Frequently asked questions

Program frequently asked questions


My GPA in my four year Bachelor’s degree is below the minimum of 3.4/4.0 required for admission to your MA program. What can I do?

For admissions purposes, the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) requires that the department calculate grade point average (GPA) based on approximately your last twenty half-credit courses (or two years) of your degree only.

Admission requirements vary depending on the country where previous undergraduate and/or graduate degrees were earned. Visit International Admissions Requirements on the FGS website for further information on specific degree and grade point average requirements for the country where you earned your degree.

Please note, our Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) bases admission decisions on the BA Degree GPA only. However, for students right at or just below our department’s minimum admission GPA, you may consider registering in one or two 4th year undergraduate or graduate courses as an Open Studies student below. While these courses do not change your admission GPA, in cases where your GPA is marginal, excellent results in these after-degree courses may be taken into account by the Department when considering your eligibility for admission to our program.

If admitted, and at the discretion of the Graduate Program Director, up to two half graduate courses may count towards your MA course requirements.


  • We do not guarantee admission, even if your GPA meets our minimum requirement.
  • In any given year, admission decisions will depend on the number of qualified applicants, the availability of supervision, and the funds available for student support. These vary from year to year.


My BA is a three year degree and not the required four year degree. How do I upgrade for admission to the MA program?

The Faculty of Graduate Studies requires a four year BA degree. Students with a three year BA should speak to an advisor in the Arts Students’ Centre if you plan to complete extra courses to complete a four year degree. All such courses cannot be used for advanced credit towards a graduate degree program. Successful completion of this work does not guarantee admission to a graduate program.


My undergraduate or Master’s degree is in another discipline. How can I get a sufficient background in Political Science?

Normally applicants must have an immediately prior degree in Political or a strong background in Political Science -- at least 5.0 full-course equivalents in Political Science. Special consideration may be given to those who have not achieved this background.

If you have a degree far removed from Political Science, you would not be eligible for admission. We recommend that you take a second BA or MA degree in Political Science.


How can I take additional undergraduate or graduate courses at the University of Calgary?

To take courses when not registered in a regular degree program, you must apply for Open Studies admission.

The Registrar’s Office processes applications for open studies, not the Department. However, if you wish to enrol in a Political Science graduate course as an Open Studies student, you will need Department approval.


My degree(s) is from an international institution, how do I know if I am eligible to apply for admission?

The Faculty of Graduate Studies provides graduate programs with guidelines for GPA calculations on international transcripts. Prospective students can find relevant information for each country on the FGS website.

However, please bear in mind that the Department of Political Science often has higher minimum admission standards than those listed with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.


Yes, as long as you will be completing it before Sept of the year you plan to enter the program.

You will need to submit your final transcript, with your final grades and proof of completion of degree requirements by August 20th.

If admitted, speak with the Graduate Administrator about the additional steps in the process. Your admission letter will state that your admission is conditional on receipt of your final transcript.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies provides programs with tools for calculating GPAs. Just for some form of reference for you, in the University of Calgary system, a 3.4 GPA is around 80% and between a B+ and A-.

Can you base my GPA calculation on only my Political Science courses as I did much better on my Political Science courses?

Unfortunately, this is not permitted. Your GPA will be calculated on approximately the last 20 half courses or the last two years for your BA program and all of your MA courses. The Faculty of Graduate Studies provides programs with very specific guidelines and procedures for GPA calculation.

This is correct, but Departments can set their own minimum GPA requirements and we require a higher GPA.

Language proficiency

Proof of Proficiency in the English language is required from applicants whose primary language is not English.

  • TOEFL score of 105 (Internet-based) or 600 (paper-based).
  • IELTS score of 7.5 (Academic version)
  • CAEL score of 70 with no section less than 70
  • PTE score of 75, or higher (Academic version)
  • Academic Communication Certificate, with a minimum grade of A- in each course.

Official scores should be sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Calgary. TOEFL scores should indicate the institution code 0813 and the code 25 for Political Science as listed on the TOEFL website.

Why does the Faculty of Graduate Studies accept students with a lower TOEFL score than the Department?

Each Department is allowed to set its own requirements for language proficiency. We’ve found that students below our minimum requirement struggle to complete their degree requirements.

Application fee

How do I pay the fee?

The best method for paying your application fee and ensuring it is paid on time is to pay by credit card.

Will my application be processed if I do not pay the application fee?

No. The Faculty of Graduate Studies stipulates that Graduate Programs are not allowed to process applications until the application fee is paid. Also, the system will not allow the processing of an application if the fee has not been paid

I paid the application fee online but it is not showing up as paid yet. Why?

