Skip to main content

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.

The required courses for the PhD in Political Development include:

  • POLS7111 Scope and Methods
  • POLS7112 Quantitative Methods 1
  • POLS7113 Quantitative Methods 2
  • POLS7114 Qualitative Methods
  • POLS7950 Graduate Professional Skills (with an emphasis on prospectus development)
  • POLS7210 Political Development 1
  • POLS7211 Political Development 2
  • POLS7311 Advanced Issues in the Political Economy of Development
  • POLS7312 Advanced Issues in the Institutionalization of Rights
  • POLS7450 Democracy and Democratization

A timeline for the completion of the requirements is presented below:

  • 1st Semester: 9 hours (3 required courses)
  • 2nd Semester: 9 hours (3 required courses)
  • 3rd Semester: 9 hours (2 required courses; 1 elective)
  • 4th Semester: 9 hours (1 required course; 2 electives)
  • 5th Semester: 6 hours (2 electives) & comprehensive exams
  • 6th Semester: 3 hours, Graduate Professional Skills (may also be offered in the 5th semester) & dissertation prospectus defense
  • 7th Semester: Dissertation research
  • 8th Semester: Dissertation research
  • 9th Semester: Dissertation research
  • 10th Semester: Dissertation research


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

SLA Graduate Catalog

Political Science Graduate Handbook

Recommendation for Appointment of Dissertation Committee Form

Prospectus Approval Form

Admission to Candidacy Form