skip to content

Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science

The University's basic requirements for the Ph.D. degree are discussed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

Programs of study leading to the Ph.D. degree are designed by the student, in consultation with advisers and the Director of Graduate Studies, to serve his or her particular interests as well as to achieve the general department requirements. A student is recommended to the University Committee on Graduate Studies to receive the Ph.D. degree in Political Science when the following program of study has been completed:

  1. The candidate for the Ph.D. degree must offer three of the following concentrations in political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, methodology, and political theory. Students concentrate on two of these areas by fulfilling, depending on the concentration, combinations of the following: written qualifying examinations, research papers, research design, or course work. The requirement for the third concentration may be satisfied by taking either a written examination in that area or by offering a minimum of 10 units with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better in the third concentration from among the formal graduate-level courses in the five divisions of the department. The third concentration cannot be satisfied by courses taken as a requirement for a first or second concentration. A third concentration in theory requires two courses in addition to the five units necessary to fulfill the program requirement. A third concentration in methodology requires two courses in addition to the 10 units necessary to fulfill the program requirement. Completion of special concentrations may require more than 10 units of course work.
  2. The Ph.D. candidate is required to demonstrate competence in a language and/or skill that is likely to be relevant to the dissertation research. The level of competence needed for successful completion of the research is determined by the student's adviser. All candidates must complete at least 10 units of statistical methodology or its equivalent. Previous instruction can be counted towards this requirement only if approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
  3. Every Ph.D. candidate must complete at least five units of graduate-level instruction in political theory.
  4. By the start of the fourth quarter in residence, each graduate student submits to the student's adviser a statement of purpose. This statement indicates the student's proposed major concentrations of study, the courses taken and those planned to be taken to cover those fields, the student's plan for meeting language and/or skill requirements, plans for scheduling of comprehensive examinations and/or research papers, and, where possible, dissertation ideas or plans. This statement is discussed with, and must be approved by, the student's adviser. In the Autumn Quarter following completion of their first year, students are reviewed at a regular meeting of the department faculty. The main purposes of this procedure are, in order of importance: to advise and assist the student to realize his or her educational goals; to provide an incentive for clarifying goals and for identifying ways to achieve them; and to facilitate assessment of progress toward the degree.
  5. Students must take the comprehensive exams in two major fields by the end of their second year in the program. Students are expected to have passed these examinations and to have faculty approval of their research paper by the end of their second year.
  6. Upon completion of one research paper and two comprehensive exams in his or her two major concentrations, the student files an Application for Candidacy for the Doctoral Degree which details program plans and records. The University and the department expect that students be advanced to candidacy by the completion of their sixth quarter as a full-time student. Each second-year student is reviewed and considered for admission to candidacy in a meeting of the faculty that is typically held during the tenth week of Spring Quarter. Since completion of two comprehensive exams and a research paper are prerequisites for admission to candidacy, students should plan their first- and second-year studies so that these requirements are satisfied by the time of the faculty review meeting. In particular, students should submit their research paper to the relevant faculty readers no later than the middle of Winter Quarter, since revisions of the paper are often required prior to obtaining faculty approval.
  7. During the third year, a formal dissertation proposal must be submitted to and approved by the student's dissertation adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies. Dissertation proposals must be approved by the end of the third year.
  8. A candidate for the Ph.D. in Political Science is required to serve as a teaching assistant (TA) in the department for a minimum of three quarters.
  9. Doctoral candidates who apply for the M.A. degree are awarded that degree on completion of the requirements outlined in the description of the M.A. program.
  10. The candidate must pass the University oral examination on the area of the dissertation at a time, after the passing of the written comprehensive examinations, suggested by the candidate's dissertation committee.
  11. The candidate must complete a dissertation satisfactory to the dissertation reading committee.

Copyright ©2010 Stanford University | Office of the University Registrar | Academic Year 2010-11 | Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints | Report a Problem with this site.