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Program Rules and Guidelines

These rules apply to all students entering the Ph.D. program after August 15, 2019. These rules supersede all other rules and are intended to be a complete list of all department-wide rules in force. These rules are in addition to the various rules set by the Graduate Division. Students should consult the General Catalog for the Graduate Division rules. These rules may be supplemented by the individual field requirements.

Coursework

  1. All students are required to take 18 courses in the first two years of the Ph.D. program prior to taking the comprehensive exam, with an overall grade point average of 3.3 or better.
    1. All students must complete the four-course core curriculum, Political Science 203A-B and 204A-B. No other UCSD courses may be substituted to fulfill this requirement.

    2. Fifteen of these eighteen courses must be offered by the department, with a number between Political Science 200 and 279, and students are expected to take these courses prior to taking the comprehensive exam.

      If extraordinary circumstances require it, this deadline can be extended to the end of the Winter Quarter of their third year in the Ph.D. program prior to prospectus defense. Students who would like to take their required political science courses after the end of the second year must be in good academic standing with respect to their substantive coursework. Approval depends on the signature of the second-year advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies and needs to be obtained before the end of the first week of the Fall quarter of their second year.

      Students who would like to extend the normal deadline are required to take at least 12 courses within the department in the first two years of the Ph.D. program prior to the comprehensive exam.

    3. No more than three courses, offered within or outside the department, may be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

    4. Students may not have more than 8 units of 'F' or 'U' grades.

    5. In some individual fields, the faculty normally recommends that students take more graded courses in political science than the minimum.
  2. Additional requirements, such as coursework or research skills including proficiency in a foreign language, may be set by the faculty in any examination area as a prerequisite for taking the General Examination in that area.

  3. A student who has completed work toward a graduate degree in political science at another institution prior to enrollment at UCSD is subject to all requirements of the UCSD program.
    The only exception is as follows:
    With permission of the Department's Director of Graduate Studies, a student that has received a graduate degree in political science at another institution may count up to four quarter-course equivalents (taken at other institutions) toward the department's eighteen-course requirement, including the core curriculum. Typically, we only allow credit for skills courses, such as statistics or game theory. The rest of our curriculum is highly specialized and not substitutable.

    Note: non-UCSD coursework cannot transfer towards the eighteen course “good progress” requirements at UCSD for students who intend to apply for the MA on the way.

  4. All registered students-in-residence must be enrolled in their field workshop of choice (POLI 280-289) and attend both integrated and field workshops regularly. This includes first-year through Nth-year students. Students who do not attend the workshops regularly will receive a grade of U for that quarter. For more information on field workshops, please refer to the Departmental Workshops section below.

  5. Good progress toward the Ph.D. requires that a student complete nine courses by the end of the first year. In addition to the six course core curriculum, students are advised to complete two or three field core courses during their first year. At the end of the second year good progress requires completion of eighteen courses, of which at least fifteen must be numbered between Political Science 200 and 279.

  6. A student who has not made good progress in coursework may receive no more than a 33% teaching or research assistantship from the Department for the following year. Students on a UCSD fellowship may receive no more than two-thirds of their stipend for the following year.

General Examination

General Examination

By the end of the second year, a student must stand for the general examination. The general examination consists of written examinations in each of two fields and an oral examination. The department offers examinations in five fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and methodology. It is expected that students complete their field requirements prior to sitting for the general examination.

By the first day of spring quarter of the second year, each student must submit to the graduate coordinator a general examination plan identifying the two fields within which exams will be taken.

The general examination will normally take place during the seventh week of spring quarter. Normally, each written examination will be taken on a separate day within a one-week period, and the oral examination will be given within two weeks of the completion of the written examinations.

Written Examinations

Written field examinations last six hours. These examinations cover major theoretical approaches in a field. They are structured so that passing requires general knowledge and understanding of important work in the field as a whole. Written examinations are open-note and open-book. Students are expected to do their own work, and to compose their answers on the day of the examination. Text from computer files may not be downloaded into these answers.

Oral Examinations

The oral examination normally lasts between one to two hours, and covers both written examinations and the student’s seminar paper. A student must take the oral examination, even if one or both of the written examinations or the seminar paper is such that it is deemed impossible to pass the entire examination.

Exam Grading

Each field has a designated field coordinator, appointed by the department chair in consultation with the director of graduate studies. The field coordinator, in consultation with the faculty in the field, prepares the written examinations.

Each general examination is graded by a committee of four faculty members, with two from each of the student's examination fields. These examiners are nominated by the field coordinator and appointed by the department chair. Students are normally informed of the composition of general examination boards during the fourth week of the spring quarter.

Each general examination is graded in its entirety. A student passes or fails the entire examination, not simply parts of it. The examination committee may assign a grade of fail, pass, or distinction. A student passes the general examination if at least three examiners vote to assign a grade of pass or better. A student receives a grade of distinction by vote of at least three examiners. The student will receive written notification of the examination committee's decision. A student who fails the general examination must retake it at least one week prior to the start of the fall quarter of the third year. A student who fails the general examination twice will not be permitted to continue in the graduate program in political science.

