PhD Program

PhD FAQ

PhD Program Questions

What is unique about the Jackson School PhD program?

What are the four foundational fields of the Jackson School PhD program?

What do you mean by a problem-focused approach to the PhD?

What are some of the qualities you look for in an application?

Do I have to take the GREs and TOEFL even if I have a Masters degree from the USA? What scores do you look for?

Is there funding for US students? Is there funding for international students?

What can I do with a Jackson School PhD?

What is the Research Tutorial?

Is the Jackson School PhD program right for me?

What is the main advantage of getting a Jackson School PhD?

Can I really finish in three to four years?

General Application Questions

How can I apply to a Jackson School PhD Program? What is the deadline?

Is a Master’s Degree required to apply to the PhD Program? 

Can I assemble my application in hardcopy and send it to you?

How do I know if my application has been submitted and is complete?

Can I make changes to my application after I submit it?

When I save my Supplemental Application the answers I just entered on the form are blank. Will the admissions committee be able to see the answers?

Writing Sample/ Statement Questions

How long should my academic writing sample be?

My writing sample is in a language other than English. Can I submit that?

How long should the statement of Purpose be?

What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and the Personal Statement?

Letters of Recommendation Questions

What is the process for letters of recommendation?

One of my designated recommenders is away and will not be able to submit their recommendation until after the deadline. Is this OK?

Do you accept recommendations submitted through a materials service like Interfolio or AMCAS?

Transcript Questions

What is the difference between an unofficial and an official transcript?

I am based overseas and my university will not send transcripts internationally. What should I do?

I ordered my transcript some time ago, and it should have been received by now. When I check my application status, it says it has not been marked as “received” – what should I do?

I am an international applicant, and my home institutions do not use an American GPA system to evaluate students. What should I do?

Standardized Test Score Questions

Can you waive the GRE requirement for me?

How much emphasis is given to GRE scores by the admissions committee?

Is there a minimum score for the GRE I need to get?

Can I substitute the GMAT for a GRE score?

I am not a native speaker of English. Do I need to submit proof of my English proficiency (like TOEFL or IELTS scores)?

How can I check the status of my test scores?

What code should I use to make sure my GRE or TOEFL scores are sent to the right place?

Miscellaneous Questions

Can I defer my enrollment if accepted?

If I submit my application early, will I get an early decision?

What funding is available for your students?

How much does your program cost?


Program FAQ

What is unique about the Jackson School PhD program?

We propose a new way of thinking about international studies through our innovative articulation of four foundational fields and their integration with our existing area-based graduate programs. We do not replicate a single-lens or conventional disciplinary approach, such as in political science, sociology, history, anthropology, geography, law, and so on. We present a unique vision about the state of the international studies discipline.


What are the four foundational fields of the Jackson School PhD program?

These are Religions, Cultures, and Civilizations (RCC); States, Markets, and Societies (SMS); Peace, Violence, and Security (PVS); and Law, Rights, and Governance (LRG). They represent the full gamut of our scholarly activities within the Jackson School, and may also be used as a foundation for rethinking international studies at large.


What do you mean by a problem-focused approach to the PhD?

We encourage students to pursue the most relevant real-world problems they can identify and value scholarship that advances solutions to those problems. We encourage students to take research out of the academy and into the public realm where it may help provide innovative perspectives on real problems such as terrorism, microfinance, immigration, poverty, environmental change, space and cyberspace security, religious conflict, economic governance, etc.


What are some of the qualities you look for in an application?

We are looking for exceptional focus and intellectual promise. One of the most important things is a coherent statement of purpose that shows us you know exactly what you want to do and also demonstrates that you can conceive of a reasonable and effective way to do it. Another important element is your writing sample or publication.


Do I have to take the GREs and TOEFL even if I have a Masters degree from the USA? What scores do you look for?

We do not waive the GRE requirement for any candidate. In addition, all students whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. Although we prefer the TOEFL test, this can be done in a variety of ways depending on the applicant’s citizenship, prior education, etc. For details on the policies of the University of Washington, please see http://www.grad.washington.edu/policies/memoranda/memo08.shtml.

For GRE scores, the admissions committee does not have a specific score that will guarantee or preclude a candidate from admission. Each application is judged on its own merits, so our advice is simple – get the highest scores that you can.


Is there funding for US students? Is there funding for international students?

Yes, we can consider all students regardless of nationality for funding. All considerations for funding are made at the time of application and during a student’s candidacy, however, students are expected to seek out their own funding sources as well.


What can I do with a Jackson School PhD?

