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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)

Students must complete coursework in two major subfields, one minor subfield, and research methods.

Major Subfields

The major subfields must be drawn from the four subfields listed below (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Public Policy). Before their first attempt at the written preliminary examination in any subfield, all doctoral students must complete at least four graduate level courses courses in that field, three of which are at the 700 level or above. Enrollment in directed research covering a particular subfield may be substituted for one of the four courses/seminars. Students should consult their faculty advisor to plan a schedule of courses in each of their major subfields to provide adequate preparation for the written preliminary examination.

The specific course requirements in each of the major subfields below apply to students admitted in Fall 2020 or later. Students admitted prior to Fall 2020 should consult with their faculty advisor to determine the most appropriate course selection in each of their major subfields. 

AMERICAN POLITICS

  • POLS 810 American Politics (3)
  • three elective courses selected in consultation with faculty advisor

COMPARATIVE POLITICS

  • POLS 850 Introduction to Comparative Politics (3)
  • POLS 851 Comparative Institutions and Government (3)
  • POLS 957 Comparative Political Behavior (3)
  • one elective course selected in consultation with faculty advisor

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

  • POLS 870 International Relations (3)
  • POLS 972 Theories of International Conflict (3)
  • POLS 973 International Political Economy (3)
  • one elective course selected in consultation with faculty advisor

PUBLIC POLICY

  • POLS 720 The Scope of Public Policy (3)
  • POLS 820 Policy Formulation and Adoption (3)
  • two elective courses selected in consultation with faculty advisor

Minor Subfield

The minor subfield may be another of the major subfields, a related field from an outside department, or an interdisciplinary program. If the choice is not an additional major subfield, the student must obtain written approval of their faculty advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. Students must complete at least four graduate level courses in the minor subfield, three of which are at the 700 level or above. Enrollment in directed research covering a particular subfield may be substituted for one of the four courses. Students should select courses for their minor subfield in consultation with their faculty advisor. Courses for the minor subfield may not be applied to another examination field.

Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship

Doctoral students must complete the three courses listed below to meet the Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship requirement. 

RESEARCH METHODS

  • POLS 705 Research Design for Political Science (3)
  • POLS 706 Research Methods I (3)
  • POLS 707 Research Methods II (3)


Additionally, doctoral students must supplement this coursework with one of the following options, to be approved at any time prior to registering for written preliminary examinations:

  • An additional research methods course selected in consultation with their faculty advisor
  • Proficiency in a foreign language approved by the student's faculty advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies as demonstrated by one of the following options
    • Two semesters of a single foreign language completed no more than five years prior to the time of approval
    • Native speaker of a foriegn language

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. 

Dissertation

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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