Good progress toward the PhD requires that a student complete the general examination by the end of the second year. A student who has not attempted all parts of the general examination by the end of the second year may not continue in the program.

Seminar Papers

A student must complete one seminar paper in one of his or her examination fields. This paper may be written as part of the requirements for a regularly scheduled seminar course or in an independent research course.

Guidelines for the Seminar Paper

  • Acceptable article length for most journals is eight thousand to ten thousand words and seminar papers should be a similar length.
  • The basic structure of the article should include:
    • An introduction framing the significance of the question, sketching the answer, and (where subfield appropriate) delineating the research design and empirical findings
    • A comprehensive yet succinct literature review placing the research in the context of prior work on the subject
    • A discussion of research design (where subfield appropriate)
    • Appropriate empirical analysis (where subfield appropriate)
    • A conclusion highlighting the contributions of the research and returning to general questions
    • Papers must be solo authored.

Examples of recent published articles written by UC San Diego graduate students will be available to students upon request.

Papers may draw from papers originally written for courses. However, it is generally the case that course papers will need substantial revision before becoming suitable seminar papers. Students may write papers in fields other than their first or second exam fields.  

Students must identify an adviser for the seminar paper. Seminar paper advisers may be the first-year adviser but are not required to be. Seminar paper advisers may go on to supervise dissertations but are not required to do so. Advisers must agree (certified in writing, to the graduate program coordinator) to serve this purpose by 4:00 p.m. on Friday of the eighth week of fall quarter. Penalties for failing to identify an adviser by this due date are at the discretion of the director of Graduate Studies. Students are advised to contact the director of Graduate Studies or their field chair if they are having difficulty identifying an adviser.  

Students must submit a rough draft of the seminar paper (in hard copy and electronic form) to the graduate program coordinator by 4:00 p.m. on Friday of the first full week of spring quarter. The graduate program coordinator is responsible for ensuring that a copy of the paper is provided to the seminar paper adviser. Students failing to submit a draft of the paper by this deadline will not be permitted to take the comprehensive exam in the spring quarter. Please note that this implies leaving the program.

Students should submit a penultimate draft of the paper to the seminar paper adviser one week prior to the final draft due date. Students must submit a final draft of the seminar paper (in hard copy and electronic form) to the graduate program coordinator by 4:00 p.m. on Monday of the week prior to the written exams. Students failing to submit a final draft of the paper by this deadline will not be permitted to take the comprehensive exam in the spring quarter. Please note that this implies leaving the program.   

Departmental Workshops

  1. All registered students-in-residence must be enrolled in their field workshop of choice (POLI 280-289) and attend both integrated and field workshops regularly. This includes first-year through Nth-year students. Students who do not attend the workshops regularly will receive a grade of U for that quarter.

    The Integrated Workshop is an effort to build an integrated scholarly community across all substantive subfields in our Ph.D. program. The integrated workshop and subfield workshops are designed to promote intellectual engagement and conversations across fields, so as to better prepare our students to conduct research that scholars across fields will care about. Workshops typically meet on a weekly basis, and include discussion of common readings, public talks, professional development seminars, and student presentations.

  2. All third-year students are required to present a draft dissertation prospectus or an original piece of research to a workshop at least once, either in the Fall or the Winter quarter. Second-year students who have far-advanced seminar papers are encouraged to present their work, schedule permitting. A form indicating that the third-year student has completed this requirement must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by the end of the third year.

    A third-year student who has not completed the above requirement by the end of the third year may receive no more than a 33%. teaching or research assistantship from the Department until the quarter after the workshop requirement is fulfilled. Students on a UCSD fellowship may receive no more than two-thirds of their stipend until this requirement is fulfilled.

  3. For all registered students-in-residence, good progress toward the PhD requires that a student enroll in a departmental workshop in every quarter for which they are in residence. Students who do not attend or participate regularly will receive a grade of U for the workshop. 

Masters in Political Science

Doctoral students in the Department of Political Science who do not already hold an MA may apply for an MA after successfully completing fifteen quarter courses, nine of which must be numbered between Political Science 200 and 279, and one seminar paper approved by a member of the Department.

