Curricular Requirements

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Guide To Doctoral Study

The following courses are required during the first year of graduate study.

Fall semester:

  • POLI:5000 Political Analysis 4 s.h.
  • POLI:5001 Introductory Methodology 4 s.h.
  • 5000-level Field Required Seminar 4 s.h.

Spring semester:

  • POLI:5003 Intermediate Methodology 4 s.h.
  • 5000-level Field Required Seminar 4 s.h.
  • 5000-level Field Required Seminar 4 s.h.

The following course is required during the second year of study:

  • POLI:7003 Advanced Methods 4 s.h.

Students must complete the appropriate 5000-level course before enrolling in a 7000-level course. For example, students choosing International Relations as a field must complete POLI:5500 before enrolling in a 7000-level IR course. The same rule applies for all of the other fields as well. In unusual circumstances and with the permission of the instructor teaching the 7000-level course, a student may enroll in that course and the relevant 5000-level course concurrently. The 5000-level courses are:

  • POLI:5004 Introduction to Formal Models in Political Science
  • POLI:5100 American Politics
  • POLI:5400 Comparative Politics
  • POLI:5500 International Politics
  • Students choosing political theory as a field should be familiar with core texts in the history of political thought. For those lacking such knowledge, this requirement can be met by enrolling in one of the following 3000-level courses for graduate credit: POLI:3300, POLI:3302, POLI:3303 (with prior approval of the Director of Graduate Study), POLI:3304 and POLI:3305. Students should consult with the theory faculty to select a course that fits their interests and program of study in political theory.

The University requires that graduate students receive training in the responsible conduct of research prior to beginning a research assistantship ( They do this by completing online CITI training and then enrolling on a satisfactory-unsatisfactory basis in POLI:7270, Responsible Research in Political Science. Generally, students will do this during their first year.

  • POLI:7270 Responsible Research in Political Science 1 s.h.

Graduate students are expected to take at least twelve hours of course work per semester through their second year of graduate study. This will normally be in regularly scheduled courses (rather than readings courses).

During the third year they are expected to take a minimum of twelve hours of regularly scheduled course work. Ideally, readings courses will be limited to the second semester of the third year.

Doctoral students are limited to 12 hours of credit in readings courses (not counting hours accumulated in summer terms, when readings courses are often all that is available).        

Graduate students in political science earn credit hours only in those courses offered specifically for graduate students. In Political Science that means courses numbered 5000 and above—with one exception: 3000-level political theory courses in the Department will be counted if approved by the instructor.

The Quantitative Methods Requirement

All doctoral students must demonstrate at least minimal competence in quantitative methods. This is achieved by earning no lower than a B in each of POLI:5001, POLI:5003, and POLI:7003. Students who do not meet this requirement must satisfy it by taking a substitute course selected by faculty members who teach the quantitative methods courses.

Dissertation Research Tools

Any special competencies needed for conducting dissertation research—e.g., in a foreign language, in econometrics, or in experimental design—must be acquired before taking qualifying examinations. If in doubt about the need for such skills this should be discussed with the student's faculty advisor before beginning the third year of Ph.D training.

Ph.D Postcomprehensive Registration

Graduate College regulations require that a student be registered each semester after passing the qualifying examination until the degree is awarded, and that this registration "accurately reflect the amount and type of work undertaken, the use of University facilities, and the amount of consultation with the faculty." This normally means that after passing the comprehensive examination, students doing their dissertation research should register in POLI:7910 (Ph.D Dissertation, using the faculty instructor number of their dissertation advisor as the section number for the course) for the number of hours normally considered a full load for persons in their status.

Short Hours Form

The Short Hours Form certifies that a student can be considered half-time or greater even though their registration does not show as such. There are four potential reasons:

  1. A student needs to appear as half-time or greater in order to keep financial aid
  2. A student needs to appear as half-time or greater in order to defer previous student loans
  3. A student needs to appear as half-time or greater in order to qualify as exempt from FICA tax withholdings
  4. A student needs to appear as half-time or greater for other purposes such as health insurance enrollment

Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation represents the final stage of doctoral study. Its purpose is to show that the student can do important original research. No more than 30 semester hours of credit (POLI:7910) are granted for the preparation of dissertations. The regulations governing thesis format and procedures for its submission are set forth on the Graduate College's Thesis and Dissertation webpage.