuncts), and the chair can direct you toward the appropriate sections.
  • Register for the Political Science department’s VSpace site (see Erik Trump).
  • Complete as many of the Political Science required foundation courses as possible.
  • Introduce yourself to your professors; meet with them during their office hours.
  • Join the Political Science Student Association (see department chair).
  • Attend the Political Science department faculty lunches and its academic-related symposiums.
  • Look for opportunities to participate in academic-related activities that will demonstrate your writing skills, intellectual abilities, or commitment to higher education (e.g., writing for a department newsletter, Honors Program, student debates, etc.). Check regularly with faculty about such opportunities.
  • Written a good paper? Ask your professor to nominate it for a university writing award (March deadline). Even papers from General Education courses are eligible. Apply for any writing awards that you see!
  • If you plan to study international politics at the graduate level, consider a foreign language minor.
  • If your interest is in international politics, explore study-abroad opportunities (start looking into these during your second year). The department of Political Science offers spring study-abroad courses every other year; talk to the department chair about these.
  • If your interest is in international politics, join the Model United Nations student organization.


Third Year

  • Meet with your professors and get advice about studying for the GRE. Study!
  • Meet with your professors, talk to them about your graduate school plans, and solicit their advice.
  • Research graduate programs that might interest you.
  • Get a “graduation audit” from the Advising Office and meet with the Political Science department chair to make sure that you can graduate on time (late fall).
  • Consider applying to the Foundation or the Student Creativity Institute for a grant to support a research or other academic-related project (fall and winter).
  • Talk with your faculty advisors about possible opportunities to present an academic paper at a local or regional conference.
  • Take upper division courses from a range of professors. Remember that you will need three letters of recommendation by the end of the fall semester of your senior year.
  • Written a good paper? Ask your professor to nominate it for a university writing award.
  • Complete an internship with an elected representative (may do in spring or summer).
  • If you are prepared, take the GRE during the summer.


Fourth Year

  • Begin the graduate school application process at the start of the fall semester.
  • Meet with a faculty advisor to review the application process. Make sure that you have one or two professors review your graduate school “statement of purpose” several times .
  • Solicit letters of recommendation from your professors.
  • Plan to apply to schools after graduation? Solicit your letters of recommendation before you graduate.
  • Apply for graduation (at the Registrar’s Office) in the fall semester.

Contact Us
(989) 964-7034(989) 964-7034

Department Chair

Dr. Julie Keil


Gilbertson Hall GN 210