Coursework

Major Area Coursework

Students in the PhD program specialize within one area of political science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, or International Relations. They must take at least five graduate-level courses (or the equivalent of 20 semester hours) of coursework in their substantive area. Students must also attend to any course requirements imposed on majors by the area; the decision to impose specific requirements is solely at the discretion of the area.

Except for area-imposed requirements, students may elect to take any sequence of graduate-level coursework within an area that they believe prepares them for comprehensive examinations and their planned research. The rule specifying five units of coursework does not in any way preclude a student from further training. More than five units often may be necessary to acquire the expertise required for a student to pursue a specific interest or substantive problem. Students are encouraged to take courses with an eye to the knowledge necessary to become expert practitioners of their chosen specialty and not to limit their education according to minimal requirements.

Minor Area Coursework

Students demonstrate expertise in a minor area with the completion of two courses (i.e., 8 semester hours) in an area in which they do not take examinations. Minor area coursework may be in the areas of American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory. One of these courses must involve the preparation of a research paper. Students must also complete any requirements imposed by the area.

Scope and Methods Sequence

To provide students with a broad introduction to issues affecting the conduct of scholarly inquiry, all PhD candidates are required to take PS 521 and a course in research design. Students with prior graduate training who have already successfully completed comparable courses may request a waiver of these requirements.

PS 521 is a "scope" course that introduces students to basic ideas and issues in the philosophy of science and to different approaches to the nature of knowledge and scientific laws and theories. The research design requirement is normally satisfied by the completion of PS 522 or PS 523. PS 522 is a course that introduces students to the basic issues and principles involved in the conduct of political inquiry. PS 523 is a course that introduces students to the theory and methods of qualitative research. With the approval of the student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, another graduate-level course in quantitative or qualitative research design may be used to satisfy the research design requirement.

Tools of Inquiry

Students are required to develop research skills that will enable them to carry out independent and original research. To this end the department requires that Ph.D. students complete a minimum of five graduate-level units (20 semester hours) distributed across the areas of statistics, formal theory, and qualitative methods, as appropriate for their specialization.

To fulfill this requirement, students must complete a two-course (8 semester hours) sequence in statistical methods. This requirement may be satisfied with a two-semester course in applied statistics, or with more advanced training. Either PS 522 or PS 523 may be taken in partial fulfillment of the Tools of Inquiry requirement, providing it is not also used to satisfy the Scope and Methods requirement. Graduate courses in another graduate program or other previous training may, in some circumstances, be used to satisfy portions of this requirement. This program requirement may be satisfied in many ways; therefore, both the student's advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies must approve the Tools of Inquiry sequence.

Policies Applying to Coursework

To receive credit toward the requirements listed above, all courses must be graduate-level and the student must earn a grade of B or higher. Students may also take up to two courses outside of the Department. In addition, they may undertake independent study courses, but the number of independent studies that can be taken for credit is capped at two (i.e., 8 semester hours), unless approved by the student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. Finally, should a course described in this document as required not be offered during the period of time in which a student is taking courses, he or she will be exempt from that requirement.