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Research Support

We place a strong emphasis on supporting graduate student research, and our selective program means students have ample access to work closely with faculty.  Graduate students have recently published work in outlets such as the Journal of Conflict ResolutionInternational Studies QuarterlyComparative Political StudiesPolitical Research QuarterlyConflict Management and Peace ScienceGovernancePresidential Studies QuarterlyPolitics, Groups and IdentitiesCongress and the PresidencySocial Science QuarterlyMichigan State Law Review; and Elon Law Review.  Not only are these publications often co-authored with faculty, but our recently established investment plan provides incentives to promote further collaboration. A number of other resources also offer opportunity for students to build their research programs; please consult the Graduate School website for a more general overview of many of the topics covered below:


Applied Statistics Laboratory

Advice on most statistical questions can be handled in the Department, but for many out of the ordinary problems, the Applied Statistics Lab (ASL) is a free service run by the staff in the Dr. Bing Zhang Department of Statistics. ASL staff also offer software feestival workshops in R and SAS.

Computing Facilities

The Department and the University provide excellent computing facilities. The Department has a micro-computing lab of several PC’s connected to a network that is used by graduate students for word processing, statistical analysis and access to the Internet. In addition, the Computing Center at the University of Kentucky provides computing facilities for the faculty and students through a UNIX mainframe computer. Students can find low-cost or free access to just about any software package used in the social sciences.

Colloquium Series

The department hosts a weekly research colloquium during the academic year, giving students and faculty the opportunity to receive feedback on ongoing projects.  Graduate students are strongly encouraged to take part in order to ready their work for publication.  In the past, students have presented solo-authored and collaborative projects relating to their dissertations and other interests. To help prepare students on the job market, we also use this time to simulate on campus interviews.

Graduate Financial Aid Awards

Graduate student stipends are highly competitive and include full tuition and health care. The duties of Teaching Assistants (TAs) may include full classroom responsibilities, instructional assistance in a laboratory or discussion session, or other related activities. From time to time graduate students will be offered research assistantships from faculty in the Department or other academic units at the University (please see Graduate Admissions for a description of the application process). Research Assistants (RAs) receive valuable hands-on experience in areas such as data collection, survey design, and database management. Assistantships require that recipients perform service duties (e.g., assisting a faculty member with teaching, conducting discussion sections, or teaching an entire undergraduate course) for an average of eighteen hours per week.

Students who continue to do well in the program normally receive at least four years of funding. Funding covers the academic year from August through May. Students submit a new application for financial assistance each year.  In some circumstances, a student may receive funding beyond the fourth year. These appointments are made based upon the following criteria: 1) the teaching and other program needs of the Department, 2) faculty evaluation of the student’s prior instructional performance, and 3) evidence that the student is making strong progress towards completing the dissertation. This could include completed chapters of the dissertation, data collection and/or analysis, or other evidence that the dissertation will be finished in a timely manner.

Other forms of financial aid, such as grants to support dissertation research travel, and so forth, are available to students who have been enrolled in the program for at least a year.  These competitive awards offer summer support, travel support, and recognize outstanding students across our subfields.  See here for more information.  We also strongly encourage students to make themselves aware of opportunities provided by the Graduate School.

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research

The University of Kentucky is a member institution of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. As a member institution any faculty member or student may request data from the data archives located at the Consortium headquarters at the University of Michigan. The data available include most major election studies conducted by the Survey Research Center at Michigan, the General Social Survey, U.S. Census data, legislative roll call data (need to include international data sets here). Individuals are also encouraged to search for data for associated studies at the Harvard Dataverse website.

Peace Studies

The Peace Studies program benefits students by enhancing their understanding of personal, social, political, cultural and economic issues that reduce or promote prospects for peace.  While the program is geared towards undergraduates, it also benefits out graduate students by bringing in leading IR scholars for talks and mentoring opportunities.  In recent years, these visitors have includedSongying Fang (Rice), Andy Kydd (Wisconsin), Cyanne Loyle (Indiana), Amanda Murdie (Georgia), and Scott Wolford (Texas), among others.  Additionally, graduate students may have the opportunity to build their teaching portfolio by teaching classes in the Peace Studies sequence.