It may take a few days before it shows up on your check-list as paid.

Is the application fee refundable?

No. The University of Calgary does not return application fees.


How many references do I need and how can they be sent?

You will need two referees who can comment on your academic abilities and qualifications. Once you initiate your application your referees will automatically be notified by email with instructions for completing the online reference. The referees will complete an online form.

Do I need to submit academic references?

Because you are applying for a graduate program, we do need academic references.

Do I need to provide a University email address/business for the reference?

Yes! You should provide a University email address for your referees. A personal email account may not accept an email from the University of Calgary system. This would mean that your referees may not receive the important email regarding completing a reference.


Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. Original documents or certified true copies of each of your official transcripts and degree certificates, in the original sealed envelope, sent directly from the issuing University.

If original documents are not in English:

Original documents or certified true copies of each of your official transcripts and degree certificates in the original language, in the original sealed envelope, sent directly from the issuing University, and an English translation from the issuing University or a notarized word-for-word English translation of a duplicate copy of that original.

If the transcripts are from a university in a country where the mother tongue is not English, the University must provide the original transcript and an official translation. If the degree conferral is not noted on the transcript, we need the original degree certificate and translation sent directly from the University.

Transcripts are considered official only if sent directly by the University.

Transcripts can be sent by email to or by mail to the following address: 

Faculty of Graduate Studies
Earth Sciences, 1010
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada 
T2N 1N4

Please note that email transcripts must be sent directly from the issuing institution's transcript office (see related FAQ). Hard copy transcripts must be in an envelope sealed by the issuing institution. You can upload unofficial documents to your online application.

You are required to upload unofficial transcripts by January 15th as part of the online application Please upload the grading scale as well (often located on the back of the transcript). Official transcripts required upon receipt of conditional admission as stated in any offer of admission.


How do I find a faculty member to supervise my thesis?

Refer to Research section of our website to get an overview of our supervisory capacity and individual faculty member’s research areas. Once you determine a faculty member may fit into your area of study, e-mail your research proposal to the professor. Do not send e-mails to professors outside of your area of study asking them to be potential supervisors.

Once you have heard back that a faculty member is willing to be a potential supervisor, please upload that e-mail to your online application system or forward to

Does finding a potential supervisor guarantee I will be admitted?

Finding a supervisor does not guarantee admission. Many factors are considered when admission decisions are made; having a potential supervisor is only one of them.

What if I am admitted and once in the program I decided that I do not want to work with the supervisor?

The agreement is not binding on either party. However, keep in mind that once you are admitted and decide not to keep this supervisor, the graduate program may not be able to provide you with another supervisor for your area of study. The same is true if you change your area of study.

Research proposal

How long can my research proposal for my admissions application be?

For MA applicants, your research proposal should be no more than one page (excluding bibliography). For PhD applicants, it should be no more than two pages (excluding bibliography). You will upload it while applying online.

Sample of work

Should my sample of work be from a Political Science course?

Yes. It is best if your paper is from a Political Science course because you are applying for a graduate program in Political Science.

Do I upload it?

Yes. Do not mail or email a copy.

Funding and scholarships

Do I need to apply for funding – Teaching Assistantships etc.?

Applicants do not need to apply for funding. We seldom admit without a funding offer. If you are admitted, the Department’s letter of offer will state if you are receiving funding and how much the funding will be worth. In August decisions are made on how we reach that amount – through teaching assistantships, scholarships, and other funds.

If you win a scholarship or receive external funding, your departmental funding would be adjusted as the award would then become part of your funding package.

If admitted, in-Program students will have opportunities for applying for scholarships.


Should I apply for a SSHRC scholarship even before I am accepted into your graduate program?

Yes. For PhD admission: If the deadline has not passed, you should apply for a direct SSHRC application or a SSHRC application through your University. For MA admission: MA applicants should apply for a Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC) through the Tri-Council research portal. Due December 1st.

Process of applying

Do I fill out the application and print it for submission or submit online?

No, you submit it online and the Graduate Administrator will receive a message stating you have applied. You cannot print the application and submit a hard copy.

Why don’t I see any place for me to upload my research proposal, proof of supervisor etc?

Once you submit your application, you will receive an email within about 24 hours with instructions for uploading supporting documents through the Student Centre.

When is the application due? Jan 15

The online application is due January 15th. Deadlines for supporting documentation will be listed within the application and must be uploaded or received by those dates. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

When are decisions made at the Department level?

Between Feb and Apr.