General Department Policies & Procedures



Applications for the fall semester are due no later than February 1 to be considered for departmental funding in the form of a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). Applications for the fall semester will be accepted until April 15 but will not be considered for departmental funding if submitted after February 1. The Department of Political Science does not admit students for the spring or summer semesters.

Application Materials & Procedures

The following components should be included in your online application:

  • A statement of academic objectives describing your intellectual development, previous academic training, and areas of academic interest. The quality of this statement is an especially important factor in the decisions of our admissions committee. The statement should be a maximum of two pages, single spaced.
  • A resume/curriculum vitae
  • Copy of an official transcript from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • Official GRE scores (KU’s institution code for score reporting is 6871)

Proof of English Proficiency

The Office of Graduate Studies requires self-identified non-native English speakers to demonstrate proof of English proficiency. See “Admissions” under the University Policies & Degree Requirements section of this document for more information regarding the University’s requirements for providing proof of English Proficiency.

Provisional Admission

In exceptional cases, the department may recommend an applicant for provisional admission who does not meet the University’s minimum requirements for admission. This may occur, for example, if a student’s overall undergraduate GPA is deficient but the major GPA, GRE scores, and statement of academic objectives suggest strong potential for success in graduate student. All recommendations for provisional admission are contingent on approval by the College and University.

To continue in the program, students admitted provisionally must meet with the Director of Graduate Studies at the start of the academic term, must comply with any requests for additional meetings or communications, and must earn at least a 3.0 GPA in the first nine credit hours of graduate coursework at KU with no grades lower than a B.

Admissions Contact Information

If you have questions about the academic program or curriculum, contact the Director of Graduate Studies. If you have questions about the application process or required materials, contact the Graduate Academic Advisor.

General Guidelines


A grade of incomplete (I) requires special attention. Note that the department will not permit a student who has six (6) or more semester hours of the incomplete grade to enroll in further coursework. A graduate student should not take an incomplete grade unless it is an unavoidable emergency (serious illness, accident, etc.). All grades of incomplete must be resolved prior to a student registering for preliminary examinations.

See “Grading” under the University Policies & Degree Requirements section for further information regarding University minimum grading requirements.

Academic Integrity & Misconduct

The Political Science Department follows the university policy on academic misconduct as cited below. The maximum penalty for academic misconduct is termination from the program.

Rules and Regulations of the University Senate (Article 2, Section 6): Academic Misconduct:

  • 2.6.1. Academic misconduct by the student shall include giving or receiving of unauthorized aid on examinations or in the preparation of notebooks, themes, reports or other assignments, or knowingly misrepresenting the source of any academic work.
  • 2.6.2. An instructor may, with due notice to the student, treat as unsatisfactory any student work which is the product of academic misconduct.

Plagiarism: Any attempt to pass off work copied or paraphrased from elsewhere as if it were original is plagiarism and is viewed as a serious breach of academic integrity. Plagiarism may be unintentional. It is therefore advisable to note and adhere to the following rules.

Academic Documentation: Acknowledgment of sources by footnotes, endnotes or text notes is mandatory in the following two cases:

  • Any direct quotation from another author, whether an entire paragraph or a single but unusual word from a passage, must be acknowledged both with quotation marks and a note.
  • Any citation, paraphrase, or restatement of another author's works or ideas, even if such are not repeated verbatim, must be acknowledged. In this case, only footnote is used to refer the reader to the original source or sources.

Those cases in which footnoting is not needed:

Everything must be noted with only two exceptions:

First, writing need not be noted when it is one's own interpretation of the research materials; or, second, information may be included without a note when it meets all four of the following conditions.

  • The information is available from several sources.
  • The information is restated completely in the researcher's own words.
  • The restatement does not come from any particular source.
  • The subject is considered common knowledge (e.g., the three branches of the federal government).

Good Standing

According to the rules of the Office of Graduate Studies, a student must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and be making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree program. If the cumulative grade point average drops below 3.0, the student will be placed on probation. The Director of Graduate Studies will notify the student of the situation and advise them that they will be dismissed if certain conditions are not fulfilled. The cumulative average must be raised above 3.0 in the next semester for the student to be returned to regular status; otherwise the student may be dismissed. Departmental policies will place additional obligations on the student and the Director of Graduate Studies will inform the student of them. In particular, a student on probation who receives any grade below a B will be dismissed.

For additional information on good standing, as well as probation and dismissal procedures for those students who do not meet the requirements for good standing, see the University Policies & Degree Requirements section of this document.

