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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: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. As of Summer 2024, the Public Administration subfield is no longer available in our degree programs. The Public Administration program is under the new Division of Public Affairs

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

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 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.

Satisfactory completion of departmental core courses, major field course requirements, and minor field course requirements. The departmental core courses are:

  • (3) POLS 6003 - Approaches to the Study of Politics
  • (1) POLS 6960 - Statistical Analysis - must take as preparation for POLS 6001 
  • (3) POLS 6001 - Quantitative Analysis 
  • (3) An additional methods course - either POLS 6002, POLS 6004, or POLS 6005

Students must complete the courses designated by their major and minor fields of study. 

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.

Last Updated: 6/12/24