Graduate Admission

Applicants are normally admitted in the Fall semester, which begins in September. Students seeking admission to the graduate program must submit a completed application package by the January deadline.

The department reserves the right to admit only those students for whom research space and an appropriate faculty supervisor are available. Students transferring from other graduate programs may petition the department for credit for equivalent courses. Please see the SFU Calendar for more information about our programs.

Applications for admission in Fall 2020 are due by January 10, 2020.

Applications are made online. Read more about SFU’s graduate admissions policies.

Application packages MUST BE COMPLETE by the application deadline. Incomplete application packages will NOT be reviewed. Please ensure that your application and all supplementary documentation are received by the posted deadline.

If you have questions about the process, please contact the Graduate Program Assistant.

If you have technical problems or require changes to your application entries, please contact Graduate Studies.

Application process

1. Complete and submit the online application. You will need to provide:

  • Information on your academic history
  • Statement of your proposed research interests (up to 400 words)
  • A writing sample
  • Most recent CV (curriculum vitae)
  • The names of three (3) potential supervisors. Please see our faculty page for a list of faculty and their research areas. 
  • Email contact information for three (3) academic referees. The referees should be able to comment on the applicants qualifications for graduate study. Recommendations from a non-academic person should not be used unless the applicant has been away from an academic institution for some time. The system will send an automated email providing referees with access to the online referee form they need to complete.

2. Pay the application fee.

  • Once your application is submitted, you have seven days to pay the application fee. You will then be able to upload transcripts and other documents. NOTE: steps 1 and 2 of the application process must be completed and submitted before requests for references are sent out to referees and access to document uploading is available. Allow sufficient time for referees to complete references before the January 14 deadline.

3. Upload documents. After payment of the application fee upload PDF files of:

  • One (1) set of unofficial transcripts from ALL post-secondary institutions attended, and
  • An academic paper, in English, as a writing sample. It should not exceed 20 pages in length.

4. Send official transcripts by mail.

  • One set of OFFICIAL transcripts from ALL post-secondary institutions attended must be sent to the Department of Political Science. When mailing transcripts to the department please ensure that you list Graduate Program Assistant as the recipient. Transcripts must be in sealed envelopes which bear a university seal. Student copies are not accepted. Transcripts that are not in English require an official translation (transcripts from Quebec universities are exempted from this translation requirement).

English language requirements

English is the language of instruction and communication at SFU. Accordingly, an applicant whose primary language is not English must demonstrate command of English sufficient to pursue graduate studies in the chosen field. See graduate general regulation 1.3.12. 

International applicants whose primary language is not English will not be required to complete an English-language test if they have completed a degree at an institution where the language of instruction and examination was in English in a country where English is the primary language.

Simon Fraser University Graduate Program accepts the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing Systems) for testing English proficiency. Official test scores must be sent directly to Simon Fraser University from the language testing service. We do not accept student copies or photocopies.

The minimum graduate program admission requirements for test scores:

  • Internet-based TOEFL: 93 with minimum of 20 in each section
  • Paper-based TOEFL: 580 and TWE 5.0
  • IELTS (academic): overall band score of 7.0 on the academic (NOT general) test with a minimum of 6.5 in each section

Frequently asked questions

I have an MA in another discipline clearly different from political science (e.g. sociology, anthropology, economics, history) and I do not have a B.A. in political science. Am I still eligible for your PhD program?

No. Our PhD program requires sufficient background in core political science debates and literatures. We strongly suggest that you stay in your discipline and pursue a PhD in that discipline. While doing so, you can expand your intellectual horizons by taking political science courses.

I do not have a BA in political science. Am I still eligible for your MA program?

That will depend on how much political science training you received in your undergraduate program. Generally speaking, your MA application will not be strong unless you have received significant political science or social science training. If you have a weak political science background, your best possible outcome is to be accepted to the qualifying year program. This program is for you to establish your eligibility for the MA program. If accepted as a qualifying student you will be required to finish some 300- or 400-level political science courses with high grades in our undergraduate program (within a maximum of one year). After that, you can apply for our MA program. Please note that the successful completion of a qualifying year does not guarantee an entry to our MA program. Alternatively, you may want to get more undergraduate training in political science before applying for our MA program.

I have an MA in an interdisciplinary field (political science is part of it). I notice that you require an MA in political science to apply for your PhD program. Am I still eligible?

The requirement ensures that PhD students have sufficient advanced-level training in political science. While we accept PhD applications from those who do not have MA degrees in political science, the admissions committee will carefully assess them, on a case-by-case basis to determine if an applicant is likely to succeed in the PhD program.