UK Libraries

The University of Kentucky Libraries contain over 2.6 million volumes, over 5.7 microfilm units, over 26,000 periodicals and serials, and over 23,000 maps. The social sciences, humanities, and life sciences collections at UK are housed at the William T. Young Library, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 1998. Young Library has seating for 4000 patrons and hundreds of computers are available for use. Study carrels are available for graduate students working on their dissertations. Special collections of interest to students of political science include papers of Chief Justice Fred. M. Vinson, Alben W. Barkley, and Thruston B. Morton. The library has an extensive collection of newspapers and public documents, and access to all major social science information retrieval systems. UK has been a depository for federal government publications since 1907. Through the library's website, students have access to an unlimited number of online journal publications. 

Other External Funding

Our students have won external funding to attend conferences and workshops such as Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models (EITM), New Directions in Analyzing Text as Data, and the Text Analysis Workshop at Digital Humanities conference. Most recently, PhD candidate Gregory Saxton received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant to support fieldwork and an original survey in Mexico and Argentina. We actively encourage and support students applying for external funding.


Other Support Resources

Teaching Support

Graduate students have ample opportunity to develop their teaching acumen in our department.  They often begin by serving as teaching assistants under the guidance of a professor before having the opportunity to teach their own courses.  Students will develop a breadth of teaching experience across the major subfields.  Our students have won numerous teaching awards, recently including the Provost Teaching Award, which is awarded to only a handful of the University’s TAs each year.  Additionally, the Center for the Enhancement of Learning & Teaching (CELT) offers resources and ongoing events to help prepare students to be excellent teachers.

External Speakers

To enrich the intellectual life of our department, we regularly bring in leading scholars to present their research and meet with students.  We leverage multiple resources including QIPSR and Peace Studies to make this happen. Since 2017, some of the scholars we have brought in include: Brandon Bartels (George Washington), Carew Boulding (Colorado), Amber Boydstun (UC-Davis), Steven Brooke (Louisville), Songying Fang (Rice), Matt Gabel (WashU), Jeff Gill (American), Marc Hetherington (UNC), Andy Kydd (Wisconsin), Cyanne Loyle (Indiana), Jennifer Merolla (UC-Riverside), Amanda Murdie (Georgia), John Patty (Emory), Brandon Prins (Tennessee), Maya Sen (Harvard), John Sides (George Washington), and Scott Wolford (Texas).

Political Science Graduate Student Association

The Political Science Graduate Student Advisory Committee (PSGSA) is an organization encompassing all graduate students in political science for exchanging views on matters of mutual interest and formulating positions on departmental policy. GSAC representatives participate in many areas of departmental decision-making. Two students are active, voting members in departmental meetings. One representative serves on the Graduate Program Committee. Additionally, individual students frequently serve on faculty search committees.

Women in Political Science (WIPS)

WIPS is an informal association that provides women graduate students with information, support, mentorship, and advocacy. Graduate students get the opportunity to connect with women political scientists within the department and across the campus. Women graduate students also have substantial opportunity to engage with visiting scholars. The WIPS initiative represents one aspect of the department's commitment to addressing issues related to gender diversity.


The University provides excellent, convenient, and relatively inexpensive residence-hall rooms and apartments. There are several on-campus apartment complexes available to both married and unmarried male and female graduate students, twelve months of the year. Off campus there are a large number of privately-owned apartments and houses for rent. Further information is available from the Apartment Housing Office, 700 Woodland Avenue, Lexington, KY 40508-3400, tel. (859) 257-3721. Additional information is available at their web site.

Life in Lexington

Lexington is consistently recognized as one of the best places to live in the U.S. The “Horse Capital of the World” is in the heart of the Bluegrass region and Bourbon Trail, with a growing population and a diverse array of restaurants, cultural attractions, and basketball.  The city is very livable and lends itself nicely to graduate student life. Click here for more information.