PhD Admissions

Gaining admission to the Fletcher School PhD Program is a highly competitive process. The PhD Admissions Committee seeks students with a history of academic success and the potential to achieve their research and career goals in the future.

To apply to the PhD program, prospective students must have a master's degree in a field that is relevant to international relations, and directly related to the applicant's proposed doctoral studies. The applicant's master's degree must come from a program that required at least three semesters of full-time study (not including internships or language study), and at least twelve courses in which the applicant earned a cumulative GPA of 3.6 or higher. Applicants should also have at least basic proficiency in a second language, which may be English for non-native English speakers.

In addition to a strong academic background, successful applicants generally also have professional experience that they can draw upon. While some have worked before pursuing their master's degree program, others will also have gained experience between completing their master’s degree and applying to the PhD.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to ensure that their research can be supported by a member of the Fletcher faculty. Even among highly accomplished applicants, the final requirement is that a professor is able to advise the student in their specific field. Reaching out to faculty members during the application process is not required, but can be a useful way of ensuring that there is a good match with a potential advisor. The final match between admitted students and faculty advisors will be made through the application review process. Adjunct and visiting professors cannot serve as PhD advisors.

Please note that the Fletcher PhD Program currently offers tuition funding and limited stipend support, generally for two years, to incoming students who have applied for financial assistance. Further details on the application process can be found on the Office of Admissions website, with additional information for PhD applicants also available.

Applicants with questions about the process are encouraged to email the Office of Admissions or Jessica Daniels, the PhD Program director.

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions that follow pertain specifically to the PhD program. Please also review the general Admissions FAQs.

  • Fletcher's PhD program is a full-time on-campus program that does not offer either part-time or remote-study options. Students are generally on campus for three years or until they have defended their dissertation proposal. After that, they may choose to move elsewhere to research and write their dissertation.

  • Once students have completed their coursework, they generally take one year or less to complete their comprehensive exams, and an additional year or less to prepare a formal dissertation proposal. After the proposal has been approved, research and writing the dissertation averages about three years, but the time needed depends on how many other activities, besides the dissertation, the student is pursuing.

  • Applications from external candidates to the PhD program are due on December 15 for enrollment in September of the following year. There is no Early Notification application for the PhD program. Note that internal candidates (graduates of the MALD or MIB program) should email the Office of Admissions regarding application procedures.

  • Although Fletcher provides scholarship support to PhD students who demonstrate financial need, the school does not routinely waive tuition. Scholarships for coursework are awarded on the basis of need and merit, and are renewable for those who remain in good academic standing while taking required classes. Following completion of classes, students are responsible for a relatively modest Enrollment Fee, for which they can receive a scholarship for up to five years.

  • For students who are not sponsored by another organization, Fletcher aims to provide stipend support for the first two years in the program, after which most students find employment on or off campus, or they apply for external fellowships.

  • No. Although Fletcher PhD students may wish to pursue teaching or research opportunities within Fletcher or elsewhere at Tufts University, with only a few exceptions, Fletcher scholarships come with no teaching, research, or other work obligations.

  • Admission to Fletcher's PhD program requires a prior master's degree similar to Fletcher’s Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, lasting at least three semesters and requiring at least twelve semester-long courses. In establishing this requirement, the Fletcher faculty was aware that some very interesting students would not be able to apply directly to the PhD program. Those students have the option to pursue the MALD program, and apply later to the PhD. The majority of the students in the PhD program have previously pursued a MALD.

  • Submitting results from the GRE or GMAT exam is optional for all Fletcher applicants and there is no required minimum for those who choose to submit scores. The PhD Admissions Committee seeks students who can demonstrate strong academic potential, and applicants interested in pursuing a quantitative field of study may choose to submit scores to demonstrate their quantitative ability. Among those who submit standardized test scores, competitive scores are above the 50th percentile in all categories.

  • Fletcher may accept one Visiting PhD Scholar each year. Interested PhD researchers will be required to identify a Fletcher faculty member who agrees to be your advisor or mentor for the time you are here. For more information, please contact the PhD program director.

    Visiting PhD Scholars start their year at Fletcher in September. Application materials are due by the preceding January 1. The selected Visiting PhD Scholar will pay a fee to Fletcher for use of facilities, and must also arrange their own housing. The scholar will be offered a space to use within the library.