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 four-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 time of admission. No additional application materials are required for consideration at this time.

For questions about the PhD program, contact


Interested in NYU's IES-PIRT Fellowship?

We're thrilled to announce that the Institute of Education Science (IES) renewed NYU's Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (PIRT) program! Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Kemple and Dr. Elise Cappella, the program will recruit 24 fellows primarily from groups underrepresented in the education sciences, including scholars of color, students from low-income families, immigrant origin students, and individuals with disabilities. 

Previous Wagner IES-PIRT fellows include Profs. Sarah Cordes and Michah Rothbart

Wagner students have been very successful obtaining these fellowships. If you are interested in education policy, we strongly encourage you to mention your interest in the IES-PIRT fellowship program in your application and personal statement.

Information on how to apply can be found here


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 and Dates

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. All applications must be submitted by November 29, 2021.


ONLY Deadline: November 29, 2021

Fill out your online application

The online application is due at 11:59pm Eastern Time on the deadline date. 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. Please note that all required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Incomplete Applications

If your submitted application is not complete (for example, illegible scanned transcript, missing essays or other items) you will be informed via email. Applicants are required to submit all parts of the application by the deadline. Incomplete applications are reviewed as-is at the discretion of the Doctoral Board.

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

Please submit three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak best to your academic potential. Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application system. We do not accept mailed recommendations. Please note that both letters of recommendation do NOT need to be included in your application or received by Admissions in order to submit an application. We simply recommend that applicants encourage their recommenders to submit their letters as close to when the application is being submitted as possible. 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.

Students entering NYU Wagner's 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, study abroad, transfer credits, continuing education, etc.
  • Uploaded files must be scanned copies of transcript(s) received from the college/university registrar OR electronic transcripts (such as those available through eSCRIP-SAFE, Parchment, and National Student Clearinghouse).
  • 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. 

Transcripts for Institutions Located Outside of the United States

If you received a graduate or undergraduate degree from an institution located outside of the United States, we require that you use a third party international credential evaluation service to assess U.S. bachelor’s equivalency and obtain a course-by-course evaluation of your grade point average.  In limited cases, NYU Wagner can assist with an international credential evaluation upon request from the student. 

Students who completed degrees in the United States and studied abroad for a semester are exempt from this requirement. Likewise, waivers may be granted for institutions in Canada (or elsewhere) that have grading systems similar to the United States. Please contact for questions or clarification.

Applications should include both unofficial transcript(s) from the degree-granting institution(s) and a copy of your international credential evaluation report from an approved evaluation service. 


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  


The TOEFL or the IELTS are required for international PhD applicants if you did not attend an undergraduate or graduate institution where the sole language of instruction is English.  If you completed a graduate degree that was taught in English, it is recommended you submit one of these tests, but it is not required.

You must upload a copy of your TOEFL or IELTS 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 two (2) years will be considered. Failure to complete this requirement may result in withdrawal of an application. 
TOEFL School Code: 2507

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.

Pay by check or money order 

Mail a check or money order in the amount of $85—payable to "New York University"—to NYU Wagner Admissions, 295 Lafayette Street 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012.

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. Submitted International Credential Evaluation
  2. Financial Circumstances
  3. AmeriCorps Members
  4. City Year Members
  5. Peace Corps Volunteers
  6. Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellows
  7. Teach For America (TFA) Participants
  8. Rangel Graduate Fellows
  9. NYPD/U.S. Military/National Guard Active or Former Members
  10. Bonner Foundation Members
  11. McNair Scholar Participants

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 four 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.

We invite you to experience NYU Wagner.


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