Mar 28, 2023  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

While the Ph.D. in political science has traditionally been the badge of distinction of college and university teachers, doctoral programs in political science are also designed with other career objectives in mind such as professional research, public service, and university administration. The Department of Political Science is conscious of these several career objectives.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at


An applicant may be admitted to the Ph.D. program without a prior degree in political science or public administration if the discipline of the prior degree(s) is relevant to his or her primary fields of doctoral study. If the applicant has not completed a prior degree in political science or public administration, he or she must have completed the equivalent of 9 semester hours of undergraduate political science course work or the department may require that introductory political science courses appropriate to his or her fields of study be taken as a condition of admission.

An applicant to the Ph.D. program in political science is usually expected to have completed both a baccalaureate and an M.A. degree; however, an individual with a baccalaureate degree may be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. Such an applicant must have GRE scores, strong letters of recommendation, and an undergraduate record which present conclusive evidence of an ability to begin high quality work at the doctoral level immediately.

Students with a baccalaureate degree who are admitted directly into the Ph.D. program must complete all requirements for the master’s degree in political science with at least a 3.20 GPA in graduate political science courses exclusive of thesis and independent study courses. Having met the master’s degree requirements, they will be strongly encouraged to apply for and receive an M.A. in political science.

Course Requirements

The Department of Political Science requires that 90 semester hours of graduate course work be completed with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher. These hours may include no more than 39 semester hours of credit in POLS 690, Political Science Research, POLS 691, Teaching of Political Science, POLS 799A, Doctoral Research and Dissertation, or any combination thereof.

In completing the remaining required 51 semester hours of course work, students must include POLS 602, Scope and History of Political Science (3); POLS 603, Research Design in Political Science (3); and POLS 692, Teaching and Professional Development (1). Full-time students are required to complete the scope and methods sequence in their first year of doctoral studies. Students with a field in public administration may substitute PSPA 604 for POLS 602 with the approval of the graduate committee.

The department requires the completion of two fields. The fields offered by the department are American government and politics (POLS 600 required), public administration (PSPA 661 required), political theory (POLS 650 and POLS 651 required), comparative politics (POLS 660 required), and international relations (POLS 680 required). Graduate students in the doctoral program must take comprehensive written and oral examinations (candidacy examinations) in both fields.

The student must complete 15 semester hours of course work in a primary field and a minimum of 12 semester hours in the second field, both designated by the student. No more than one course outside of political science may be counted toward the hours required in a field. A minimum of 15 semester hours of POLS 690 must be completed beyond any hours counted toward the M.A. degree. Students who have passed candidacy examinations must register for 3 semester hours of POLS 690 each semester until the dissertation proposal has been formally approved. POLS 690 credit cannot count toward the minimum course requirement in either of the two fields. No more than 15 semester hours may be taken outside of political science. Exceptions to any of these rules must be approved by the department graduate committee, to which such requests must be submitted in writing through faculty in a student’s first field of study.

Students will be expected to consult initially with an interim adviser, and subsequently with members of the faculty in their first field of study, regarding a program of studies. Such consultation will help to insure that the student’s doctoral work is related to career and professional interests, and conforms to Graduate School and departmental requirements. Registration for courses without the approval of faculty in a student’s first field of study might lead to the accumulation of graduate credits in political science and related disciplines, but provides no assurance that the department will support an application for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D.

Teaching-Skill Requirement

All students in the Ph.D. program will be required to participate in a training program in classroom techniques. The requirement will be met through a one-credit class (POLS 692). In addition, students will be involved in a mentoring relationship for at least one semester under the close supervision of a faculty member. Exceptions are authorized only upon approval of the department graduate committee. The student seeking an exception should submit their request in writing to the department’s director of graduate studies.

Language/Research-Tool Requirement

The student working toward a Ph.D. in political science must demonstrate an ability to make use of research tools by showing proficiency in using a foreign language for the purpose of research and/or qualitative or quantitative research tools. The choice of specific language/research tools will relate to the student’s fields of study, and will be made with the approval of the faculty in a student’s first field of study. Proficiency in any foreign language is determined by the faculty in a student’s first field of study. In certain cases, the department’s graduate committee may approve the use of a proficiency examination in lieu of course requirements for a research tool. Any one of the following will satisfy the language/research-tool requirement.

Two foreign languages, average reading proficiency
One foreign language, high level of reading proficiency
One foreign language, average reading proficiency, and one research tool, average proficiency
Two research tools, average proficiency
One research tool, high level of proficiency

The language/research-tool requirement must be completed before the student takes doctoral candidacy examinations, unless the department grants an exception.

Candidacy Examinations

The student will take candidacy examinations after completing most or all of his or her course work. Written candidacy examinations will be administered in the two fields in a student’s program, and may be followed by an oral examination in either or both fields. A student who successfully completes this requirement will be recommended to the Graduate School for admission to candidacy for the doctorate in political science. A student may take examinations in contiguous semesters or in one examination period, based on the recommendation of facutly in his or her first and second field of study. Any student who fails a written examination may, with the permission of the relevant faculty, retake that particular examination in the next examination period. A student who fails two written examinations in the same field will not be permitted to continue.