Frequently Asked Questions about Admission to the MA Program

What are the requirements to apply?

To apply for admission to the MA program, you should hold a Bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent). All applicants must submit the GSAS application, three academic letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, GRE scores and, for non-native speakers of English, results from the TOEFL/IELTS.  The Graduate School requests that all materials be submitted via the online Embark application system.   

Guideline Requirements
Please Note: Failure to meet these requirements does not preclude admission to the program, however, given the very competitive nature of the IR program these are suggested minimum targets for applicants. Guidelines for TOEFL/IELTS can be found here.

GRE Verbal Reasoning Score 160-165
GRE Quantitative Reasoning Score 150-155
GRE Analytical Writing Score
(including non-native speakers)
US Undergraduate GPA (4 point scale) 3.5
UK Degree Classification 2:1
German BA Sehr Gut
France Licence (from 2009 on) 14
China 学士学位 85%
Denmark BA 10
South Africa BA (Hons) 2:1 (70-74)
Jordan BA 3.0
Australia 2(a), 2(i), 2(b), 2(ii)

When is the application deadline?

The program accepts applications to the MA in International Relations (except joint MA) for Fall and Spring admissions. Joint MA in Journalism and International Relations only accepts Fall admissions. The deadline for Fall admission is January 4. Late applications for Fall admission may be considered. Please contact The deadline for Spring admission is November 1. All application materials must be received by 5 p.m. eastern time on the deadline date. If an application deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal U.S. holiday, then the next business day will be the deadline date. Please find application and other guidelines here.

Do you have a minimum GPA requirement?

No. Many schools do not calculate GPAs and when they do, various methods are used.  Although we expect students to have a 3.5 GPA, we do not impose it as a set minimum. However, our applicant pool is academically strong and very competitive.   

Do you have a minimum GRE score?

No, though again, our applicant pool is generally very strong (see guidelines above).

Can the GRE requirement be waived?

No.  The GRE is required for all students and will not be waived.

Can the TOEFL/IELTS be waived for international students?

The Graduate School requires applicants who are not native English speakers to submit official TOEFL/IELTS score reports. The requirement is waived if your baccalaureate or Master’s degree was (or will be) completed at an institution where the language of instruction is English. More FAQs regarding the TOEFL/IELTS can be found here.

Can my GRE or TOEFL/IELTS scores arrive after the application deadline?

Yes, but all scores for the January 4 application submission must be received by February. Scores for November 1 application submission must be received by November 1. The MA Admissions Committee may choose not to review incomplete applications.

If I am unable to submit some of my application materials online, where should I send them?

Any materials that are not submitted online should be sent to NYU GSAS Enrollment Services.  Complete contact information for GSAS Enrollment Services can be found on the Application Resource Center.  You do not need to mail paper copies of any materials that you submitted online.

Do I need to have a Bachelor's degree be in Political Science in order to apply?

No, though applicants are expected to have had sufficient exposure to the field for them to develop a clear statement of purpose for attending our MA program. 

How important are letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are very important to us. You should choose individuals who are best able to evaluate your past performance, your abilities and skills to undertake this course of study. Choose references that are in the best position to give the admissions committee relevant information.

Must all my letters of recommendation be written by professors?

The Graduate School requires that at least one letter be from an academic.  Usually, but not always, the best people to get these letters from are academics.  However, if you have been out of school for a number of years, you may want letters from non-academics, but please remember that they are not always in a good position to tell the MA Admissions Committee what we need to know.  

What must I include in my statement of purpose?

Please describe briefly and concisely your past and present work as it relates to your intended field of study, your educational objectives at NYU, and your career plans. In addition please include your reasons for choosing your field of study. The statement should be concisely written and should not exceed one to two double spaced pages.

Do you require a Writing Sample?

Yes, a writing sample is required.  It can be a paper for an undergraduate class or a publication. It should demonstrate your ability to analyze a topic insightfully and must be written in English. The writing sample should not exceed 3000 words and it should be double spaced. A good paper will improve the chances of admission, while those that lack insight or that are poorly written can be quite damaging. 

