PhD Program

The Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo makes every effort to insure that students in its Doctoral Program receive both breadth and depth of training that enables them to excel as teachers and researchers in the discipline. All students are required to take four Department Core Courses: Introduction to Political Inquiry (PSC 500), Basic Statistics for Social Science (PSC 508), plus two of the following: Intermediate Statistics for Social Science (PSC 531), Formal Theory (PSC 533), or any other advanced methods course approved by the Graduate Committee.

In addition, all students are required to take the Core Courses in three of the four fields: American politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Public Law. Students then proceed to more advanced study in their specialized fields. Students are permitted to take the comprehensive examinations only after they have satisfied these requirements and passed the requirement of a professional quality qualifying paper in one of their two major fields. The qualifying paper is evaluated by three faculty in the field. Once these requirements have been fulfilled, the candidate proceeds to the dissertation stage.

Finally, each successful
doctoral student must teach at least one course in our undergraduate curriculum with full responsibility for the course syllabus, classroom lectures, and the evaluation of student performance. The graduate student’s performance as an instructor is evaluated by at least one faculty member.

Four subject areas are regularly offered as major or minor fields in which the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations may be taken: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Public Law. Students may also arrange by special prior arrangement to take a minor field in Methods of Inquiry. Students interested in the Methods area as a minor field should consult with their advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies soon after entering the program.



l. Course Work Requirement. Students in the Ph.D. program must complete 72 credit hours, including at least 54 hours of substantive course credit and up to 18 hours of dissertation guidance. No more than 24 hours of transfer credit may be applied toward the doctoral degree. Six hours for teaching or research (PSC 599 or PSC 600) may be applied toward the doctorate, including 599 or 600 credits previously applied toward the Master’s degree. A maximum of 15 credit hours (5 courses) may be
taken outside the Department, subject to prior approval by the Director of Graduate Studies.

2. Teaching Requirement. All students in the Ph.D. program are required to teach an undergraduate course in a field in which they are qualified. This requirement applies whether or not the student is funded. Normally this requirement is fulfilled after the student has taken the comprehensive examinations, but exceptions can be made for qualified students based on student wishes and department teaching schedules.

In fulfilling the requirement, students will assume full responsibility, under faculty supervision, for all phases of the preparation, instruction, and grading of the course. Prior experience in college level teaching may be taken into account in satisfying this requirement.

It is now university policy that "professional faculty from each department should directly monitor and supervise all teaching and graduate teaching assistants." In order to comply with this policy, the D.G.S. will assign a faculty supervisor to each graduate instructor. It is the responsibility of the graduate instructor to meet with the faculty supervisor on a regular basis beginning the semester prior to the actual teaching of the course in order to discuss such matters as course content, syllabus, required readings, examinations and other appropriate assignments, grading policy, and other related matters. Textbooks should be ordered only after both graduate instructor and faculty supervisor agree on textbook selection. Likewise, a syllabus for the
course should be published only after both graduate instructor and faculty supervisor agree on its content.

To ensure that students are prepared to accept a teaching assignment in a timely fashion and can contribute to discussions in their graduate seminars, all international students from non-English speaking countries must pass the SPEAK Test no later than the end of their first year of study in our graduate program. Funded students who have not passed this requirement by May 15 of their first year of study will not have their funding renewed. Prior to passing the SPEAK test, all such students must enroll in appropriate courses of the English Language Institute as a condition of continuing registration in Political Science courses. Hence, all such students are urged to take the SPEAK Test soon after their arrival at the university. The SPEAK test is passed if the score is 55 or 60; if the score is 50, a student will be given a chance to demonstrate communication skills at a teaching demonstration before the representatives of the English as a Second Language Program and the department. If the Speak test score is below 45, it must be retaken. Prior to retaking the SPEAK test, all such students must enroll in appropriate courses of the English Language Institute (ESL 512 or ESL 411/412 depending on the SPEAK test score – see the Graduate School Policies and Procedures for details on p. 7) as a condition of continuing registration in Political Science courses during their first year of study. Students who have not passed the SPEAK Test prior to the beginning of their second
year of graduate study in the Department will not be allowed to register for Political Science courses until they pass the Test.

Students are required to enroll in the Summer Teaching Assistantship Workshop in the summer prior to fulfilling this
teaching requirement. Details are available in the Political Science Graduate Office.

3. Core Course Requirements. Doctoral students are required to take four Department Core Courses (PSC 500-Introduction to Political Inquiry, PSC 502-Graduate Research Methods, PSC 508-Basic Statistics for Social Science, and one chosen from PSC 531-Graduate Social Statistics, PSC 533-Formal Political Theory, or any other advanced methods course certified by the Graduate Committee) plus the Core Courses in three fields (PSC 503; PSC 504; PSC 505; PSC 561 & PSC 662).

4. Research Seminars. All Ph.D. students are required to complete two Research Seminars in each of which a research paper is produced.

5. Skill Requirement. The four Department Core Courses (see #3 above) will provide students with the basic skills required to conduct research in the discipline. In addition, the language and skill requirements may vary for each student in the Ph.D. program. The student’s dissertation committee is responsible for ensuring that the student possesses the skills necessary for the dissertation research and may require additional research skills (e.g., languages, advanced statistics).

6. Comprehensive Examinations. Comprehensive examinations are scheduled each semester. Candidates will be examined either on two major fields of specialization, or one major and two minor fields. The exams will test understanding of the major concepts, methodology and literature encompassed by the program, and will consist of written questions and an oral examination. The comprehensive examinations may be taken only after the student has completed the Department Core Course Requirement, fulfilled major/minor field requirements, and submitted one satisfactory qualifying paper.

7. Doctoral Dissertation Requirement. After passing the comprehensive examinations, a student will nominate a dissertation committee, subject to the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The committee will consist of a chairperson and at least two other faculty members from within the Department and one from outside. The dissertation proposal must be defended by the middle of the 5th month of the semester immediately following that in which the Comprehensive Exams are passed. Passage of the oral defense constitutes permission to proceed with the writing of the dissertation. Final approval of the dissertation rests with the dissertation committee, and involves both the approval of a reader drawn from the Graduate School Faculty outside the Department and an oral defense of the completed work.

8. Time Limit. According to Graduate School regulations, a maximum of seven years is permitted for completion of all Ph.D. requirements, unless an extension of time is requested and granted.

9. Residency Requirement. Doctoral candidates must complete two semesters of continuous full-time residence.