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Political Science Graduate Program

This page contains information regarding course and degree requirements for the Ph.D. in Political Science. Please refer to the Political Science graduate student handbook for detailed course requirements, procedures for examinations and defenses, and resources for degree completion.

Course Requirements (48 credit hours)

Doctoral students must take a total of 48 credit hours of graduate-level coursework. Coursework is divided into four categories of 12 credit hours each: research methods, two major subfields, and one minor subfield. All courses must be at the 600 level or above and be eligible for graduate credit. At least three courses in each category must be at or above the 700 level. Once all coursework is complete, students must enroll in dissertation hours each semester until they successfully defend their dissertation.

  • Research Methods (12 credit hours)
    • POLS 705: Research Design for Political Science (3)
    • POLS 706: Research Methods I (3)
    • POLS 707: Research Methods II (3)
    • Elective Methods Course (3)
  • Major Subfield 1 (12 credit hours)
  • Major Subfield 2 (12 credit hours)
  • Minor Subfield (12 credit hours)

Refer to https://kups.ku.edu/political-science-subfields for more information about subfield choices. 

Preliminary Examinations

After completing all coursework in research methods and both major subfields with a grade of B or better, students must complete written preliminary examinations in both of their major subfields. The preliminary examinations take place at the beginning of each semester and consist of questions related to the student's major subfields. More information about preliminary examinations is located at https://kups.ku.edu/previous-prelim-exams

Oral Comprehensive Examination

After passing preliminary examinations in both major subfields, students must complete an oral comprehensive examination in the same semester. The oral comprehensive examination covers the entire field of Political Science, with an emphasis in the student's two major subfields of study. 


All doctoral students must complete and defend a dissertation showing the planning, conduct, and results of original research and scholarship.  

Degree Completion Timeline

Most students are expected to complete the Political Science MA/PhD program in four years. All students should consult with their faculty advisor to ensure they're on a completion timeline appropriate for their research. Click here to see a sample timeline:

Sample Four Year Degree Completion Timeline

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