The Doctoral Degree

The Doctoral Degree

The Department of Political Science offers the Ph.D. degree in Political Science.

Requirements. The first two years of the program are devoted to course work and preparation for the Ph.D. examination. During this period, students obtain substantive background in the discipline through completion of three graduate courses per quarter. Course work, which will usually continue beyond the second year, includes the following required components:

  1. Selecting two major fields of concentration from the five fields listed below.
  2. Satisfying course requirements for the major fields, which requires a total of eight graduate courses. (This is the Major Field Requirement; see details below.)
  3. Taking one course in each of the three fields of study not selected by the student as a major field. (This is the Distribution Requirement.)
  4. Taking three additional graduate courses in any field of study, according to the student’s choice, in consultation with the faculty advisors. With permission of the Graduate Advisor, one or more of these courses may be graduate-level courses outside of Political Science. (This is the Depth Requirement.)
  5. Completing four required methods courses: POSC 201, POSC 202A, POSC 202B, and POSC 203. (This is the Methods Requirement.)
  6. Enrollment each quarter in POSC 230. Students must be enrolled in the course while in residence, until completion of 15 units. Exceptions only by permission of Graduate Advisor. (This is the Research Colloquium Requirement.)

The major fields may be chosen from among American Politics, Mass Political Behavior, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory.

  1. Comparative Politics. Students must complete the core course POSC 217 and at least three additional courses in the field.
  2. International Relations. Students must complete the core course POSC 216 and at least three additional courses in the field.
  3. American Politics. Students must complete the core course POSC 249 and at least three additional courses in the field.
  4. Mass Political Behavior. Students must complete a core course, either POSC 255 or POSC 256, and at least three additional courses in the field.
  5. Political Theory. Students must complete the core course POSC 212 and at least three additional courses in the field.

One POSC 290 course may be accepted in lieu of a seminar. This limit may be exceeded by permission of 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.

Written Qualifying Examination. Students should  ordinarily complete major field course requirements during Years One and Two. In the fall quarter of Year Three, the student continues to enroll in POSC 230, while also enrolling in POSC 291 (Individual Coordinated Study), which is 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; all delays in taking comprehensive examinations must be approved by the Graduate Committee.

Oral Defense of Prospectus. The winter and spring quarters of Year Three are devoted to Directed Research (POSC 297) to prepare a 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 applicable either to the distribution or depth requirements, although students may also take courses in excess of these requirements. In the spring quarter, students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the oral defense of their dissertation prospectus.

Normative time to completion of the program is five years. 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.

Students who do not complete their degree requirements during this two-year period 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 from the Political Science graduate program.

Normative Time to Degree is 15 quarters.

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.

For further information, contact Farah Godrej, the graduate advisor for Political Science,

For more information, please click here for the online catalog.