Ph.D. Requirements

In addition to a demanding sequence of courses during the first two years, our graduates begin working with faculty from the very first day, to gain an appreciation of the challenges involved in producing innovative research. This paves the way to their own intellectual development, the first milestone of which is a solo-authored research paper to be presented to the department during their third year in the program. From that point on, until the completion of the dissertation in year five, the focus is primarily on independent research.

Our graduate program is organized around subfields that address major theoretical questions about political life, encourage collaboration across intellectual boundaries, and place us at the frontiers of the discipline. As a graduate student here, you will become certified in two major fields and gain exposure to other fields through our graduate workshop series. Minimum degree requirements are as follows:

Requirements

  • First field: at least four courses
  • Second field: at least four courses
  • Methods Requirement (EXCEPT for Political Theory major field):
    • Required:
      • MATH 790-92 Calculus for Social Science Research
      • POLSCI 630 Probability and Linear Models
      • POLSCI 631L Introduction to Deductive & Analytical Approaches to Political Phenomena
      • An approved research design course (e.g., POLSCI 890-5, POLSCI 732)
    • We strongly recommend additional methods courses and have included such courses in the typical graduate study timelines shown below and on the major fields.
  • Foreign Language Requirement
    • Students in some areas of concentration will need to establish foreign language competency in order to be strong candidates on the job market. Consult with your faculty advisor to plan for attaining that competency in a timely manner.
  • Political Theory course(s)
    • Recommended: one or more courses in normative political theory and political philosophy
  • Qualifying Procedure – completed by September 30 in your third year
  • Preliminary Exam in your first field – completed no later than end of fall semester in your third year
  • Prospectus and Defense – completed no later than June 30 in your third year
  • Dissertation

NOTE: Cross-listed courses cannot be double-counted for both first and second fields. In satisfying second field course requirements, you are limited ot one course cross-listed with the your first field.

Typical Course of Study

Year 1

Pre-matriculation Summer
Fall
Spring
  • POLSCI 631L Introduction to Deductive & Analytical Approaches to Political Phenomena (Methods Requirement)
  • Field Core or elective if Core taken in the Fall
  • Elective
  • POLSCI 733 Maximum Likelihood Methods RECOMMENDED
Summer
  • STA 230 Probability RECOMMENDED
  • Lab work/research with faculty

Year 2

Fall & Spring
  • An approved research design course (e.g., POLSCI 890-5, POLSCI 732)
  • POLSCI 749 Advanced Game Theory RECOMMENDED
  • 6 elective seminars
Summer
  • Complete first draft of prelim paper

Year 3

Fall, Spring & Summer
  • Additional courses and work defined by your Major Field
  • Defend prospectus
  • Regular attendance at Major Field workshops

Year 4

Fall & Spring
  • Dissertation work
  • Present new paper/chapter at the end of year conference in late spring
  • Regular attendance at Major Field workshops

Year 5

Fall & Spring
  • Dissertation work
  • Present new paper/chapter at the end of year conference in late spring.
  • Regular attendance at Major Field workshops

Basis for the Methods Requirement

This is the recommended methods sequence for all students in empirical fields and our hope is that you will take these courses together as a cohort. If you enter the program with good prior training (e.g., an M.A. in Economics or an undergrad B.S. in Statistics), you should contact the Director of Graduate Studies and the Methods field chair to discuss an individualized (and more advanced) course of study leading more quickly to working on research. There is also a natural inflection point after the first year of this curriculum – in the relatively rare case that you are not going to continue with methods training past this point, you should also contact the DGS and your substantive field chair and discuss an alternative course of study.

  1. Required Courses: These are required methods courses for everyone except students in Political Theory. Theorists pursuing an empirical field as a second field will continue to take Probability and Linear Models and Introduction to Deductive & Analytical Approaches to Political Phenomena as their methods requirements. NOTE: We strongly recommend additional methods courses and have included such courses in the typical graduate study timelines shown above and on the major fields.
  2. This course of study is for students entering with no significant quantitative background; if they have prior training, they can go faster and skip several of the introductory math/stats courses with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Major Field Chair.
  3. Most empirical students will take methods as a second field. While there’s room to do a second substantive field, this would take more time.
  4. Students are expected to participate in faculty research in the first year either via a lab (e.g. SPC lab) or jointly with a member of the faculty.
  5. This is a "slow and steady will win the race" approach – nothing is skipped or taken out of order and there aren’t any semesters where there’s a ton of difficult courses. This sequence will also focus on developing programming skill with R and will cover linear regression early on.
  6. Students go out on the market in either year 5 or 6, depending on their success with publication.
  7. The Research Design class is taught with a strong causal inference component and with a comprehensive view of research strategies available.
  8. While not required, students in the empirical fields are strongly advised to take both Maximum Likelihood Methods and Advanced Game Theory as part of their training. We recognize needs on this front may vary by field, hence our preference for not formally requiring these more advanced seminars.
  9. Every other year the department will offer applied workshops on Time Series and Time Series Cross-sectional Analysis.