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The Doctoral Degree


Earn a Doctoral Degree in Political Science

During your first two years, your main goal is preparation for the Ph.D. examination.

You will obtain a substantive background in the discipline through the completion of three graduate courses per quarter.


Coursework (which may continue beyond the second year) includes the following required components:

  1. You must select two major fields of concentration from these five fields:
    • Comparative Politics. You must complete the core course POSC 217 and at least three additional courses in the field.
    • International Relations. You must complete the core course POSC 216 and at least three additional courses in the field.
    • American Politics. You must complete the core course POSC 249 and at least three additional courses in the field.
    • Mass Political Behavior. You must complete a core course, either POSC 255 or POSC 256, and at least three additional courses in the field.
    • Political Theory. You must complete the core course POSC 212 and at least three additional courses in the field.
  2. You must complete the major field requirement. You must satisfy course requirements for the major fields, which require a total of eight graduate courses.
  3. You must complete the distribution requirement. You must take one course in each of the three fields of study not selected as your major field.
  4. You must complete the depth requirement. You must take three additional graduate courses in any field of study, according to your choice, in consultation with your faculty advisors. With the permission of the graduate advisor, one or more of these courses may be graduate-level courses outside of political science.
  5. You must complete the methods requirement. You must complete POSC 201, POSC 202A, and POSC 203 and at least two additional graduate courses in methods The two additional courses may include POSC 202B, 204, 205, 207, 225, or other graduate methods courses. One of these may be from outside the Political Science Department, by permission of the Graduate Advisor.
  6. You must complete the research colloquium requirement. You must be enrolled each quarter in POSC 230. You must be enrolled in the course while in residence, until completion of 10 units. Exceptions are only granted by the permission of the graduate advisor.
  7. One POSC 290 course may be accepted in lieu of a seminar. This limit may be exceeded by the permission of the graduate advisor if course staffing or scheduling problems require it. All POSC 290 courses must have prior approval of the graduate advisor. A POSC 290 course should only be taken if the material to be covered is not available in a scheduled course.

Qualifying Exam & Prospectus

  1. You must take the Written Qualifying Examination. You will probably complete your major field course requirements during years one and two. In the fall quarter of year three, you continue to enroll in POSC 230, while also enrolling in POSC 291 (Individual Coordinated Study), designed to aid preparation for the comprehensive examination. Written examinations in the two major fields are normally taken at the end of the fall quarter of the third year. Postponements to this schedule are allowed in exceptional circumstances and all delays in taking comprehensive examinations must be approved by the Graduate Committee.
  2. You must complete your oral defense of the prospectus. The winter and spring quarters of year three and all of year four are devoted to Directed Research (POSC 297) to prepare your dissertation prospectus under the direction of the principal advisor; to additional substantive seminars, and to continued participation in POSC 230. The choice of substantive seminars during this time should be made in conjunction with faculty advisors and should usually be applied either to the distribution or depth requirements, although you may also take courses in excess of these requirements. In the spring quarter, you will be advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the oral defense of their dissertation prospectus.
  3. General regulations applying to the dissertation and qualifying examinations are found in the Graduate Studies section of the catalog and in other Graduate Division and department publications.

Dissertation Writing

Upon the successful defense of the prospectus, you commence (or continue) work on your dissertation under the supervision of your advisor. While most of your time is devoted to the writing of the dissertation, some students opt to take additional courses related to the dissertation topic.

The normative time to completion of the program is six years (18 quarters). Additional time is provided if circumstances warrant it. Whether circumstances justify additional time is to be determined by the Graduate Committee in cooperation with the thesis advisor.

If you do not complete your degree requirements during this two-year period, you are closely reviewed on a biannual basis. These reviews are provided by the graduate advisor, after consultation with the dissertation advisor. Until completion of the Ph.D. requirements, each review includes targeted amounts of required progress, to be completed prior to the next review. Students who fail to complete their scheduled work are reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee for a recommendation of termination.

Current students can contact the Graduate Advisor for Political Science Marissa Brookes at Marissa.Brookes@ucr.edu for further information.

Prospective student can contact the Director of Graduate Admissions for Political Science Paul D'Anieri at paul.danieri@ucr.edu for further information.