PHD Application Checklist

The admissions process is designed to review the overall potential of applicants to succeed in their studies and their research careers.

All doctoral students without alternate funding sources are eligible to receive a five-year research assistantship, which carries a stipend and 100% tuition remission. The research assistants work up to 20 hours a week with faculty members on research projects during the academic year. Various fellowships, summer research positions (especially at NYU Wagner's research centers), and paid teaching opportunities may also be available to doctoral students. These opportunities should be discussed with the program faculty and staff coordinators at the time of admission. No additional application materials are required for consideration at this time.

For questions about the PhD program, contact

NYU Shanghai Ph.D. Track

NYU Wagner is excited to announce an exciting opportunity for exceptional students for our PhD program to be sponsored by NYU Shanghai. Participating students will be enrolled in the NYU Wagner PhD program, complete their coursework in New York, and then transition to a full-time residence at NYU Shanghai where they will undertake doctoral research under the supervision of NYU Shanghai faculty. For more information about research fields in this track, faculty, and other highlights, please visit this webpage.

NYU Shanghai Application Process

Applications are to be submitted through the NYU Wagner Application portal, within which students should select the Public Administration PhD as their program of interest, and then indicate their preference for NYU Shanghai by marking the appropriate checkbox when prompted in the Program Information section. Applicants will be evaluated by a joint admissions committee of New York and Shanghai faculty. Application requirements are the same for all NYU Wagner Ph.D. applicants regardless of campus preference. However, candidates are encouraged to elaborate on their specific interest in the NYU Shanghai program and faculty in their application and personal statements.


Fill out your online application.

Entry Term

Only offered for the Fall semester.

Application Deadline

Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on the day of the deadline. Any mailed application material must be postmarked by the deadline date.

All Ph.D. applicants must apply by the early action deadline (Late November)

You may complete and submit your online application at any time before the deadline. Save your work before moving to the next page and print a copy for your own records.

Submit a three-to-four-page essay (800-1200 words) describing your career goals, your research interests and the questions you wish to explore in a doctoral program, your interest in NYU Wagner, and how your education and work experience qualify you for admission.

We require you to certify that the essays you submit are entirely your own original work. If necessary, use of proper references and quotes is permissible. The use of artificial intelligence tools is only permissible for providing assistance with spelling and grammar. Please be aware that if it is discovered that the submitted essays do not meet this requirement, we retain the right to revoke your admission.

Applicants are required to submit a writing sample (published or unpublished) of any length that will allow the Doctoral Board to understand your potential as a researcher. Single-authored papers are preferred, but a co-authored paper is acceptable. 

Please upload an Academic CV that includes your employment and educational record, indicating dates of attendance and degree(s) earned.  We encourage you to include information about the following additional activities:

  • Academic and professional honors
  • Relevant publications
  • Other professional activities

Three letters of recommendation are required with your application. Do not submit more than your required number of letters of recommendation and please adhere to these guidelines:

  • Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application system. We do not accept mailed recommendations. 
  • The recommendation may be academic or professional in nature. We strongly prefer a balance of academic and professional sources. 
  • All recommendation letters must be submitted using a professional or academic email domain on official letterhead.
  • The recommendation should come from an individual who can objectively assess your performance and your potential for success in your NYU Wagner program of interest and in your future career.
  • We discourage recommendations from family members, family friends, and close friends.
  • Your recommender must have a valid email address.
  • Your recommenders will be asked to provide an answer to these questions:
    • How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?
    • What do you consider the applicant's outstanding talents?
    • In which areas could the applicant exhibit growth or improvement?
    • What relevant insights can you offer regarding this candidate—particularly those that are not likely to be available from other sources?
    • What observations do you have of the character and integrity of the applicant?
  • Your recommenders may answer these questions by uploading a document.

Instructions for Submitting Recommendations

Recommenders are required to complete the online evaluation form. Their response to the recommendation questions may be in either letter or short answer format and should not exceed two pages each. 

  • As part of the application process, you will input the names and contact information for your recommender.
  • Once you submit a recommender’s information, he or she will receive an email notification and instructions for completing the recommendation.
  • There are instructions in the application for sending reminders to your recommenders, if needed.
  • Please note all letters of recommendation do not need to be completed in order to submit an application. However, we will be unable to review your application until all required recommendations are received.

