Plan of Study & Coursework
The PhD program in political science is designed to allow students to graduate in 4 years of full time work. The amount of time it actually takes to finish will depend on (1) whether you go full-time or part-time; (2) how long it takes to finish course work, pass comps, and research and write the dissertation; (3) unforeseen events in your research and personal life. In order to finish in a suitable amount of time, you should begin thinking about your overall program from the start.
Plan of Study
The plan of study must be filled out in consultation with the convenors in your major and minor fields and approved by the director of graduate studies (DGS) by the end of your first year. The plan of study helps you see what classes you need to take to fulfill various program requirements, set target dates for taking comps, and prepare for your dissertation research. Plan of study forms must be completed by the student and approved by the graduate advisor. The form should be submitted electronically to the DGS.
Note: You will not be able to register for your third semester until the plan is approved. Fellowship students will not have their fellowship renewed until this is done.
» Plan of Study for Masters Candidates
» Worksheet for Doctoral Candidates' Plan of Study
» Plan of Study for Doctoral Candidates (now available online)
Students should plan to take 12-15 classes (36-45 credits) before comps. If you are a full-time student, you should plan on taking two years of full-time coursework and possibly a fifth semester of classes before taking comps. The exact number of classes will depend on specific program requirements and previous coursework. If you have previously taken grad classes, they may be used to fulfill some of our subfield requirements if approved by the convenor of that subfield. This will be determined during the preparation of the plan of study.
Students should be aware that in a graduate course, it is rare for a professor to use the full range of the grading spectrum. A student who is doing well in the program will usually earn As and A minuses. A student whose grade point average falls below a B (3.0) will be placed on academic probation and is prohibited from graduating.
During the coursework phase, students should begin identifying potential dissertation topics and discuss with plans with potential chairs and committee members. You should not wait until after comps to begin thinking about your dissertation research topic.