Political Institutions

This field studies the formal and informal rules, practices, and regularities at both the domestic and international level that guide and constrain political choices and activities.   It is concerned with the emergence, dynamics, and consequences of institutions in both authoritarian and non-authoritarian regimes.  This focus includes constitutional design and how the organization of legislatures, parties, judiciaries, markets and other social structures shape relationships between individuals and states, and in turn, the factors shaping the emergence and evolution of those institutions.

First Field

  • POLSCI 715 Core in Political Institutions
  • 3 additional courses from the Political Institutions course listing
Qualifying Procedure

You will take a written examination at the end of your second year. This examination will assess whether or not you have attained a firm command of the literature in the field. The qualifying procedure will not normally include an oral element, but the examination committee may, at its discretion, administer an oral examination to a student whose written examination the committee deems is in need of an oral defense.

Preliminary Examination

Each student who passes the qualifying procedure in Political Institutions is required to submit and present for defense before a committee of faculty in that field an original, plausibly publishable research paper on a relevant topic. This must be submitted no later than the end of the first semester of the third year of graduate study. The committee administering the preliminary examination may pass you with distinction on the basis of both your performance in the qualifying procedure and in your paper presentation and defense.

Second Field

  • POLSCI 715 Core in Political Institutions
  • 3 additional courses from the Political Institutions course listing

Field Requirements


Students who identify Political Institutions as either a first or second field must successfully complete the four required Methods courses identified in order to achieve field certification.


Students who pursue Political Institutions as a first or second field are encouraged to attend the field workshop, which will meet on a bi-weekly basis.

Typical Graduate Study Timeline

Year of Study Typical Student Activities
Year 1

Summer, pre-matriculation


  • MATH 790-92 Calculus and other mathematical foundations
  • POLSCI 630 Probability and Basic Regression
  • POLSCI 715 Core in Political Institutions
  • Workshop in Political Institutions


  • POLSCI 631L Introduction to Deductive & Analytical Approaches to Political Phenomena
  • POLSCI 733 Advanced Regression
  • Workshop in Political Institutions
  • Elective(s)


  • STA 230 Probability OR a higher level statistics course
  • Continue lab work
Year 2

Fall and Spring

  • An approved research design course (e.g., POLSCI 890-5, POLSCI 732)
  • POLSCI 749S Advanced Game Theory
  • Electives
  • STA 611 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics
  • POLSCI 632S Computational Political Economy
  • STA 601 Bayesian and Modern Statistical Data Analysis
  • Present argument/design for prelim paper to lab
  • Workshop in Political Institutions
  • Take the Qualifying Examination


  • Complete prelim paper
Year 3


  • ECON 705 Econometrics Analysis I or COMPSCI 590 Advanced Topics in Computer Science if it has a computational social focus
  • Present edited/improved prelim paper and send to journal
  • Workshop in Political Institutions


  • Complete dissertation prospectus
  • Work on second paper
  • Workshop in Political Institutions
Year 4
  • Dissertation work
  • Present new paper (2 or 3)/chapter at the end of year conference in late spring
  • Workshop in Political Institutions
Year 5
  • Dissertation work
  • Present new paper (3 or 4)/chapter at the end of the year conference in late spring
  • Workshop in Political Institutions


