The program begins with a broad introduction to the substantive issues and methodological approaches across political science. The curriculum is structured to allow student to increasingly tailor their coursework and other learning opportunities such as collaborative research projects to complement their interests, and culminates with independent research.
The first-year program is designed to (re)introduce students to the main subfields of political science and to train them in the methods necessary for consuming and ultimately producing scholarship in the discipline. Students are therefore required to take at least three of the core seminars in the traditional subfields (American Politics, Comparative Politics, international Relations, and Political Theory) and a sequence of methods courses (Introductory Research Methods, and Intermediate Research Methods I and II). In addition to these required substantive and methodological courses, students take more advanced seminars in areas of their interest.
In the second year, students focus their coursework on their major fields and on the remaining required methodological coursework they may not have completed in their first year (Advanced Research Methods and Introductory Game Theory; or, in the case of first-field political theorists, a year of foreign language). Students produce a plan of study in which they designate two fields of study, chosen from among four options: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Theory. At the end of the second year students should be familiar enough with the literature of their chosen fields to pass a comprehensive examination in their stated fields.
Students begin the third year with comprehensive examinations in their first and second fields. During the year, students complete all their required coursework and take a required one-quarter research design seminar in which they undertake a major independent research project, culminating in a paper suitable for submission for publication. This paper may be directly tied to a student's qualifying examination.
After successfully writing and defending a dissertation prospectus, students devote the majority of their time to independent research centering on their doctoral thesis. In addition, students at an advanced stage are given opportunities to do independent teaching.