Advising & Mentorship


During the first year of enrollment the Director of Graduate Studies will advise students. Each student should choose a principal faculty advisor by the end of the first year in the graduate program and inform the Director of Graduate Studies and Graduate Academic Advisor in writing of the student’s selection. A committee composed of the principal faculty advisor and two other members of the graduate faculty will administer the final oral examination.


Students first entering the Ph.D. program will be advised by Director of Graduate Studies. They should select a major advisor from among the Political Science faculty by the end of their first year in the graduate program and inform the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Academic Advisor of their selection. This faculty member will be responsible for advising the student concerning enrollment, the rules of the graduate program, and other matters that may arise in a faculty-student mentoring relationship. If a student chooses to alter their selection of faculty advisor, they must inform the Graduate Academic Advisor in writing.

Before students are ready to take the comprehensive examinations for the Ph.D., they must select a faculty member to be their dissertation advisor. If the faculty member agrees, they become the student's major advisor and should finalize the student's long-range plan of study. During or before the semester in which the comprehensive oral examination is taken, the dissertation advisor and the student must consult and select a three-person dissertation advisory committee which is chaired by the dissertation advisor. All members of this committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty. Unless special arrangements are made with the Director of Graduate Studies, this dissertation advisory committee may include at most one member from outside the division of government. The student should consult all committee members in planning and conducting the dissertation research. Note: The committee which makes a final evaluation of the dissertation (referred to as the final oral examination committee), includes this dissertation advisory committee as well as other members (see below).

Change of Student Mentorship

Under some circumstances, it is beneficial for a graduate student to be paired with a new faculty mentor. These situations may come about for varied reasons, including changes in thematic focus, need for additional expertise, departure or retirement of the faculty mentor, or incompatibility of student and mentor. Successful change in mentorship will be contingent upon the identification of an appropriate new mentor and the willingness of the prospective new mentor to assume the responsibilities. If necessary, the Director of Graduate Studies can serve as a mentor on an interim basis for up to three months while the student identifies a permanent mentor. Students can initiate this process at any time by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies or the Department Chair. They can also consult extradepartmental resources such as the Ombuds Office, who can provide support in starting the process. The Department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies are available to help guide the student through the change, which can include help in identifying a new mentor, communicating with the original mentor, and assisting in the transition. If a student wishes to continue a project that was initiated with the original mentor, details of transferring the project should be worked out in consultation with the Department Chair, who can mediate the process with the original mentor. Proposed changes in mentorship assignments will be communicated to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Academic Advisor.

Annual Review

Students will receive confirmation of their standing in the program at the end of each academic year from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Grievance Procedures

Any student wishing to make a complaint involving either a Department of Political Science faculty or staff member and concerning Departmental policies or decisions may seek redress of their grievances by presenting their grievances to the Director of Graduate Studies or referring to Article IV of the Department of Political Science Bylaws.


If a graduate student has a compelling reason to seek exemption from a program requirement or University policy, they may submit a petition to the Director of Graduate Studies. Petitioners should write a letter, addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies, explaining the reasons why the student is seeking exemption from specific rules, as well as how the educational goals of the rules reflect will still be fulfilled. Where applicable, this petition should be accompanied by a letter of support from the student’s advisor and/or the appropriate supporting materials. The letter should be send to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will review and consider the petition.

In cases where the policy or requirement is a departmental requirement (for example, a course requirement for a degree), the Director of Graduate Studies will issue a final decision (for example, that the student may be exempt from a doctoral course requirement based on coursework taken at the master’s level at a previous institution).

In cases where the policy or requirement being petition is a University policy, the Director of Graduate Studies will decide whether to support the student’s petition. If the Director of Graduate Studies is in support, the department will submit a petition form to the College Office of Graduate Affairs accompanied by supporting materials as required. The petition form specifies the supporting material needed for each kind of petition. These materials must accompany the petition sent to COGA. COGA’s petitions webpage provides additional information regarding University petitions, including supplemental documentation that may be required by the University. Additional information regarding the more common University petitions, such as Leave of Absence, Enrollment requirements, and Time Limit Extensions, may also be found in the University Policies & Degree Requirements section of this document.

In cases where the Director of Graduate Studies declines to support a University petition, no paperwork may be submitted to COGA. COGA only accepts student petitions in cases where there is documented departmental support and when the petition itself is submitted by a representative of the department.