Advancement to Candidacy

  1. In order to advance to candidacy, a student must prepare a dissertation prospectus and pass an oral examination with a committee (please refer to 'Forming Committees and Defenses'). Rules governing this examination have been established by the Graduate Division and are printed in the University catalog. 
  2. By the end of spring quarter of the second year each student must submit a form to the Graduate Coordinator identifying a faculty member as Third-Year Prospectus Advisor. (The role of the Third-Year Advisor is described below under 'Advising and Evaluation'). By October 15 of the third year, each student must submit to the Graduate Coordinator a form identifying a tentative topic of the prospectus.
  3. Once the committee has been submitted and approved, the student must pick up a Report of the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy for the Doctoral Degree form from the Graduate Coordinator prior to the scheduled Prospectus defense. All members of the committee and the Chair of the department must sign the form after the exam and the student must pay a $50 candidacy fee at the UCSD Cashier's Office prior to submitting the form to Graduate Division.
  4. Good progress toward the Ph.D. requires that students advance to candidacy by end of the fall quarter of the fourth year. A student who fails to advance to candidacy by the end of the fall quarter of the fourth year may receive no more than a 33% teaching or research assistantship from the Department for the following quarters until advancing to candidacy. Students who have received guaranteed funding may receive no more than two-thirds of their stipend for the subsequent quarters until advancing to candidacy. 
  5. If you are an international student, the non-residential supplemental tuition (NRST) remission is guaranteed for the first three academic years. You will be eligible to be exempt from non-resident tuition for 9 consecutive quarters IF you have advanced to candidacy by the end of your third year in the program. International students who fail to advance to candidacy by the end of their third year in the program will be responsible for paying their own NRST until they advance to candidacy. 
  6. A student who fails to advance to candidacy by the end of the summer of their fourth year will not be permitted to continue in the graduate program in political science.

Dissertation

  1. By the end of the sixth year, good progress requires completion of the dissertation and defense (please refer to 'Forming Committees')
  2. A student who fails to complete the dissertation by the end of the sixth year may be denied all departmental financial assistance.

Forming Committees and Defenses

Committee Membership Rules

Prospectus and Dissertation committees must follow the membership rules as outlined. 

Committee Formation for Advancement to Candidacy

A student must submit their committee members for approval to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two weeks prior to their scheduled Prospectus defense. The committee request must be submitted by the Graduate Program Coordinator to the Graduate Division for final approval. Failure to obtain Graduate Division approval prior to the defense may delay advancement, or may invalidate the defense completely. In the case that the defense is invalidated due to the committee not being approved, the student must defend again. 

After the committee has been approved, the student must pick up a Report of the Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy for the Doctoral Degree form from the Graduate Coordinator prior to the scheduled Prospectus defense. All members of the committee and the Chair of the department must sign the form after the exam and the student must pay a $50 candidacy fee at the UCSD Cashier's Office prior to submitting the form to Graduate Division.

Dissertation Defense and Reconstitution of Committee Requests

The Dissertation defense committee may remain the same as the Prospectus defense committee. However, in the case that a student needs to change the members of their committee, a committee reconstitution request must be submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two weeks prior to their Dissertation defense. The committee reconstitution request must be submitted by the Graduate Program Coordinator to the Graduate Division for final approval. Failure to obtain Graduate Division approval prior to the defense may delay conferral of the degree, or may invalidate the defense completely. In the case that the defense is invalidated due to the committee not being approved, the student must defend again. 

The student should refer to the Dissertation Preparation and Submission Manual to ensure that they are following necessary steps to graduate.

The student must pick up a Report of the Final Examination and Filing of the Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree form from the Graduate Coordinator prior to the scheduled Dissertation defense. All members of the committee and the Chair of the department must sign the form after the exam prior to submitting the form to Graduate Division.

Teleconferencing at Defenses

A doctoral committee member can participate in one of three ways at a Prospectus or Dissertation defense:

  1. physically present (meaning they are in the room),
  2. telepresent (meaning they participate by live video teleconference),
  3. or in advance (if they must be absent on the exam date, it is permissible to examine the candidate in advance of the exam date).

More than half of the doctoral committee must be physically present. No more than two members may be telepresent.

The committee chair, or one co-chair, must be physically present.

The outside tenured member must be physically present or telepresent.

If an emergency situation arises that affects the number of committee members present, the committee chair (or co-chairs) may decide how to proceed. There must be sufficient expertise among present members (either physically or telepresent) to examine the student.

More detailed information on teleconferencing may be found here.

Advising and Evaluation

  1. Each incoming student is assigned a temporary faculty advisor by the Director of Graduate Studies. At the end of the first year, students are given the opportunity to confirm that advisor or select a new one.
    1. By the end of the spring quarter of the second of the second year each student must select a faculty member from the department to serve as a Third-year Prospectus Advisor. The Third-year Prospectus Advisor will help guide the student in writing the prospectus and selecting a dissertation committee. It is not assumed that the Prospectus Advisor will subsequently chair the dissertation committee, or even be a member of it. Those roles should be determined as the prospectus develops.
  1. During the spring quarter each student is evaluated by his/her advisor in consultation with the departmental faculty. The student will receive a written evaluation from the advisor each year. The student must sign this evaluation for it to become an official part of the student's departmental file.
    1. As part of the first-year review each student must complete a plan of study that identifies a faculty seminar paper supervisor, two examination fields, a focus area, and intended preparation in each. This plan must be signed by the student's faculty advisor and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by the end of spring quarter of the first year.

Student Petitions

To contest an evaluation or any departmental action a student must do so in writing. A petition should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies no later than the end of the quarter following the evaluation (or other action) contested by the student.