We aim to train both academics and practitioners, who want to engage with foreign affairs and area-studies. Depending on your profile and interest you might pursue a career as a scholar or administrator in a university setting, or a professional in public or private service.


What is the Research Tutorial?

It is a critical and innovative element in our graduate training. It is reserved for incoming first-year doctoral students, with the goal of exposing them to general social scientific research design and methods considerations in the specific context of their own research. Using a targeted approach for each individual student that ensures significant weekly feedback on written work, doctoral students engage in private tutorials, group tutorials, as well as class discussions and formal presentations in order to advance their research agendas from year one onwards. The objective is to move them toward a draft research prospectus that can shift into their formal dissertation prospectus as well as serve as a template to pursue external sources of funding.


Is the Jackson School PhD program right for me?

We value and build on our world-renowned area and regional studies capabilities. If you are interested in area studies and want to approach a specific problem analytically under themes and topics in our foundational fields, we are the place for you. For students who are interested primarily in a theoretical approach to international studies but who may seek area-based training, we recommend you consider our program. Occasionally, a student might choose to do both, ie consider our more targeted problem-focused PhD in an area or region of the world, and then follow it up with another PhD in a more conventional single-lens discipline.


What is the main advantage of getting a Jackson School PhD?

The University of Washington is one of the elite public Universities in the United States. In combination with our fourfold foundational approach, our area studies programs in the Jackson School form one of the most powerful international studies programs in the country. Unlike many similar PhD programs, we are substantively comprehensive, covering almost every critical global issue under the rubric of the four foundational fields and grounding it in specific regions and areas of the world. Also unlike many similar programs, we do not outsource our training of doctoral students outside the Jackson School. For the most part, we have the research and teaching capabilities to train our PhD students in line with our visions.


Can I really finish in three to four years?

We look for students with exceptional focus and previous graduate training who will thrive in the targeted Research Tutorial. Our program is carefully calibrated from the start in order to bring students rapidly to a point where they can conduct original research. For students who are highly motivated, with demonstrable aptitude in writing and thinking creatively, and who have a clear sense of their career goals, we can provide the framework and opportunity for you to complete your PhD within four years. There is no reason why area and foreign affairs specialists cannot also be trained adequately in the same length of time as doctors, engineers, and lawyers. With our Research Tutorial system you will be concentrating from day one on developing and refining your own research interests.


Q: How can I apply to a Jackson School PhD program? What is the deadline?

Applications to the Jackson School PhD program are assembled and submitted online through the University of Washington graduate school: https://www.grad.washington.edu/applForAdmiss/.

Applications are annual – the Jackson School PhD program only has one application period per year. Typically, applications go live in late September/ early October, and application deadlines are early January. To apply, you will need to submit the following:

• The University of Washington Graduate School Application Form;

• The Jackson School Supplemental Application Form (PDF available for download here);

• Three letters of recommendation;

• A statement of purpose;

• A personal statement (optional);

• An academic writing sample;

• Your CV/ resume;

• Your unofficial undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts;

• Valid test score reports for the GRE exam, and where applicable;

• Valid test score reports for the TOEFL or IELTS English Language Proficiency exams.

 


Q: Is a Master’s Degree required to apply to the PhD Program?

Yes. All applicants must have earned their MA by the time they start the PhD program – this means it is possible to apply if your degree will be awarded in the spring or summer after you apply. However, if your degree will be awarded after September 15, you will have to wait until next year to apply.


Q: Can I assemble my application in hardcopy and send it to you?

We’re afraid that we can only accept applications that have been submitted online through the University of Washington Graduate School. No materials should be sent to the Jackson School.


Q: How do I know if my application has been submitted and is complete?

Once candidates have submitted their materials have paid the necessary application fee, they are able to return and check the status of their applications at any time by visiting https://www.grad.washington.edu/applForAdmiss/. Returning applicants can use their login credentials to edit their profiles, update their contact information, and check on the status of recommendation letters, test scores, and transcripts.


Q: Can I make changes to my application after I submit it?

Once you finalize and submit your application, you cannot revise your uploaded materials (statements, writing samples, CV, etc.) or make changes to your application. However, you can make changes to your designated recommenders. It is important you ensure your materials are properly formatted and display correctly before they are submitted – this is especially important when working with PDF files.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all aspects of their application are correct and accurate before it is submitted to the University of Washington Graduate School. Due to the volume of applications received each year, the JSIS PhD program admissions committee will not consider applications that are incomplete or incorrectly submitted.


Q: When I save my Supplemental Application the answers I just entered on the form are blank. Will the admissions committee be able to see the answers?

