Interpreting events and data from the political world requires a proper understanding of the nature and methods of inference. Political scientists rely on a variety of empirical methods and statistical models, such as linear regression, maximum likelihood estimation, laboratory and survey experiments, and social network analysis. Mathematical models are also important tools for rigorous theoretical analysis. Researchers apply a variety of advanced, sophisticated techniques that are carefully designed to suit the special features of political data.
Political Research Methodology: the Graduate Level
The Department of Political Science offers a strong and rigorous set of methodological courses designed to both broaden and deepen the “toolkits” of our graduate students in preparing them to both consume and produce original research requisite of a PhD degree. Most of the departmental faculty contributes to the Political Methodology component of our graduate program via courses, service on departmental committees, or informal means.
The department’s faculty possess research and teaching interests in the following areas: social scientific inquiry and research design; qualitative methods; elementary and mathematical statistics; linear regression analysis; limited dependent variable regression models; measurement and causal models; longitudinal analysis; panel regression models; time series analysis; social choice theory; decision theory; and game theory. The departmental faculty possesses a strongly held shared belief that our graduate students’ methodological training is one of our most important professional responsibilities as both teachers and mentors.
Our core courses in political research methodology are designed to ensure that all of our graduate students have acquired a sound basic knowledge of political methodology that is necessary for attaining success in a political science doctoral program.
Students seeking additional training in political methodology can take courses in a variety of topics covered by department faculty (subject to course availability), ranging from qualitative methods to longitudinal analysis to game theory. The department also offers a short course covering the mathematical and statistical tools commonly employed by political scientists (PS 2000: Mathematics for Political Scientists) held Monday through Thursday the week prior to the start of the fall term and is a prerequisite for all advanced Political Methodology course offerings. This course covers topics pertaining to a review of elementary algebra, basic probability theory, matrix algebra, differential and integral calculus, continuous probability distributions, and constrained optimization techniques.