Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

The PhD in Political Science program emphasizes theoretical and methodological rigor and is designed to train applied social-scientists for careers in research. To this end, the program mandates that all students complete a common core of applied formal theory and statistical modeling coursework in addition to the general substantive requirements. Though malleable apart from this core sequence, program requirements are designed to give all students: (1) a firm grasp of the general field of political science; (2) a sophisticated understanding of the theoretical and methodological foundations of the discipline; and (3) a thorough familiarity with the literature and intellectual problems of the fields each student chooses to emphasize.

All fields of study involve the role of incentives, institutions, and strategies in the aggregation of preferences and ultimately the allocation of resources. Major fields of study mirror the disciplinary norm: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Administration/Public Policy. All students must also declare two minor fields from the list above or substitute Advanced Research Methodology or Race, Ethnic, and Gender Politics. This requirement – as well as the departmental norm of cooperative instruction between representatives of traditional subfields and the flexibility granted graduate committees to (re)structure training for our doctoral students – reflects the department’s shared belief that the most fruitful avenues of new research cross traditional subfield or disciplinary lines.

The defining characteristics of our PhDs are adaptability and the capacity for continuous learning. Rather than training our students to answer particular questions, we train them to ask interesting and novel questions. Rather than teaching our students particular methodologies, we teach them how to teach themselves new methodologies. As a result, our alumni most often become productive research professors, though they possess the skills to be successful in a wide array or public and private careers. 

Steps to Fulfill a Doctoral Program