How to Apply to the Public Policy Doctoral Program


FALL 2021 ENTRY: Application Deadline:  Priority deadline (with funding consideration): December 15, 2020 Final Application deadline (with no funding consideration): February 15, 2021

FALL 2022 ENTRY: Interested in starting your PhD in August of 2022? Please fill out our interest form to be notified when the Fall 2022 application is available. 

Program Start Date: Admission is for the Fall semester only. No applications are accepted for the Spring semester.

Part-Time Vs. Full-Time Status: Doctoral applicants may apply for either full-time or part-time study.

Funding and Fellowships: Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) and scholarships, fellowships, and tuition waivers are primarily available for full-time PhD students and are offered only in the fall term for the upcoming academic year. If interested in a GRA position, please indicate this on your application.


The ideal doctoral applicant has demonstrated capabilities in research and writing, basic mathematical skills approximately equal to the first semester of calculus and a competence in statistics, some background in economics and government, and a theoretical and working knowledge of political and public policy processes. Applicants with strong academic records who are deficient in one or more of these areas may possibly be admitted to the program and will receive assistance in making up any deficiencies.

To apply for the PhD program, applicants are required to submit the following credentials. It is strongly preferred that all materials be sent together in one package. All credentials must be received in order for an application to be reviewed.

Graduate application and fee

Unofficial transcripts from all previous institutions attended in the U.S. For international institutions, transcripts may be unofficial but should include cumulative transcripts, degree certificate, individual semester marksheets (if applicable), and diploma (if applicable).

A current resume

Two letters of recommendation from faculty at the prospective student’s previous institutions or from persons acquainted with policy-relevant work. At least one recommendation should be from an individual who is qualified to attest to the candidate’s academic potential.

A 750-1,000 word written statement of your academic goals – include your research area of interest for advanced study and your post-degree goals.

A writing sample (approximately 10-25 pages in length) such as a technical report, professional publication, or term or seminar paper. 

GRE scores (taken within five years prior to date of application)

Applicants with international academic credentials must also provide:

Proof of English proficiency: either TOEFL, IELTS, or Pearson Test of English. Please refer to the university’s English Proficiency standard.

An official international transcript evaluation from an independent evaluation agency approved by NACES or AACRAO. We require a course-by-course evaluation and most include the U.S. equivalency. The WES-ICAP evaluations from the World Evaluation Services, Inc. can serve as official transcripts in addition to an acceptable evaluation. Mason offers internal evaluations at applicants request, in their application, for no additional charge.

Where to submit application and materials: Application materials should be uploaded directly to the application portal in the online application system

Test scores must be official and come directly from the testing center using school code 5827

For documents that need to be mailed to the university, please use the following address:

Office of Graduate Admissions 4400 University Drive, MS 4C8 Fairfax, VA 22030