Political Science Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Please note, Political Science courses changed from 4 to 3 credits effective Fall 2020.

Attainment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in political science requires a minimum of three years of graduate study beyond the bachelor's degree and the successful completion of a dissertation based on original research, accepted by the student's committee, and conforming to University at Albany guidelines. In addition to required course work, as set out below, a doctoral candidate must demonstrate competence in a major field and a second field, and in one of two research tools options.

Admission to the PhD Program

Students with a bachelor’s degree who ultimately plan to pursue a PhD are advised to apply directly to the PhD program, since only students in the doctoral program are eligible for funding, and the path directly to the doctorate is typically faster and more direct. Students in the direct track from BA to PhD usually apply for their master’s degree upon successful completion of their comprehensive examinations and dissertation prospectus defense. Students admitted to the master’s track may apply for formal admission to the PhD program. Students with a master’s degree in Political Science obtained at another university should apply directly to the PhD program.

Course of Study

Required Courses

  1. A minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree in courses and seminars and through independent study.
  2. Field seminar and field-defined required course(s) in both the student’s major field and second field.
  3. POS 516, Introduction to Political Inquiry. Students intending to pursue the PhD degree are strongly advised to take this course in the first year of their graduate training.
  4. POS 517, Quantitative Methods. Students take this typically in the second semester of their first year.
  5. POS 618, Qualitative Methods. Students should take this in their first or second year, ideally after POS 516.
  6. POS695, Selected Problems in Political Science Research: Research and Writing Seminar Part I, and POS 696 Selected Problems in Political Science Research: Research and Writing Seminar Part II. Students intending to pursue the PhD degree are strongly advised to take these courses in the third year of their graduate training.

Research Tools Requirement

Prior to the admission to candidacy for the PhD degree, a student must have satisfactorily completed either:

  • A quantitative methods course, or
  • A foreign language exam that is either given by the appropriate foreign language department at the University at Albany or by an established language testing service, as approved by the department.

Students whose field of study or research does not include a need for competence in a foreign language must satisfy the tools requirement in quantitative research techniques option.

Quantitative Research Techniques Option.

To satisfy the quantitative part of the research tool requirement, students must be competent in research design, data analysis, and elementary statistics. The requirement may be satisfied either by successful completion of POS 517 (Research Methods for Political Scientists) or equivalent graduate course work in another department or at another university. Depending on a student's field of study the department may recommend that a student take additional methods courses beyond POS 517 and 618.

Foreign Language Option.

Students whose research requires use of a foreign language may choose the foreign language option. English may not be used to satisfy the foreign language requirement. 

Degree Progress

Full-time course load.

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (9 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily. The department encourages doctoral students to register for at least 9 graduate credits each semester

Normal progress toward the degree.

The doctoral program has been designed so that it can be completed in five to six years of intense work, even for those students who are supported on graduate assistantships. Students who do not make normal progress toward their degree will not be eligible for departmental funding and will be referred to the department for possible dismissal from the program. While exceptions are possible for good cause, the following situations will be considered indicators that a student is not making normal progress:

  1. One or more incomplete grades that have not been completed by the midpoint of the following semester;
  2. Any grade below B;
  3. A cumulative grade-point average below 3.0;
  4. Failure of a full-time student to maintain a course load of 9-12 credits per semester, except during final preparation for the comprehensive examinations or during writing of the dissertation; or<
  5. Failure of a student, in the view of his or her faculty advisor, to move expeditiously toward completion of the degree.

All requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science must be completed within eight calendar years from the date of initial registration in the doctoral program. Extensions may be requested on a case-by-case basis. 

Academic Advisement

Each graduate student is required to select a faculty advisor in the first semester of graduate study, prior to pre-registration for classes for the following semester. 

The student and his/her faculty advisor should meet at least once a semester to monitor the student's progress. Only a student's advisor may give an AVN, which allows a student to register for classes. The student should also file yearly progress reports with the department to be completed middle of the spring semester. 

Two-credit course registration option.

Each departmental graduate course (with the exception of field seminars and required scope and methods courses) will be offered both for three credits and on a special two-credit basis. Students enrolled in a course for two credits will generally be expected to complete the reading and class participation requirements of the course, but will not be required to fulfill all the writing requirements of the three-credit course. These two-credit courses are graded A-E.

Comprehensive Examinations

  1. Examinations for all subfields will be offered on the same dates three times per academic year, for both major and minor examinations. The actual dates of examinations will be determined administratively each year. All subfields will have the same examination procedures.
  2. For full-time students who entered the graduate program with a bachelor's degree, the major field examination and prospectus defense should take place in the third year of full-time study; for students who entered the graduate program with a master's degree, these examinations should normally be taken late in the second year of full-time study.
  3. Graduate students may retake a failed examination in a major or minor field once. Selecting a different major or minor field is permissible at any time, but regardless of whether a student changes fields, only two attempts may be made to pass a major or minor field examination. If a student fails a second attempt at a major or minor field examination, the student will be deemed to have made unsatisfactory progress in the program, and the department will recommend dismissal to The Graduate School.

Major Field:

Each student takes the major field comprehensive examination when, in consultation with their advisor, they think that they are satisfactorily prepared to teach on the graduate level in the field, which is what a passing grade indicates.

  1. The major field examination includes a written component and, assuming satisfactory performance on the written portion, an oral component.
  2. The written examination will be a twelve-hour, open-book examination distributed to the examining students by email and returned through the same medium to the examining committee.
  3. Oral examinations will be scheduled within two weeks of the delivery of a successful written examination.
  4. Both the written and oral components must be evaluated as passing in order for the student to pass the major comprehensive examination.

Second Field:

The second field examination is a written comprehensive examination conducted in the same manner as the major field examination, but taking six hours. Passing the exam signals that the minor field committee has concluded that the student is satisfactorily prepared to teach on the undergraduate level in the field. Exam committees are composed in the same fashion as for the major field.   

Admission to Candidacy and Degree Applications

To advance to candidacy, a student must complete the following requirements:

  1. Satisfactory record in all coursework and candidacy requirements; 
  2. Successful pass on a comprehensive examination in a major field,
  3. Successful prospectus defense,
  4. Successful pass on the comprehensive examination in the minor field,
  5. Completion of the scope and methods sequence,
  6. Completion of the foreign language or advanced research tool requirement, and
  7. Completion of the full-time study in residence requirement.

A student expecting to complete degree requirements at the end of a particular semester or summer session must file a Degree Application Request through MyUAlbany during that semester/session.

Please note: This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.