PhD Requirements

Graduate Student Handbook

Requirements for the PhD

The Ph.D. program in political science is a five- to six-year program, in which students receive an M.A. in political science as part of their work toward the Ph.D. The program does not accept students for a terminal M.A. degree. Please see below for general information about the graduate program. For answers to more specific questions, please consult the Graduate Student handbook or email the Graduate Administrator, Lauren Murn at

Credit Requirement: A minimum of 72 credit hours, including the master’s degree, earned from any suitable combination of formal course work, independent study, research, teaching, or dissertation work as detailed elsewhere in this bulletin.

Students in the PhD program must choose two fields from the five departmental fields: American politics, comparative politics, world politics, political methodology, and mass political behavior. Students are required to complete at least four graduate seminars their main subfield. Students must also complete the core course sequence (PS 2000, PS 2010, PS 2020, PS 2030, and PS 2040), as well as five "elective" courses, which can be courses from any subfield or (with permission) courses from outside the department of political science.

Comprehensive Examination: Students take a comprehensive examination at the end of their coursework to qualify for Ph.D. candidacy, consisting of a written exam their main field of study. When the faculty is unsure whether or not the written comprehensive exam demonstrates sufficient mastery of the material, the student may be asked to sit for an oral comprehensive examination.

Dissertation Overview: Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student files an application for admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. At this stage the student presents a proposed topic for doctoral research and a research design for its execution to be reviewed by the dissertation committee.

Dissertation Defense: The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the doctoral committee and is open to the University community.

Supervised Teaching Experience: Supervised teaching experience is an integral part of the doctoral program. Normally, teaching experience is gained first by conducting recitation sections of an introductory course or by assisting a faculty member in an undergraduate course, followed by the teaching of one’s own course, in the 4th or 5th year of study.

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