Graduate Studies

Doctoral Program

Admission Requirements

Admission to the PhD program requires either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination general test. All students admitted to the PhD program without a master’s degree will be required to undergo an evaluation of their progress in the program by the Graduate Studies Committee after the completion of 27 hours in residence.

Degree Requirements

Major and Minor Fields

Doctoral students must choose and develop competence in one major and two minor fields. The fields the department offers are American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public policy and administration, and political theory. In exceptional cases, a student may choose one minor field outside the department, with special permission from the graduate studies committee.

Course Requirements

Doctoral students must complete at least 51 hours of graduate coursework. Up to 25 hours may be transferred from other institutions, with the permission of the graduate studies committee. At least 18 hours must be taken within the student’s major field, at least 12 hours must be taken within the student’s second field, and at least 9 hours must be taken in a third field.

Students must take the core seminars in their major and minor fields. The core seminars are PSC 610 Core Seminar in American Politics, PSC 631 Seminar in Comparative Politics, PSC 642 Concepts and Theories of International Relations, PSC 651 Political Theory Seminar, and PSC 565 Survey of Public Administration. Course descriptions may be found in the UA Graduate Catalog.

In addition, all students must complete 9 hours of methods courses, including PSC 521 Research Design, PSC 522 Quantitative Methods in Political Science I, and either PSC 621 Quantitative Methods in Political Science II or PSC 622 Seminar in Political Science Methodology. Course descriptions may be found in the UA Graduate Catalog.

Students interested in pursuing a topic in greater depth than the standard course offerings allow may take up to 12 hours of PSC 595 Directed Reading and PSC 598 Individual Research, with up to 6 hours in any one field.

Language Requirement

A foreign language is required of PhD students if appropriate to the student’s research interests. The appropriateness of the foreign language requirement shall be determined by the relevant faculty in the student’s primary field of interest prior to the student’s completion of 18 hours in residence in the PhD program. Students may, with approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, substitute foreign language for the PSC 621 requirement. 

Comprehensive Examination

Before writing a dissertation, but only after completing at least two full years of graduate study and satisfying all coursework, PhD students must take and pass written and oral comprehensive examinations in their major and secondary fields. These will be given during fall and spring semesters only.


Students who have fulfilled the course requirements and passed the comprehensive examination become PhD candidates.


Students must complete no less than 24 hours of dissertation credit (699). As soon as possible after satisfying the requirements for candidacy, each student should submit three copies of a dissertation prospectus to the department chairperson, who will establish a dissertation committee of five faculty members, with at least three from the Department of Political Science and at least one from another department. The prospectus should contain the same information as an MA thesis prospectus (see above). 
The department chairperson will decide whether to approve the prospectus, on the recommendation of the dissertation committee. Once the prospectus has been approved, the student may begin work on the dissertation itself, under the supervision of his or her dissertation committee. When finished, the student must take a final oral examination to defend the dissertation and demonstrate competence in the field in which it lies. The examination, conducted by the dissertation committee, must ordinarily be held during the fall or spring semester. Following a successful defense, the student must submit the thesis electronically in accordance with procedures laid out in this Catalog.


A complete course listing can be found in the UA Graduate Catalog.