Political Science, PhD

The PhD program in Political Science at Arizona State University provides exceptional mentorship as part of a close-knit academic community. Our small doctoral program provides students with regular opportunities to work directly with our faculty. Students receive the best of both worlds: they have access to all the resources that come with being at the largest university in the US, while having the one-on-one attention that only a small program can offer.  

Students benefit not only from the personalized attention of our faculty – which often results in co-authored publications – but also from access to our innovative experimental lab. Students can conduct their own experiments in the SPGS experimental lab, allowing them an opportunity to undertake cutting-edge research at no cost. Further, SPGS provides students with access to professional development opportunities; we invest in our doctoral students by providing funding to allow them to present their work at academic conferences or partake in research training programs.

Our diverse and distinguished faculty have a demonstrated commitment to excellence in both their research and their teaching. We have strengths in nationalism and ethno-religious dynamics, conflict and human rights, Latino politics, women and politics, political economy, and political psychology.

1.5:1 student faculty ratio
1 Experimental Laboratory
9 students per class on average

Degree Overview

The PhD offers students rigorous academic training. The program provides a strong foundation in research methods and substantive content, and allow our students to craft a program of study that meets their individual interests.. The student to faculty ratio is one of the best in the nation and provides exceptional opportunities for research collaboration.

Fields of Study

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 is distinguished by a wide variety of areas of specialization, including:

  • American politics
  • comparative politics
  • international relations
  • political theory

How to apply

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

All applicants must submit the following on the graduate admissions page:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. 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

*ASU accepts unofficial transcripts when submitted with the online Graduate Admissions application. This is the only way unofficial transcripts will be accepted. Emailed transcripts are not acceptable. Please note that only one transcript document can be uploaded to the application, so applicants should combine multiple transcripts into one PDF document before uploading. If you are admitted to ASU, you will be required to send official transcripts to Graduate Admissions. See our FAQ page for further information and address to send official transcripts.

"There’s this nice energy amongst the campus itself at ASU and in the department that people are excited about research and developing new programs. There’s just a lot going on at ASU."

- Shaio Zerba, graduate student


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:

Requirements and electives


Core courses


Electives and research

69 (39 if previous MA applied to program)

Culminating experience


Total hours required


 For additional application information please see the Student Handbook


Courses and electives

Students are generally expected to complete their substantive coursework during the first two years of the program. Following the first two years, students will enroll in a variety of credits including research, independent study, reading and conference, and dissertation hours. In the first semester, doctoral students should enroll in POS 598, a one - credit workshop facilitated by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

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 electives in American Politics

If you field is Comparative Politics:

POS 603 - Polimetrics I

POS 604 - Polimetrics II

POS 550 - Comparative Politics

Three electives in Comparative Politics

If your field is International Relations:

POS 560 - International Relations

POS 603 - Polimetrics I

POS 604 – Polimetrics II or approved Methods course

Three electives in International Relations

POS 799 – Dissertation