PhD Political Science

Admission Requirements

An MA in Political Science, with at least a B+ average, from a recognized university; evidence of a strong academic record with particular emphasis on the ability to do independent research (the written work submitted with the application is extremely important in this regard).

Degree Requirements

The PhD program generally requires at least four years of full-time study, with considerable variation depending on the nature of the candidate's dissertation research.  Faculty regulations require the completion of all requirements no later than six years after the first enrolling in the program.

The stages of a PhD career can be summarized as follows:

  1. Coursework over one year;
  2. Qualifying Examinations, normally at the end of the first year;
  3. The Dissertation Proposal Workshop, which should be completed by the Fall term of the third year;
  4. The Dissertation, which from the initial proposal to the final defence takes anywhere from a year and a half to three and a half years.


Usually involves four full courses or their equivalent, with two courses taken each year. Students with specialized interests or deficiencies in their Political Science background may be required to take additional coursework to ensure an adequate grounding. In both the first and second years, students will normally take two courses. At least one-half course must be in a field other than their major or minor (although this requirement may be met by other coursework taken at the MA level). Students will have to take both core courses in the first year.

Qualifying Examinations

Must be passed before the candidate can proceed to the dissertation stage.  The examinations have a sit-down format, with questions released 24 hours beforehand.  In some cases, the written examination will be followed by an oral session.

The Dissertation Proposal Workshop

Must be completed by no later than the seventh term in the PhD program (normally the Fall Term of their third year). The proposal workshop consists of 3 three-hour sessions offered on a monthly basis during the Fall term of the academic year (with dates set for late September, October and November). Students will receive a passing grade by attending all three sessions, including preparation, circulation and presentation of a draft of the proposal by the third session.

The Dissertation

From its earliest stages, is prepared in close consultation with the candidate's supervisory committee.  The dissertation proposal must be submitted to the committee who will meet as a body with the student to discuss the project.  Once the proposal is approved, further reports on the progress of the dissertation will be required.  When an approved final draft is completed, a dissertation defence will be held.

Note: Core courses are PhD level seminars designed to familiarize candidates with the major conceptual, methodological, and practical problems for political science within each field of the discipline.  They are meant to help students prepare for their Qualifying Examinations.

Please visit How to Apply for detailed instructions on applying to the program.