The goal of our PhD program is to prepare students to research and teach at top academic institutions. To achieve this goal, we have designed a program that covers a variety of substantive areas but is united in its emphasis on both theory-building and empirical analysis. In addition, we encourage "learning by doing" through close faculty-student mentoring. As a result, our students have had significant success in obtaining tenure-track positions both at research universities such as University of Chicago and University of Michigan and liberal arts colleges such as Middlebury and Wellesley. On the strength of our placements, a recent ranking in PS: Political Science and Politics places our department among the top 20 political science graduate programs in the country.
The requirements of the program are designed to provide opportunities to our students to develop and practice the skills necessary to become successful researchers. We offer a variety of substantive courses in three major fields - American government and politics, Comparative politics, and International relations - from which students discover and develop their own substantive interests. Through our methods training, students develop the sophisticated methodological tools they need to pursue their research puzzles and questions. Besides coursework, students present a paper at a poster session in spring of their second year, and write and present a scholarly paper in the departmental speaker series in the fall semester of their third year. In addition, students participate in a dissertation colloquium in which they develop a written proposal for the doctoral dissertation that is defended before the faculty of the program. With nearly thirty faculty and cohorts of about six students per year, our high faculty-student ratio ensures that each student receives significant guidance throughout the program. These faculty-student partnerships often have led to collaboration on published scholarly works and major research projects.
We focus on training our graduate students to be excellent teachers as well as superior scholars. The Teacher Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) program is an intensive colloquium in which third-year students are exposed to a variety of pedagogical tools. As part of the TATTO program, students co-teach an undergraduate course with a faculty member so that they have hands-on experience in developing a syllabus, class material, and tools for evaluating students.
Graduate students benefit from generous financial assistance from the department and the university. Every student admitted into the doctoral program receives five years of financial support, including a full tuition grant, a stipend for living expenses, and partial coverage of health insurance. Most students are able to receive support beyond their fifth year, as well as during summers. We also offer substantial funding for students to present papers at conferences, take summer courses in foreign languages and research methodology, and pursue their own research projects on campus, across the country, and around the world.