If it doesn’t display properly for you, it won’t display properly for us. We recommend confirming your supplemental application display properly by saving, closing, then reopening your document. If the document then displays properly, then you should be able to add it to your application without issue. As noted on the supplemental application form, this must be completely filled in as part of your PhD application packet. Your application will not be considered complete without this form.


Q: How long should my academic writing sample be?

There is no minimum or maximum length. Some people use a strong paper of only 10 pages or less, some use their graduate thesis. In the latter case, it should not be shortened or abstracted. The admissions committee probably will not read the entire thesis, but it is best to allow them to choose which parts they will read.


Q: My writing sample is in a language other than English. Can I submit that for the Writing Sample?

The writing sample must be in English. Classwork conducted at the Jackson School will be in English, and the admissions committee must be able to evaluate your potential for writing graduate-level papers by seeing an example of your work in the instruction language of the university.


Q: How long should the Statement of Purpose be?

2-3 pages (double-spaced), briefly describing your background, experience, academic interests and goals. It should demonstrate your ability to make your point concisely, and make some reference to what you intend to do with your degree post-graduation.


Q: What is the difference between the Statement of Purpose and the Personal Statement?

The statement of purpose should outline your academic interests, your goals for studying at the Jackson School, and a brief outline of your research plan. It should also include an outline of how you intend to use your degree after you graduate.

The personal statement is an opportunity for you to talk about your background, your motivation for applying, and why you as a candidate are a good fit for the program. While the personal statement is optional, it is recommended candidates take the time to write one – the admissions committee looks carefully at a candidate’s motivation and outlook to determine if they are a good fit for the program.


Q: What is the process for letters of recommendation?

When they apply online, candidates are asked to nominate three recommenders and submit their contact details, including both email and telephone. Once this is completed, recommenders will be emailed automatically by the system and informed that they have been nominated by <candidate name> as a designated recommender for the Jackson School PhD Program. They will then be given instructions on how to complete and submit their letter of recommendation online.


Q: One of my designated recommenders is away and will not be able to submit their recommendation until after the deadline. Is this OK?

We understand that some faculty can be on leave or away from the office, and we accept that. As a result it is acceptable if your letters of recommendation are submitted a week or so after the deadline. As long as the recommendations arrive by about January 10, your application would not be compromised. However, if all three recommendations are not submitted by the time initial reviews start, this could affect the consideration they receive.

It is the responsibility of the candidates to follow up with their nominees and confirm they have submitted their recommendations on time.


Q: Do you accept recommendations submitted through a materials service like Interfolio or AMCAS?

No, we do not. Letters of recommendation must be submitted directly by designated nominees through our online system. The reason for this is that a recommendation must include both a submitted letter and responses to an evaluation survey. 3rd party services are unable to complete the evaluation survey on behalf of a recommender.


Q: What is the difference between an unofficial and an official transcript?

For admissions purposes, official transcripts are transcripts that are ordered through the registrar’s office of a given university and sent hard copy in a sealed envelope directly to the UW graduate school. Official transcripts must bear the seal or embossed stamp of the issuing university and be printed on official transcript paper. There is usually a fee for requesting and sending official transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are usually transcripts that can be printed or downloaded by students for free, and frequently (but not always) display “unofficial transcript” on the document. Only transcripts that are received by the graduate school in sealed envelopes from another registrar’s office are considered official.

While official transcripts are not required at time of application, please be aware that if you are offered (and accept) admission to the JSIS Ph.D. program you will be asked to submit official transcripts to the University of Washington Graduate School.


Q: I am based overseas and my university will not send transcripts internationally. What should I do?

As long as the official transcript remains in its original sealed envelope and are not tampered with, it is acceptable for individual applicants to forward their transcripts to the University of Washington Graduate School. Please note that academic transcripts should be submitted for evaluation in English.


Q: I ordered my transcript some time ago, and it should have been received by now. When I check my application status, it says it has not been marked as “received” – what should I do?

Please understand that the graduate school deals with a significant number of materials each admissions season. If you have ordered your transcripts, trust that they will be received. When your preliminary application assessment is conducted by our departmental admissions committee, we will let you know if we have NOT received a required transcript, or if anything is lacking.

If you are offered (and accept) admission to the JSIS Ph.D. program, please send all official transcripts directly to the University of Washington Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS). The mailing address is as follows:

Standard postal mail:

University of Washington

Graduate Enrollment Management Services

Box 353770

Seattle, WA 98195-3770

Express or courier service (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.):

University of Washington

Graduate Enrollment Management Services

G-1 Communications

4109 Stevens Way

Seattle, WA 98195-3770


Q: I am an international applicant, and my home institutions do not use an American GPA system to evaluate students. What should I do?