What if I don't have a suitable writing sample?

If you do not have a suitable writing sample, then we ask that you provide a 3,000 word academic essay on the topic below.Your essay must include citations for sources as well as a bibliography. Students can choose between any citation/referencing style they like (MLA, Chicago 16th) but referencing should be consistent in the document.


"Will the spread of democracy solve the problem of war?"

A brief backgrounder to get you started with research: This argument revolves around the idea of of "Democratic Peace Theory" which has its roots in Immanuel Kant's "Perpetual Peace". In contemporary international affairs western states, in particular the United States, have pursued policies of democracy promotion as a solution to the problem of war. The idea of the Democratic Peace also relies upon the idea of liberal economic policies (free trade) to support democracy promotion. You may want to consider these texts in your research, but you should cite a wider array of sources. This list is just a starting point.


  • M. W. Doyle, "Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs" Philosophy and Foreign Affairs 12 (1983).
  • Christopher Layne, "Kant or Cant: The Myth of Democratic Peace" International Security 19: 2 (1994).
  • Thomas Risse-Kappen, "Democratic Pace - Warlike Democracies? A Social Constructivist Interpretation of the Liberal Argument" European Journal of International Relations 1: 4 (1995).
  • Helen Milner and Keiko Kubota, "Why the Move to Free Trade? Democracy and Trade Policy in Developing Countries" International Organization 59:1 (2005).

What is the typical amount of time it takes to complete the MA degree?

The program is structured so that most students finish in four semesters.  It is possible to finish in three semesters, but this is a very intensive route.  Per GSAS policy, students must complete the degree in five years from the semester of first enrollment.   

Can the Master's program be done on a part-time basis?

Yes, the Master's program in International Relations can be completed on a part-time basis. Part-time students usually take one to two courses a semester and finish in two to three years. 

How can the language requirement be satisfied?

Students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English at the intermediate level.  This may be demonstrated by taking the GSAS Foreign Language Proficiency Exam, offered every year in March, August, and November, or by receiving a grade of B or better in an upper intermediate-level language course taken at the university level.  Students who are native speakers of languages other than English or who have conducted significant field research in another language may be waived from the language requirement.

Are applicants expected to have taken coursework in mathematics and statistics?

No, applicants are not required to have taken courses in quantitative methods. The program offers introductory courses in quantitative methods for first-year students with little or prior experience.  Students may also pursue advanced courses in quantitative methods offered by the program as well as by the Department of Economics and the Stern School of Business.

What is the cost of attendance?

For current tuition rates and fees please visit the New York University Bursar's Office webpage, available here.  The Office of Financial Aid also calculates an estimated cost of attendance, including living expenses.  The estimated costs for 2017-18 are available here.    

What kind of financial aid is available to Master's students?

The program is not able to provide financial aid to Master’s students, but many students obtain funding from external sources. For more information, visit the GSAS Financial Aid page. Students receiving external funding may be eligible for the Graduate School of Arts and Science’s Tuition Incentive Program (TIP).  In this program, students receiving external awards of $13,000 or more from recognized, academic sources of funding outside of the University can apply for matching tuition points up to the amount of their outside award. Students receiving external awards of less than $13,000 may apply for matching tuition points up to 50 percent of the amount of the external award.  For a list of some third party scholarships and fellowships, visit our External Funding Opportunities page.   

May I sit in on a class?

To arrange a visit to one of our MA program classes, please write to

I would like to apply as a non-degree student. Is that possible?

Yes.  Applicants may apply as non-degree students, but they still must meet all the admissions requirements and deadlines set for applicants pursuing a degree.  If you have additional questions about applying as a non-degree student, please contact

May I defer my admission to the program?

Deferrals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the MA Program Director and the Graduate School of Arts and Science.  Deferrals will not be granted for longer than one academic year.  

Can I transfer credits from another institution?

Admitted students can transfer up to 9 credits into the Master’s program. Eligible courses must have received a grade of "B" or better and must be relevant to International Relations.  Only courses for which a degree has not already been awarded may be applied to the MA in International Relations.  Transferred courses cannot substitute for IR core courses.