Students entering the NYU Wagner PhD program are required to hold a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or an equivalent degree from a foreign country.

If you submit your application prior to the conferral of your bachelor's degree or equivalent, we will accept and evaluate your application with the understanding that your degree completion is in progress. If an offer of admission is made, it will be contingent upon receiving your degree conferral prior to enrollment.

Transcripts submitted through the online application must meet the following criteria:

  • Unofficial transcripts are required from all colleges or universities attended in which you earned grades and/or academic credits at the college level, including undergraduate, transfer credits, continuing education, etc.
  • Unofficial transcripts are accepted for the review process.  All transcripts uploaded by the applicant are considered unofficial.
  • In order for a transcript to be considered official, it must be received directly from the institution or an official third-party transcript provider such as those available through eSCRIP-SAFE, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse, etc. 
  • Transcripts must show all courses taken, all credits earned, and all grades received.
  • Transcripts must include your full legal name and the name of the college or university attended.
  • Transcripts must be written in English.
  • Word documents and HTML documents are not acceptable.

International Credential Evaluation Requirement

If you received an undergraduate degree from an institution located outside of the United States or Canada, we require that you use a third-party international credential evaluation service to assess U.S. bachelor’s equivalency and evaluation of your grade point average. NYU Wagner will only accept international evaluation reports from NACES-approved agencies. You can find the full list here.

  • Applicants must select a course-by-course evaluation to be completed by one of the approved evaluation service providers.
  • When completing your NYU Wagner application, upload both unofficial transcripts from the degree-granting institution(s) and a copy of your international credential evaluation report from an approved evaluation service.
  • All applicants who are required to submit an international credential evaluation, are eligible to receive an application fee waiver to apply to NYU Wagner. Once your NYU Wagner application is submitted and the international credential evaluation is received, your application fee waiver will be waived. Do not pay the application before the waiver is applied, as we will not be able to issue a refund. 

International Credential Evaluation (ICE) Waivers

  • Applicants who obtained their bachelor's degree outside of the U.S. or Canada must submit an International Credential Evaluation from an approved organization such as WES or Span Tran, listed on Evaluations for Graduate degrees earned from institutions outside the U.S and Canada are recommended, but not required.

  • Students with degrees from institutions based in the United States that operate degree-granting branch campuses in another country are exempt from this requirement. 

  • We do not require an evaluation for a study abroad semester.

Please contact for questions or clarification. If you meet the criteria for an ICE waiver, this requirement will be waived upon submission of your application, no formal request is needed.


GRE or GMAT scores are required for admission to the PhD program at NYU Wagner.  You must upload a copy of your score report into the online application before submission.  Once your online application is submitted, we will not allow replacement of your test scores. Only tests taken within the past five (5) years will be considered.
GRE School Code: 2507  

English Language Proficiency (if applicable)

Mastery of English is required for NYU Wagner programs. If your undergraduate or graduate degree was not taught in English, you must demonstrate your level of proficiency in English in one of the following ways;

1. A TOEFL score of at least 100 (We accept MyBest scores and our TOEFL School Code is 2507)

2. An IELTS score of at least 7.0 

3. A Duolingo score of 130

  • Scores must be less than two years old upon application submission. While official scores are required, an unofficial copy of your score report can be used to review your application and must be uploaded at the time of submission. If you submit a test score that does not meet the minimum requirements to apply, you will be contacted by the admissions committee and given the opportunity to retake the exam. 

  • For applicants who took the test more than once, the Admissions Committee considers only the test with the highest total score taken within two years of the application deadline for which you apply.

  • If you plan to retake one of the required English Language Proficiency assessments after applying, you must inform the Admissions Committee of the date you intend to take the test via email to The Admissions Committee will proceed with the evaluation of your application using your submitted score, and may issue a decision prior to receiving additional test scores.


An $85 application fee is required to process your application for admission.

Pay by credit card

When you arrive at the Application Status page after you submit your application, you will see the option to submit a credit card payment. Follow the instructions to complete your payment.

Fee waiver eligibility

Please review the items below and indicate if any of the following apply to you.