Our university is used to working with students from all over the world, and understands that different institutions have different grading systems. You will not have to explain your grading system – we have a well-developed database that will help our admissions committee to understand context where necessary.

For further information on application requirements for international students, please see http://www.grad.washington.edu/admissions/faq/international.shtml.


Q: Can you waive the GRE requirements for certain candidates?

No. We require every candidate that applies submit valid test scores to the University of Washington via ETS (the organization that conducts the GRE). This is so our admissions committee will have a metric that can compare candidates from different backgrounds in a standardized way.


Q. How much emphasis is given to the GRE?

Each part of your application is important, and is assessed on its own merits. Admissions committee members usually rank each part of the application from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest) and use the total score to rank applicants. For example, if an applicant has a strong Statement of Purpose, she/he might get a 5, acceptable GRE scores might receive 3, good recommendations a 4, a very good transcript a 5, and so on. Not doing well on any one part does not eliminate you from those likely to be offered admission, but it is suggested that you do as well as you can.


Q: Is there a minimum score you require for the GRE to be considered?

No. There is no minimum score that will preclude you from being considered for admission, just as there is no score that will guarantee you admission.

As a result, please understand that we are not able to give out information on “average” GRE score profiles for admitted students, as scores achieved by our admitted students will change from year to year. What was good enough one year may not be good enough the next, and the GRE is just one part of our considerations for admission. Our advice to candidates is to just do the best they can.


Q: I saw the requirement for the GRE, but I only took the GMAT. Can I substitute my GMAT score report for the GRE requirement?

No. GMAT scores are only applicable to candidates applying for a business-related degree program.


Q: I am not a native speaker of English. Do I need to submit proof of my English proficiency (like TOEFL scores)?

Not everyone is required to submit English Proficiency test scores to the University of Washington. This requirement is waived if:

  • You are a native speaker of English;
  • You have completed and been awarded a degree from an accredited institution in the United States, or from an institution in Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, or the United Kingdom. While enrolled at the degree-granting school, the student must be in residence on campus.
  • You have official documentation from your undergraduate degree-granting institution (if the institution is in a country other than those listed in #1 above) verifying that all instruction was in English. The undergraduate degree must be equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree. Documentation must be presented to the Graduate School.

For full information on English language requirements at the University of Washington, please see this page. Please note that the The Graduate School is phasing out the usage of IELTS and will not accept scores with a test session date after May 31, 2017.


Q. How can I check the status of my test scores?

To check on whether your scores, return to your application website. Once the scores have been received by the University of Washington the receipt of the item will appear on your screen. It can take some time for scores to be marked as received, as the University deals with a high volume of materials during admissions season. If you do not see your scores marked as received and you are concerned, you should follow up with ETS (Educational Testing Service). The Jackson School has no ability to check on your test score status for you, and it is the responsibility of candidates to ensure that their test scores are submitted correctly.


Q: What code should I use to make sure my GRE or TOEFL scores are sent to the right place?

The University of Washington code for these exams is 4854. All scores are reported electronically by the ETS to the UW, and the score report or reports will be visible to any UW department to which you apply.


Q: Can I defer enrollment if I’m accepted to the Jackson School Ph.D. program?

No, we are unable to defer admission for accepted candidates. We can, however, defer your application should circumstances require it. Please note that even if accepted for admission, this is only a deferral of your application, not of an admission offer. The admissions committee will consider your application again the following year, but nothing is guaranteed.


Q: Do you offer Winter or Spring admission?

No. Application to the Ph.D. program is for starting in fall quarter only. We do not offer rolling admissions.


Q: If I submit my application early, will I receive an early decision?

No. All applications are considered by our admissions committee at the same time. We do not provide early decisions.


Q: What funding is available?

For information on funding opportunities please see http://jsis.washington.edu/phd/finaid.

Occasionally, Jackson School students have been able to obtain Teaching or Research Assistantships (TA/ RAships) with the Jackson School or with other departments, such as Political Science, Spanish, and other departments where the students have experience. This is usually possible once the student is accepted and approaches the other department about TA/RA possibilities.


Q: How much does your program cost?

Please see http://www.washington.edu/students/osfa/graduate/grad.costs.html for an overview of tuition and fees. For Jackson School Ph.D. students, tuition rates are for Seattle campus Graduate Tier I, the lowest tier of graduate tuition.