Students should always consult with the Graduate Academic Advisor or Director of Graduate Studies prior to submitting a petition to the Director of Graduate Studies to ensure that a petition is necessary and that all the appropriate supporting documentation is accounted for.

Information for Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)

The standard half-time (50% FTE) Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) appointment entails teaching two courses as the instructor of record or four discussion sections within a given semester. Stipends for the 2020-2021 academic year start at $17,750.00. Those holding a 50% FTE assistantship benefit from a full tuition waiver and payment of up to 3 hours of student fees. All applicants to the graduate program will be considered for a GTA appointment.

GTA appointments for doctoral students will normally be renewed for a maximum of ten semesters providing that both academic work and teaching are satisfactory. If eligible (see next paragraph) and if progress to degree and teaching are deemed satisfactory, doctoral students may be considered for GTA appointments beyond the tenth semester, for a maximum of twelve semesters.

All offers of financial assistance are contingent on approval by the College and the University, and on the availability of funds from the state. The Memorandum of Agreement made between the University of Kansas and the American Federation of Teachers - Kansas (representing the Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition) provides the University of Kansas with the ability to set term limits for GTA appointments. The University of Kansas limits the duration of the GTA contract to a total of sixteen semesters (MA and PhD combined). Some students in the POLS graduate program complete both an MA and a PhD, so they should be particularly aware of this limitation in teaching assistantship funding.

Selection of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Students who receive a funding package at the time of admission fill most GTA positions in the department each year. To fill the remaining positions, students who did not receive a funding package at the time of admission have the option of applying to hold a GTA appointment. The application process and timeline will be communicated via email by the Graduate Academic Advisor each year.

Applications are due no later than the admissions application deadline for the following academic year. Applicants are required to complete and submit an online application. Additionally, applicants who have never held a GTA appointment in the department are required to request letters of recommendation from two Political Science faculty members and are responsible for ensuring the letters are submitted. These letters should be sent to the Graduate Academic Advisor via email no later than the application deadline.

All GTAs, both new and continuing, will receive confirmation of their GTA appointment via email from the Graduate Academic Advisor when decisions are made. This notification will include the benefits and terms of the GTA appointment and is separate from the communication of course assignments.

Candidates for GTA appointments who self-identify as non-native English speakers must demonstrate English proficiency per the Kansas Board of Regents policy by providing English proficiency scores that meet the English Proficiency Employment benchmark.

Summer GTA appointments are available on a competitive basis. The Department will provide additional information to students when summer GTA appointments are available.

Course Assignments for GTAs

Course assignments are made by the Director of Graduate Studies each semester. These decisions are made based on departmental need, each GTA’s content area experience, and, when appropriate, GTA preference. Course assignments will be communicated by the Graduate Academic Advisor via email to all GTAs and instructors of record no later than the end of the preceding semester and are subject to change based on departmental need.


Thompson Scholar Summer Research Program

The Thompson Scholar Summer Research Program at the University of Kansas is an opportunity to spend 2 months of summer doing graduate research in political science. Each spring several graduate students will be selected to work on research projects with Political Science faculty members. The Director of Graduate Studies will send a call for applications via email with detailed information about the available projects, the application process, and the deadline. Selected students will receive a scholarship of $3,000 (on average and depending on budget) and are expected to work closely with faculty on various research projects. Students and professors are encouraged to attend a political science conference the following academic year to present research findings. One of the objectives of this program is to publish such findings in political science journals/books.


To apply for the program, a student must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Students must complete, or have completed, at least one year of graduate political science classes, including POLS 705 and POLS 706, and be in good academic standing in the department.
  • Students must be prepared to commit a significant amount of time during the summer months (June and July) to the research project.
  • Participate in all required project work, as designated by the faculty advisor, including presentation at conferences.

Application Process

Applicants must submit a curriculum vitae and a personal statement (see below) to the Graduate Academic Advisor. The graduate committee will meet to review applications and applicants will be notified as soon as selections are made.

Political Science Curriculum Vitae

Your CV should contain the following information:

  • Current GPA, including grades for all courses taken in the graduate program
  • List of courses taken in the program that may be relevant for summer research
  • Participation in other related activities, including past research and Political Science Department activities
  • The name of a political science faculty member willing to serve as a reference.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should be no longer than two pages and contain the following:

  • How would you benefit from participation in the program?
  • What special skills would you bring to the program?
  • What are your goals for the summer?
  • Which projects appeal to you?