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Political Science Doctoral Degrees

The Political Science Department at the University of Utah seeks graduate students who are both motivated and able to succeed in political science study and research. Students with substantial preparation in political science or another social science are most likely to meet this standard, although the department has admitted applicants from other disciplines who can demonstrate, through relevant interests and experience, the abilities necessary for advanced work in political science. The fit between applicants' interests and the research expertise of our faculty is also an important consideration during the admissions process. Although there are no specific course prerequisites for our graduate program, applicants must have completed at least a bachelor's degree.

The department offers a variety of courses that effectively introduce students to major research issues, plus others that encourage advanced research. Graduate degrees promote career advancement for certain types of jobs and are the prerequisite for faculty appointments at the college and university levels. Students take classes (seminars) in different subfields of the discipline: International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, Public Administration or Political Theory.

For complete information concerning the Doctoral Degree Program, consult the PhD Handbook. To see a list of faculty members and research interests, click here.

General Information

Satisfactory completion of departmental core courses, major field course requirements, and minor field course requirements. The departmental core courses are: POLS 6003, Approaches to the Study of Politics, POLS 6001, Quantitative Analysis, POLS 6004, Qualitative and Interpretive Methods, and POLS 7004, Research Design. Students must complete the courses designated by their major and minor fields of study. Students who have completed a master's degree in political science at the University of Utah may use the courses taken as part of their master's course work to satisfy these requirements provided that no more than three years has elapsed between the completion of the master's degree and start of the PhD program. Students who complete a master's degree in political science at the University of Utah must complete a minimum of 18 hours of graduate courses beyond the master's degree.

Students must complete all required political science course work with at least a B average (3.0). At least one year (two consecutive semesters) of study must be spend in full-time (at least nine hours per semester) academic work at the University of Utah.

Students must form a supervisory committee of five faculty. The chair of the supervisory committee and at least one other member of the committee represent the student's major field of study within political science, at least one member of the committee represents the student's minor area of study, and at least one member of the supervisory committee must be from outside the department of political science.

The supervisory committee approves the student's course of study and determines the extent of language and research method proficiency required.

Students must pass comprehensive examinations in their major and minor fields of study after the completion of their course work. Students must complete a minimum of nine political science graduate courses (27 semester hours) at the University of Utah prior to taking the comprehensive examinations. A comprehensive examination consists of both written and oral examinations and students must pass the written examinations in both their major and minor fields before proceeding to the oral examinations conducted by the supervisory committee. Students are required to complete their comprehensive exams in one semester.

Students must successfully defend a written dissertation proposal in an oral exam conducted by their supervisory committee within two regular semesters (one calendar year) of having passed their comprehensive examinations. Students must successfully defend their completed written dissertation in public defense conducted by their supervisory committee within six regular semesters (three calendar years) of completing their comprehensive examinations (an extension of up to two regular semester can be granted by the supervisory committee). Students must register for a minimum of 14 semester hours of dissertation credit.

Doctoral Program Requirements

  • Select five faculty members for a supervisory committee by the end of the second semester of graduate work, including at least one member from outside the department of political science.
  • Each faculty member should indicate his or her willingness to serve on the committee by signing the Graduate Supervisory Committee Form (you will need one copy of the departmental form for each member of the committee). Also, each member of the committee should initial the Graduate School's Request for Supervisory Committee Form.
  • Meet with supervisory committee to complete tentative course schedule.
  • Complete course work.
  • File Petition to Take Comprehensive Exams Form one semester prior to taking comprehensive exams. The day you begin your comprehensive examination, you will also be required to read and sign the Comprehensive Examination Agreement Form.
  • Schedule your oral defense of the written examinations. Obtain the Report of the Qualifying Examination for the PhD, or M.Phil Degree and Recommendation for Admission to Candidacy, which will be completed at the conclusion of oral defense. If required, file "Language Verification" form with the Department of Languages and Literature. Check with supervisory committee to verify if it is required.
  • Prepare dissertation proposal and obtain supervisory committee approval.
  • File the Program of Study Form two months preceding semester of graduation.
  • Submit completed dissertation to all members of the supervisory committee members and schedule the final oral examination. Obtain the Report of the Final Oral Examination Form for completion at the conclusion of the final oral examination (dissertation defense).
  • Revise dissertation as required by supervisory committee.
  • Meet with supervisory committee to complete Supervisory Committee Approval Form and the Final Reading Approval Form. These forms must be obtained from Graduate Coordinator.
Last Updated: 10/31/16