University of Illinois Political Science Graduate Handbook


The objective of the PhD program in Political Science is to produce professional scholars capable of making important contributions to the understanding of political phenomena through research and teaching. This requires facilitating the transition of the student from a consumer of knowledge to a producer of knowledge. To accomplish this goal, the program introduces students to the fundamental theories, techniques, and tools of social scientific inquiry. The program imparts an understanding of the breadth, diversity, and development of Political Science as a discipline and is designed to insure that students are capable of using the insights from important bodies of literature. At the same time, it is not so structured that students are prevented from pursuing innovative and self-directed courses of study. Finally, the program seeks to familiarize students with professional norms and practices.

The PhD program in Political Science blends a set of general requirements with a flexible approach to coursework in substantive areas. Students progress through the program with the assistance of a set of faculty committees that guides them in the preparation of an appropriate course of study and reviews their progress at various points.

Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in one of four basic fields in Political Science—American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory—by completing a sequence of coursework and passing two qualifying examinations. Students also are required to complete coursework in a second field, a "scope and methods" requirement, and a "tools of inquiry" sequence. The student's progress at the dissertation stage is facilitated by a seminar aimed at the successful development and defense of a dissertation proposal. The successful defense of the completed dissertation qualifies the student for the awarding of the PhD. Each of these requirements is described in further detail below.

The Graduate College at the University of Illinois stipulates that a minimum of 96 semester hours of graduate credit is required for the PhD degree, 32 of which may be for dissertation research. This usually requires a minimum of four years of graduate study, two of which must be in residence. Doctoral candidates (i.e., those who hold ABD status, after having officially advanced to candidacy) must be enrolled as full-time students for at least one semester of their residency, and all degree requirements must be completed within seven years of the candidate's initial registration in the Graduate College. Students beginning the PhD program holding a master's degree must complete all requirements within five years of the date of first enrollment.