Political Methodology

This field focuses on scholarship directed at providing appropriate methodologies for investigating theoretically motivated political questions. Departmental activities in methods are organized around deductive/analytical, empirical/inductive, and computational approaches to modeling political phenomena.

Students pursuing this field will demonstrate competency in:

  • mathematics and statistics
  • research design
  • formal modeling
  • hypothesis testing

Graduate training is designed so that students pursuing Political Methodology as a first field, by the completion of their Ph.D. programs, will have also earned the Program for Advanced Research in the Social Sciences (PARISS) Certificate. See the PARISS certificate website. Students do not need to apply to the certificate program; however, you are encouraged to submit a proposal to the PARISS faculty early on in order to get feedback on their proposed plan of study.

First Field

  • POLSCI 630 Probability and Basic Regression
  • POLSCI 631 Introduction to Deductive & Analytical Approaches to Political Phenomena
  • 4 courses selected from the Program for Advanced Research in the Social Sciences (PARISS) Certificate. See PARISS website

The PARISS courses need to be selected and approved in conjunction with your advisor and documented in a written plan to be evaluated by the Political Methodology faculty. This will be coordinated by the Political Methodology Field Chair.

Qualifying Procedure

Certification by the field chair that you have successfully completed all required coursework.

Preliminary Examination

Each student who completes the qualifying procedure in Political Methodology is required to submit and present for defense before a committee of faculty in that field a plausibly publishable research paper employing analytical and/or empirical methods and/or computational methods. This must be submitted no later than the end of the first semester of the third year. The committee administering the preliminary examination may pass a student with distinction on the basis of both your performance in the qualifying procedure and in your paper presentation and defense.

Second Field

Students pursuing Political Methods as a second field must propose a course list that is approved by the student's advisor and the field leader in Political Methods. The goal is to provide a strong foundation for students to be able to execute rigorous research methods related to their research questions. Below are possible course lists for students doing typical tracks in the department. They should be considered as a starting point for the course lists that students develop and have approved by their advisor and field leader.


​Track: Applied Statistics

  • Prerequisites:
    • ​​Probability: Stat 611 (or Stat 230 and 250)
    • AND Linear Algebra (Math 216, or 218, or 221)
  • ​​POLSCI 748 Introduction to Causal Inference
  • POLSCI 630 Probability and Basic Regression
  • Advanced methods course
  • ​Graduate stats elective (e.g., Bayesian Stat 360/602; Machine learning Stat 561; Linear models Stat 721)

Track: Formal and Computational

  • Prerequisites:
    • ​​Analysis (Math 431 or 531
    • a​nd D​ata Structures and Algorithms (CS 201)
  • POLSCI 631L Introduction to Deductive & Analytical Approaches to Political Phenomena
  • ​Two electives related to formal or computational methods (e.g., Game theory 2 PS 730; Advanced game theory PS 749; Social networks PS 634; Computational PE)
  • ​Graduate microeconomics (Econ 601, or 701, or 705) or Graduate CS elective (e.g., AI CS 570; Machine learning CS 571; Reinforcement learning CS 590; or Computational micro CS 590)