Political Science, PHD

At a Glance: program details

Gain a strong foundation in research methods and substantive content for advanced postgraduate study of political science. The very low student-to-faculty ratio provides exceptional opportunities for research collaboration and guidance throughout the program.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Political Science

The PhD program in political science is intended to develop scholars who demonstrate a high level of excellence in teaching and research as professional political scientists. It offers a variety of areas of specialization within and between the four main subfields of political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations and political theory. Students interested in a political theory specialization should consult with the academic unit prior to application.

Program faculty have particular strengths in Latino and Latina politics, women and politics, ethnoreligious dynamics, political violence, human rights, political psychology and political economy.

The school is host to the Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research, the Future Security Initiative and an experimental lab. Faculty are also affiliated with other centers at ASU, such as the Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab; the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict; the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies; as well as the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. Many faculty members are active in collaborative interdisciplinary research at ASU and with scholars at other universities, and they have won major grants and awards, as have the school's doctoral students.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Required Core (3 credit hours)
POS 503 Empirical Political Inquiry (3)

Electives and Research (69 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
POS 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
A maximum of 12 credit hours of approved coursework outside the department but within ASU may count toward the required 84 credit hours.

Coursework beyond the 12-credit-hour maximum may be taken outside the department with permission of both the director of Graduate Studies and the faculty advisor.

When approved by the student's supervisory committee and the Graduate College, this program allows 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for this degree. If students do not have a previously awarded master's degree, the 30 hours of coursework is made up of electives and research to reach the required 84 credit hours.

Also required is a formal oral defense of the dissertation and a written comprehensive examination in the major field.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement
  4. writing sample
  5. GRE scores
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. list of political science courses taken
  8. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

ASU does not accept the GRE® General Test at home edition.

To assist in evaluating all candidates, the applicant should list titles and related information for all previous undergraduate and graduate courses or coursework in political science or related fields. The file must be saved in a .pdf, .doc, .rtf or .txt format and uploaded with the online graduate admission application. The information should be in a table with the following column headings: Course Title, Undergrad Credit Hours, Graduate Credit Hours, Grade, Institution, Year.

Undergraduate coursework in political science is not a prerequisite for admission. However, applicants to the doctoral program should have a basic understanding of elementary statistics and the undergraduate content of the political science fields of specialization that they wish to study. Students without this background should allow sufficient time to acquire it.

The personal statement (one to three pages) should describe the areas of political science the applicant wishes to study, post-graduation goals, and why the School of Politics and Global Studies is the best fit for the applicant. Applicants may also mention any particular faculty members with whom they are interested in working and why, as well as provide context for any discrepancies in their educational background.

The writing sample is typically a previously written research or other similar paper that best demonstrates the applicants critical thinking and writing skills in political science or a related field. There is not a length requirement for the writing sample, but it should be of sufficient level to allow the admissions committee to evaluate the applicant's knowledge and skills.


Students are expected to take courses for the first four semesters that will prepare them for comprehensive exams by the beginning of their fifth semester.  Each subfield has required methods courses, research courses, and core seminars for major and minor fields and these must be included on the IPOS. The faculty advisor and the student will set timelines for course completion and exams, bearing in mind the goal of being prepared to take comprehensive exams by the beginning of the fifth semester at ASU. 

A minimum of 84 hours is required.

POS 503 - Empirical Political Inquiry

Research methods and techniques of the discipline, emphasizing empirical foundations and analytic methods employed in subfields.

If your field is American Politics:

  • POS 603 - Polimetrics I
  • POS 604 - Polimetrics II
  • POS 530 - American Politics
  • Three elective courses in subfield

If you field is Comparative Politics:

  • POS 603 - Polimetrics I
  • POS 604 - Polimetrics II
  • POS 550 - Comparative Politics
  • Three elective courses in subfield

If your field is International Relations:

  • POS 560 - International Relations
  • POS 603 - Polimetrics I
  • POS 604 – Polimetrics II or approved Methods course
  • Three elective courses in subfield

POS 799 – Dissertation

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
January 2nd

Career Opportunities

Program graduates have a strong track record of obtaining positions in academic, public and private sectors. The program works closely with students so they have the opportunity and tools needed to achieve their career goals. The doctoral program provides advanced education for students preparing for teaching, research or applied careers in political science in government, nonprofits and the private sector.

Career examples include:

  • campaign consultant
  • campaign strategist
  • data analyst
  • lobbyist
  • research specialist
  • tenure-track or instructional faculty in political science

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.