Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

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​​​​

​All requirements listed for the MA degree, plus 18 additional credits to total 57.

SECONDARY FIELD REQUIREMENTS: (9 credits)

  • For this secondary field students may choose one of the four main fields (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations or Political Theory) or may construct a secondary field in Methods in consultation with the Methods Field Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies. Students take the proseminar and two electives in their secondary field. Students doing Methods as their secondary field must take three methods electives from inside or outside the department approved by the Methods Field Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies. Students cannot count courses used to fulfill the department’s methods sequence and skills requirements for their Methods secondary field.​

CRISP Seminar: (3 credits)

  • All students must complete for three credits the Current Research in the Study of Politics (CRISP – POSC 850) in the spring semester of their third year. CRISP will provide a significant research experience in addition to a speaker series. Students are expected to complete and present a draft of their dissertation proposal at the end of the CRISP seminar.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH/CANDIDACY CREDITS: (varies)

  • Students will be enrolled in POSC964 – Pre-Candidacy Study while preparing for their field exams in their sixth and seventh semesters; the number of credits will depend on other classes taken. These credits do not count toward the degree requirements.

  • Students will be enrolled in 9 credits of POSC969 during the semester in which they defend their dissertation proposal. These 9 credits count toward the degree requirements.

  • Students working on their dissertation will be enrolled in UNIV999 – Doctoral Dissertation - while completing their dissertation.

  • The total number of credits taken for the degree must be at least 57.

LONG PAPER:

  • All students who wish to pursue their PhD degree are required to have a Long Paper written, revised, and orally defended before March 15 of their second year. This involves students making an oral presentation of the paper they are submitting in fulfillment of the MA writing requirement. They will be examined by a three-person committee consisting of a faculty ‘chair’ and two other faculty members as selected by the student and in agreement with the faculty and as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

  • Students are responsible for creating their long paper committees. The paper should meet the expectations of the MA writing requirement – it should be a “major research paper” etc. Students should identify their long paper committees in their third semester and should have an initial draft completed and under review by their committee chair by the start of the winter semester. Students should revise their paper over winter session and schedule their paper defense to take place before March 15 of their fourth semester.

  • A written assessment of student’s performance in the defense is communicated to the Director of Graduate Studies, as part of the assessment materials for moving on to the third year. Students who do not pass the Long Paper defense may receive an MA degree upon completion of the requirements for that degree. PhD students who defend their long paper successfully also receive MA degrees. Students will register for POSC 899 (0 credits) in their fourth semester to facilitate completion of this requirement.

​GRADUATE PERFORMANCE REVIEW PANEL:

This review panel (typically comprised of the members of the Graduate Work Committee) will review all PhD and MA 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 who are not recommended for further study will still receive their MA degree, assuming they have met the requirements.​

FIELD EXAMS:

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 nine hours to complete their primary field exam (8 am to 5 pm) and six hours to complete their secondary field exam (9 am to 3 pm). The four field exams will be offered on four consecutive days (Monday through Thursday): Comparative Politics, American Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. Students will take the exams, whether primary or secondary, on the designated day. (Exams will be sent out and expected back by email.)

Students will answer three questions in their primary field and two questions in their secondary field (questions will be the same for each field, whether primary or secondary).

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 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.”

DISSERTATION PROPOSAL DEFENSE (ADMISSION TO CANDIDACY EXAM):

  1. A faculty committee that conducts the defense of the dissertation proposal shall officially admit a PhD 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 PhD dissertation?’ In seeking to answer this question, the committee’s focus shall be on the student’s dissertation proposal.

  1. 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.

THE DISSERTATION:

  1. A PhD dissertation is a manuscript that reflects “the results of original and significant research written in a scholarly and literate manner worthy of publication.”

  1. Students are expected to consult closely and regularly with members of their dissertation committee, particularly the dissertation committee chair.

  1. 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 in the UD Thesis and Dissertation Manual.

Other important information about finishing your dissertation and degree may be found here​.

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