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Doctor of Philosophy in
Political Science

Program of Study


The political science doctorate program requires 60 credits beyond the bachelor's degree.


Coursework in the Major and Second Field of Study

See below for a description of major and second fields. 


Comprehensive Exams in the Major and Second Field 

You will take the major field exam when, in consultation with your advisor, you think that you are satisfactorily prepared to teach at the graduate level in the field. Take second field exams when the minor field committee has concluded that you are satisfactorily prepared to teach at the undergraduate level.

Doctoral Dissertation

You will have the choice of either (1) writing a conventional book-format dissertation; or (2) writing a dissertation that takes the form of three article-format papers along with separate introduction and conclusion chapters. Although they differ in style, both approaches are likely to involve a similar amount of work and will allow you to make a substantial theoretical and empirical contribution to the political science literature. 


Graduate Student Funding

Most students in the doctoral program receive three to four years of funding that includes a full tuition waiver and stipend.

Those who receive funding typically work as teaching or research assistants, which enables them to gain valuable, college-level teaching experience and to further develop their quantitative and qualitative research skills.

Rockefeller College also provides financial support to PhD students attending academic conferences.

Field of Study
American Politics

American politics coursework falls into three broad areas:

  • National Institutions: U.S. Congress, the presidency, and American political parties
  • Sub-National Governance: federalism, state politics, urban politics, and community politics
  • Mass Behavior: electoral politics, political behavior, women and politics, and race and politics

Faculty members in American politics are methodologically diverse with expertise in survey research, elite interviews, interpretive discourse analysis, and historical archival research.

Comparative Politics

Study the similarities and differences of state politics by analyzing patterns and processes of state formation, nationalism, economic development, political mobilization, conflict and violence, etc.

In this area, departmental faculty are especially strong in the fields of political mobilization and violence, nationalism, collective identity, political regimes, civil society, and the politics of Asia and the post-communist world.

Explore and develop theories of political behavior using research methods from large-N statistical techniques to small-N qualitative and interpretive approaches.

International Relations

In this field, you delve into the political interactions between individuals, groups, states, and institutions around the world. Coursework covers topics in global governance, global security, and international political economy.

You are able to engage in research conducted by the Center for Policy Research.

Faculty areas of interest:

  • Causes and consequences of transnational cooperation and conflict
  • State formulation and pursuit of national interests via foreign policies
  • Social context of multinational events and global affairs
  • Political evaluation of international policy making
Political Theory

Courses in this field cover the history of political thought; critical, democratic, feminist, and interpretive theories; American political thought; and related topics in social sciences and political philosophy.

Faculty areas of interest:

  • Problems of citizenship in democratic theory
  • The effect of political realities on the meaning of political theory
  • Critical theory and American political thought
  • Democratic enlightenment in mass culture
Public Law

Investigate the ways that public law serves as a site for political contestation, execution of power, and institutional development and destruction.

Faculty areas of interest:

  • Strategic approaches to legal politics
  • Decision-making processes of jurists
  • Social and cultural forces in public law
  • Social control and resistance to state power
  • Political consciousness of activists, lawmakers, and the general public
  • Institutional implications of the law in legal history

Research methods in this area include: interpretive discourse analysis; political ethnography; historical analysis; process tracing; legal archaeology; case studies; and regression analysis and other quantitative techniques using large datasets, content analysis, formal modeling, and experimentation.

Public Policy

Faculty and students in this field examine concrete cases of public policy in American and comparative contexts to  consider  broad political questions about how government operates and how politics affect the everyday lives of citizens.

Many faculty in this area are affiliated with the Rockefeller Institute of Government, and work with public administration and policy scholars, as well as faculty in UAlbany’s School of Education and School of Public Health.

Career Paths in Political Science

Achieving the terminal degree in political science qualifies you to apply for tenure-track jobs in academia or to pursue careers in the public or private sectors.

Your doctoral degree in political science can lead to positions with titles such as:

  • University Faculty 
  • Research Director
  • Legislative Writer
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Campaign Consultant
  • Teaching Professor

Departmental faculty and the College’s Office of Career Development provide you with career services and support as you prepare to enter the job market



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Admissions Requirements


Fall (For funding consideration): January 15
Fall: July 1*
Spring: Not Available
Summer: Not Available

*Students not applying for departmental assistance will be reviewed on a space available basis only. Review is not guaranteed and the department can close admissions when there is no longer space in the program.

Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE or LSAT scores
  • Resume
  • Statement of goals
    The statement is generally one to two pages discussing what you have to offer the program and what you wish to get out of the program.  It should include a brief description of the applicant's field of interest, related background, desired area of study and research emphasis or career goals.
  • Writing sample
Special Notes

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 applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.   

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Understands and can critically evaluate the scholarly literature of political science in general and his/her chosen field of specialization in particular.
  • Attains expertise in a chosen subfield of political science.
  • Attains expertise in a subfield of political science other than the chosen field of specialization.
  • Is trained in and understands a variety of methods of political science.
  • Is able to engage in independent research in the field of political science.
  • Acquires the skills necessary to become a teacher of political science as well as a researcher.
  • Understands how to function effectively in the profession of political science.