Application Deadline: Dec. 1, 11:59 p.m. EST
Application Fee: $90
Notification: By March 15
Requirements and Advice
The completed electronic application: The Princeton University graduate application usually "goes live" sometime in early September. The application form itself is fairly simple in that you have to fill out contact information, previous education, etc. The application is for all of Princeton University’s Graduate Programs so please make sure you review our departmental requirements below for specifics about applying to WWS. You should also visit our FAQ for additional application advice.
WWS is accepting applications only for the Security Studies cluster and the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy cluster. See our Degree Programs page for more information about our Ph.D. clusters of study.
Application documents: The key parts of your application are the documents which you upload yourself before you submit your application form. You should work on these documents as early as you can. You don't need access to the application to see what they are. We provide descriptions below along with departmental-specific recommendations on what we are looking for when we review these documents. These documents give you the opportunity to present your strengths and demonstrate your commitment to a career in research, academia or public service.
- Statement of Academic Purpose/Personal Statement
The admissions committee wants to know your motivation for applying to the Ph.D. program. What factors in your academic, personal and professional background are leading you toward the doctoral degree? The statement should show familiarity with the Ph.D. in Public Affairs program to enable the committee to understand the likely match between your research and faculty with whom your interests would be best supervised.
Each year, strong candidates are not selected to the Ph.D. program simply because faculty are committed to other enrolled Ph.D. candidates or to other projects that do not allow them to advise another Ph.D. student.You should also identify the kinds of courses and curriculum you want to take as a doctoral student. The statement also should identify your professional aspirations following completion of the Ph.D. program.
- Writing Sample
- Your 20-25 page writing sample should be from a research paper or previous academic work. Faculty will assess the quality of writing and the promise for original research based on the submission of your paper. The length of the paper is not as important as the quality of the work. Students applying to the STEP cluster should submit examples that verify their writing skills and scientific knowledge.
- Résumés should be presented in sufficient detail so that the admissions committee has an accurate picture of applicant interests and activities as an undergraduate, any internships during school or during the summer, and subsequent professional employment. If an applicant has published or co-authored papers as an undergraduate or graduate student or as a professional, the applicant should list those accomplishments and any academic honors. There is no minimum or maximum length, but usually one or two pages will suffice. Some annotation of specific employment and publications is helpful.
- Faculty evaluate applicants’ aptitude for courses in economic and quantitative analysis. There is no prescribed undergraduate major for the Ph.D. degree, but familiarity with social science disciplines makes the learning curve less steep at the outset. A master’s degree is not required but is recommended. Within the Graduate School’s electronic application you will be asked for unofficial copies of only degree transcripts to be uploaded, but WWS requires ALL transcripts from any institution you have attended. You can upload additional transcripts in the Additional Education section of the application. Study-abroad transcripts also are required unless the courses and grades are listed on your undergraduate transcript.
- You are required to enter your GPA on the application form when you enter your previous education for degrees received. Although it is not required for your GPA to be on a 4.0 scale, that is preferred for WWS applicants. If your GPA is not already on a 4.0 scale, you can recalculate your GPA using the resources on our GPA Calculation website.
- The electronic application asks for three academic letters of recommendation. Be sure that writers of references understand your reasons for applying to the Woodrow Wilson School as well as your career goals and strengths. One of your letters should come from a faculty member, administrator or professional who can comment on your commitment to public service.
- Official results of the GRE general test are required of all applicants. The admissions committee evaluates first and foremost academic transcripts and whether the applicants have challenged themselves and excelled in their studies. GRE scores supplement this evaluation and serve as another indicator of high-level scholarship and analytical ability. Princeton’s GRE code is 2672; no departmental code is needed. Applicants should take the GRE before the application deadline, but historically we have received score reports in time to be considered as part of an application even for tests taken in December. For more information about registering for the test, visit ETS.org.
- English language test scores are required for all non-native English-speaking applicants unless they have received their bachelor's degree or a Ph.D. in its entirety in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Anglophone Canada. Additional information about this Graduate School requirement is available on their site.
For additional information about applying to the Woodrow Wilson School, visit our Frequently Asked Questions.