Course Number Title Crosslisting Numbers Curriculum Codes
POLSCI 715 Core in Political Institutions
POLSCI 718 Core in American Politics
POLSCI 501S Politics and Media in the United States Canadian Studies, Arts of the Moving Image, Policy Journalism and Media R, SS, STS, W
POLSCI 502S Understanding Ethical Crisis in Organizations ETHICS 562S, SOCIOL 542S, PUBPOL 558S EI, R, SS
POLSCI 503S Crisis, Choice, and Change in Advanced Democratic States International Comparative Studies CCI, SS
POLSCI 504S Comparative Ethnic Politics CCI, CZ, SS
POLSCI 515S Post War Europe, 1945-1968: Politics, Society, and Culture HISTORY 537S, ICS 537S CCI, CZ, EI, SS, STS
POLSCI 516S Rule of Law EI, SS
POLSCI 517S Democratic Institutions CCI, R, SS
POLSCI 518 The Politics of Health Care PUBPOL 635 EI, SS
POLSCI 519 The American Party System SS
POLSCI 520S Congressional Policy-Making SS
POLSCI 522S Comparative Party Politics Canadian Studies CCI, R, SS
POLSCI 526S Markets and Democracy in Latin America CCI, R, SS
POLSCI 527S Africa in a Global Age CULANTH 561S, AAAS 510S, HISTORY 561S, ICS 510S CCI, EI, SS
POLSCI 544 9/11: Causes, Response & Strategy PUBPOL 561, ICS 561 EI, SS, W
POLSCI 545S International Environmental Regimes PUBPOL 581S, ICS 521S EI, SS, STS
POLSCI 546S Assisting Development PUBPOL 515S, ICS 514S R, SS, W
POLSCI 547 Politics of United States Foreign Policy PUBPOL 506, ICS 506 EI, R, SS
POLSCI 549S Collective Action, Property Rights, and the Environment ENVIRON 544S, Energy and the Environment CCI, EI, SS
POLSCI 550S Predicting Politics: Counter Insurgency, Elections, and Stability QS, SS, W
POLSCI 551S Voting Behavior QS, R, SS
POLSCI 560S International Relations Theory and Chinese Foreign Policy International Comparative Studies CCI, SS
POLSCI 575S Ancient Political Philosophy CLST 571S, PHIL 571, Ethics Courses Offered Through Other Departments CCI, EI, SS
POLSCI 585S Adversarial Ethics PHIL 510S EI, SS
POLSCI 586S Political Thought in the United States Study of Ethics EI, SS
POLSCI 590-2 Intermediate Topics in Political Institutions
POLSCI 590S-2 Intermediate Topics in Political Institutions
POLSCI 616S Persistence and Change in Political Institutions CCI, R, SS
POLSCI 617S The Regulatory Process PUBPOL 609S R, SS, STS
POLSCI 618S Politics of Institutional Reform R, SS
POLSCI 619 Media and Social Change PJMS 676, PUBPOL 676, RUSSIAN 516, International Comparative Studies, Information Science and Information Studies, Policy Journalism and Media CCI, R, SS, STS
POLSCI 642S Global Inequality Research Seminar AAAS 642S, ECON 541S, SOCIOL 642S, PUBPOL 645S ALP, CCI, R, SS
POLSCI 646S The Politics of European Integration CCI, R, SS
POLSCI 647S International Democratization PUBPOL 513S EI, R, SS
POLSCI 661S Courts, Wars, Legacies of Wars HISTORY 562S R, SS
POLSCI 664S Leaders, Nations, and War ICS 664S CCI, R, SS, W
POLSCI 667S American Civil-Military Relations PUBPOL 667S R, SS
POLSCI 676S Hegel's Political Philosophy PHIL 536S, GERMAN 575S EI, R, SS
POLSCI 679S The Past and Future of Capitalist Democracy I EI, R, SS
POLSCI 680S The Past and Future of Capitalist Democracy II EI, R, SS
POLSCI 681S Law and Philosophy CZ, EI, SS
POLSCI 682S Legal Analysis for Development Governance PUBPOL 647S CCI, EI, SS
POLSCI 690-2 Advanced Topics in Political Institutions SS
POLSCI 690S-2 Advanced Topics in Political Institutions SS
POLSCI 707A Marine Policy ENVIRON 786A, PUBPOL 749A
POLSCI 708 Democracy and the Rule of Law
POLSCI 709S Research Seminar on the Politics of Behavior, Identities, and Institutions
POLSCI 710 Civic Engagement in a Changing Media Environment
POLSCI 716 The New Institutionalism in Political Science
POLSCI 717S Seminar in Political Institutions
POLSCI 719S Comparative Constitutional Design LAW 717
POLSCI 720S Capitalism CULANTH 716S, SOCIOL 716S
POLSCI 721 Authoritarian Institutions
POLSCI 722 Election Law LAW 311
POLSCI 725S Research on Chinese Politics: Forefront and Foundations
POLSCI 726S Informal Institutions
POLSCI 728 Workshop in Political Institutions I
POLSCI 729 Workshop in Political Institutions II
POLSCI 750S Political Economy of Development
POLSCI 751S Empirical Investigation of Governance
POLSCI 761 Islam and the State: Political Economy of Governance in the Middle East
POLSCI 762 The Political Economy of Institutions ECON 751
POLSCI 890-2 Political Institutions

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