Political Science Graduate Program


Students who complete the Master of Arts degree may be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. degree. The Ph.D. program requires work in 2 major subfields and 1 minor subfield.

The major fields must be drawn from those offered by the division (see Fields of Graduate Study). Before their first attempt at the written preliminary examination in any subfield, all Ph.D. students must complete at least 4 courses in that field, 3 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.

The minor field may be another of the subfields, a related field from an outside department, or an interdisciplinary program. If the choice is not one of the subfields, the student must obtain written approval of the adviser and the graduate studies director. The courses for the minor field must follow the same structure as outlined above for the major fields. Courses for the minor field may not be applied to another examination field.

Students should consult their major advisers to plan a schedule of course work and seminar preparation in each of these subfields to provide adequate preparation for the written preliminary examination. Students must complete the majority of courses in their major fields, the research skills and responsible scholarship requirement, the Ph.D. residency requirement, and resolve any grades of incomplete before registering for preliminary examinations. The research skills and responsible scholarship requirement includes

Option 1: Research Methods

POLS 7063 and POLS 7074 plus 1 research methods course approved by the major adviser and the graduate director.

Option 2: Research Methods and Foreign Language

POLS 7063 and POLS 7074 plus 1 of the following choices in a language approved by the student’s adviser as well as the graduate director:

  1. 2 semesters of a single foreign language no more than 5 years old at the time of certification,
  2. Demonstrated reading knowledge of a single foreign language, or
  3. Native speaker.

 The research skills and responsible scholarship requirement is fulfilled within the research coursework, such as in POLS705.  Current policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

To become a Ph.D. candidate, the student must satisfactorily complete a comprehensive oral examination. No student may attempt the comprehensive oral examination until the 2 written preliminary examinations have been passed and a majority of the coursework completed.

After passing the comprehensive oral examination, the doctoral candidate must write a dissertation approved by a departmental dissertation committee and pass a final oral defense of the dissertation to qualify for the Ph.D. degree.

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POLS faculty and grad student study in Newsweek https://t.co/IBQcQ1MIeS

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