Political Science (Ph.D.) Program Details

Degree Requirements   

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation  
    ❱   Final oral examination/Dissertation defense 

Research Specializations

    ❱   American politics
    ❱   Black politics
    ❱   Comparative politics
    ❱   International Relations

Research Areas & Interests

Faculty Research Interests

A sampling of research interests

  • How racial hierarchy shapes national attachments
  • Theoretical analysis of senate and electoral college malapportionment
  • Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
  • Public perception and media effect models concerning climate change
  • The political rhetoric of domination
  • Sanctuary cities, lynching, and race in American politics
  • State, structural, and symbolic violence and Afro-Brazilian LGBT women's resistance movements
  • Afro-Politics and democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • The politics of dissent (resource control and violence, agitation, and restiveness)
  • The political impact of Black migration from 1915 to the present
  • Effect of return migration, gentrification, and displacement on civic engagement among Black populations in cities and inner-ring suburbs
  • Offshoring, highly-skilled immigration, and workforce policy
  • Women's civil society organizing

Research Subfields

American Politics

The American Politics field provides students with a deep and thorough understanding of political theory and practice in three areas: (1) The structure, function, and behavior of American national, state, and local governments; (2) the development, articulation, and advancement of interests within subgroups, political parties, and political action committees; and (3) the impact of public opinion, political socialization, and cultural events on political behavior, societal change, and electoral outcomes.

Black Politics

The Black Politics field seeks to open political science to analyze the full range of political behavior and theory in racially and ethnically diverse societies through recognizing and eliminating racial, cultural, ideological, or social bias in the discipline. In addition, the field is committed to understanding African Americans' political life, other groups in their relations with African Americans, and other racial and ethnic minorities with whom African Americans may share a strong linkage or affinity based on common history and shared experiences.

Comparative Politics 

The Comparative Politics field investigates political structures, processes, and outcomes within and across the nation-state boundaries. Scholars of comparative politics analyze electoral behavior, political networks, political institutions, contentious politics, political instability and political conflict, mass political mobilization, comparative political economies, welfare states, states and state formation, political consent and inclusion, political regimes and transitions, and the salience of race, ethnicity, nationalism, gender, identity, class, civil society, and intergenerational differences in politics and governance.

International Relations

The International Relations field examines interactions between states, the workings of the international system of power, production, exchange, cooperation and conflict, and transnational phenomena–crossing the territorial confines of nation-states. While rooted in political science and power relationships, the field of International Relations is multi-disciplinary. It draws from economics, history, law, and sociology. Its principal areas of scholarly research include international political economy, international organization, foreign policy–making, strategic (security) studies, international relations of Africa and the African Diaspora, and peace research.

Program of Study*


Course Courses (15 CR)

POLS 232    Nature & Uses of Political Theory

POLS 292    Seminar in American Politics

POLS 227    Introduction to Black Politics 

POLS 204    Approaches to Comparative Politics 

POLS 287    Theories of International Relations


Major and Minor Field Courses (27 CR)

  • 18 credits in two chosen major subfields (9 credits for each major subfield)
  • 9 credits in a chosen minor subfield


Research Tools (9 CR)

POLS 217    Methods of Political Science

POLS 254    Behavioral Research Methods 

POLS 257 / POLS 279   Multivariate Statistics or Survey Research Method or a graduate research methods course or proficiency in a foreign language that a student will use in their scholarly research




*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students may be eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards, which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year. Additionally, graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.