Fee waivers are granted for the following:

  1. Current NYU Undergrad
  2. AmeriCorps Members
  3. Bonner Foundation Members
  4. City Year Members
  5. McNair Scholar Participants
  6. Peace Corps Volunteers
  7. Rangel Graduate Fellows
  8. Teach For America (TFA) Participants
  9. Truman Scholar Participants
  10. Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellows
  11. Pickering Fellow Recipients
  12. New York Police Department
  13. ICE Requirement
  14. Financial Hardship
  15. Military Affiliation
  16. NYU or NYU Langone Employee
  17. NYU Alumni
  18. NYU/CHCI Partnership

If you qualify for an application fee waiver, please do not submit your payment. The Admissions Office will contact you regarding your fee waiver status. We can not refund payments once they have been received. 

PhD applicants are encouraged to submit any documentation that will allow the Doctoral Board to understand better their record of accomplishment.

I am interested in a specific area (or areas) of study.  Is NYU Wagner’s PhD program an appropriate place for me?

Through substantive theoretical and methodological training, doctoral students at Wagner learn to produce research required for effective public and nonprofit programs and policies. Our program is interdisciplinary, just like our faculty, so students can draw on economics, political science, sociology, psychology, organization studies, and other fields. What's more, it is flexible, allowing students to design a plan of study that takes advantage of the many courses offered at Wagner and NYU's other graduate schools. Students have many opportunities to participate in research projects with individual faculty or through our affiliated research centers.

Among our program’s areas of strength: education policy, health policy, international development, management, public finance and financial management, public policy and urban policy. If your primary areas of interest fall within these broad categories, Wagner would be an excellent place for you to do doctoral work. We also encourage you to view the written work and areas of interest listed by our faculty on the webpage to assist you in making the decision to apply.  


Is it feasible for me to apply directly to the PhD program with my BA?

Yes.  Most, though not all, of our admitted students have earned a graduate degree.


What factors do the admissions committee consider in selecting PhD cohorts?

Ultimately the admissions committee is interested in finding the most talented candidates who are a good Wagner and NYU fit and will excel in the program. An applicant’s grades, research experiences, statement of research interests, GRE scores and other factors are taken into consideration. 


Will my application be automatically rejected if my GRE scores fall below a certain level?

Applicants do not need a minimum GRE score to be considered for admission - the committee weighs the merits of each application on a case-by-case basis. Strong GRE scores will make your application more competitive, but they are not the sole consideration of admission or denial.


How is financial aid awarded?

The majority of NYU Wagner’s admitted students are fully funded for a minimum of five years through a research assistantship. This funding carries a work requirement of 20 hours/week with a member or members of the Wagner faculty, and generally covers full tuition, fees and student health insurance, as well as an assistantship stipend. Students with external fellowships are also considered for admission. In addition, advanced students may have the opportunity to teach. Teaching is separate from the funding package, and any teaching compensation is above and beyond the assistantship support.


I am a foreign student; am I still eligible for financial aid?

All students who are accepted to Wagner’s doctoral program and indicate a need for financial aid are considered for it, regardless of nationality.


How many applications does the program receive each year?

We typically receive upwards of 150 applications.


How many students are admitted to the program each year?

Admission is typically offered to about 8-10 students in an effort to have an entering cohort of 3-5 students.


Can I schedule an interview?

The program does not schedule interviews for prospective graduate students before admissions decisions are made. Admitted students will be invited for campus visits in the spring.


When can I expect to hear back about my application?

Applicants are typically notified of their decisions by mid-February; all admissions decisions should be released no later than early March.


What are the specific items that must be submitted in my application?

The PhD application checklist is available here.


What is the average GPA and GRE score of students admitted to the Wagner PhD program?

Wagner does not keep track of this information or make it available to the public.


Can I transfer credits from previous graduate work to this program?

Transfer credits are awarded on a case-by-case basis after admitted students have completed their third year in the program, in consultation with faculty and program advisors.


Can I work full-time and attend the PhD program part-time?

There is no part-time option for doctoral study.


I have a fellowship (such as a Fulbright) that will fund my graduate studies. Does this guarantee admission to the program?

If applicants have a fellowship, they should note this on their application; however, all applicants are reviewed on the basis of their academic qualifications and their fit for the program, and having a fellowship does not guarantee admission.



Please reach out to if you have additional questions.