Academic Catalog

Political Science (Ph.D.)

The Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science at Wayne State prepares students with a strong intellectual interest in political science for careers in academia, government, non-profit organizations and private-sector research firms. The Ph.D. degree in political science indicates not only the achievement of superior knowledge of the major theoretical approaches, research findings, and debates in the discipline but also the ability to initiate, design and carry out independent research.

Our Ph.D. program attracts a diverse student body, including many mid-career professionals, and accommodates both full and part-time study. Most students finish within 5 to 6 years.  We offer fellowships and teaching assistantships to full-time students on a competitive basis.  Part-time students are encouraged to apply for tuition scholarships). Research assistantships may also be available with individual faculty members.

Admissions Requirements

Admission to this program is contingent upon admission to the Graduate School.

The doctoral program in political science accepts applications for admission to start in Fall or Winter terms. Applicants wishing to be considered for fellowships and scholarships must apply for Fall admission and submit all application materials by January 15.

Required application materials include official copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended; a personal statement describing your preparation, research experience and interests and professional goals as they relate to the Ph.D. in political science; three letters of recommendation and Graduate Record Exam scores. There are additional university requirements for international applicants.

Program Requirements

A Ph.D. student is required to complete a minimum of ninety graduate credits, thirty of which are earned through the dissertation. 

Doctoral students in the political science program structure their course work in terms of a single major field and two minor fields. Major field concentrations may be elected in American government, comparative politics, political theory, public administration, public policy, urban politics, or world politics. Minor concentrations may be in the above seven fields.

Admission to candidacy for the doctor’s degree will usually require at least two years of full-time graduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree. It is granted upon fulfillment of the following requirements:

  1. Filing an approved Plan of Work with the Graduate School.
  2. Completion of at least 50 credit hours of coursework, including residence, methods and field requirements.
  3. Completion of a preliminary oral examination after the second year of course work;
  4. Completion of the written qualifying exams.
  5. Identifying a dissertation advisor and naming a dissertation committee.

Approval of Dissertation Prospectus: The candidate is required to prepare and defend a dissertation prospectus following the qualifying exams. The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation advisory committee before the candidate begins work on the dissertation.

Dissertation: The thirty credit dissertation registration requirement is fulfilled by registering for the courses PS 9991PS 9992, PS 9993, and PS 9994 (Doctoral Dissertation Research and Direction I, II, III, and IV, respectively), in consecutive academic year semesters.

Submission of Dissertation: To complete the requirements for the degree the candidate is required to submit an approved doctoral dissertation on a topic satisfactory to their Dissertation Committee, designed to demonstrate proficiency in political science analysis, a capacity for independent and creative research, and the ability to perfect and follow through on an appropriate research or evaluation design.

Academic Scholarship: All course work must be completed in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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