Program Requirements

December 15, 2019 is the deadline for the submission of all application materials for admission to the program in Fall 2020.

The Department of Political Science offers programs of study leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Students who enter with a bachelor's or a master's degree from another institution are admitted to the PhD program. Students may elect to receive the MA degree when they are admitted to PhD candidacy; the department does not admit students seeking terminal master's degrees.

Completion of required coursework and residency credit, second- and third-year papers, and a successfully defended dissertation are the principal requirements for the PhD degree. All PhD students also participate in the Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) program of the Laney Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.


Students must complete a minimum of 14 regular graduate courses (42 semester hours) and spend a minimum of three years in residence.  A two-course sequence in research methodology is required of all students, along with any two of the departmental core courses in American Government, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory. Students also participate in a two-semester dissertation colloquium during the third year of study.

Fields of Study

The graduate curriculum in political science incorporates five fields: 

            American Government and Politics

            Comparative Politics

            International Relations

            Political Theory

            Theories and Methods of Political Inquiry

Three substantive areas – American government and politics, comparative politics, and international relations – are available as major fields in which students may pursue dissertations.  Students may engage in coursework in any of the five areas, including political theory and methodology of empirical research.

The Dissertation

Upon completion of coursework and second- and third-year papers, students must prepare a written proposal for the doctoral dissertation and defend it before the faculty of the department. Successful defense of the dissertation proposal completes the requirements for admission to candidacy for the PhD Students normally begin dissertation research during the fourth year of study. Working closely with a departmental committee, students undertake systematic research on a significant problem in political science. Defense of the completed dissertation before the departmental committee completes the requirements for the PhD.

Language Requirements

There are no specific foreign language requirements for the PhD. However, students whose doctoral research requires knowledge of a foreign language may be required by the dissertation committee to acquire and demonstrate the necessary proficiency.