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The Department of Political Science and
International Relations currently offers a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
degree, which consists of coursework during the first six semesters
followed by dissertation research and writing. Students earn an M.A. as
part of their Ph.D. studies. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree
(or equivalent) at the time of matriculation to be eligible to apply to
the Ph.D. program. The department does not currently offer a terminal
Graduate study in the department is organized around
four major subfields within the discipline of Political Science:
American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and
Political Theory. Ph.D. students are required to pick one of these major
subfields within the discipline as their primary field and a second
subfield as their secondary field. In addition to the four major
subfields, students can choose Methods as their secondary field.
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The guidelines below are for informational purposes. The UD Catalog is the source of record for degree requirements.
In addition, one of the following courses:
Skills Requirement (one of the following):
This review panel (typically comprised of the members of the Graduate Work Committee) will review all Ph.D. students in the spring of every year they are in the program. The panel will provide feedback and recommendations regarding students' performance in the program. This feedback will be in the form of a letter from the Director of Graduate Studies, sent to the student and their advisor, based on the student's GPA, their progress in meeting department benchmarks (such as the long paper defense and prospectus meeting) in a timely manner, information the review panel receives from the student's advisor, TA/RA supervisor(s), and course instructors, and the like, as well as a review of the student's C.V. and narrative/self-evaluation. In the case of poor performance, the review panel may choose to provide specific details about what is expected of the student in the upcoming year, or may decide that the student should be dismissed from the program.
Students will take “take home" written field exams in their primary and secondary fields during the first week of February in their sixth semester. Through these exams students should demonstrate a mastery of the literatures relevant to the two fields they have studied.
Students will have 48 hours to answer 3 questions in their primary field and 2 questions in their secondary field.
The answer for each question must be limited to 3,000 words, not counting references.
Each field committee will provide a minimum of six questions for their field exam.
Students will not receive long lists of sample questions in the late summer/fall. They will be given 2-3 sample questions from each field, mostly so they will be familiar with the format of the questions. In general, the questions should resemble those that students may have encountered during their proseminars in the respective fields. Those questions will be made available at the start of the fall semester.
A Field Exam Committee of three faculty in each field will prepare the questions and do the grading for each set of exams. The Director of Graduate Studies administers the field exams.
1. Exams are graded by Field Exam Committees. Grades are reported to the Director of Graduate Studies. Possible grades on the exam are Distinction, Pass, and Deficient. Distinction and Pass are considered passing grades. Results of the field exams will be made known to students as soon as all exams have been graded, usually within two weeks.
2. Grading for Field Exams proceeds as follows: Possible grades on the exam are Distinction, Pass, and Deficient. Results of the field exams will be made known to students within two weeks of the exam date. Grading for Field Exams proceeds as follows:
For the Primary Field, students who receive a mark of Deficient on one of the three responses by 2 out of 3 faculty members who grade the exam must retake that question, regardless of the third faculty member's grade. If a student receives a grade of Deficient on two of the three responses by 2 of the 3 faculty members (regardless of the third faculty member's grade), the student must retake this entire section of the exam. The Director of Graduate Studies will administer a new set of questions for the student to answer.
For the Secondary Field, students who receive a mark of Deficient on one of the two responses by 2 out of 3 faculty members who grade the exam must retake that question, regardless of the third faculty member's grade. If a student receives a grade of Deficient on both responses by 2 of the 3 faculty members (regardless of the third faculty member's grade), the student must retake this entire section of the exam. The Director of Graduate Studies will administer a new set of questions for the student to answer.
For any question(s) a student retakes, there will only be a pass/fail option. If, on the second try, the student fails even one question, then the student fails the field exam requirement and will be recommended to the Graduate College to be terminated from the program.
3. Students who wish to sit for the field exams must be in good standing, have at least a 3.0 GPA, and have no “Incompletes."
1. A faculty committee that conducts the defense of the dissertation proposal shall officially admit a Ph.D. student to candidacy upon successful completion of the dissertation defense. Although the precise form of the dissertation proposal will vary from case to case, it is expected to include a clear statement of the research question(s), an explanation of the significance of the research, a discussion of the research methods proposed to investigate the problem, and a full discussion of relevant literature.
2. The dissertation proposal defense should be held at the beginning of the student's fourth year, not later than the Monday of the second week of fall semester of the student's fourth year. Funding for the spring semester of the fourth year is contingent upon having passed the candidacy examination.
3. The dissertation proposal defense committee shall be convened and chaired by the student's dissertation chair and shall consist of members of the student's proposed dissertation committee (minus the external member). Normally students are expected to select a dissertation chair from faculty whose primary appointment is in the Department. In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the Graduate Policy Committee for approval to have someone whose primary appointment is outside the Department to chair the dissertation committee. In deciding whether to grant approval, the Graduate Policy Committee shall take into account the needs of the student and the Department.
4. The dissertation proposal defense committee determines the student's capability for advancement to candidacy. The main question the committee has to answer is, 'Is this student prepared to write an acceptable Ph.D. dissertation?' In seeking to answer this question, the committee's focus shall be on the student's dissertation proposal.
5. If, the committee decides, the student has not passed the proposal defense, the committee may direct the student to (a) rethink, rewrite, and resubmit the proposal prior to a re-examination by the committee; (b) undertake remedial work in research design and methodology; or (c) any combination or variation of the above that the committee deems necessary. In the event that additional work is required, the committee will discuss with the student a reasonable period for completion of the necessary work. A written statement completed by the student's dissertation adviser should set forth the nature of the work to be undertaken by the student and the period that was agreed upon. This shall be sent to the student, circulated to the faculty members who participated in the proposal defense and become part of the student's permanent file. At the conclusion of the agreed upon time, the committee will reconvene to assess the student's progress toward candidacy. The committee may determine that the student is unable to advance to candidacy and may be recommended to the Graduate College for termination from the program.
1. A Ph.D. dissertation is a manuscript that reflects “the results of original and significant research written in a scholarly and literate manner worthy of publication."
2. Students are expected to consult closely and regularly with members of their dissertation committee, particularly the dissertation committee chair.
3. Upon completion of the manuscript, a final oral examination – or “dissertation defense" – must be passed. Ordinarily, students will be asked to summarize the major findings of their research and evaluate the significance of these findings for the field more generally. The student shall then be called upon to defend the findings in the face of questions from members of the dissertation committee and other members of the academic community who choose to attend. If, after deliberating, the dissertation committee is unable to reach agreement on whether the student has successfully defended the dissertation, the committee will adjourn after explaining the nature of their objections and providing suggestions on how these might be satisfactorily addressed with guidance from the dissertation chair. It shall be the responsibility of the dissertation chair to reconvene the group to reconsider the revised product.
Detailed guidelines for the preparation and presentation of the dissertation are described on the Graduate College Steps to Graduation page.
Other important information about finishing your dissertation and degree may be found on the Graduate College website.