Advance Degree Requirements

The Graduate Program at UK is designed primarily for PhD students. Generally the teaching assistantships are offered to applicants who are seeking full-time admission for the Ph.D. degree as their highest degree. Applicants seeking the M.S. degree as their highest degree, if offered admission, are usually offered “admission only”. The MA Degree may be earned under either one of the following two plans:

Plan A (MA with a thesis) requires at least 24 hours of coursework with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, satisfaction of either a language facility in one language or demonstration of analytical skills, and the writing of a thesis. At least two-thirds of the coursework must be in political science, and outside courses must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. At least one-half of the required hours must be in 600 or 700 level courses. The student’s thesis adviser will oversee work on the thesis, and the thesis must be defended before a three member committee, composed of the thesis adviser and two other faculty members.

Plan B (MA without a thesis) requires at least 30 hours of coursework with a standing of a 3.0 or higher, satisfaction of the language or alternative skill requirement, and the passing of an examination. At least two-thirds of the coursework must be in political science courses, and at least one-half of the required hours must be earned in 600 or 700 level courses. The student must have an examining committee consisting of at least three faculty members, and this committee will supervise an examination in two fields. Both of these fields may be in political science. However, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student may choose one field outside of political science.

All students pursuing the MA degree must take PS 671 (Strategies of Inquiry).

The Ph.D. Degree

Students may be admitted directly to the Ph.D. program; it is not necessary to pursue the MA degree first.

The Ph.D. program is divided into a general phase and a specialized phase.

General Phase

The purposes of the general phase are (1) to familiarize students with a specific approach to inquiry and research, and expose them to other important approaches that have been taken to the study of political science; (2) to introduce students to some of the techniques of political science research, particularly quantitative techniques; and (3) to familiarize students with conceptual approaches, substantive information, and research techniques in as many of the major fields of political science as possible, while helping to develop critical skills in the study of such fields.

During the general phase, the student is required to take PS 572, an introduction to statistics in political science, PS 671, which deals with strategies of inquiry in political science, and PS 672, which focuses on techniques and methods used in carrying out political science research and analyzing data.

The student must complete at least three substantive pro-seminars.  One pro-seminar must be either American Political Institutions (PS680) or American Political Behavior (PS681), and one pro-seminar must be either Comparative Politics (PS620) or International Relations (PS674).

Students who have previously taken comparable graduate work at another institution may be exempted from some of the general phase requirements. The general phase is largely completed during the first year.

 At the end of their first year of residence, all graduate students must be reviewed by the graduate program committee with invited participation by all faculty who have taught graduate students during the academic year.  All graduate students are required to submit a writing sample to the DGS by the end of their first year of enrollment for subsequent evaluation. One of three actions  must be taken for each student being evaluated:

   1.  Conclude that the student has completed satisfactorily their first year in the program and recommend the student for continuance as a PhD candidate;

   2.  Conclude that while there have been positive aspects to the student's performance, serious doubts remain over the student's ability to complete the PhD program.  In this case, the student will be afforded the opportunity to complete an M.A. degree.  The Graduate Program Committee will consider the student's re-application to the PhD program upon completion of the MA degree;

   3.  Conclude that the student's work is clearly unsatisfactory in which case the student is dismissed from the PhD program.  Any student who receives two or more "C's" in their first 18 hours of study will be dropped from the Ph.D. program.

Specialized Phase

The purposes of the specialized phase of the Ph.D. program are to provide the student with (1) in-depth familiarity with his or her major and minor fields of specialization, (2) experience and training in research through research papers and Independent reading courses, and (3) sufficient preparation and oversight of the doctoral dissertation.

During the third semester of graduate work, the student must find an adviser (committee chair) and an "advisory committee," which shall include the adviser, two additional members of the Department of Political Science, and one individual from outside the department. The adviser and committee help the student prepare a program of study for the specialized phase. A program is a coherent and specially designed course of study drawing upon materials from the major and minor fields. It should have a theoretical focus, should provide for the courses in methods and techniques that will adequately prepare the student for his research, and should lead directly to the preparation of a dissertation. The program should be defined in terms of two of the departmentally recognized fields or sub-fields of political science. The student should also define those fields in which he or she is prepared to teach or to do research.

During this specialized phase, the student will devote her or his time primarily to 700 level courses, which are seminars placing emphasis on research. In addition, all students must complete PS 796 during the specialized phase. PS796 is a Dissertation Prospectus independent study with the student’s adviser.  For students entering the program in Fall 2009 and after, the Dissertation Prospectus must be completed and defended prior to the qualifying exam.

Qualifying examination

Student requires at least 36 hours of coursework with a standing of a 3.0 or higher to sit for the qualifying exam or to graduate. For student entering the program prior to Fall 2009, the Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of two written exams completed at scheduled times during a five day period. The major field examination will be a one-day, eight-hour exam. The minor field examination will be a four-hour exam.
For students entering the program in the Fall of 2009 and after, the Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of two written take-home exams completed during a 2 week period. 

The written exams are to cover material in the major and minor fields which the advisory committee has approved as a program of study. There must be one written question on the comprehensive exam that is related to the dissertation prospectus. Following the written exam portion of the qualifying exam is an oral examination of the two substantive fields. Both portions of the exam must be passed, generally in the fifth or sixth semester of graduate study.

After the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams

For students entering the Ph.D. program prior to Fall 2009, after the Ph.D. qualifying exams, the student must also prepare a written prospectus for his or her dissertation, and be examined orally on it by the advisory committee. The prospectus should include a review of the relevant literature and a statement of the dissertation proposal, its theoretical importance, and the contemplated research design, methods and procedures. The prospectus is a test of the students writing ability, creativity, grasp of the literature, and methodological sophistication. It should be completed during the sixth semester for a student starting with a B.A. degree, and be scheduled within 60 days of the qualifying exams for all students.

The student then begins work on a dissertation. The dissertation is expected to be a work of original scholarship which adds to the store of knowledge and demonstrates maturity in research. It is written under the direction of the chair of the advisory committee. Final examination on the dissertation will be conducted by a committee appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. Such a committee normally includes the members of the student’s advisory committee, as well as an outside person appointed by the Graduate School.

The Political Science Department requires all Ph.D. students to prove competence in one analytical skill. The advisory committee will determine which mode of meeting the requirement will enhance the student’s overall program and objectives. The two possibilities include: 1) additional graduate work in Statistics, Computer Science, Mathematics, or methodology within the Political Science Department; or 2) completion of the equivalent of the third year (6 semesters) of a foreign language relevant to the student’s research and teaching interests.  Unless a student has taken and passed PS772, fulfillment of the skills requirement will require a letter from the chair of the student's advisory committee justifying the relevance of the skill and approval of the DGS.

In recent years, some students have satisfied the research skills requirement by attendance at summer institutes of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan (ICPSR).

In addition, each Ph.D. student who receives financial aid must engage in undergraduate teaching during his/ her career. The teaching experience is an integral part of the doctoral program.



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