POLS Subfields and Course Requirements

Students are required to take PhD Exams in two of the Department’s five subfields (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Law). In order to take the PhD Exam in a field, students must have completed its course requirements, which are listed below. In addition, all doctoral candidates must take Nature of Political Inquiry (POLS 5600), Introduction to Quantitative Methods (POLS 5605), Introduction to Qualitative Methods (5615), and one advanced methods elective. Finally, all POLS PhD students must enroll in GRAD 6950-003 in their first, second, third, and fourth semesters. To receive the grade of “Pass,” they must attend four scholarly presentations in the relevant semester. The student and major advisor should together determine which presentations to attend and what will constitute sufficient evidence of having attended.

American Politics

In preparing for the PhD Exam in American Politics, students must successfully complete the following courses or their equivalents:

  • POLS 5406: Seminar in the American Political System
  • POLS 5407: Advanced Topics in American Political Institutions and Policy
  • POLS 5408: Advanced Topics in American Political Behavior
  • POLS 5409: Advanced Topics in American Race, Gender and Ethnic Politics

Comparative Politics

In preparing for the PhD Exam in Comparative Politics, students must successfully complete the following four courses that are offered under either POLS 5240: Research Seminars in Comparative Politics or POLS 5010: Investigation of Special Topics in Political Science:

  • Contentious Politics and Collective Action
  • Institutions
  • Political Economy and Development
  • Regime Types

Students are also strongly encouraged to do an independent study on a topic related to their dissertation research and work with a faculty member who has expertise in the area. Depending on the thesis topic, students may be encouraged to seek additional research training in quantitative or qualitative methods beyond the minimum methods requirements and also foreign language study. In addition, obtaining field experience, either during the period of graduate study or in the course of dissertation research is strongly encouraged.

    Back to top

    International Relations

    In preparing for the PhD Exam in International Relations, students must successfully complete:

    POLS 5300: Pro-seminar in International Relations

    And at least 3 other courses from the following list:

    • POLS 5305: Foreign Policy Analysis
    • POLS 5315: International Security
    • POLS 5320: International Conflict and Cooperation
    • POLS 5322: Assessing Human Security
    • POLS 5325: International Political Economy
    • POLS 5330: International Organization and Law
    • POLS 5335: US Foreign Policy in the Middle East
    • POLS 5340: Politics and Security in the Middle East
    • POLS 5345: Foreign Policies of the Russian Federation and the Former USSR
    • POLS 5390: Economic Rights
    • A special topics course approved by the IR Field Committee (some prior examples include Assessing Human Security, Feminisms, Transnationalism and Empire, Special Topics in Human Rights, Feminist Political Methodologies, East Asian Political Economy, Africana Dialogues, and European Approaches to International Relations)

    No more than two of the four required courses may be taken with a single IR faculty member

    Back to top

    Political Theory

    Prior to taking the PhD Exam in Political Theory (Political Theory PhD Exam Guidelines), students must successfully complete at least four graduate courses in political theory, including POLS 5100 Pro-seminar in Political Theory. We strongly encourage students to take additional coursework with a strong theoretical component.

    Some recently offered graduate seminars in political theory include:

    • Critical Theory
    • Critical Race Theory
    • Theories of Human Rights
    • Comparative Political Theory
    • Women Political Thinkers
    • Emotions and Politics
    • Public Reason and Deliberation
    • Black Feminist Theory and Politics

    Back to top

    Public Law

    In preparing for the PhD Exam in Public Law, students must successfully complete all three of the following courses:

    • POLS 5505: Law and Society
    • POLS 5510: Judicial Decision-making
    • POLS 5515: Constitutional Interpretation

    And at least one of the following:

    • POLS 5010: Law and Social Change
    • POLS 5010: Seminar in Legal Theory/Jurisprudence

    Back to top