Explore the Graduate Program
- Overview of Program
- Graduate Student Successes
- Current Graduate Students
- Current Courses
- Resources for Current Graduate Students
- American Politics
- Comparative Politics
- International Relations
- Political Methodology
- Political Theory
Prof. Cindy Kam
Director of Graduate Studies
Office: 343 Commons Center
Tel: (615) 322-4946
Fax: (615) 343-6003
Department of Political Science
Nashville, TN 37203-5721
About our Graduate Program
Our graduate program offers a Ph.D. in four fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. We also offer the option to specialize in a fifth field: Political Methodology. The department also participates in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows Program at Meharry Medical College.
Our graduate students benefit from rigorous training by faculty who are internationally recognized for their research; a strong program in political science methods; close interaction with faculty members; and multiple opportunities for professional development. Because of our small size, we provide more personalized instruction, support, and mentoring than is typically found at larger institutions. But unlike many small departments around the country, we have chosen not to focus on only one or two fields, or to establish a single methodological orthodoxy. Instead, we have established clusters of expertise that employ diverse methodologies within each of the four major fields.
The Department does not offer a terminal Master's degree. For exceptional Vanderbilt University undergraduate majors in Political Science, the Department participates in the Arts and Sciences 4+1 program.
The Political Science Graduate Program Requirements contains extensive information about the program.
Admission to the graduate program is highly selective. We admit less than 15% of applicants. About 10 students enter the program each year. Click here for more details on the admissions process.
The department is able to provide full financial support to each student admitted into the Ph.D. program. That support consists of a fellowship that provides full tuition and student health insurance plus an academic year stipend and summer grant. In 2010, the standard graduate student stipend and summer grant was $21,200, and several of our students received Vanderbilt "top-up" awards, making their total stipend worth more than $30,000. Our standard five-year fellowships are structured around opportunities to work as a teaching or research assistant for four years, with one service free year that is devoted to course work or independent research. Many of our students are also successful in obtaining internal and external grants to support pre-dissertation coursework, dissertation research, and/or their general studies.
The graduate program is oriented towards producing scholars and teachers. As research assistants and teaching assistants, students receive mentoring in research and undergraduate instruction. Many actively collaborate with the faculty on joint research. Advanced graduate students may have the opportunity to teach their own classes. In addition to a regular professional development series and a graduate student colloquium series, our graduate students also participate in the department’s many speakers series, workshops, and conferences. Students regularly receive support for travel to professional conferences and summer training institutes.
Our faculty also oversee a number of active and significant research programs, which provide additional opportunities for graduate student training and research. These include the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP); the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI); and the Research on Individuals, Politics & Society (RIPS) lab.
Our Placement Director oversees the placement of our graduate students into their first positions, typically at colleges and universities across the United States and abroad. In recent years, our students have been hired at such institutions as Florida International University, Stony Brook University, Wheaton College, and Sewanee. View more information on Placement.