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The PhD program in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego is consistently recognized as one of the top ten programs in the nation, as evidenced by the rankings of U.S. News & World Report and the National Academy of Sciences. We are also rated #1 in overall graduate student satisfaction in a recent National Doctoral Program Survey.

As a full-time doctoral program—we admit only for the PhD—our primary goal is to prepare scholars to teach and conduct research at major research universities.  Each year, from 15-20 new graduate students enter the program and spend an average of five years earning the PhD. As our placement history attests, the training and mentoring we provide has prepared students to land rewarding jobs at the world’s best universities and colleges.

With over forty faculty members and eleven adjunct professors engaged in graduate teaching, we maintain a small ratio of students to faculty. This allows for close faculty supervision of graduate education and fosters an ethos of mentoring and collaboration. Graduate seminars are small and students have ample opportunity to become involved in collaborative research projects with faculty from across the subfields of contemporary political science. We also offer students many opportunities to attend colloquia that feature presentations by faculty, outside speakers, and dissertation candidates. The small number of students accepted into the program also makes it possible to fund almost all graduate students throughout their entire graduate careers.

A hallmark of our program is the willingness and ability of both faculty and graduate students to work across traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries. We believe that political science is a coherent discipline, rather than independent subfields loosely grouped under an umbrella. We as a department seek to break down additional barriers and build bridges across all the subfields and give all of our students a broad command of the discipline as a whole, regardless of their area of specialization.

In accordance with these principles, our graduate program includes a required First-Year Curriculum for all incoming PhD students. This curriculum is composed of three quarters of courses in the "Principles of Politics" and three quarters of "Research Methods" courses. The principles sequence begins with a survey of basic analytic concepts used throughout the discipline and continues with courses on the origins, institutions, and consequences of democracy, and on the relationship between states and markets. The methods courses include research design, econometrics, and game theory. The ambition of the first-year curriculum is to emphasize common problems of politics across fields, as well as the similarities and differences in how different subfields and approaches address them. This, in turn, allows graduate students to think generally about the enduring issues of politics.

We believe the design of our graduate program is a unique statement about the discipline of political science. No similar attempt to unify the curriculum has been undertaken in any other department in the country. Our students will not only have a broader command of the discipline as a result of this first year curriculum but will be able to see problems of politics in their more specialized areas of study through new and, we hope, clearer lenses. We are excited about the direction of our Department and hope to provide leadership to the profession by highlighting and building upon this unity in our graduate program.

Our Ph.D. program in Political Science is designed to break down barriers and build bridges across the subfields and give all of our students a broad command of the discipline as a whole, regardless of their area of specialization.


Contact Us

Director of Graduate Studies
Karen E. Ferree
(858) 822-2309
SSB 391

Student Affairs Manager
Regina Ready
(858) 534-7381
SSB 302

Graduate Coordinator
Arturo Vazquez
(858) 534-2705
SSB 305 (301)

Student Affairs Assistant
Christina Butler
(858) 534-7370
SSB 301