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Degree Requirements

Course Requirements and Sequence

To advance to candidacy, students need to complete 45 credits of coursework, pass two qualifying exams, and successfully defend a dissertation prospectus. Of the 45 credits of coursework, 30 credits consist of required courses in the Political Science department. The remaining 15 credits will consist of electives taken in the Political Science department and in other departments that offer relevant courses. Independent-study courses, worked out between individual students and a faculty member, may count as elective credit and may under certain circumstances be undertaken over the summer. At least 9 credits of coursework must be completed outside the Political Science department. Foreign language courses will count as elective credit only with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Any changes will go into effect for the 2018 cohort and do not apply retroactively.

Course Sequence:

Course ID Title Credits
Semester 1:  
POLS 7111 Scope & Methods for Political Science 3
POLS 7112 Research Methods I 3
POLS 7210 Political Development I 3
Semester 2:  
POLS 7211 Political Development II 3
POLS 7113 Research Methods II 3
POLS 7311 Seminar in Political Economy 3
Semester 3:  
POLS 7950 Democracy & Democratization 3
POLS 7114 Qualitative Methods 3
PSDV 7310 Special Topics in Political Development (Specialization Elective if not offered.) 3
Semester 4:  
POLS 7312 Political Institutionalization of Rights (Specialization Elective if not offered.) 3
Specialization Elective International Relations Field Seminar (Specialization Elective if not offered.) 3
Specialization Elective   3
Semester 5:  
Comprehensive Exams    
POLS 7910 Research (Critical Debates in Comparative Politics) 3
Specialization Elective   3
Specialization Elective   3
Semester 6:  
Dissertation Prospectus Defense    
POLS 7116 Graduate Professional Skills 3
Total Credit Hours 48


During their fifth semester, students will take qualifying exams in the two areas of substantive concentration. Each exam will consist of two parts: a “field exam”; and an exam on a "minor subfield" of Political Science, such as International Relations or Methodology. Exams will be written and by the end of the sixth semester, both exams must be passed.


During their graduate training, students may be required to teach for at least two semesters, at least one of which will be an introductory course on Political Development.


Dissertation committees will include three or, at most, four professors, with a chairperson from Political Science and at least one member outside of the Political Science Department. Students are required to take seminars on grant writing (the Professional Skills Seminar) and dissertation prospectus preparation during their fifth semester; and, by the end of their third year, students will present a written prospectus for dissertation research and conduct an oral defense before their committee. On defending their prospectus, students will advance to candidacy and will have three years in which to complete their dissertation.

Guides and Forms

Political Science Graduate Handbook

SLA Graduate Catalog

Recommendation for Appointment of Dissertation Committee Form

Prospectus Approval Form

Admission to Candidacy Form