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PhD Program Overview

Click here to download the up-to-date graduate program handbook (January 2020). 

Click here to download the prior handbook, relevant to cohorts entering Fall 2018 or earlier. 

Program Requirements

The Phd program is structured so that students can engage in research with faculty and in their classes from day one. Students take intensive substantive and methodological coursework in their first two years, take comprehensive examinations and defend their dissertation prospectus in year three, and conduct original dissertation research in years four and five. 

The formal requirements of the program are as follows: 

  • Complete 72 credit hours, of which at least 42 hours should be didactic coursework, including the following required courses:
    • Two required methods courses: PSCI 8355 (Research Design) and PSCI 8356 (Statistics for Political Research I)
    • Three courses in field one
    • Three courses in field two
    • Two courses in field three
    • Electives either in these fields or others to complete the remaining 42 hours
  • Submit the Plan of Study and participate in the second-year review by the end of the 4th semester in the program;
  • Pass comprehensive exams in the first field at the end of year 2;
  • Pass the second-year paper requirement by the start of year 3;
  • Complete the qualifying exam by defending the prospectus by September 1 of year 4;
  • Perform at or above expectations in RA/TA responsibilities; and
  • Submit a complete, original dissertation and dissertation defense.

Typical Course of Study

Year One

  • Incoming students attend a week-long math course the week before the fall semester starts. This is a non-credit required course.
  • 3 courses in the first semester, including PSCI 8356 (Statistics for Political Research I). We also encourage Formal Theory I for most students.
  • 4 courses in the second semester, including Stats II and Formal Theory II where appropriate
  • Expected attendance at research workshops pertaining to first and second fields
  • Summer training and lab work/research with faculty

Year Two

  • 4 courses in the first semester, 3 courses in the second semester
  • Prep for comprehensive exam in the spring, to be taken in May of year 2
  • Expected attendance at research workshops pertaining to first and second fields
  • Summer research and preparation of second-year paper, to be defended in August of year 3

Year Three

  • Finish didactic course requirements if any remain and take research credits toward 72 hour total
  • Write and defend dissertation prospectus
  • Expected attendance at research workshops pertaining to first and second fields

Year Four

  • Dissertation research
  • Present chapters in departmental workshops
  • Expected attendance at research workshops pertaining to first and second fields

Year Five

  • Dissertation research
  • Academic job market
  • Expected attendance at research workshops pertaining to first and second fields
  • Defend dissertation and submit completed manuscript before matriculation