First Year Student Information

Welcome to the program!

We are very excited you’re joining us this fall! We hope that your transition to the PhD program and moving to Minnesota is a smooth one. At any point, don’t hesitate to contact Jessie Eastman if you have questions – or 612-624-1187. Below are some “next steps”; you may have already received these in your Graduate Admissions letter.

  • submit the "Enrollment Form" from your online application admission letter
  • review other instructions from your online application admissions letter (i.e. submitting official transcripts, immunizations, etc.)
  • activate your U of M email account
  • MyU – you’ll soon receive more information about the MyU portal and how to access lots of U of M systems!

Financial Certification Form for International Students on F-1 Visa

F-1 Visa students will find a link to the Financial Certification form in their Graduate School admission letter, which needs to be completed to obtain the I-20. Once you have submitted the Financial Certification form section of the online application and the Grad. School Admissions office has created your I-20, we will pay for it to be sent express-mailed to you. Note: for the purposes of this form, your first year fellowship stipend is the equivalent of a 50% Teaching Assistantship and includes health insurance and tuition (the fellowship stipend is lower than the Teaching and Research Assistantship stipends, however).

International Student Information

International students will also find helpful information in the International Student Pre-Arrival Guide.

Not that all international students must schedule an appointment with International Student Scholars Office (ISSS) upon arrival to the country.

Arrival time: if you are planning to go to "Math/Stats Camp" beginning August 24th, you may want to arrive sometime the week of August 17th. The rules state that students can arrive up to 30 days prior to the start date. Our payroll start date is 08/31/2020, and you could enter the country as early as 07/31/2020.

Temporary housing is available for admitted international students. More information is on the University's temporary housing website.


GEAR 1 (Graduate Education Resources for the First Year)- online orientation produced by the Graduate School that includes general information about the University of Minnesota and living in Minnesota.

September 1, 2020, 9:00-11:30am at Northrop Graduate School Orientation.

Political Science Orientation

Wednesday, September 2nd at 12pm.


Fall 2020 registration began April 9, 2020. New students who are U.S. citizens may register for classes anytime between now and Monday, September 7, 2019 (classes begin Tuesday, September 8, 2020).

International students may not register for courses until they arrive on campus and go through the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) visa review process with a counselor. International students must also complete the online International Student Preparation Course before registration.

All Political Science PhD students will be given online permission to register for any 8xxx level Poli Sci courses - even if they appear to be closed (email Jessie if a course you want to register for is closed). The program strives to assure that first-year students can take the Political Science courses they both want and need. If you decide to take courses outside the department this fall, you may want to contact the instructor to see if they will hold a space for you in the class.

Faculty Advisers and Student Mentors

Andy Karch, as Director of Graduate Studies, was assigned as your initial admission adviser. However, new students will receive their actual adviser assignment in early summer; students should consult with their advisers about course enrollment. First and second year students typically register for 9-14 credits.

Members of the Graduate Student Life Committee (GSLC) will assign you a student mentor sometime in early summer.

Graduate Student Health Insurance

First-year students on fellowship have the option to choose either the Graduate Assistant Health Plan or the Student Health Benefit PlanThe basic differences in the plans is described below. Our program will cover the costs for whichever plan you choose (except the 5% you pay for the student's portion of the GAHP premium). The fall semester deadline to complete the Health Coverage Declaration to enroll in or waive the SHBP (or enroll in the GAHP) is TBD (late September). Please let Jessie know which plan you're enrolling in so she can submit the appropriate form to cover the costs.

SHBPThe coverage is primarily 100% at Boynton Health Service. The coverage drops to 80% outside of Boynton. Pharmacy benefits are also limited to Boynton. SHBP includes preventative dental care and students can buy into restorative if they want ($0 out of pocket expense for 1st year grad students). If you choose the SHBP, you are strongly encouraged to have all your health care needs met at Boynton to avoid the added expenses of going outside the plan.

GAHP: The coverage is primarily 100% with a $10 copay regardless of where students go. Pharmacy benefits are not limited to one location and it includes both preventative and restorative dental care (Student accounts will be charged $127.62 at the beginning of each semester).

Fellowship Stipend

The fellowship payroll letters are sent out in August via UMN email.  Until then, here are a few of the payroll details:

Appointment/fellowship dates for the academic year: 08/31/20-05/30/21. Your first paycheck is 9/23/2020 and you're paid biweekly. 

Appointment/fellowship dates for the academic year: 8/31/20-5/30/21. Your first paycheck is 9/23/20 and you're paid biweekly.

Pay Calendars

Make sure to sign up for Direct Deposit (on MyU) once you have established your checking account.

All Political Science fellowships are considered non-service awards and are subject to federal and state income taxes. The Office of Human Resources has further information on tax withholding and year-end reporting. 

Fellowships are generally subject to 14% tax withholding for non-resident aliens under the federal IRS rules. 

Math-Stat Camp

Math-Stat Camp 2020 Schedule

Math-Stat Camp is optional, but students are encouraged to attend. Even if you do not anticipate using math and statistics in your research, it is nonetheless important that you know “the basics” so that you can be an intelligent consumer of the political science literature (indeed, most top departments hold similar “math camps” for their incoming Ph.D. students for this very reason).  Our goals are to provide students with a solid grounding toward achieving this basic “quantitative literacy,” and to prepare students who hope to pursue methods training for the courses that they will encounter in our department.